2021 TSP: Washington Capitals Prospects

Connor McMichael OHL Midwest Division

Welcome to the 2021 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2021 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. You can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2021 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2021 Washington Capitals Prospects.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2021-22 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

2021 Washington Capitals Prospects

Capitals Season and Off-Season

The Capitals finished second in the NHL’s East Division with 77 points in 56 games. They actually tied the Pittsburgh Penguins for the division lead but lost out on the tie-breaker. Unfortunately, Washington would lose their first-round series to the Boston Bruins in five games. The off-season saw goaltender Vitek Vanecek taken by Seattle in expansion, but the Capitals were able to trade a draft pick and bring him back. They also traded defenceman Brenden Dillon to the Winnipeg Jets and lost Zdeno Chara and Michael Raffl as free agents. The Capitals were quiet in terms of additions, with the biggest move of the off-season being to sign defenceman Matt Irwin.

 2021 Draft Picks (C+)Vincent IorioBrent Johnson, Joaquim Lemay, Haakon Hanelt, Dru Krebs, Chase Clark
Graduations: Ilya Samsonov, Vitek Vanecek (age)

 

Top 2021 Washington Capitals Prospect: Connor McMichael

Centre — shoots Left
Born January 15th, 2001 — Ajax, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 174 lbs [183 cm / 79 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 1st Round, #25 Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.

With the OHL season never getting started, McMichael’s season began with Team Canada at the World Juniors. He picked up four goals and eight points in seven games, winning a silver medal. He then joined the Hershey Bears where his 14 goals and 27 points in 33 games led the team in scoring. McMichael even made his NHL debut with the Capitals but is still looking for his first NHL point.

Skating

McMichael is a very good skater, putting up some of the best test results at the 2019 Top Prospects Game. He has very good top-end speed along with good acceleration. This allows him to get into the offensive zone quickly on the forecheck as well as to be dangerous off the rush. He could stand to improve his first few steps, however, this is rarely an issue as McMichael does a very good job of always keeping his feet moving. He also has solid edgework, agility, and pivots. This allows him to get around defenders when he has the puck as well as get away from them without it. He has good balance and is strong on the puck against junior players. Increased lower-body strength would improve his game even more at the next level.

Offensive Game

McMichael has really improved the release on his wrist shot over the years and this has led to him shooting more often. He also has good accuracy and decent power. He also has an excellent one-timer, setting up close to the face-off dot to get it off on the power play. McMichael has the soft hands to make plays and finish in close to the net. He can beat defenders in one-on-one situations and create space. McMichael has a knack for getting open without the puck. He finds the soft spots in opposing defences and is always ready to convert a pass from a teammate.

McMichael also has excellent vision and hockey IQ allowing him to make the correct play. With the puck on his stick, he can extend plays in the cycle. He protects it well in junior and waits for teammates to get open. Going forward, he will need to bulk up in order to continue playing this style and be tougher along the boards and in battles for pucks in the pros. McMichael is a hard worker who brings a high compete-level in all three zones. He never stops moving his feet and never quits on a play, and this will endear McMichael to coaches.

Defensive Game

McMichael is an excellent defensive forward for his age. He has shown strong instincts in the defensive end, with excellent positioning. McMichael helps support the defence down low and brings effective backpressure. He has a quick stick, effectively cutting down passing lanes and breaking up plays. He is not the biggest hitter but is more than willing to help clear the front of the net or work to dig pucks out of the corners. McMichael has worked to become stronger in the faceoff circle since being drafted. In junior, he was even relied upon on the penalty kill.

Outlook

McMichael may not have the upside to be a true franchise centre at the NHL level. However, he is very well-rounded. If he develops correctly, he could become a second-line centre, capable of bringing offence and also playing against the opponent’s top lines. His strong defensive play and penalty-killing instincts will endear him to coaches. McMichael likely heads back to Hershey for a bit more seasoning but could be called up if injuries hit the Capitals lineup. Expect him to be a full-timer by 2022-23.

 

#2 Prospect: Hendrix Lapierre

Centre — shoots Left
Born February 9th, 2002 — Gatineau, Quebec
Height 6’0″ — Weight 181 lbs [183 cm/82 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 1st round, #22 Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft.

Lapierre had a strong season with Chicoutimi, despite the interruptions due to Covid-19. He put up eight goals and 31 points in 21 games. He also added five goals and 12 points in nine QMJHL playoff games.

Skating

Lapierre is an excellent skater. He has outstanding top-end speed and very good acceleration. His ability to make quick cuts and changes in direction helps him to avoid defenders and create space. If he gets a step on a defender, he can drop his shoulder and cut to the front of the net. Lapierre could stand to improve his lower-body strength though. This will help him to fight through checks. It will also give him better balance and allow him to be stronger in battles along the boards and in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Lapierre is very difficult to defend as he can handle the puck while moving at close to his top speed. Defenders need to respect his speed off the rush and will back off when he is carrying the puck. This opens up shooting and passing lanes that Lapierre can take advantage of. He has very good hockey IQ and sees the ice extremely well.

Lapierre is a creative playmaker who creates scoring chances for his linemates. He can pass the puck through tight openings and hits teammates on the tape. Lapierre’s ability to speed up the play or to slow it down allows him to control the pace of the game. He sets up on the half boards on the power play and acts as a quarterback. He also protects the puck well down low, extending plays in the cycle game. This gives Lapierre’s teammates the opportunity to get open, and he can hit them with a quick pass.

Lapierre could stand to increase his strength in order to battle along the boards as well as add some power to his shot. His wrist shot and snapshot are accurate but can lack power. His release is good and with his quick hands, he can quickly toe-drag the puck to change the angle on his shot. He is also able to get off his backhand and slap shots. Lapierre could add muscle to his upper body and this could really help him improve this aspect of his game.

Defensive Game

Lapierre also plays a solid defensive game. He uses his high-end hockey IQ in all three zones. He anticipates plays well and can use good positioning and an active stick to cut down passing lanes and create turnovers. Lapierre also provides effective backpressure, getting into good positions to support the defence against the rush. Once a turnover is created, he is able to quickly transition the puck up the ice and can create offence. Lapierre could stand to become a bit stronger and play a more physical game though.

Outlook

Lapierre is a boom or bust prospect. He is immensely talented, and it is easy to envision a path where he becomes a top-six NHL centre. He will need to stay healthy though. Including his last year of midget hockey, he has had major injuries in three straight years. 2020-21 was finally an injury free year. Unfortunately, Lapierre still didn’t get a full season of games due to the pandemic. Going forward Lapierre needs to stay on the ice and continue his development in order to reach that potential. He has the tools to be a real steal where he was drafted. Lapierre was recently traded to Acadie-Bathurst and will have a new home in the QMJHL this season. He also will have the opportunity to make Team Canada for the World Juniors.

 

#3 Prospect: Alexander Alexeyev

Left Defence — shoots Left
Born November 15th, 1999 — St. Petersburg, Russia
Height 6’3″ — Weight 200 lbs [191 cm / 91 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 1st round, #31 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft.

With the start of the North American season delayed, Alexeyev played in the KHL last year. Playing for Salavat Yulaev Ufa he put up eight goals and 16 points in 55 games. However, he was held to just one assist in nine playoff games. When his KHL season ended, he joined the Hershey Bears. Alexeyev was impressive with two goals and nine points in 12 AHL games.

Skating

Alexeyev has strong skating ability, with good speed in both directions. He generates that top speed in just a few strides. This ability to get up to speed quickly, both moving forward or backward helps him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Alexeyev also has good edgework, agility and pivots. These also help him play an effective two-way game. Alexeyev has a strong lower body. He has good balance and a powerful stride. He is strong on the puck and wins battles in the corners, as well as clearing the front of the net. This worked well in juniors but he may need even more strength as he looks to make it in the NHL.

Offensive Game

Alexeyev has good vision and passing skills. He can start the play with a good pass out of his own end, as well as quarterback the play from the blue line. Alexeyev has the skating ability to retrieve dump-ins and loose pucks as well as the poise to move it out of danger in his own end. He can lead the rush but also makes smart passes to get the transition game going. Alexeyev does not force plays. If he is skating up the ice and does not like the way things look, he is not afraid to stop, turn back to his own end and try it again.

Alexeyev also has a hard slap shot and has done a better job in finding shooting lanes. He can work on keeping his shot low to allow his teammates to grab deflections and rebounds. He has started to use his agility to walk the line and create better shooting and passing lanes from the point. When there is no lane there, he keeps the puck moving, and makes the safe play rather than try something creative to generate a scoring chance. When his shot is taken away, Alexeyev needs to do more, both with and without the puck to find open spaces and create shooting angles.

Defensive Game

Alexeyev defends well on the rush, keeping opponents in front of him, and forcing them to the outside. He can throw a big hit when given the opportunity and makes good use of his physical capabilities that way. However, when he is defending in the zone, he can sometimes get himself out of position by looking to be more physical. Alexeyev will need some coaching on his positioning. He needs to be better at cutting down the passing lanes and staying with his man instead of chasing the puck carrier.

Outlook

With Chara and Dillon gone, Alexeyev is hoping to make an impression in Capitals training camp and earn a spot on the team. With Michal Kempny returning from a torn Achilles there may be room on the blue line and he could earn that opportunity. Even if he doesn’t, expect him to be the first defenceman called up if injuries hit and make another run at making the squad next year.

 

#4 Prospect: Martin Fehervary

Left Defence — shoots Left
Born October 6th, 1999 — Bratislava, Slovakia
Height 6’2″ — Weight 194 lbs [188 cm / 88 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 2nd round, #46 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft.

Fehervary spent last season with the Hershey Bears in the AHL. He put up three goals and 17 points in 24 games.

Skating

Fehervary is a very good skater. He has very good speed and excellent acceleration in both directions. He also has strong edgework and crisp pivots. Add in excellent agility and Fehervary’s skating is an asset that helps him at both ends of the ice. He is able to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. While Fehervary has decent size, he can add muscle to his frame. This would help him to be stronger on the puck and to win more battles on the boards and in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Fehervary broke out offensively last season, showing increased skill in the offensive zone. Whether or not this will translate to the NHL remains to be seen though. Throughout his prior seasons, he really didn’t show a lot of offence. Fehervary’s strong skating is combined with decent puck handling skills to retrieve pucks and skate them out of danger in his own zone. He can make a move or two in the neutral zone but is not one to carry the puck up the ice. Instead, he is more of a stay-at-home defender, preferring to be cautious.

Fehervary also makes a decent first pass out of the zone. In previous years he was not that creative with the puck when he had it at the opposing blue line, preferring to move the puck quickly with a simple pass, rather than control the puck and try to make a play. Where Fehervary really improved last season was in his poise and patience with the puck. With more confidence, he was willing to control the puck at the line and make plays. However, he still needs work on his slap shot and wrist shot. Fehervary does not get a lot of power on them and could also use his agility to open up more shooting lanes.

Defensive Game

Fehervary uses his strong skating ability to help him play a strong defensive game. He shows good positioning and uses his agility to keep his man in front of him and maintain gap control. Fehervary doesn’t throw huge hits, but he is not afraid to use his size to be physical in the corners and in front of the net. His quick stick creates turnovers and Fehervary is quick to transition those into offensive opportunities.

Outlook

Fehervary will also look to challenge for the open spot on the left side of the Capitals defence in training camp. Like Alexeyev, the loser of this battle will be a call-up if injuries hit on the blue line.

 

#5 Prospect: Aliaksei Protas

Centre/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born January 6th, 2001 — Vitebsk, Belarus
Height 6’6″ — Weight 210 lbs [198 cm/95 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 3rd round, #91 overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Protas started last season with Dinamo Minsk in the KHL. He put up 10 goals and 18 points in 58 games. He also added a goal and four points in five playoff games. When the KHL season ended, Protas joined the Hershey Bears. He put up two goals and seven points in 16 games. He also played for Belarus at the World Championships, scoring two points in six games.

Skating

Protas skating is very much a work in progress. His stride is awkward and Protas needs to work on the amount of bend in his hips and his knees. He skates a little too upright. This robs him of speed and acceleration. This has improved over the last few years but there is still work to do. Protas also needs to work on his agility and edgework.  Protas is willing to work along the boards and wins many battles there. However, he could do even better if he is able to add muscle to his frame. Coming in at 6-foot-6, he towers over most opponents, but his frame is still a bit slight.

Offensive Game

Protas is a very good playmaker. He uses his size and good stickhandling to protect the puck and extend plays in the offensive zone. This gives his teammates the time to get open. When they do, Protas has the vision to find them and the passing skills to set them up for a scoring chance. Protas is also good at opening passing lanes as his long stick and quick hands help to create space around defenders. His hands are surprisingly quick and help him to make plays. Protas is especially good at setting up plays on the power play, where he can really take advantage of the extra time and space available.

Protas also has a very good wrist shot. It features good power and accuracy. With his quick hands, Protas is able to toe-drag and change the angle of his shot before letting it go. This can fool goaltenders. He is willing to get to the dirty areas of the ice, driving to the front of the net both with and without the puck. Once he gets there, those quick hands are able to score in tight to goalies. He can one-time a pass from a teammate, deflect a shot, or pounce on a rebound. Protas size creates havoc in front and his ability to screen goalies can create real issues.

Defensive Game

Protas defensive game is a bit of a work in progress as well. He is willing to work hard, backchecking hard and helping the defence down low. However, his lack of speed can be a bit of a liability as he is often the last forward back. He also needs some work on his positioning. Protas can sometimes get caught puck-watching, getting himself out of position and leaving his man open as he tries to make a play. He would be more effective using his size and long stick to cut down passing lanes. With good coaching, his defensive game can be improved a lot.

Outlook

Protas will likely play for Hershey in the AHL this season. He needs time to round out his game, working on his skating and adding muscle to his frame. With his size and passing ability, Protas is an intriguing prospect but one who will need time before he is ready to play in the NHL on a full-time basis. While Protas has mainly been used at centre in the AHL, his future could be as a winger given his skating issues.

 

#6 Prospect: Vincent Iorio

The Capitals drafted Iorio with the 55th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Iorio. As there has not been a significant sample size of games played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

#7 Prospect: Brett Leason

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born April 30th, 1999 — Calgary, Alberta
Height 6’4″ — Weight 201 lbs [193 cm / 91 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 2nd Round, #56 Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Leason showed improvements in his second AHL season, putting up nine goals and 20 points in 33 games for the Hershey Bears.

Skating

Once considered the biggest liability in his game, Leason made real improvements in his skating over the last few years. This has been a big reason that he went from being undrafted in 2018 to a second-round pick in 2019, and to having a solid second year in the AHL. While he will never be confused for a speedster, Leason has improved to the point that he no longer has issues keeping up with the play. His top-end speed and acceleration are decent. However, he can still get quicker in his first few steps. Improved edge work has given Leason better agility and the ability to make quicker cuts, helping him to make plays with the puck. He is strong on his skates and has good balance. This makes Leason tough to knock off the puck as well as helping him to battle for loose pucks.

Offensive Game

Leason has good size and plays a power game. He is willing to battle along the boards as well as establish his position in the front of the net. Once he gets there, he is able to score goals. Leason has a good wrist shot and a quick release. He also adds a strong backhand, with the ability to elevate the puck in tight spaces. Leason also has soft hands, with the ability to get tip-ins, pounce on rebounds, and make plays in tight to the net. He has a knack for getting open without the puck, putting himself in good positions to take a pass from a teammate and convert it into a scoring chance.

Leason can also play the role of playmaker. He has good vision and passing skills, finding open teammates in the offensive zone. Leason extends plays giving his teammates time to get open. He uses his size and strength to protect the puck in the cycle game and control the play below the hash-marks. Leason uses his long reach and soft hands to stickhandle and keep the puck away from defenders. He is also effective on the forecheck, pressuring defenders and forcing turnovers.

Defensive Game

Leason is willing to play his powerful and gritty game in all three zones. He helps the defence, supporting them down low and working effectively on the boards. Leason’s high hockey IQ is also apparent in his own end, as he anticipates plays and cuts down passing lanes. His long stick also helps him to do this and he is effective at creating turnovers and transitioning them into offensive opportunities. Leason is not afraid to put his body on the line to block shots when needed.

Outlook

Leason is a classic late-bloomer. Improvements in his skating and the fact that he has finally gotten regular top-line ice time seem to suggest that this is not just an aberration but a real indication of his potential. Leason could develop into a second or third-line winger in the NHL. His size and willingness to use it to play a physical game in all three zones will make him a coach’s favourite at any level. Leason needs a bit more time in the AHL though. He could be called up if injuries hit, but look to him to really push for a spot next year.

 

#8 Prospect: Lucas Johansen

Defence — shoots Left
Born November 16th, 1997 — Vancouver, British Columbia
Height 6’2″ — Weight 182 lbs [188 cm / 83 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 1st round, #28 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft

Injury issues have sidelined the career of the former first-round pick, as Johansen has been limited to just 14 games combined over the last two season. In that time he has picked up four assists.

Skating

Johansen is a two-way defenseman whose game is based on his smooth skating. Good agility, edgework, and strong pivots give Johansen the ability to change directions, and transition quickly and effectively from offence to defence. His good lateral movement allows him to keep the play in front of him in the defensive end, or to walk the line and open up shooting lanes in the offensive end. Johansen has decent speed and acceleration. He could stand to strengthen his lower body and have a more powerful stride and better balance.

Offensive Game

Johansen is able to add to the attack with a strong first pass setting up the transition game. He also has good poise, and the stickhandling ability to avoid forecheckers and skate the puck out of his own end. Johansen has a good sense of when to lead and/or join the rush and when to hang back in his own end. Working the line, he has the vision and passing ability to quarterback the power play. He also has a strong slapshot which he is able to keep low and get on the net, even when facing heavy traffic. High hockey IQ allows Johansen to always seem to make the right play with and without the puck.

Defensive Game

Johansen defends the rush well by keeping defenders in front of him and forcing them to the outside. He has a quick stick, and poke checks the puck away from attackers. He uses his long stick, and long arms to really cut down on passing and shooting lanes. Johansen is not much of a big hitter, but he is willing to work hard in front of the net and battle for pucks in the corners. He is more likely to work to establish his position on a forward and tie up their stick than to clear the front of the net. Johansen is an extremely smart player, who reads the play well and has good positioning. He can create turnovers, and quickly transition those into offence when he does.

Outlook

Quite simply, Johansen needs to play hockey. He needs minutes at this point in his career especially with so much time missed. As a result, he should go to Hershey where he can play big minutes and be used in all situations. Johansen needs to take a big step this year as he is in danger of becoming a first-round bust.

 

#9 Prospect: Garrett Pilon

Center — shoots Right
Born April 13th, 1998 — Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Height 5’11” — Weight 188 lbs [180 cm / 85 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 3rd round, #87 overall, at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Pilon put up four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 14 games with the Hershey Bears last season. He also made his NHL debut, playing one game with the Capitals but is still looking for his first NHL point.

Skating

Pilon is a good but not a great skater. He has a decent first step and good acceleration. Pilon’s top-end speed is very good and he can be dangerous on the rush as well as get in quickly on the forecheck. His agility and edgework allow him to be elusive both with and without the puck. Pilon has good lower-body strength and is strong on the puck. He wins battles on the boards and establishes his position in front of the net. Pilon is good at controlling the puck down low on the cycle. He shows a feisty side and is often found in the middle of scrums.

Offensive Game

Pilon has a great wrist shot and a quick release. He also has a very good snapshot and can score on his backhand. Earlier in his junior career, there was criticism that Pilon did not shoot the puck enough, however, that is no longer an issue. In fact, he led the WHL in shots on goal last season. He is a good stick-handler, who can use his hands to create space to get that shot off. Pilon also has the ability to find soft spots in the defence, waiting for a teammate to set him up.

Pilon can also play the role of a playmaker. He sees the ice well and can make strong passes through tight spaces. Pilon can slow down the play or speed it up as necessary to create a scoring chance. He has good hockey IQ and poise. He makes smart plays with the puck. Pilon has been used as a power-play quarterback, controlling play at the point. He can also play the same role on the half boards.

Defensive Game

Pilon has a solid 200-foot game. He provides effective back pressure and supports the defence down low. Pilon is a smaller player but is not afraid to battle along the boards or help to clear the front of the net. He has been effective on the penalty kill in junior but has yet to spend a lot of time in the role with Hershey. He is also good in the face-off circle.

Outlook

Pilon should continue his development this year. He will likely spend the season in Hershey as he has some areas of his game that need to grow. If injuries hit in Washington, he could be an option to fill in for a short stint. He is still a year or two away from a realistic shot at an NHL role though.

 

#10 Prospect: Kody Clark

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born October 13th, 1999 — Chicago, Illinois
Height 6’3″ — Weight 185 lbs [191 cm/84 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 2nd round, #47 overall, at the 2018 NHL Draft


The son of former NHLer Wendel Clark, Kody Clark saw his numbers greatly improve in his second AHL season, scoring four more goals and the same number of points in 12 fewer games. He finished with seven goals and nine points in 19 games.  Unfortunately, his season was cut short by an injury suffered in early April.

Skating

Clark will never be the fastest player on the ice but has made real improvements in his skating in recent years. An improved stride has led to better speed, power and acceleration. Clark keeps up with the play and could even be said to have above-average speed now. This helps him to get in quickly on the forecheck and to create offence on the rush. He has also improved his agility and edgework. He is quick enough to get away from defenders both with and without the puck. As Clark continues to get stronger, it is now harder to knock him off the puck and he is doing well in board battles and in front of the net. As he continues to mature, his power forward game will continue to get better.

Offensive Game

Clark works extremely well down low. He is strong on the puck and controls it below the face-off dots. He extends plays in the cycle game, waiting for teammates to get open or an opportunity to get a step on a defenceman and take it to the net himself.  Clark keeps his feet moving at all times and works extremely hard. He is aggressive on the forecheck, and forces defenders to move the puck quickly which leads to turnovers and increased zone time and chances. Clark is not the most creative passer, but he keeps the puck moving in the cycle game and makes a quick pass to the open man. He is good at give-and-go type plays, where he gets the puck to a teammate and finds open ice.

Clark, like his father, has a good wrist shot and release. It is powerful and accurate. Clark is also very good at varying the release point on his shot which can give goaltenders problems. Without the puck, he likes to get to the front of the net and battles hard when he is there. Clark can score in close by pouncing on rebounds or getting deflections. He is also willing to cause havoc in front of the net, screening the goalie and generally causing a distraction. Clark is not the type to carry the puck through the neutral zone. Instead, he moves it to a more creative teammate and looks for open ice.

Defensive Game

Clark is also strong on the defensive end of the ice and has been an effective penalty killer for the 67s in his junior career. He has not gotten that much time on the penalty kill in Hershey but that could change this season. He is strong positionally and does a good job of cutting down passing and shooting lanes. Clark also works hard at the defensive end of the ice. He brings his gritty and physical game in all three zones. Clark supports the defence with backpressure against the rush and supporting down low against the cycle game. He is not afraid to put his body on the line to block shots.

Outlook

Clark will head back to Hershey this season, looking to continue the improvements he made during his sophomore campaign. It often takes power forwards a little longer to develop and so the Capitals should continue to give him time. He could develop into a middle-six winger if his development continues. He is still a bit of a longer-term project though.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 10th, 1998 — Stockholm, Sweden
Height 6’0″ — Weight 185 lbs [183 cm/84 kg]
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 5th round, #147 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft.

Jonsson Fjallby started last season with Vasterviks in the Allsvenskan. He put up four goals and 15 points in 25 games. He then joined the Hershey Bears for his third season in the league. It was his best AHL campaign to date with 10 goals and 15 points in 31 games.

Skating

Jonsson Fjallby is an extremely good skater. He is lightning-quick with a good first step, excellent acceleration, and very good top-end speed. Jonsson Fjallby can fly through the neutral zone and is the first one in on the forecheck. He has a low centre of gravity which gives him very good balance. With his powerful stride, Jonsson Fjallby can fight through checks on the rush and is strong on the puck protecting it in the cycle and winning battles on the boards. His edgework and agility are also decent. He can manoeuver through traffic, both with and without the puck.

Offensive Game

Jonsson Fjallby plays a straightforward but effective game. As noted, he is quick to get in on the forecheck. He forces defenders into mistakes and turnovers as he loves to finish his check. Jonsson Fjallby is also strong in the cycle game. He keeps the puck moving and makes the safe pass to a teammate to keep possession. If Jonsson Fjallby gets the opportunity, he takes the puck hard to the net. He is also willing to get to the front of the net and cause havoc without the puck. Jonsson Fjallby has a good wrist shot from further out, and his release is quick.

Jonsson Fjallby’s game is all about hard work and persistence. He is not the most skilled player with the puck on his stick, and would rather go through a defender than around them. His passing game is all about maintaining possession through simple plays and not necessarily about the creativity to create scoring chances. He works best as a complementary player on the line, rather than one who should be expected to drive the offence.

Defensive Game

Jonsson Fjallby’s grit and physical game are apparent in all three zones. He is hard on the backcheck, providing support to the defence and willing to play a physical game in the corners or clearing the front of the net. He is good at creating turnovers and transitioning them into offence, effectively anticipating plays and cutting down passing lanes. Jonsson Fjallby has been particularly effective on the penalty kill for the Swedish Junior Team over the years.

Outlook

Jonsson Fjallby is likely headed back to Hershey in the fall. He may never become a big scorer but Jonsson Fjallby could have a career in the NHL as a third-line energy player and penalty killer.  He could be a call-up if the Capitals need a player in the bottom-six.

 

Other 2021 Washington Capitals Prospects

Years of being a contender mean that the Capitals have often been making their selections late in the draft, as well as trading picks and prospects to other teams. As a result, the Capitals have one of the weaker groups in the league. There is some depth outside the top ten that is worth keeping an eye on though. In goal the Capitals have Mitchell Gibson and Garin Bjorklund in the system. Upfront, prospects to watch include Bogdan Trineyev, Damien Riat, Tobias Geisser, Oskar Magnusson, Shane Gersich, Riley Sutter and Bear Hughes. On the blue line, fans should keep an eye on Martin Hugo Has, and Brent Johnson.

 

Main 2021 Washington Capitals Prospects Photo:

LONDON, ON – FEBRUARY 26: Connor McMichael #11 of the London Knights skates with the puck in the first period during OHL game action against the Guelph Storm at Budweiser Gardens on February 26, 2019 in London, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)


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