Photo: Jeff Vinnik/NHLI via Getty Images
Caps fans are familiar with top prospects Madison Bowey, Jonas Siegenthaler, and now Lucas Johansen as the best prospects on the blueline. One player that often gets overlooked is Caps fifth round pick (143rd Overall) in 2015, Connor Hobbs.
During his draft year, Hobbs seemed to be in a very difficult situation. He wasn’t getting nearly enough playing time with the Medicine Hat Tigers, and after only twelve games in the 2014-2015 season, Hobbs left the team to play in the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. Eventually, Hobbs would get another opportunity to shine in the WHL, getting traded to the Regina Pats midway through the season.
The Saskatoon native’s draft stock was sliding at that moment in time, so he knew he had to make the most of it, posting one goal and fifteen assists in thirty three games with a plus five to boot. In the 2015 playoffs, Hobbs also contributed a pair of goals in eight games. If Hobbs had played a full season with the same points per game average, he would have been on pace for north of thirty points, which would’ve meant he would not have slid so far in the draft.
One thing Hobbs has shown is a ton of potential, consistently improving with each season. In the 2015-2016 season, Hobbs had 19 goals and 22 assists in only 58 games. In the 2016 playoffs, he had twice as many goals (4 total) along with 6 assists to combine for 10 points in 12 games.
And now this season, the 19 year old is once again posting even better numbers, already having 11 goals and 21 assists, totaling 32 points, in only 23 games played. Oh, and he’s a plus 18 (previous year he was a -1). Stats are great, and clearly he’s finding the score sheet at a very ridiculous pace, being on pace for nearly 100 points (which is absolutely insane for a defenseman). He is first in points per game (1.39) for defensemen in the WHL, and tied for second overall in scoring, and the players ahead of him have played five to seven more games.
Hobbs likes to be involved in the offensive zone, pinching on numerous occasions. Sometimes it’s a great decision, other times it isn’t necessary and he gets caught out of position. Does that mean his defensive game is terrible? No, he just needs work on his decision making when getting involved in the offensive zone. He’s great at moving the puck, he’s got a real hard shot, and he’s an all around great quarterback for the Pat’s powerplay. He even got the opportunity to play for team WHL when they played against Russia, notching an assist in two games.
Is Connor Hobbs going to be the next Erik Karlsson? No, of course not. Do I think he’s Washington’s best defenseman in the prospect pool? I don’t. What I do know is this, Connor Hobbs is looking like a real steal in the fifth round, and he’s improving at a great pace. Personally, I think this kid has a chance to be a top four defenseman in the NHL. He’s got decent size, he’s solid defensively, contributes a ton offensively, displays great leadership qualities, and plays with an edge. Caps fans, you may want to pay a little more attention to this guy, because he’s making his case as a legitimate D prospect. The sky is the limit for Connor Hobbs.
By Keyvaun Pourmokhtari
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