We are batting a thousand with these “dark horse” picks (uh, yep, 1 for 1). Last summer we made Zach Sanford our dark horse pick to make the Capitals opening night roster, and he did. This year’s NoVa Caps “dark horse” pick is Connor Hobbs.
Each season we like to pick a player that isn’t in the mainstream discussion to make the Capitals team on opening night. The inspiration originally came from Andre Burakovsky who entered Development Camp in 2014 as just another prospect, but he ended up making the team that fall.
This year, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey have dominated the discussion regarding potential defensive prospects that could make the Capitals opening night. This may be the case, but we also have our eyes trained on Connor Hobbs.
Hobbs, a 6′-1″ right handed defenseman, had a breakout season in 2016-2017 scoring 31 goals and 54 assists in 67 games for the Regina Pats. Hobbs, the Capitals’ fifth-round draft pick (143rd Overall) in 2015, set a new franchise record for goals by a defenseman in a season with his 31st goal of the season.
Hobbs not only anchored the Pats defense last season, but he also filled in at the forward position for a period of time when the Pats were dealing with injuries on the front end. In the 2015-2016 season, Hobbs scored 19 goals and had 22 assists in just 58 games.
Hobbs plays a gritty style of defense and is not afraid to drop the gloves. He also plays a physical style of play inside and outside his own blueline.
- The Capitals have one, possibly two positions open on the bottom end and Hobbs fits perfectly into one of those positions.
- Hobbs already shows excellent vision and experience with play away from the puck.
- Hobbs is more mature than most typical 20-year-old hockey prospects. He’s already shown great leadership qualities in Regina.
- Hobbs physical style of play will transition well to the NHL, even without a stop in Hershey.
- Hobbs had another excellent development camp.
- Hobbs scoring ability and offensive acuity will be a huge asset for the Capitals at this time.
- Hobbs is already under contract which is a significant factor in these lean times.
Hobbs may be a long shot in many of the “experts” eyes, but we like what he has to offer the Capitals at this time. There may be sexier “dark horse” picks (see Shane Gersich, if the Capitals can ever sign him) but, the fact of the matter is, the Capitals need defense now, and Hobbs fits that need well.
The answer will slowly unfold during the prospect tournament in Miami and at the Capitals training camp in September. If Madison Bowey continues to underwhelm and Christian Djoos is unable to make the next step, Connor Hobbs could be the next man up.
By Jon Sorensen