This is the fifth installment of NoVa Caps’ Washington Capitals’ monthly prospect report for the 2017-2018 season. The report is a compendium of stats, notes and news for each of the Capitals’ prospects for the month of February. You can check out our previous prospect reports here: January, December, November, October.
The report organizes Capitals’ prospects by the five primary leagues or regions of play. These include:
All stats and data were compiled throughout the month and finalized on February 28th, 2018.
A majority of the European players/teams were on hiatus for the Month of February, primarily due to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, LW, Drafted in the Seventh-Round in 2017, 18-years old
Marthinsen played in just three games in the J20 Elite league in February, but kept pace with 1 goal and 2 assists. That brought his total to 23 goals and 8 assists in 23 games this season. Sadly, he finally lost the league lead in goals with 4 players jumping in front of him with 24 or 25 goals. But all four have played 3-8 more games than him so he still would probably be #1 if he played as many games.
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, LW, Drafted in the Fifth-Round in 2016, 19-years old
Fjallby played six more games in February, adding just one assist. His season total is six goals and seven assists in 37 games in the SHL. He’s still stuck on the 4th line, since he’s the 2nd youngest player on the team, but it’s still good he’s able to stick in the SHL with the men.
Damien Riat, LW/RW, Drafted in the Fourth-Round in 2016, 20-years old
As per an RTS Sport report published on February 3rd, Damien Riat will leave Geneva-Servette at the end of this season. Riat has reportedly signed a contract with Biel, currently 3rd in the standings, for the next two seasons, until 2020. The news is somewhat disappointing from a Capitals organization point of view, more specifically for Hershey, who are in need of replenishing their forward corp. On the ice, things were quiet for Riat in the month of February, as most of the European league’s were on hiatus for the Olympic break. Geneva-Servette participated in The Swiss Cup on February 1st and 2nd and had an exhibition game against HC Ambri-Piotta on 2/24 before resuming their regular season action on 2/28. Riat continues to anchor the left wing position on the second line for Geneva-servette. Riat has 12 goals and 12 assists in 46 games this season.
Tobias Geisser, LHD, Drafted in Fourth-Round in 2017, 18-years old
Geisser had quite an offensive outburst in February, or at least for him. He played only three games, but notched a goal and an assist. That’s just 2 points in 3 games, but to put that into perspective, he had all of four points in the previous 33 games. So 33% of this season’s point total came in 3 games. He’s definitely a defensive defenseman but if he can find more of an offensive touch that would be huge.
Kevin Elgestal, LW/RW, Drafted in the Seventh-Round in 2014, 21-years old
Kevin had a great January and followed it up with a pretty good great February. In eight games played he potted two goals and one assist. He’s now at 6 goals and 6 assists in 46 games.
Sebastian Walffridsson, LHD, Drafted in the Fifth-Round in 2017, 18-years old
Walffridsson is still playing his heavy defensive feisty game in the SuperElit league. Not putting up much offense but helping shut down the other tea.
Ilya Samsonov, G, Drafted in the First-Round in 2015, 21-years old
With the KHL on a scheduling hiatus due to the Olympics, the players of Metallurg Magnitogorsk who were not selected for the Olympics, including Caps’ goalie prospect Samsonov, participated in a training camp in Davos, Switzerland. On February 13, Metallurg played an exhibition game against the Swiss team, Kloten Flyers and won 4-0. Samsonov saved all 25 shots he faced. Metallurg and Samsonov then participated in a tournament February 15-18, 2018 in Davos with three other teams: Dynamo Riga from the KHL, Ocelari Trinec from the top Czech league, and HC Davos from the Swiss National League. Samsonov played in all three games. Metallurg faced Dynamo Riga on February 15 and lost 3-0. Samsonov made 24 saves in 27 shots. Metallurg then faced Ocelari Trinec on February 16 and won this contest 3-0. Samsonov saved all 17 shots that he faced. Metallurg then played HC Davos on February 17 and won 5-3. Samsonov made 29 saves out of 32 shots. (Detailed Samsonov tournament summary can be found here) On February 23, Metallurg played Traktor Chelyabinsk in an exhibition game which was meant to be the last tune-up before resuming KHL competition. Samsonov was in goal again for this game. Metallurg won the game, 3-2 in Overtime. Data was not available for the total number of shots faced in this game. Samsonov went 4-1 in the games played during the Olympic hiatus, including one pre-tournament exhibition, three tournament games, and one last tune-up before the KHL season resumed. Samsonov was in goal for Metallurg for their first game back on February 27. Metallurg shut out Ugra 4-0. Samsonov saved all 34 of the shots he faced. He is now 11-9 for the season with a save percentage of .926. Game summary is here.
AHL (HERSHEY BEARS)
The Hershey Bears started off slowly in February, losing their first five games of the month. The losing streak makes it very difficult for the Bears to make the playoffs. After the slow start, Hershey got a jump-start after a trade was made. Forwards Joe Whitney and Adam Chapie came to town on February 9 from Hartford with defenseman Hubert Labrie and forward John Albert heading back the other way. Their first game was the last of the five-game losing streak, but the Bears got hot after that loss. They reeled off five straight wins, including sweeping a three-game Canadian road trip. The team is still not close to a playoff spot, but the overall play has improved.
Travis Boyd, C, Drafted in the Sixth-Round in 2011, 24-years old
Boyd found the back of the net four times in a 6-3 win at Laval on February 16. The feat was extra special for Boyd as he dedicated the performance to his daughter Hayden, who was hospitalized after having surgery for a throat infection. Boyd wore the hospital bracelet he got when he joined Hayden there earlier in the week. The four-goal game started a strong run for Boyd. Including that game, he tallied five goals and three assists in a six-game stretch. He was also a +4 during the stretch, which is a positive when you consider he is a -20 this season. Boyd has started to shoot the puck more. He’s had the habit of being too unselfish and looking to pass when he should shoot. He has a good shot and needs to continue to use it. Overall, Boyd is second on Hershey in points (44), goals (15), assists (29) and power play goals (7). He leads the team with 17 power play assists. Boyd was recalled by the Capitals on February 27th.
Colby Williams, RHD, Drafted in the Sixth-Round in 2015, 22-years old
The biggest issue for Colby Williams has been discipline. He takes far too many penalties and a lot of them are of the unnecessary variety. Against Charlotte on February 3, he took a slashing penalty that he did not need to take. Charlotte scored three seconds into the power play. Later in the same game, Williams slashed another Charlotte player behind the play and put his team shorthanded in overtime. His teammates bailed him out for the next minute and nine seconds until Charlotte returned the favor with a bad penalty of their own. His penalty minutes are way up this season. He had 40 penalty minutes in 60 games last season. This year, he already has 76 minutes in just 54 games. When he stays out of the penalty box, Williams’ has shown improvement, although he still makes the occasional poor decision when trying to get the puck out of his own zone. His defensive game has gotten better since being paired with Lucas Johansen. Williams is a +5 in his last six games, after not being a plus-player in any of his previous 10 games. Williams needs to learn to not force a pass into the middle from his own end when the pass is not there. He did that against Rochester on February 11. Rochester’s Kevin Porter intercepted the pass and fed it to teammate Eric Cornel for the go-ahead goal in the third period. The Bears would rally to win in overtime, but Williams still needs to make better decisions.
Lucas Johansen, LHD, Drafted in the First-Round in 2016, 19-years old
Johansen’s offense has all but disappeared. He has five points in 2018 and eight points since the start of December. He has not scored a goal since December 9. Johansen has four assists in February, which is an improvement from his one point in January. On the positive side, two of those assists have come in his last four games. On the other end of the ice, Johansen has improved his defensive play as of late. He is a +4 in his last five games after being a -4 the prior four. He and Colby Williams have played well together. Still, the Bears need more offense from Johansen. On a team that has struggled to score much of the season, Hershey needs more offense from the defensemen. Johansen showed signs of that early in the season, but has been unable to sustain it.
Riley Barber, RW, Drafted in the Sixth-Round in 2012, 23-years old
Barber has been hot in February. He has scored seven goals in the month and has added four assists. He now has 19 goals on the season and that leads the team. He leads the team in power play goals with 10 and in game-winning goals with five. He sits third on the team’s scoring list with 35 points. His numbers could be even better if he would convert more of his scoring chances (leads the team in shots on goal with 164). Against Rochester on February 11, Barber netted a goal and added two assists in a 4-3 overtime win. However, he easily could have had four goals. Barber had a breakaway saved, missed the net on two wide open shots and hit the goalie in the logo on another. Still, the fact that he is getting so many scoring chances is a good thing. It means he is doing the right things to give himself an opportunity to tally goals. Barber’s offensive game is starting to come-together and he is contributing more offensively. If he starts to put away more of the chances he is getting, Barber will take his game to another level.
Connor Hobbs, RHD, Drafted in the Fifth-Round in 2015, 20-years old
Hobbs is a hard player to read. He will make a solid play one minute and then make a baffling mistake the next. His offense has finally started to come around recently and that is a positive. He is known as an offensive defenseman, but had only five points coming into February. A recent hot stretch has gotten him to the 11-point mark. He has four points in his last six games. Defensively, Hobbs still has a lot of improvements to make. This was on display against Rochester on February 11. Rochester forward Seth Griffith came up the ice. Hobbs pushed Griffith to the outside. That is the right play, but then the defenseman needs to keep the player to the outside. Hobbs got turned around and allowed Griffith to cut back inside. Griffith then beat Vanecek to tie the game at one. This is a play that Hobbs has made on numerous occasions. He needs to learn how to recover after pushing a player to the outside. Hobbs also has the habit of getting caught way up ice leasing to odd-man rushes coming back for the opposing team. Finally, he has difficulty keeping the puck in the zone on the power play and sometimes it comes back to haunt the Bears. On February 24 against Rockford, Hobbs bobbled the puck at the blue line. In the ensuing odd-man rush, Rockford tallied a shorthanded goal for the first goal of the game. Currently, Hobbs’ defensive mistakes outweigh his improved offense.
Jonas Siegenthaler, LHD, Drafted in the Second-Round in 2015, 20-years old
The Swiss-born defenseman went through a rough patch starting at the Outdoor Classic on January 20 and running through February 9. He was a -11 during that eight-game stretch. He has returned to his steady play since. That -11 is his plus/minus rating for the season, which means he is even for his other 48 games. That stretch could be attributed to the number of games Seigenthaler has played. He is not used to the length of the season on this side of the Atlantic. The 56 games he has played thus far are the most games he has played in a single regular season. His previous high was 41. He has likely hit the wall, but has since regained his form. Offensively, Seigenthaler does not provide much. He has three goals and six assists on the season. However, he is a steady defenseman. Recently, he has been paired with Tyler Lewington and they have formed Hershey’s best defensive pairing. Both are stay-at-home guys who make the right decisions in their own zone. The pair is often paired on the penalty kill as well.
Tyler Lewington, RHD, Drafted in the Seventh-Round in 2013, 23-years old
Lewington continues to anchor the right side of the Bears second defensive pair, most recently with Jonas Siegenthaler. As previously noted the tandem have quickly jelled and become the Bears best defensive pairing as of late. Offensively, the stay at home defenseman scored one goal and two assists in the month of February, giving him two goals and eight assists in 56 games played this season. Lewington remains the top recall candidate should the Caps need to look to Hershey for an emergency call-up. The Capitals will need to make a decision regarding Lewington, as he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
Liam O’Brien, C/LW, Undrafted, 23 years old
The key for O’Brien is playing with an edge without going over the line. In the past, O’Brien would put his team in a shorthanded situation by taking bad penalties. He has not done that this season. His penalty minutes are down significantly. He had 121 penalty minutes in 45 games in 2014-2015. During the 2015-16 season, he had 120 penalty minutes in 59 games and he picked up 117 penalty minutes last season in 64 games. O’Brien only has 56 penalty minutes in 50 games this season. That is a big drop. It has allowed O’Brien to get more ice time and play in more situations. He has turned into a solid penalty killer and has started to find an offensive game. O’Brien had six goals in the month of February and now has a career high of 14 for the season.
Mason Mitchell, LW, Undrafted, 23-years old
Mitchell continues to be a scratch more often than not, playing in only four games in the month of February. He registered no goals and no assists in those games. He has one goal and four assists on the season. Its becomming apparent Mitchell may have been better served playing in South Carolina this season. He hasn’t really found a role in Hershey. Mitchell signed a two-year, entry-level contract beginning with the 2017-18 season, at $883,750 AAV.
Nathan Walker, LW, Third round, 2014, 23-years old
Playing every night has definitely helped Walker. He contributes in multiple ways. He brings the energy every game and is not afraid to throw his body around to deliver a hit. Against Rockford on February 24, the Bears were playing flat and uninspired. Walker dropped the gloves with Rockford’s Luke Johnson in attempt to get his team going. His offense has been there too. He has three goals and four assists in his last five games and has 10 points in February. Walker has also been seeing a lot of time on the penalty kill. The Australian-native is also starting to get time on the power play and has netted two power play goals. He has played some at center as well for Hershey and has the versatility and smarts to succeed in the middle. Walker is playing an all-around game and that is what will get him back to the National Hockey League.
Tyler Graovac, C/LW, Seventh-round (Minnesota), 24-years-old
Graovac has settled in as the Bears second line center this season. Graovac scored three goals and four assists in 12 games played in the month of February, giving him 10 goals and 11 assists in 36 games played this season with the Bears. He is seventh on the team in goals and points scored, even though he’s only played in 36 of the Bears 56 games played this season. That’s fairly decent for a Bears team that has struggled to find scoring for a majority of the season. Graovac becomes a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
Pheonix Copley, L, Undrafted, 25 years-old
Copley’s three-game winning streak came to a halt at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 25. He made 22 saves in a 3-2 loss. Copley shined during his winning streak. He stopped all 28 shots he faced and earned his first shutout in a 3-0 win at Bellville. Two days later, Copley stopped 15 shots in the second period and had 27 saves, as the Bears beat the American Hockey League’s best team, the Toronto Marlies, 5-2. Then, he stopped 21 shots as Hershey beat Hartford 4-2 for their fifth straight win. Copley’s goals against average rose slightly to 2.95 from 2.91 this month, but that can be attributed to giving up three goals on five shots against Hartford on February 10. At the same time, his save percentage has risen to .894 from .891. Copley’s play has been fairly steady since December 29.
Vitek Vanecek, L, Drafted in Second-Round in 2014, 21-years old
The final three starts in January were not good for Vanecek, but the Czech netminder has turned things around in February. He surrendered five goals in a shootout win against Charlotte on the 3rd of February, but made some big saves to keep the Bears in the game. He then stopped four of the five shots in the shootout. Vanecek’s next start on February 9 was a rough one, as he was pulled after giving up four goals on 16 shots against Lehigh Valley. However, he then bounced back with three solid starts. He made 22 saves in a 3-2 overtime win over Rochester. That win started Hershey’s five-game winning streak. Vanecek then beat Lavell, saving 17 shots. The Czech goalie didn’t get the win in his last start, but that was no fault of his own. The Bears were outshot 40 to 14 by Rockford. He made 19 saves in the first period, allowing Hershey to escape the period down only 1-0. He then stopped 13 of 14 in the second period. Vanecek was the only reason that the Bears earned a point in the game as he made 36 saves.
ECHL – SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS
The Stingrays currently sit in second place in the ECHL’s South Division with a record of 35-11-5-1, just two points behind the Florida Everglades, but with one game in hand. That’s also good enough for second best in the Eastern Conference and the 4th best record in the ECHL.
Tim McGauley, C/LW, Undrafted, 22-years old
After a hot January, McGauley’s game cooled down a bit in the first half of February, but picked back up in the second half of the month, scoring three goals in four games. In total, McGauley registered three goals and five assists in nine games in February. McGauley, 22, has collected 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) and a plus/minus of +9 in 48 games with South Carolina this season. He ranked second on the Stingrays in assists, and is third on the club in goals and points. He has posted 11 multi-point games, and has tallied five points (three goals, two assists) over his past four games. On 2/28 the Bears announced that Tim McGauley was reassigned to Hershey from the club’s ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays.
Kristofers Bindulis, LHD, 20-years old
As we noted in our December report, Bindulis was re-assigned from Hershey to South Carolina on December 1st, and has been there ever since. Bindulis had a quiet month in February, playing in just four games towards the end of the month. The Defenseman registered no goals and two assists in the four games. Bindulis now has three goals and nine assists in 28 games this season.
Hampus Gustafsson, C/LW, 24-years old
The 24-year-old is currently in his rookie season after signing with the Washington Capitals as a free agent in March of 2017. The “up and down” season for Gustafsson continued in January. After being called up to Hershey in December, Gustafsson was returned to South Carolina on January 9. However, Gustafsson had a good month of January with the Stingrays, scoring four goals and registering three assists in 10 games. Gustafsson cooled down in February, scoring one goal and three assists in 10 games played in February. Gustafsson now has five goals and six assists in 26 games played this season.
ECHL – INDY FEUL
Adam Carlson, G, Undrafted, 23-years old
Carlson was recalled by the Capitals on the last day of January for the purpose of reassignment. South Carolina had three goalies on their roster, and playing time was becoming hard to come-by for Carlson. Carlson was re-assigned to the Indy Fuel on 1/31 and saw his first start on 2/2. Carlson was again re-assigned, this time to the Kansas City Mavericks on 2/16. He went 0-1-1 in two starts for the Mavericks and gave up six goals in 123 minutes played. Carlson is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Benton Maass, RHD, Drafted in the Sixth-Round in 2017, 19-years old (Fr)
Benton Maass had a quiet month of February. The 6′-2″ freshman defenseman had no goals and two assists in eight games played in February. Maass now has three goals and 13 assists in 34 games this season and is a -8. However, the season has been somewhat of a success for Maass, considering his age and his Freshman status at UNH. The New Hampahire Wildcats have wrapped up their regular season and begin playoffs the first weekend of March against Maine.
Steven Spinner, RW, Drafted in the Sixth-Round in 2014, 22-years old (Jr)
Spinner continued to hold down the right wing position on the third line for the month of February, showing minor offensive production during the month. Spinner finished February with one goal and one assist in six games played. Spinner now has nine goals and nine assists in 31 games for a .58 points per game average this season. Nebraska-Omaha wraps up their regular season the first weekend in March with a pair of games at Minnesota-Duluth.
Shane Gersich, C/LW, Drafted in the Fifth-Round in 2014, 21-years old (Jr)
Gersich started the month at left wing on the third line but made his way back to the top line on February 10th against against Colorado College. He remained on the top line for the remainder of the games in February. For the month, Gersich saw an increase in scoring at the beginning of February, scoring three goals in the first four games of the month, and ended the month with three goals and three assists in six games in February. Gersich now has 11 goals and 15 assists in 34 regular season games for a .76 points per game average, with two regular season games remaining. After a very slow start to the season, Gersich saw an uptick in scoring in the second half of the season. He will end the season below his 2016-2017 season numbers (21 goals, 16 assists in 40 games played), but that was somewhat expected, considering his linemates from last season (Brock Boesser and Tyson Jost). North Dakota wraps up the regular season the first weekend in March when they host St. Cloud State for a pair of games.
Chase Priskie, RHD, Drafted in the Sixth-Round in 2016, 21-years old (Jr)
Quinnipiac’s Captain had a good month of February, scoring two goals and four assists in just eight games played. Both of Priskie’s goals came in the last two games of the month, which was also the last two games of the regular season for Quinnipiac. Priskie ended the regular season with nine goals and 14 assists in 33 regular season games for a .70 points per game average. Seven of Priskie’s goals came on the power play, which led the team for the regular season, led the ECAC, is second-best in the nation among defenseman and 17th among all skaters. Priskie was first in the ECAC in goals by a defenseman and third in the ECAC in points for a defenseman. Priskie took a total of 91 shots for a 9.9 shooting percentage. He was an overall a +2 with one game-wining goal. Quinnipiac will face Yale in the first round of the ECAC Hockey Tournament in a best-of-three games series on Ingalls Rink in New Haven, Conn. on Mar. 2-4, 2018.
Brian Pinho, C, Drafted in the Sixth-Round in 2013, 22-years old (Sr)
In addition to being named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in January, Pinho was also named one of 16 semifinalists for the Walter Brown Award which is given to the best American-born college hockey player in New England. On 2/24, Pinho became just the fourth Friar in program history to reach 150 games played. On the ice, Pinho cooled off a bit in February, scoring one goal and four assists in six games played in February. Pinho finished the regular season with 12 goals and 18 assists in 34 games played for a .88 points per game average. Pinho registered a total of 104 shots for an 11.5 shooting percentage and was a +13 in the regular season. Providence will await their opponent for the Hockey East Quarterfinals set from March 9-11 at Schneider Arena.
CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
Garrett Pilon, C, Drafted in the Third-Round in 2016, 19-years old
Pilon began the month at right wing on the second line for the Everett Silvertips and continued his impressive scoring pace. Pilon scored a career-high four points (2 goals, 2 assists) versus Kelowna on 2/3. Pilon registered eight goals and seven assists in 12 games for the month of February. Pilon now has 31 goals and 41 assists in 61 games this season for a gaudy 1.18 points per game average. We’re already amped with anticipation to see Pilon at the next level, as we anticipate he will making the move to Hershey at the end of his WHL season.
Beck Malenstyn, LW, Drafted in the Fifth-Round in 2016, 19-years old
Malenstyn had a good February which saw an uptick in his scoring. He registered seven goals and seven asssists in 12 games played in the month. Malenstyn now has 13 goals and 14 assists in just 34 games played this season. You may recall that Malenstyn missed all of October through December due to injury. Malenstyn has been holding down the left wing position on the top line for Swift Current. Malenstyn has 84 shots on goal for a 7.64 shooting percentage and is averaging .75 points per game.
Dmitri Zaitsev, LHD, Drafted in the Seventh-Round in 2016, 20-years old
Zaitsev has spent a good portion of the month on the second defensive pair for Moose Jaw. In 11 February games the Russian defensemen scored 1 goal and 4 assists, which is great for him, as he’s not known for his offense. This brings his point output to 6 goals and 22 assists (28 points) in 55 games with a +41 to boot. Last season, he had all of 2 goals 18 assists (20 points) in 70 games. So he’s already surpassed his point total by 8 points in 15 less games. Impressive. He is on a stacked team and most his points are secondary but still a good sign.
TOP FIVE RANKINGS
A new feature this season to our monthly prospect reports attempts to pull all of the monthly information together and provide a top 5 ranking of prospects for forwards, defensemen and goalies. It’s important to keep in mind that the rankings reflect current “readiness” for an NHL call-up, and does not reflect future potential, etc. The ranking may also include players that are not officially under contract with the Capitals at the date of this report.
By Eric Lord, Luke Adomanis, Diane Doyle and Jon Sorensen
2018 NHL DRAFT
The 2018 NHL Entry Draft will be held from June 22–23, 2018, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Players born between January 1, 1998, and September 15, 2000, are eligible for selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Draft order will be determined during the post season.
The Florida Panthers’ second-round pick will go the Washington Capitals as the result of a trade on July 2, 2017 that sent Marcus Johansson to New Jersey in exchange for Toronto’s third-round pick in 2018 and this pick.
The Washington Capitals’ second-round pick will go to the Montreal Canadiens as the result of a trade on June 24, 2016 that sent Lars Eller to Washington in exchange for a second-round pick in 2017 and this pick.
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ third-round pick will go to the Washington Capitals as the result of a trade on July 2, 2017 that sent Marcus Johansson to New Jersey in exchange for Florida’s second-round pick in 2018 and this pick.
The Washington Capitals’ fifth-round pick will go to the Minnesota Wild as the result of a trade on June 14, 2017 that sent Tyler Graovac to Washington in exchange for this pick.
The 2018 NHL draft prospect mid-term rankings can be found here.