We continue or prospect review and forecast series with a review and forecast for Connor Hobbs. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Connor Hobbs (21) signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals on July 1, 2016 for $798,333 average annual value (AAV). Hobbs will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021. He is waivers-exempt for the coming season.
Hobbs, a fifth-round draft pick by the Capitals in 2015, saw a spike in his offensive numbers during his time in the WHL, beginning with his 2015-2016 season in Regina. Hobbs totalled 19 goals and 22 assists in 58 games in his first full season with the Pats. In 2015-16, he led all Regina defenders with 41 points and was second on the team with 106 penalty minutes.
Hobbs’ statistical high-point to date came in his final year at Regina (2016-2017) where he tallied 31 goals and 54 assists in 67 games played, setting a number of team records. Hobbs did play some at the forward position due to a rash of injuries to the Pats forwards, but most of his scoring came from his defensive position.
2017-2018 SEASON SUMMARY
Injuries hampered a good portion of Connor Hobbs 2017-2018 season. Hobbs suffered a fractured wrist on November 4th against the Toronto Marlies (here), causing him to miss six weeks of the season. He returned to action on December 21st. Hobbs suffered another injury on March 2nd, causing him to miss most of the month of March.
Hobbs had just three goals and 13 assists in 44 games played this season. He scored his first career AHL goal on October 28th against the Providence Bruins (here). It was the game-winner.
Hobbs also displayed a good deal of grit in his first year in Hershey, dropping the gloves on occasion (here.) He was 6th on the Bears in total PIMs with 61 minutes.
2017-2018 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Connor Hobbs during the 2017-2018 season.
After his historic season in the WHL last season, Hobbs is making his debut in the professional game. Starting on the bottom pair for the Bears, Hobbs is tasked with improving his defensive game. Everyone knows he has the offensive skills, but he knows he has to fill out his all-around game to reach a new level. He has one goal and one assist in eight games played. As the season goes along and the more comfortable he gets, expect those numbers to jump. But again, it’s more important he learns his defensive side than just putting up numbers. It is the same game plan Christian Doos went through when he first entered the league and look what happened to him.
Unfortunately, Hobbs only played two games in November before suffering a serious upper-body injury. He should be back in mid to late December. It is always tough for rookies to miss significant time.
Hobbs only played two games in November before suffering a serious upper-body injury. Hobbs returned to action on December 21 and has no points in three games played. He has one goal and one assist in 13 games played this season. January and February will be important months in Hobbs development progress.
Hobbs had a slow start to January with zero points in the first three games but grabbed three assists over the last seven games, adding 14 shots in that span. The Bears are really hoping Hobbs finds his high-end offensive potential soon, because they are desperate for goals.
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.
March has been a lost month for Hobbs. He has only played four games in the month after being injured in the March 2 game against Lehigh Valley. He is scoreless for the month. Hobbs did make probably his best defensive play of the season in his return to the lineup on March 24 against Hartford. Vitek Vanecek made a great save on John Albert on a breakaway. However, Vanecek left a rebound and the puck came to Scott Kosmachuk. With a gaping net, Kosmachuk fired a shot, but Hobbs blocked the shot with his face and preventing a clear goal. He blocked another shot with his body to save a goal against Laval on March 31. In that same game, Hobbs continued to make some unnecessary mistakes. He lost his positioning in his own zone in the second period and found himself higher than the forwards. Fortunately for Hobbs, the Bears were able to clear the puck. In the third period, he took a needless penalty with 5:56 remaining in the game. He knocked down a Laval player near the boards with the Bears up 6-3. The smart play would have been to just let the Laval player go and not put his team shorthanded. Sooner or later, he needs to learn to play smart.
Hobbs first goal for the coming season in Hershey is to try to stay healthy. Two significant injuries last season made it difficult for him to get any momentum going during the season.
It’s unlikely we will see the same kind of offensive output from Hobbs that we saw during his 2016-2017 season with Regina, but it’s possible, it’s in there. He will look to return to some resemblance of that scoring out, while working on his overall defensive game.
Hobbs will also look to be more consistent on the defensive end this season, and improve his decision-making with the puck. He will also look to reduce total PIM’s this season.
By Jon Sorensen