After being drafted in 2016, the feisty Swiss winger, Damien Riat, had two promising seasons in the National League (NLA) in Switzerland. Just last season he had 12 goals and 12 assists in 48 games for his team Geneve-Servette HC. It may not sound too impressive, but when you consider he was the 3rd youngest player on his team yet had the 6th most points, it looks quite good. Even more impressive, his 24 points was the best in the league for 21 and unders by an astounding 14 points. He had 7 more goals and 5 more assists than the next player.
It was looking promising for the 21-year-old to come over this season to play in North America, but on February 10th of this year Riat signed a new two-year deal with another team in the NLA: EHC Biel-Bienne.
It’s probably a safe assumption that the Washington Capitals wanted Riat (21), to come over to play with the Hershey Bears this fall, while Riat probably wanted to go straight to the NHL. This was reinforced by the fact that Damien didn’t even attend the Capitals prospect camp last week.
It was reported on May 4th that the Capitals were okay with Riat spending the next two years in Europe. It also included the fact the Damien would be attending the September training camp for the Capitals. But a later report on June 22nd makes it sound like he will not be attending the camp so he can start the season with his new team.
On top of that, the article reports that Riat’s out clause does not allow him to cancel his contract to play in the AHL. It is highly unlikely that he will make the big team over the next 2 seasons, so we might not see him jump over until 2020, if at all.
As of right now, things with Riat are in the grey area. It’s hard to tell what is exactly going on. Even a month after Damien signed his new contract in Switzerland the Capitals tweeted out an update for their prospects and Riat was the face of it. But as we know he didn’t attend the prospect camp. Did things go bad in the meantime or was that planned? Is Riat not attending the pre-season camp a sign he isn’t interested in the Capitals or is that also part of the plan? We’ll be sure to find out but for the Capitals sake let’s hope he makes the jump over soon as they have a solid prospect in Riat.
Our 2016 interview with Damien Riat is here.
By Luke Adomanis