Welcome to the third installment of NoVa Caps’ monthly prospect reports for the 2018-2019 Washington Capitals. This report summarizes activities for each of the Capitals’ prospects for the month of December 2018, and provides an overall “Trending” rating for each player. We also provide a “Top 5 Prospects” ranking for each primary position at the end of the report. You can read October’s report here. November is here.
You can always check out all of our prospect analysis and reports under the “Prospects” tab in the main menu (above). You can also follow the #CapsProspects hashtag stream on Twitter for the latest Capitals prospect news.
The report organizes the Capitals’ prospects by the six primary leagues of play. They include:
- American Hockey League (AHL)
- Western Hockey League (WHL)
- Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
- East Coast Hockey League (ECHL)
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
- European Hockey Leagues (SHL/NLA)
All news, stats and data were aggregated and compiled throughout the month of December and finalized on, or just prior to December 31, 2018.
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE (HERSHEY BEARS)
December was not kind to the Hershey Bears. They went 5-7-0-1 over the course of the month and are now seven points out of a playoff spot. They sit in last place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. The offense continues to struggle and still relies too much on the trio of Mike Sgarbossa, Riley Barber and Liam O’Brien. In five of their seven regulation losses in December, Hershey scored one or fewer goals. It is hard to win games when the offense isn’t contributing. For the season, the Bears have 84 goals, which is the fewest in the Eastern Conference.
While the offense struggled, the Hershey defense became decimated by injuries, recalls and other circumstances. Connor Hobbs, Lucas Johansen and Kris Bindulis are all out with injuries. Tyler Lewington earned his first recall to the National Hockey League. Tobias Geisser is on loan to the Switzerland World Juniors team (in which he is out with an upper-body injury) and Logan Pyett left the organization to pursue an opportunity overseas. The Bears have been forced to employ three ECHL defenders on the blueline due to their depleted ranks.
The depleted defense and struggling offense has made it hard for Hershey to get on a winning streak. There is still time for the Bears to make a run for a playoff spot, but they need to put together a string of wins. To accomplish that, they need bodies back on defense and they need to find a way to put the puck in the net.
Ilya Samsonov – G – Drafted first-round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 21-years old
Samsonov started the month of December in goal for the Bears against Springfield on the 1st. He gave up four goals on 18 shots faced for a .778 save percentage. However, Samsonov would respond with a good game in his following start against Hartford on December 8, giving up three goals on 31 shots faced for a .903 save percentage. In Samsonov’s next start on December 15 in Providence, he gave up five goals on 23 shots faced for a .783 save percentage for the game. It should be noted that at this point of the month, the Bears’ defensive corps was dealing with significant injuries and call-ups. (Lewington was recalled by the Caps earlier in the week.) Samsonov’s next start was a rough one, giving up six goals on 30 shots faced for an .800 save percentage against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on December 22. It was clear in this game that the Phantoms were pounding Samsonov glove side, which has been an issue in the past. He also appeared to be playing a bit too deep in the crease, but was relatively quiet with his side-to-side movement (an improvement). Samsonov was much better in his final game of the month, stopping 22 of 23 shots faced for a 2-1 win over the Providence Bruins. Samsonov is 5-10-0 with a 3.88 GAA and a .863 save percentage on the season.
Vitek Vanecek – G – Drafted second-round, 2014 NHL Entry Draft – 22-years old
Vanecek had an up-and-down month in December, but he remains Hershey’s clear number one netminder with the struggles of Samsonov. He started the month with a 29-save victory over Binghamton and was then a hard luck loser in a 1-0 defeat to Lehigh Valley on December 7. He surrendered 13 goals in his next three starts, as his losing streak extended to four games. He rebounded with a solid performance against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a 5-1 win on December 28. He played well the following night against Providence, but was done in by a poor third period by the team in front of him. Vanecek’s confidence remains high and he provides a steadying presence in net.
Tyler Lewington – D – Drafted seventh-round, 2013 NHL Entry Draft – 23-years old
The rugged defenseman deservedly earned his first recall to the NHL with the Capitals. He played in two games with the Capitals, netting his first career NHL goal with a first period goal against the Ottawa Senators on December 29. Lewington added his first career assist and fight to earn his first NHL Gordie Howe hat trick. As for Hershey, Lewington played just five games in December and was playing well prior to being recalled by the Caps. He had a goal and two assists in his last two games in Hershey prior to his recall and was also a plus-2 on the month after having a rough December defensively.
Kris Bindulis – D – Undrafted – 23–years old
Bindulis has been a scratch (upper-body injury) for all of December. Bindulis has played in a total of four games so far this season, with zero points on four shots registered, offensively. Bindulis signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Capitals on March 7, 2017 for $792,500 AAV. (more here.)
Lucas Johansen – D – Drafted first-round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old
December was a lost month for Johansen. He missed the entire month due to an injury he suffered against Lehigh Valley on November 23.
Connor Hobbs – D – Drafted fifth-round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 21-years old
After a strong start to the season, Hobbs cooled off in December. He had a lone assist in six games played during the month. His month was cut short by injury and has not played since December 15 in a game against Providence, a game in which he was a minus-3.
Colby Williams – D – Drafted sixth-round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 23-years old
After a promising start to the season, Williams continues to struggle defensively. He was a minus-11 for the month of December, after finishing with a minus-3 rating in November. He has been thrust into a bigger role due to Hershey’s depleted defense and has not handled the defensive responsibilities very well. He has fallen back into some of the bad habits that plagued him last season. He needs to make better decisions with the puck and improve his positioning. Offensively, Williams had five assists in December, which is more than the four points he had in October and November combined. That production does not make up for his defensive play. He has to pick up his game defensively.
Aaron Ness – D – Drafted second-round, 2008 NHL Entry Draft (New York Islanders) – 28-years old
On a depleted Hershey defense, Ness has been the one constant. He has been the lonely steadying force on the blue line. He had a big month offensively. He scored one goal and added 12 helpers. He now leads the Bears in assists with 17 and is third on the team with 19 points. Ness is also the lone Hershey bear who has played in the majority of the games that is a plus player (+1). He is the team’s best defenseman and is the clear number one defenseman on the squad. He is head coach Spencer Carbery’s go-to option in all situations.
Tobias Geisser – D – Drafted fourth–round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 19–years old
Geisser was selected for Team Switzerland in this year’s World Junior Championships. His last game with the Bears was December 16 against Springfield. Geisser played in seven games with the Bears in December, registering an assist in a game against Hartford on December 8, his first career AHL point. Unfortunately, Geisser sustained an upper-body injury in the World Junior Championships and did not play in a single game of the preliminary round. Several reports said his injury was to his elbow, while other reports said it was a shoulder that was injured. The Swiss Team left a spot open for Geisser up until the deadline for finalizing rosters for the next round, which leads one to believe that the injury was not too severe.
Jonas Siegenthaler – D – Drafted second-round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 21-years old
Jonas has spent the entire month of December with the Capitals, and will likely remain with the team until injuries to Brooks Orpik and Christian Djoos are healed, or an acquisition is made by the Capitals.
Shane Gersich – LW – Drafted fifth-round, 2014 NHL Entry Draft – 22-years old
Gersich missed most of the month due to injury. He skated in Hershey’s first three games of the month, tallying one goal. He has not seen the ice since December 7.
Beck Malenstyn – LW – Drafted fifth-round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old
The rookie winger got his first taste of professional discipline when he was suspended for two games for a high hit against Binghamton on December 2. Malenstyn is still struggling to find his offensive game. He broke a 12-game pointless streak when he tallied the first goal against Providence on December 30. The Bears need more offense from him. Still, Malenstyn has carved out a niche on the team as a penalty killer and physical presence. He is the top penalty killer on the team and does whatever it takes to clear the puck. He is usually the first penalty killer over the boards when the Bears are shorthanded and is often the lone forward on the ice when the team is down two men. He also is not afraid to deliver a big hit.
Riley Barber – RW – Drafted sixth-round, 2012 NHL Entry Draft – 24-years old
Barber is one of the few scorers the Bears have. He put home four goals in December and chipped in with six assists. His first goal of the month triggered Hershey’s record-setting Teddy Bear toss on December 2. He ranks second on the team in scoring with 24 points and assists with 13. His 11 goals are third on the team. He has been one of the few consistent offensive players that the team has. Barber, like most of the team, needs to produce more at even strength. Seven of his 11 goals and nine of his 13 assists have come on the power play. Still, the Bears would be in even further trouble on offense if not for Barber, as he along with Mike Sgarbossa and Liam O’Brien, are the focal points of the Hershey offense.
Liam O’Brien – LW – Undrafted – 24-years old
With Sgarbossa and Barber, O’Brien is one of Hershey’s big three on offense. After entering December on a nine-game goalless drought, O’Brien broke through with two goals against Binghamton on December 2. He ended the month with five goals and an assist. He leads the Bears with four game-winning goals and is second on the team with 12 goals. His 16 points is fourth on the team. O’Brien has suited up in all 34 of the Bears games, one of only three players to do so this season.
Hampus Gustafsson – C/LW – Undrafted – 25-years old.
Gustafsson has seen increased playing time in the month of December (with injuries a a factor), playing in nine of the Bears’ 13 games for the month, mostly centering the fourth-line. Unfortunately, the scoring has not seen an increase, as Gustafsson registered one assist in those nine games. He has no goals and two assists in 19 games played so far this season. Gustafsson, making $883,750 this season, is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Garrett Pilon – C – Drafted third round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old
Pilon put up three points in December, netting two goals and adding an assist. He has shown signs of life offensively, but needs to put up points on a more consistent basis. Pilon had an assist in the first game in December and then potted a goal in his third. It looked like he was going to go on a scoring streak. However, he then went six games without a point. On the other end of the ice, Pilon continues to struggle. He was a minus-6 for the month. He has struggled in his own zone and has to do a better job on the back check. When he starts doing that, Hershey’s coaching staff will likely reward him with more ice time.
Max Kammerer – LW – Undrafted – 22–years old
Kammerer saw increased action in December, playing in eight of the Bears 13 games. He scored his first AHL goal on December 9 against Hartford (here). He also registered an assist in that game. For the month, he registered one goal and two assists in the eight games played. Kammerer has one goal and six assists in 19 games played so far this season. He has only nine shots for a shooting percentage 9.1%. Kammerer signed a three-year, two-way entry level contract beginning in the 2018-19 season. The deal carries an average annual value of $870,000.
Sergei Shumakov – RW – Free Agent (KHL) – 26–years old
Shumakov refused to practice on December 6, and as a result, was placed on unconditional waivers. Shumakov subsequently signed a PTO with the Springfield Thunderbirds on December 8. Shumakov was released from his PTO with the Thunderbirds on December 13. (here). [Final player report]
Mathias Bau – LW/RW – Undrafted – 25-years old
Still recovering from injury at home in Europe, there have been background rumors that Bau is close to a return, and could be back within the next month, but they are just rumors at this point. No official time table has been made public.
Mason Mitchell – LW – Undrafted – 24–years old
Mitchell also saw an increase in playing time in December (again, some of it due to injuries). He played in seven games, registering a single assist. Mitchell has one assist in 11 games played so far this season. Mitchell, making $883,750 this year, will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
Brian Pinho – C – Drafted sixth-round, 2013 NHL Entry Draft – 23-years old
After being a minus-7 in the first two months of the season, Pinho bounced back with a plus-4 in December. That is what was expected out of him coming out of Providence College, where he was one of the best defensive forwards in college hockey. He has been much better in his own zone. He has back-checked better and played more responsibly. Offensively, Pinho is still struggling to find his game. He recorded two assists in December and has four points on the season. He is another player that Hershey needs more from offensively.
Juuso Ikonen – RW/LW – Undrafted – 23–years old
Ikonen is another Bears forward that has seen increased playing time in December, due to injuries. Ikonen played in 12 of the Bears 13 games in the month of December, recording no goals and three assists. Ikonen has played on various lines this season, but spent most of his time on the fourth line at right wing.For the season, he has just one goal and five assists in 23 games played. He’s taken 23 shots for a shooting percentage of 4.3%, and is a cumulative -4 on the season. Ikonen has one more year on his entry-level contract at $925,000 average annual value.
Mike Sgarbossa – C – Undrafted – 26-years old
Sgarbossa has been the Bears’ best offensive player all season and December was no different. The pivot netted six goals in the month and chipped in with five helpers. Sgarbossa leads Hershey with 15 goals and 25 points. He is on pace to set a new career-high in goals (19 in his rookie season with Lake Erie) and is just one shy of his goal total from last season. Sgarbossa is also one of three Hershey players to appear in all 34 games this season. There have been very few constants for the Bears this season, but Sgarbossa has been a consistent force in the lineup. The team relies heavily on his scoring and Hershey would be in a world of hurt offensively without him.
Jayson Megna – C – Undrafted – 28-years old
Megna has settled in at the second line center position, and been a steadying force for a Bears team in desperate need of offense. Megna played in all of the Bears 13 games in the month of December, but the goal scoring has cooled-off from after impressive start to the season. In December, he recorded just one goal and seven assists. For the season, Megna has seven goals and eight assists in 30 games played. Megna has 63 shots on the season for a shooting percentage of 11.1%. Megna is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, earning $650,000.
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE (WHL)
Alexander Alexeyev – D – Drafted first-round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 18-years old
The month of December included a couple of injury scares for the Capitals’ 2018 first round draft pick. Alexeyev took a high hit from Regina’s Liam Schioler in the second period on December 7, and would leave the game. However, he would return for the start of the third period. (here). Alexeyev was then hit awkwardly into the boards by Blazers forward Zane Franklin in the first period on December 11 (here and here), and was taken to Red Deer Regional Hospital. Alexeyev underwent an x-ray and a CAT scan and both were negative, as disclosed Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. He was cleared the next day and returned to the lineup the following game on December 14. Offensively, Alexeyev has continued to cool-off in December. After starting the season with seven goals and 13 assists in the first 15 games (41 shots), Alexeyev went the next 15 games with no goals and 11 assists (36 shots), while shooting at essentially the same rate. Alexeyev was selected for the World Juniors by Team Russia, scoring a goal and adding an assist in a game against Switzerland in the preliminary round. He scored a goal against Switzerland (here) on December 30, with one goal and three assists in four games played in the preliminary round.
Riley Sutter – C – Drafted third-round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 18-years old
Sutter was quiet offensively for the first half of December, registering no goals and two assists in the first six games of the month. Sutter would break the slump mid-month scoring a pair of goals against Seattle on December 15. He would also score in the Silvertips final game of the month, giving him three goals and five assists in nine games played in December. For the season, Sutter has 14 goals and 26 assists in 38 games played.
Eric Florchuk – C – Drafted seventh–round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 18–years old
Florchuk‘s month of December was not his best. He posted two points (one goal) in his first three games of the month but was held off of the scoresheet for four consecutive outings and six out of the final seven games in 2018. Florchuk was able to find the scoresheet, tallying a goal, on December 27 in a 4-3 loss to the Prince Albert Raiders. Defensively, he recorded a plus-4 rating and tied his season-high plus-3 rating, which was set twice previously, in a single game on December 30 in a 9-3 win against the Swift Current Broncos. Florchuk tallied a shot on goal in eight out of 10 games this month and fired multiple shots five times, including four on December 28 in a 4-2 loss at the Prince Albert Raiders. He was sent to the penalty box in only two games this month but finished with four penalty minutes in both of those games. Florchuk won six out of 16 draws for a winning percentage of only 37.5% on faceoffs.
Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen – LW – Drafted seventh-round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
Roykas-Marthinsen had a point in every game in the month of December and is currently riding a six-game point streak. He also has points in nine of his previous 10 outings, posting four goals and nine points over that stretch. Roykas-Marthinsen scored two goals in as many games to end the month. He was fine defensively, earning an even rating this past month. The young Swede is currently tied for third in goals among rookies with 10 and tied for 13th with 18 points. He is ninth in the league among rookies and eighth among freshmen forwards with 73 shots on goal. Roykas-Marthinsen took only one shot in his first two games of December combined but has seven in his previous two. He is currently playing with the Norwegian under-20 team at the World Junior Championships and has posted two points, both goals, and a plus-1 rating in five games.
Alex Kannock–Leipert – D – Drafted sixth–round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 18–years old
Alex Kannok-Leipert recorded a goal, five points, and a plus-3 rating in the month of December. He also racked up a lot of penalty minutes, as he recorded 46 PIMs. Kannok-Leipert recorded assists in consecutive games and a plus-6 rating in the first two games of the month. He had a minus-5 rating and was limited to only one assist in a span of four games later in December. The defenseman recently recorded a two-point outing, in which he scored a goal, and a plus-2 rating on December 28. Kannok-Leipert was in the box for at least two minutes in every game except one this past month. He recorded six penalty minutes in a 4-2 win over the Tri-City Americans on December 2 and 20 minutes in a 4-2 loss to the Victoria Royals on December 15. Kannok-Leipert recorded a shot on goal in all but one game this past month and two in a game four times over that span.
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE (OHL)
Kody Clark – RW – Drafted second–round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 19–years old
Clark was injured on November 28 against the Kingston Frontenacs. He injured his elbow and was out for an extended period. With other forwards also being injured, the team was forced to dress only nine forwards. He finally returned to the lineup on December 28, in which the Ottawa 67’s played the Niagara Ice Dogs. He scored the team’s fourth goal in a 4-1 win. In the team’s last game of the month, against the Oshawa Generals on December 30, he scored the game-winning goal and was named the third star of the game. For the season through December, Clark has played in 28 games, has 12 goals and 13 assists. He scored two goals this month in just two games. With Chmelevsky absent, due to representing the USA in the World Junior Games, he has played on the team’s top-line since his return to the lineup. He is in a three-way tie for third in goals for the team, eighth on the team in assists, and sixth on the team in total points. His shooting percentage is 14.1%.
EAST COAST HOCKEY LEAGUE (ECHL)
Parker Milner – G – Undrafted – 28-years old
It was announced on December 16 that Milner suffered an injury and would be out 2-6 weeks. In 13 games played so far this season for the Stingrays, Milner is 8-5-0 with a .900 save percentage.
Adam Morrison – G – Drafted third-round, 2009 NHL Entry Draft (Philadelphia Flyers) – 27-years old
Morrison is 4-4-0 in the season with a 2.95 Goals-Against Average and an .890 save percentage for the Stingrays.
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHELTIC ASSOCIATION (NCAA)
Chase Priskie – D – Drafted Sixth-round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 22-years old
Priskie and the Bobcats are on an impressive run so far this season, as Quinnipiac is currently ranked third in the country with a 15-3 record. Priskie’s scoring has continued in the month of December, but has tailed off somewhat (for him) as the month progressed. He scored a pair of goals against Princeton on December 1 (here) and had the most goals by a defenseman before Christmas since Colorado College’s Tom Preissing had 14 in 2002-03. For the month, Priskie had three goals and three assists in four games played. Priskie leads the team with 12 goals so far this season, is third on the team in assists with 11 and second on the team in points (23) after 18 games played. Priskie leads the team in shots with 74 for a shooting percentage of 16.2%, which is the seventh-best shooting percentage on the Bobcats. The coming months will be critical for both Priskie and the Capitals, Will the Capitals try to sign him before he becomes a free agent this summer?
Benton Maass – D – Drafted Sixth-round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
You may recall that Maass was injured with just 1.1 seconds remaining in overtime in the November 23 game against Miami (here). Maass would miss extended time due to the upper body injury, and did not return in the month of December. He was questionable for UNH’s final game of the month but did not dress.
EUROPEAN HOCKEY LEAGUES (SHL/NLA)
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby – LW – Drafted fifth-round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old
Other than an assist Jonsson-Fjallby recorded with the national team, the Swedish winger hasn’t recorded a point since last month. Jonsson-Fjällby averages about 13 minutes of play each night, and plays big minutes on the Penalty Kill, but his production has been lower than expected. He has only managed to get five shots on net in the last seven games of play. Jonsson-Fjällby isn’t the only one to struggle on his team Djurgården though, the whole team has been falling through the ranks last month after being in the top of the standings for the start of the season, the Stockholm-club now is in seventh place, trailing leaders Frölunda with 11 points. A tough month for the speedy winger for sure.
Martin Fehervary – D – Drafted second-round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
Fehervary was selected once again to play for Team Slovakia in the 2019 World Junior Championship and was also made team captain. The Scouting report for Fehervary at World Junior Championship: Plays Middle in 1-3-1 on the power play, has put on some size, is an offensively-skilled player, can quarterback the power play, can play up top and sneak in to play the middle spot. He is strong enough for the NHL and skilled with the puck. Fehevary was named Player of the Game on December 29. Fehevary logged a lot of minutes, assisted on Slovakia’s only goal and was generally solid defensively. Before heading to World Junior Championship-duties, the Slovakian continued his stable spell with HV71, and has, despite his age, continued to play well on the back end. He’s not the spectacular kind of defenseman, but is rather where he should be at the right time, making the simple plays between joining a rush when it suits him. At the moment Fehervary captains the Slovakian U20 team in the World Junior Championships. Fehervary and his fellow countrymen have had a tough start, losing all three games against tough opposition in the form of Sweden, the US and Finland. In these games Fehervary has produced two assists, finishing with a minus-3 rating. Fehervary has continuing his good spell, and December has been a decent month for him.
Sebastian Walfridsson – D – Drafted fifth-round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
Walfridsson has been featured in three games with the senior team in December. His ice time has gone down and he has been left out of the starting lineup at times. Instead, Walfridsson has been playing in J20 SuperElit, where he has one goal and three assists in nine games. At this moment, it seems vital for him to play senior hockey somewhere, and hopefully an opportunity opens up in the MoDo lineup coming up.
Damien Riat – W/C – Drafted fourth–round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 21–years old
For the month of December, Riat added a goal and an assist in six games. During December, he has served on the first-line, third-line, and fourth-line, playing on the first-line in his most recent game of December 23. The Swiss centerman has produced 14 points in 28 games with EHC Biel this season, a team on a run which currently ranks third in the league. Riat also played three games for the Swiss national team in the recent Deutschland Cup, and produced one assist during that spell. Riat is currently playing his fourth season against senior opposition, and his contract is expiring in 2020. This doesn’t hinder the Capitals to sign him during the summer though, and it’s not unlikely that it will happen given the consistent play from the 21-year old who looks like a good two-way player.
TOP FIVE RANKINGS
A new feature 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.
Prospect Report by:
Jon Sorensen (NCAA/WHL/AHL)
Eric Lord (AHL)
Jesper Svensson (Europe)
Mike Lowry (NCAA)
Diane Doyle (OHL)
Harrison Brown (WHL)
Mic Yugo (Prospects Insider)