We continue breaking down the last 12 months for each of the Washington Capitals prospects with a review and forecast for defenseman Connor Hobbs. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Hobbs, 22, a 6’-1” right handed defenseman from Regina, Saskatchewan, was selected by the Capitals in 5th round (#143 overall) of the 2015 NHL entry draft. Hobbs 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 next summer. He is waivers-exempt for the coming season.
Hobbs 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 the defensive position.
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.
2018-2019 SEASON SUMMARY
Hobbs registered three goals and 15 assists in 59 regular season games, essentially the same offensive production as last season. Once again the season included a significant injury, sidelining him from December 15 to January 11.
Hobbs experienced a bit of a downturn in the middle of the season, and was a healthy scratch for three games in February. Hobbs was a healthy scratch five times in March. The mistakes in Hobbs defensive game also began to resurface in the second half of the season.
In the end, Hobbs was a -7 on the season, registered 88 shots, good enough for 11th on the team, and third-most for a Bears defenseman.
2018-2019 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2018-2019 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Hobbs’ rookie season in 2017-18 was marked by injury and struggles. He appeared in only 44 games due to a wrist injury and was never able to find his game. He was put into situations he was not ready for by then-Head Coach Troy Mann and understandably struggled. Healthy this season, Hobbs looks more confident in his game and has been able to handle situations thrown his way. He has been making better decisions in his own zone and as a result, has made better passes out of the defensive end. Hobbs is also starting to show the offensive ability that saw him tally 31 goals and 85 points in his last season with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. He leads the Bears with five assists and has also chipped in with one goal. He has six points on the season in 11 games, which puts him on pace to significantly surpass his point total of 16 from last season.
Hobbs has continued to show marked improvement from his rookie campaign. He is far and away Hershey’s most improved player. He is steady in his own zone and makes good decisions with the puck, something he did not do last season. He does not wander from his defensive position like he did last year. He has become one of the team’s most reliable penalty killers on the blueline. He is a minus-1 on the season, which is one of the top ratings on the team. He, along with Aaron Ness, have been Hershey’s two most reliable defensemen. Offensively, Hobbs has six assists this month and leads the Bears with 11 helpers. He is third on the team in scoring with 12 points, four less than the 16 points he finished with last season. The Regina, Saskatchewan native is on pace to obliterate that total.
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.
Hobbs returned from injury on January 11 after being out since December 15. His return was a boost for the Bears. The team has gone 7-1-0-1 since his return, with the loss being his first game back. Hobbs is a good skater and has a very good shot fake, the best among Hershey defensemen. He potted two goals and chipped in with an assist in January. He now has 16 points on the season, equaling his point total from last season. He continues to improve defensively, making better decisions finishing with plus-4 rating for the month.
Hobbs seemed to be going along well, but the coaching staff saw something they did not like in the second-year defenseman’s play. He has been a healthy scratch in three of the last six games. Every player goes through a little dip at some point of the season and while not a big drop off, the defenseman’s play has sagged a little. His production fell off to two assists in February. With the team suddenly having depth and options on the blueline, Hobbs has to play solidly on both ends of the ice to stay in the lineup. Still, the native of Regina, Saskatchewan has been much improved from last season and should see consistent playing time as long as he gets back to the way he has been playing for most of the season.
Hobbs was a healthy scratch five times in March, and his offense has all but disappeared. He was scoreless in March and has not recorded a point since February 17. The second-year defenseman has not scored a goal since January 23. Defensively, Hobbs has made more mistakes than he did earlier in the season especially with his positioning, but looked better in his own zone in his last two games. He needs to find the confidence he had earlier in the season.
It will be extremely important for Hobbs to play next season without a significant injury, and prove he can withstand the rigors of professional hockey. It will also be important for Hobbs to find his offensive game once again, or at least show some improvement over last season.
Hobbs will need to separate himself from other defensive prospects this coming season, as other high-profile prospects, including Lucas Johansen and Tyler Lewington, will also become restricted free agents next summer. Decisions will need to be made at that point, considering incoming prospects Alex Alexeyev and Martin Fehervary will also be entering the mix in Hershey.
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By Jon Sorensen