We continue breaking-down the last 12 months for each of the Washington Capitals prospects with a review and forecast for center/winger, Damien Riat. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Riat is a 22-year-old forward currently playing hockey for the Biel Hockey Club in the Swiss League. The Geneva, Switzerland native was drafted by the Capitals in the fourth round (#117 overall) of the 2016 NHL entry-level draft. Riat has one year remaining on his two-year deal with Biel.
For the 2018-19 season, Riat registered 11 goals and 14 assists in 48 games for EHC Biel-Bienne of the Swiss League. Prior to that, he played three seasons with the Geneve-Servette Hockey Club. He twice represented Sweden in the World Junior Championships and once in the World Championship.
2018-2019 SEASON SUMMARY
For the 2018-19 season, Riat registered 11 goals and 14 assists in 48 games for EHC Biel-Bienne of the Swiss League. He also represented Switzerland for 5 games in international competition.
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.
So far this season, Riat registered five goals and five assists in 16 games for EHC Biel-Bienne of the Swiss League. As you may recall, Riat surprised many by signing a two-year deal with EHC Biel-Bienne of the Swiss League back in February (here). Rumor had it that their was an out clause if the Capitals extended him an offer by July, which didn’t happen. (More here) Riat did not attend development camp or Capitals training camp this year. It’s unclear as to the future track for Riat, whether he wasn’t invited to participate in development and training camp, or told the camps he wouldn’t be attending. Riat will be almost 24 if/when he enters the Capitals system in the states, and would need at least a year in Hershey, putting him at 25-years old before even considering playing for the Capitals. Time in the NHL is running out for Riat. Riat remains unsigned by the Capitals. Our interview with Riat is here.
For the month of November, Riat added a goal and an assist in six games. He has spent most of the season on the third-line, but was bumped up to the second-line two games ago, which means his coach likes what he sees from the 21-year old. His 12 points in 22 games leads all Under-22 players in the NLA by three. Currently he’s on pace to improve upon his season last year. Riat was named to the roster of Team Switzerland for the the annual Deutschland Cup.
For the month of December, Riat added a goal and an assist in six games. During December, he has played on the first-line, third-line, and fourth-line, but 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.
Riat has continued to be a vital part of the Biel team, who are doing well in NLA. Currently the Swiss winger ranks fifth in the team in scoring, with 19 points in 37 games, averaging about 15 minutes per game on the ice. He is also playing on the powerplay, in company with former NHLers like Damian Brunner and Marc-Antoine Pouliot. Riat may be 21 years old, but it’s easy to say that he has adjusted to senior hockey in a good way this season and continues to do well. It would be interesting to see him try on play across the pond next season.
Riat has continued playing well for EHC Biel in the Swiss league, in total he has 23 points in 45 games, putting himself fourth in team scoring, on a team where production seems to be widely spread through the roster. The Swiss international currently averages Top 9 minutes, with about 15 minutes per game. Biel are on a good run, and on their way to the playoffs where Riat could expect to play a big part on the team.
Damien Riat ended the regular season in the NLA with a total of 25 points in 48 games for EHC Biel. This has been a good year for him, getting a lot more playing team after the team swap from last season. At the moment Biel are in the playoffs, where Riat has scored four points (3+1) in six games. Proving that he can provide when it matters the most. After the season it’s likely that Riat will be in the conversation for a spot in the Swiss World Championships squad, where he has played three games during the season.
He will need to come over to North America to have any chance of an NHL career. He still has one year to go in his contract with Biel in the Swiss League. This would put him at age 23 before even playing in the AHL.
Riat did not attend development camp or training camp last season, so it will be interesting to see if he shows up this offseason. His interest to play North American hockey may have passed. We will know for sure when his current contract in the Swiss League expires next spring.
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By Diane Doyle