An Analysis of Capitals 1st Round Draft Pick Connor McMichael


Photo: @Capitals

With the 25th overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Washington Capitals selected center Connor McMichael from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. NoVa Caps’ Justin Trudel takes a closer look at the Capitals newest prospect.

General Manager Brian McLellan and the Caps’ scouting staff have added a forward in the first round of the NHL draft for the first time since 2014, when they selected Jakub Vrana 13th overall. The Capitals certainly needed to add solid forward prospects after selecting defensemen Alexander Alexeyev and Lucas Johansen with their last two first round picks, and goaltender Ilya Samsonov the draft prior to selecting Johansen.

Here are the overall prospect ratings from various scouting agencies for McMichael:

The Athletic

#52

HockeyProspect.com

#32

Future Considerations

#27

ISS Hockey

#37

McKeen’s Hockey

#28

NHL Central Scouting

#24

EliteProspects.com

#33

TSN/Bob McKenzie

#28

Late Rise

McMichael’s rankings are a bit different per each scouting agency. They are likely a bit skewed because McMichael’s draft stock raised substantially this past season due to his stellar performance for the Knights (36g, 36a). To put his rise into perspective, ProspectPipeline.ca compared McMichael to touted prospects Ty Dellandrea and Liam Foudy

Offensive Minded

Looking strictly at his offensive totals for his two seasons in the OHL, McMichael made tremendous strides in scoring in his sophomore year in London. In 67 games, he potted 36 goals and 36 assists. Impressively, 27 of his 36 assists were primary assists.

According to Prospect-Stats.com, McMichael ranked in the top tier of OHL players in goals per games played, primary assists per games played, points per games played, and shots on goal per games played.

Here’s the visual that Prospect-Stats.com compiled based on his statistical performance in 2018-19:

After reviewing some game tape and highlights of McMichael, one of the things that stuck out the most was his knack for scoring around the net. Since there can be such a wide skill gap in the OHL between the absolute best NHL draft prospects and the rest of the league, a lot of goals can be scored that would most likely not happen in the NHL.

McMichael scored quite a few goals off of rebounds and pucks settling in the slot, and the majority of his shot attempts were from the top of the circles and in towards the net. You can check out some highlights here:

To further prove the point that McMichael has a knack for scoring in tight areas, here’s the shot chart that Prospect-Stats.com put together:

And now for the question that most Caps’ fans want answered: where does McMichael slot in for the Capitals, and when?

It’s pretty fair to say that McMichael is still at least two years away from any possible, consistent NHL time. At 18 years old, it’s hard to expect a draft pick to slot into the NHL, especially in a late 1st round selection. Most times, players drafted outside the top 10 are very unlikely to be NHL ready. McMichael is also two years away from being AHL eligible to suit up for Hershey.

If McMichael continues to develop, he’ll be a tremendous asset in the Caps’ center corps. Rotowire.com projects him to be a middle six player, likely skating on the third line in the NHL. Sportsnet rated his NHL comparable as Vegas Golden Knight William Karlsson.

Ultimately, with continued development, a player with McMichael’s skill set would be a valued commodity on a scoring third line. There’s no rush for McMichael to make the NHL roster, since current Caps third line center Lars Eller is signed through the 2022-23 season.

With McMichael playing for Caps’ legend Dale Hunter in London, he’ll learn from one of the best OHL coaches and will develop his game further. Elite Prospects pointed to his consistency as one of his areas of improvement. Overall, that’s something that’ll come with more experience and maturity. His talent is unquestioned in the OHL; EPRinkside.com named him to their OHL Top 10 prospect list back in November, after about a third of the season when he had 15 points.

“McMichael, who had a subtle rookie season split between the Hamilton Bulldogs and London last year, has displayed a well-rounded game as a sophomore with plenty of upside when it comes to the 2019 draft. McMichael, who was acquired by the Knights in the trade that sent Robert Thomas — the No. 20 pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2017 — to Hamilton, has displayed heady smarts and vision in the offensive zone. It’s best complimented by both his strong passing game and speed up the wing. Though he’s a bit undersized at 17, McMichael’s production of 15 points (10 goals, five assists) hasn’t been hampered.”

Look for McMichael to take his next stride in his development in London next season. He’ll likely be playing in a larger role, and with NHL prospects like Alex Formenton in the Ottawa Senators system likely departing for AHL and NHL minutes, he’ll need to pick up the scoring slack as well.

By Justin Trudel

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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8 Responses to An Analysis of Capitals 1st Round Draft Pick Connor McMichael

  1. Anonymous says:

    Questionable pick with the graded talent remaining on the board. Only 18, and not able to report to Hershey for two more years makes this a longer term development project regardless.

    Like

    • RedLitYogi says:

      Saw him at the development camp scrimmage. He looked like he owned the place. Utterly, almost disdainfully confident. Elusive, quick skater with great moves and vision and he potted two goals. I think he’s going to be a good one. Best forward I’ve seen in the last four development camp scrimmages.

      Like

  2. hockeydruid says:

    Not bad a possible 2/3 line center in 2-3 years. Give him another year in the OHL and then a year maybe year and 1/2 in Hershey and he will do fine on either line.

    Like

    • RedLitYogi says:

      I can see him at 3C when Eller expires out and when Kuznetsov’s contract runs out and Backstrom is about ready to hang up the skates, he’ll be still RFA most likely (8 years from now) and ready to assume the 1C or 2C. you won’t be disappointed – this kid is good.

      Like

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