Welcome to the first installment of NoVa Caps’ Washington Capitals monthly prospects reports for the 2019-2020 season. The report summarizes activities for each Capitals’ prospect during the month of October, 2019, 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 always check out all of our prospect analysis and weekly reports under the “Prospects” tab in the main menu. You can also follow #CapsProspects hashtag stream on Twitter for the latest Capitals prospect news.
2019-2020 Weekly Recaps
- Week 6 Report (10/21 – 10/27): here.
- Week 5 Report (10/14 – 10/20): here.
- Week 4 Report (10/7 – 10/13) : here.
- Week 3 Report (9/30 – 10/6): here.
- Week 2 Report (9/23 – 9/29: here.
- Week 1 Report (9/16 – 9/22): here.
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)
- European Hockey Leagues (SHL/NLA)
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
All news, stats and data were aggregated and compiled throughout the month of October and finalized on, or just prior to October 31, 2019. All prospect summaries are then entered into our prospects database for future use.
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE (BEARS)
The Hershey Bears started the 2018-19 season by losing their first five games. Spencer Carbery’s charges were aimed at avoiding a similar start this season. The Bears accomplished that by winning their third game of the season, topping Lehigh Valley 4-3 in overtime. Hershey has received balanced scoring with six players having scored multiple goals, including three with four goals. The Bears also have five players with four or more assists. The defense has seen solid performances from a few players, but is still a work in progress. Overall, Hershey finished the month with a 4-3-1-1 record, good for 10 points and fourth place in the Atlantic Division. Of the five losses, four of them have come by one goal. That is a marked improvement from the start of last season when four of the seven losses were by three or more goals. Riley Sutter (RW) and Kody Clark (RW) remain on the Capitals “Season-Opening Injured Reserve”.
Pheonix Copley – G – Undrafted – 27-years old.
When a player gets sent down to the AHL after spending the entire previous season in the NHL, it is a question to see how the player responds to that demotion. Copley has responded well. The North Pole, Alaska native started four games and has appeared in five. He stopped 26 of 27 shots in a 5-1 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. After dropping a decision in relief at Toronto, Copley came back and turned away 31 of 32 shots in a 5-1 win at Belleville. For the month, the netminder finished with a .920 Save Percentage and 2.13 Goals-Against Average. These numbers would be even better if not for a game against Rochester on October 23 in which Copley surrendered five goals on 29 shots. To be fair to Copley, it was the worst game the Bears played thus far into the season.
Trending – Up
Vitek Vanecek – G – Drafted Second-Round, 2014 NHL Entry Draft – 23-years old.
It has been a bit of an up and down start to the season for the Czech netminder. He gave up four goals in a 4-3 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Opening Night, but bounced back and made 23 saves in Hershey’s inaugural win against Lehigh Valley on October 12. His next start was his worst of the season; the 2019 All-Star surrendered three goals on 11 shots at Toronto and was pulled early in the second period. Vanecek bounced back in his next start and stopped 23 shots in the Bears’ 4-2 win over Laval. He finished the month with an .883 Save Percentage and Goals-Against Average of 2.90.
Trending – Down
Christian Djoos – D – Drafted Seventh-Round, 2012 NHL Entry Draft – 25-years old.
Djoos spent the last two seasons in Washington, but became a casualty of the Capitals’ salary cap woes at the end of training camp. The talented Swede surprisingly cleared waivers and was re-assigned to Hershey. He was obviously disappointed to be in the AHL but it has not shown in his play. Djoos leads the Bears in assists with six and in power play assists with four. The Gothenburg, Sweden native has three, two-assist games. His seven points is second on the Hershey scoring list. He quarterbacks the power play, and while not known for his defensive prowess, Djoos is a plus-2 and has been a good partner for rookie defenseman Martin Fehervary. The duo has given the Bears two, solid defensive-pairings.
Trending – Up
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby – LW, RW – Drafted Fifth-Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 21-years old.
What a difference a year makes. Last season, Jonsson-Fjallby posted two goals and an assist in 16 games with Hershey before heading back home to Sweden. He has already surpassed those totals in nine games this season. The Stockholm native is tied for the team lead in goals with four and has an assist, with one of his goals being a shorthanded tally. He has been making the most of his chances, as his four goals have come on just 11 shots. Jonsson-Fjallby has teamed with Brian Pinho and Beck Malenstyn to give the Bears a quality fourth-line that has been producing offensively. The Swede has also seen time on the penalty kill and his play in his own zone has improved. Last season, he was a minus-5 in his brief stint. This season he is a team best plus-4.
Trending – Up
Beck Malenstyn – LW, RW – Drafted Fifth-Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 21-years old.
Malenstyn carved a niche in the lineup last season with his strong penalty killing and shot blocking. He has continued to contribute in those areas this season and he brings energy every night. The Delta, British Columbia native has spent most of the young season on a line with Brian Pinho and Jonsson-Fjallby and the line combination has been a success. Malenstyn has two goals (one coming while shorthanded), and two assists on the season thus far. He is on pace to surpass both his seven-goal total from last season, as well as his 16-points total. Malenstyn has improved to become more of an all-around player and not just a defensive forward.
Trending – Same
Mike Sgarbossa – C – Undrafted – 27-years old.
Sgarbossa, Hershey’s number one center, has picked up where he left off last season for the Bears. The team’s leading scorer last season once again finds himself at the top of the scoring list for Hershey through the first month. The pivot has eight points in eight games, and is tied for the team lead in goals with four, and for third in assists with four. In the Bears’ inaugural win of the season over Lehigh Valley on October 12, the Campbellville, Ontario native assisted on Travis Boyd’s game-tying goal in the third period, as well as Boyd’s overtime winner. Sgarbossa also netted the game-winner against Belleville on October 18.
Trending – Same
Alexander Alexeyev – D – Drafted First-Round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old.
Alexeyev started his time with the Capitals’ prospects at the rookie showcase in Nashville in early September. Alexeyev had a good tournament before being injured on a late second period hit in the second game. Alexeyev would miss the remainder of the tournament and all of Capitals training camp. The young Russian blueliner has played with poise. Paired with veteran Erik Burgdoerfer, Alexeyev has been solid on both ends of the ice, playing in all situations and seeing a lot of ice time. Defensively, he has played smart and has made good decisions. Offensively, he has tallied six points, tying him for third-most on the Bears. He is second on the team with five assists. The St. Petersburg, Russia native potted the first goal of the season for Hershey, 1:02 into the first period against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Opening Night. Alexeyev had a good, and more importantly, healthy month in Hershey. Offensively, he would register a goal and five assists for the month, second in the AHL among rookie defensemen, only two points behind former Capitals prospect Chase Priskie, who turned in a three-point game against Syracuse recently.
Trending – Up
Martin Fehervary – D – Drafted Second-Round, 2018 NHL Draft – 20-years old.
The Capitals’ top-ranked rookie defender prospect from Bratislava, Slovakia started the season in the NHL, suiting up for three games with the parent club. He has played six games in Hershey since being re-assigned and has fit right in. Fehervary plays with a calmness and poise that belies his age. He always seems to make the right decision and is consistently in a good position defensively. It will not be long until the Slovak is the best defensive defenseman on the Bears. Not known for his offense, Fehervary has chipped in with three points. He scored his first AHL goal against Wilkes-Barre /Scranton on October 13; with the Bears shorthanded, Fehervary took a pass from Malenstyn and skated up ice. He then beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie Casey DeSmith on the blocker side with a wrist shot from the right circle and was named the second star in that game.
Trending – Up
Brian Pinho – C/RW – Drafted Sixth-Round, 2013 NHL Entry Draft – 24-years old.
The second-year product of Providence College began the season playing on right wing. He went scoreless in his first three games. The North Andover, Massachusetts native was moved back to center and was teamed with Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Beck Malenstyn on a formidable fourth-line, a move that has proven to be productive for all three players. Pinho went on a four-game point streak from October 13 to October 19, posting a goal and four assists during the streak. He went scoreless in his final two games of the month, but is on pace to surpass the 12 points he scored last season. Pinho also sees a lot of time on the penalty kill.
Trending – Same
Brett Leason – RW – Drafted Second-Round, 2019 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old.
Much was expected of Leason after a good training camp with the Capitals. He had a very productive season in juniors last year, with 89 points for Prince Albert, and was expected to contribute immediately offensively. That may have been unrealistic. Like all rookies, Leason is going through a bit of an adaptation period as a pro. It is a growing process. He has tallied a single assist in nine games this season. The offensive production may not be there thus far but the Calgary, Alberta native has played hard and is not afraid to be physical. He has not been a liability in his own zone and is a plus-1 on the season. Leason just needs to generate more quality scoring chances.
Trending – Down
Lucas Johansen – D – Drafted First-Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 21-years old.
This is an important season for Johansen, as he is in the last year of his entry-level contract. The former first-rounder is coming off a dreadful season and needs to improve. His season did not get off to a good start. He was a minus-2 on Opening Night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and was at fault for the Penguins’ fourth goal. He had a good angle on Anthony Angelo, but stopped skating and completely gave up on the play. Angelo got behind him and scored what would be the game-winning goal. Johansen was scratched the next night, but returned to the lineup in the next game. He has not had any major mistakes since, but he has not made many plays either. The native of Vancouver, British Columbia has a single assist in six games played. He has been part of a rotation with Connor Hobbs, Tobias Geisser, Colby Williams and Bobby Nardella on the third defensive-pairing. With nine defensemen on the roster, Johansen will have to improve to see continued ice time.
Trending – Same
Connor Hobbs – D – Drafted Fifth-Round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 22-years old.
Hobbs is stuck in a five-man rotation on the third defense pairing. He has appeared in five of Hershey’s nine games thus far. The Regina, Saskatchewan native has played a solid defensive game for the most part (with the exception of the Rochester game) and has not made the same mistakes that plagued him earlier in his career. Hobbs still needs to shoot more. He has a good shot and does a good job of faking his shot to create a shooting lane. Hobbs scored his lone goal of the season came against Laval and tied the game at one in the second period. In the final season of his entry-level contract, Hobbs needs to show the Capitals he deserves to stay in the organization moving forward and needs to play well enough to stay in the lineup to prove that.
Trending – Down
Philippe Maillet – C/RW – Undrafted – 26-years old.
Coming off a breakout season with Ontario, Maillet was brought in to provide secondary scoring. It has been a bit of a slow start offensively, as he has struggled to find chemistry with his linemates. He has also seen time on the right wing. The Montreal, Quebec native did net his first goal in his last game of the month. He was reunited with his Ontario linemate Matt Moulson in that game and it seemed to add a spark to his game. Keeping Mailett with Moulson may be a move that would get the pivot’s game going. The University of New Brunswick product is good in the faceoff circle.
Trending – Down
Garrett Pilon – C – Drafted Third-Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 21-years old.
The second-year pivot dished out two assists in the season opener on October 5. Unfortunately for Pilon, he was pointless in his next five games. The son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon has one assist since Opening Night. The Bears need more offensively from the Mineola, New York native. He got off to a slow start last season as well and then picked it up as the season went along. Hershey is hoping he does the same thing this season. Pilon needs to shoot more. He has 11 shots through his first eight games. He did fire off five shots in his last game against Utica. Pilon was more engaged offensively in that game.
Trending – Down
Colby Williams – D – Drafted Sixth-Round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 24-years old.
Williams got off to a solid start defensively. Paired with Christian Djoos at the start of the season, Williams made smart decisions in his own end and was in good position. Those were areas in which he has struggled the last two seasons. He is a plus-3, after being a team worst minus-15 last season. Then, Martin Fehervary was sent to Hershey by the Capitals and Williams’ ice time decreased. The Regina, Saskatchewan native has since been a healthy scratch in two games as Hershey has been rotating five players on the third defense pairing. In the final year of his contract, Williams is in a position in which he needs to make an impression to stay in the organization. To do that, he has to play consistently.
Trending – Up
Tobias Geisser – D – Drafted Fourth-Round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 20 years old
Geisser has had a slow start to the season. The 6’,4” defenseman has been a healthy scratch for seven of the Bears ‘first nine games due to the amount of defensemen currently on Hershey’s roster. Geisser, who was voted Hershey’s most improved player last season, may be the one who misses the most games in the early season, but Spencer Carbery and the Capitals think highly of the smart and quick defensemen, so his time will come once the backlog of prospects subsides a bit.
Bobby Nardella – D – Undrafted – 23-years old. It is hard to judge Nardella thus far because he has hardly played. He has seen action in only one game, against Rochester on October 23. He had no points and was even for the game. The Notre Dame product has been a healthy scratch in Hershey’s other nine games. The Rosemont, Illinois native is stuck in a numbers game with the Bears carrying nine defensemen and five of those all battling for playing time on the third defensive-pairing. The smooth-skating defenseman played well in the Prospects Showcase in Nashville during the summer, but he needs playing time to develop.
Trending – Down
Liam O’Brien – LW – Undrafted – 25-years old. The longest-tenured Hershey Bear has gotten off to a good start in the goal-scoring department, with three goals in his first nine games, netting one in each of Hershey’s three games on their Canadian road trip. This matches the total he had after December last season. The key for O’Brien is to avoid the lengthy goal-scoring droughts that plagued him last season. The “Big Tuna” is part of the team’s leadership core and brings a certain energy to the team. He also sees a lot of time on the penalty kill.
Trending – Up
Shane Gersich – LW/C – Drafted Fifth-Round, 2014 NHL Entry Draft – 23-years old. Gersich remains a bit of an offensive enigma. He creates scoring opportunities with his speed, but continues to be unable to bury his chances. On Opening Night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he had three shots on goal, but also missed the net on three other opportunities. The North Dakota product’s shot still is not good enough. Gersich does contribute on the penalty kill and is a smart player in his own end. The Chaska, Minnesota native was touted as an offensive player when he turned pro, but his game is more suited for a bottom-six role. Gersich has been a little banged up and has missed three games.
Trending – Down
Joe Snively – LW – Undrafted – 23-years old. The Herndon, Virginia native started the season on the top-line. He struggled in that role. It was a case of too much, too soon. He was scoreless and was a minus-3 in his first three games. Through nine games, Snively is a team-worst minus– 4. His play has not been good enough in his own zone and he needs to be stronger on the puck. At the end of the month, the Yale product was dropped to the third-line and has played better in that role. He potted his first goal of the season at Laval on October 19 and has two points on the season.
Trending – Down
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE (WHL)
Aliaksei Protas – C – Drafted Third-Round, 2019 NHL Entry Draft – 18-years old
Protas, who will turn 19 in January, is playing in his third and final year at the CHL level, and taking full advantage of his veteran status. Protas had a goal and two assists in the Capitals’ first preseason game, but was cut from Capitals’ training camp on September 19, in time to make Prince Albert’s opening game the following day. Protas would score a goal in the season opener. Protas was named to the Raiders’ leadership group on October 15 as an assistant captain (A). For the season, “The Viper of Vitebsk” has nine goals and 10 assists in 14 games played. He has spent a majority of the games centering the Raiders’ third-line, but did spend some time as the top-line center in October, during which he registered 42 shots for a 21.4% shooting percentage.
Eric Florchuk – C – Drafted Seventh-Round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
Florchuk was released from Capitals training camp on September 19, in time to make Saskatoon’s season opener on October 20. In his first game, Florchuk centered the top-line, but was blindsided by a hit in the first period that left him unable to finish the game. He would miss the next five games before returning to action. Florchuk would score a natural hat trick on October 14 and finished the month with five goals and two assists in 11 games played. He registered 20 shots on goal for a 25.0% shooting percentage.
The Vancouver Giants announced on September 27 that Kannok Leipert would be the 17th captain in franchise history. The first-ever, Thai-born player to be selected in the NHL Draft made his way to the top defensive-pairing by the third game of the season. The stay-at-home, sandpaper-type defenseman has had an average month to start the season.
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE (OHL)
Connor McMichael – C – Drafted First-Round, 2019 NHL Entry Draft – 18-years old
McMichael played in the Capitals’ first preseason game and had a dazzling no-look assist to Damien Riat. McMichael was cut from Capitals training camp on September 19, in time to make the London Knights’ first game on October 20. McMichael would score a goal and assist in the season opener. When one considers what some expectations were for McMichael heading back to the Knights, it would be hard to imagine how he could possibly be trending upwards, but that is the case for the Knights’ leading scorer and the league’s fifth-ranked point-getter. McMichael had 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points in only 12 games in the first month of the season and sits 10 points up on the closest teammate in scoring. McMichael has failed to score a goal in only four of his team’s 12 games so far and his 13 goals have placed him in a tie for third-place in the OHL, just three back of the leader. McMichael has already been named to the CHL Vaughn “Team of the Week” twice, including Week 2, during which he collected seven points in two games, including a hat trick and five points on September 28 against his former team, the Hamilton Bulldogs. For the week of October 21 -27, he again was named to the Team of the Week with four goals and four assists in three games played. He is gaining valuable experience as London Head Coach Dale Hunter is utilizing McMichael on the penalty-killing units, a role in which he has two shorthanded goals so far. He’ll also be playing in the OHL/Russia Selects tournament starting on November 7.
EAST COAST HOCKEY LEAGUE (ECHL)
Kristoffer Bindulis – LD – Undrafted – 24-years-old
Bindulis is in the final year of his three-year, entry-level contract with the Capitals. He was re-assigned to ECHL Carolina on October 8, and has played in all six games for the Stingrays so far this season, but has not made the scoresheet, with just four shots.
EUROPEAN HOCKEY LEAGUES (SHL/NLA)
Sebastian Walfridsson – D – Drafted Fifth-Round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old.
After a tough last season with Modo, Sebastian Walfridsson joined league rival Södertälje SK, and the move has borne fruit already. The team has struggled and last week fired their coach after a weak start, but individually the season has been a leap forward for the defenseman. The former fifth-round pick has recorded four (4) points (two goals, two assists) after 13 games and plays an average of 18:14 minutes per game. All of this has come against good competition on a senior level, which is a big improvement compared with playing mostly in junior last year. Playing-time is key for improvement, and development can go fast in a league like Allsvenskan if players do well.
Kristian Røykås Marthinsen – D – Drafted Seventh-Round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old.
The Norwegian seventh-round pick from 2017 left the WHL and Saskatoon Blades, with whom he spent last season, and returned to Sweden for 2019-20. Røykås Marthinsen wasn’t offered an extension as an overage player in Saskatoon, and therefore looked over his alternatives. The choice eventually landed him on the Swedish Division 1 team, HC Dalen, in the third league of Swedish hockey. The season’s start hasn’t been the best for the winger, who after 12 games has produced a total of two points (one goal and one assist). However, patience should be preached with a transition from leagues.
Damien Riat – D – Drafted Fourth-Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 22–years old.
Despite the rumors of the Swiss winger signing with the Capitals, he remained with EHC Biel-Bienne, of the NLA, the team Riat joined before the last season. After 14 games, Damien Riat has six (6) points (two goals, four assists), on a team which is currently second in the league. Riat has never been known for huge numbers points-wise, but more of a reliable two-way playing style. The production is still where he needs to improve most in order to reach the NHL. The Capitals have until next summer to decide on Riat, before potentially losing his rights. Riat said the following to Swiss magazine Journal du Jura after returning from Training Camp with Washington: “…at some point, I will take my chance. But for that I’ll first have to see if Washington offers me something.“, implying that the Capitals haven’t presented a concrete offer.
Martin Has – D – Drafted Fifth-Round, 2019 NHL Entry Draft – 18-years old.
After leaving the Czech Republic in 2017, the 18-year old defenseman has been playing for the SM-Liiga team Tappara’s, youth organization, with whom he has been taking big steps. Has has been playing for all youth national teams during the last few years, and is a likely candidate for the World Junior tournament after Christmas. Has has been playing both Mestis and Liiga hockey this season, after being loaned out to the Mestis side KOOVEE for four games, with whom he produced a goal. For Tappara, in the highest league – Liiga, he has recorded two points (one goal, one assist) in five appearances.
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (NCAA)
Benton Maass – D – Drafted Sixth-round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
Maass was recognized as a Krampade All-American Scholar by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) on July 30. To qualify as a Krampade All-American Scholar, a student-athlete must attain a grade point average of at least a 3.60 each semester and participate in 40 percent of games played. Maass did not attend the Capitals’ Rookie Showcase Tournament in early September, and did not attend Capitals training camp. For the month of October, Maass had a goal and an assist on six shots in five games played. His lone goal was a power-play game-winner in the season opener against Miami. Maass’ monthly highlight video for October is here.
Mitchell Gibson – G – Drafted Fourth-Round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old
Gibson played 26:58 for Harvard in a tune-up game against Dartmouth on October 19. He stopped 14 of 14 shots faced. Harvard begins its season in earnest on Friday, November 1.
TOP FIVE RANKINGS
Our “Top 5 ranking” of prospects by position returns for a third straight season. The ranking is specific to the month and could change each subsequent month. The ranking may also include players that are not officially under contract with the Capitals at the date of this report.
Report by NoVa Caps Prospects Team:
Eric Lord (AHL)
Jesper Svensson (Europe)
Marcus Boutilier (CHL)
Mike Lowry (NCAA)
Jon Sorensen (WHL/AHL)
Mic Yugo (Prospects Insider)