Connor McMichael Advances With Team Canada; Aliaksei Protas Shines In Junior Qualifying, Vitek Vanecek Continues To Heat Up: Week 13 Capitals Prospect Report


Welcome to the week 13 Washington Capitals prospect report. The following includes a summary of game action and news that occurred between December 9 and December 15, 2019. (Reminder: you can always access all of our prospect news and analysis in the top menu under the “Prospects” tab. You can also follow the latest Capitals prospect news on Twitter under the #CapsProspect hashtag.



A relatively light work week for the Capitals prospects in central Pennsylvania. They opened with a convincing 5-2 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Saturday night at Giant Center. It was their fifth consecutive win. On Sunday the Bears beat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-1, extending their win streak to six straight games. The Bears improved to 14-9-2-3 (31 points) on the season. The Bears currently reside in third place in the Atlantic Division, six points behind Hartford and Providence.

Vitek Vanecek – continues his strong play. He stopped 24 of 26 shots faced for a .923 game save percentage Saturday night against Bridgeport. Vanecek would once again get the call on Sunday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and was once again very strong, stopping 29 of 30 shots for a .967 game save percentage. For the season, Vanecek is 8-4-1-1 with a 2.30 GAA and a .911 save percentage. Vanecek remains the Bears number one netminder.

Pheonix Copley – did not get a start this week. He remains 6-5-4-1 with a 2.67 GAA and a .896 save percentage on the season.

Alexander Alexeyev – is beginning to pick up his game. He had another assist on Friday night. He leads all rookies in points (1g, 11 a). He was also very strong on the Bears penalty kill, including three consecutive blocked shots in a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

Brian Pinho – returned to the scoresheet with his 4th goal of the season on Saturday night versus Bridgeport. For the season, Pinho has 4 goals and 8 assists in 28 games played, and three points in his last two games.

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby – returned to the scoresheet Saturday night with an assist, ending a 14-game pointless streak. On Sunday he would score his 6th goal of the season against Lehigh Valley. For the season, Axel Jonson-Fjallby has six goals and three assists in in 27 games played. He’s registered 38 shots for a shooting percentage of 15.8%.

Garret Pilon – would score his third goal of the season Sunday night against Lehigh Valley. For the season, Pilon has three goals and nine assists in 27 games played. He’s shot the puck 48 times for a shooting percentage of 6.3%.

Bobby Nardella – scored his first professional goal, a power play goal, Sunday night against the Phantoms. The power play goal made it four-straight games in which the Bears scored on the power play, and also the same number of games since Nardella returned to the power play. As we mentioned in last week’s report, Bears Coach Spencer Carbery gives much of the credit in the turn-around of the power play to Nardella’s return.

Beck Malenstyn – was suspended for three games, which would have ended after Sunday’s game. However, Malenstyn was also injured in his last game. Bears Head Coach Spencer Carbery said in his post-game presser On Saturday night that it’s likely Malenstyn will be until after Christmas break.


Connor McMichael
Team Canada’s World Junior selection camp began on Monday with 31 players vying for the 23 spots on the final roster. McMichael reported to Team Canada’s junior selection camp on Monday, and was projected to start on the second line.

McMichael met with the media following day one of the selection camp (here).

NoVa Caps’ was in Oakville to cover the camp this week. His report from day one and interview with McMichael can be read here.

McMichael survived the round of cuts that came at the conclusion of the selection camp on Thursday night, and will advance with the team towards the Czech Republic. (More here).

Analyst Take on McMichael: Craig Button – “There’s 13 forward spots on Team Canada’s roster…Connor McMichael can play in every single one of them – and every single one of them adeptly.” (more here).

Aliaksei Protas 
Six nations including Austria, Belarus, Denmark, Latvia, Norway, and Slovenia are currently competing in the Division 1A portion of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, with the winner advancing to the top bracket in the 2021 edition.

Protas and Team Belarus opened play in the 2020 IIHF World Under-20 Championship – Division 1A tournament on Monday versus Austria. Protas would score the eventual game winner against Austria.

Protas, an Assistant Captain for Team Belarus, had an assist in Belarus’ 3-2 overtime loss to Norway on Thursday.

On Friday Protas would score a goal in Belarus 4-1 win over Slovenia.

Following the game, Protas conducted an interview with Belarus media.  “I am doing my best to show the best that I am capable of, but so far I’m not very pleased with myself.” I think that in some moments the criticism is justified, and in some – not particularly. In any case, I try to watch my games, analyze, add with each match and become better.“

On Sunday, in the final game of the tournament, Protas had two goals and a pair of assists in Belarus’ 7-2 win over Denmark.

For the tournament, Protas had four goals and three assists in five games played. He was tied for second with most goals and 4th in overall points for the tournament.

Eric Florchuk – had an assist in Friday nights 5-2 loss to Kamloops. He would add a goal and an assist in the Blades 4-1 win over Prince Albert Sunday night.

For the season, Florchuk has 11 goals and 8 assists in 27 games played so far this season. He’s registered 42 shots for a shooting percentage of 26.2%

Alex Kannok-Leipert – continues to be paired with Colorado Avalanche’s number one draft pick Bowen Byram on the Giant top pair. Kannok-Leipert had an assist Saturday night.


Martin Hugo Has – continues to progress with Team Czech Republic as they prepare for hosting the upcoming IIHF World Juniors Championship, beginning on December 26. Rumors has Has being named team captain, but that has yet to officially occur at the time of this report.

Damien Riat – after returning for a game, Riat returned to the sidelines this week. It was reported that the scratch was related to lingering concussion issues. ECHB was eliminated from the Champions Hockey League tournament with a 5-3 loss to Frolunda on Tuesday.


Mitchell Gibson – Gibson and the Harvard Crimson are off until December 28th.

Benton Maass – University of New Hampshire’s are off until December 29th when the visit Army at West Point.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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9 Responses to Connor McMichael Advances With Team Canada; Aliaksei Protas Shines In Junior Qualifying, Vitek Vanecek Continues To Heat Up: Week 13 Capitals Prospect Report

  1. Anonymous says:

    The two late college signees from last spring, Snively and Nardella are making a significant impact.

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