The Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) regular season is rapidly coming to close. Connor McMichael and the London Knights have 10 regular season games remaining and whatever number of games they can generate in the postseason. McMichaels offensive stats from this season are very well documented, but what about the remainder of his game?
After watching him play in 25+ London Knights games and in all of his games in the World Junior Championship, there are a few additional (pleasant) surprises to his game that I came across this season. I thought it might be useful to Capitals fans if I gave you a few very quick notes on his game that surprised me (so far) this season.
1. 200 Foot Game – possibly the biggest surprise (to me) has been his checking game. We all likely know many offensive juggernaut prospects that never fully realized the game was played on a 200 foot long sheet of ice, not 100 feet long. He gets the concept of “two-way game”. He reads plays extremely well, and also anticipates the play very well, which puts him in optimal spots to make a steal. He is also good with the stick when on defense, and can be a honey badger along the boards. I like to think this is Dale Hunter’s doing, but truth be known, he may have always had that in his game.
2. Rate Of Improvement – one of the most surprising observations from this season comes from the announcers of opposing teams. There have been quite a few comments made by opposing announcers that thought his game had vastly improved from last season. He was not on NoVa Caps radar last season, so we have to defer to those who watched a lot of his games. Consistently, opposing team announcers have stated the glaring improvements to his game. That’s hard to get your mind around when you consider he was a first round draft pick last year.
3. Confidence – McMichael is an extremely confident kid. I would even use “cocky” as an adjective for him. He’s the kind of player that could possibly rub you the wrong way, if he wasn’t on your team. But the fact is, he’s on “our” team, and it’s excellent to see. We knew he was a fairly confident player ever since Capitals training camp last September (how many prospects attempt the between-the-legs shot in their first NHL preseason game?), but it’s surprising just how confident he actually is. He may redefine “swagger” by the time he gets to the NHL.
There are a few more (lessor) surprises from this season. If these “quick hitter notes” are of any use to Capitals fans, I’ll pull together a few more notes and informational pieces on my observations of McMichael (and other top prospects) from this season in the coming weeks.
By Jon Sorensen