Welcome to the fifth installment of NoVa Caps’ Washington Capitals monthly prospects report for the 2019-2020 season. The report summarizes activities for each of the Capitals’ prospects for the month of February, 2020, 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 this report.
Reminder, you can always check out all of our latest prospect analysis and weekly reports under the “Prospects” tab in the main menu above. You can also follow the #CapsProspects hashtag stream on Twitter for all the latest Capitals prospect news.
2019-2020 Monthly Prospect Reports
Weekly Prospect Reports
- Week 24 Report (02/24 – 03/01)
- Week 23 Report (02/17 – 02/23)
- Week 22 Report (02/10 – 02/16)
- Week 21 Report (02/03 – 02/09)
- Week 20 Report (01/27 – 02/02)
- Week 19 Report (01/20 – 01/26)
- Week 18 Report (01/13 – 01/19)
- Week 17 Report (01/06 – 01/12)
- Week 16 Report (12/30 – 01/5)
- Week 15 Report (12/23 – 12/29)
- Week 14 Report (12/16 – 12/22)
- Week 13 Report (12/09 – 12/15)
- Week 12 Report (12/02 – 12/08)
- .Week 11 Report (11/25 – 12/1)
- Week 10 Report (11/18 – 11/24)
- Week 9 Report (11/11 – 11/17)
- Week 8 Report (11/4 – 11/10)
- Week 7 Report (10/28 – 11/3)
- Week 6 Report (10/21 – 10/27)
- Week 5 Report (10/14 – 10/20)
- Week 4 Report (10/7 – 10/13)
- Week 3 Report (9/30 – 10/6)
- Week 2 Report (9/23 – 9/29)
- Week 1 Report (9/16 – 9/22)
The report organizes the Capitals’ prospects by six primary leagues/regions 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 February and finalized on, or just prior to March 1, 2020. All prospect summaries are then entered into our NoVa Caps prospects database for future use/analysis.
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE (BEARS)
February was an eventful month for the Hershey Bears. The Bears started the month with one of their worst games of the season, registering only 18 shots in a 3-0 loss to Lehigh Valley on February 1. After being called out by Head Coach Spencer Carbery, Hershey responded by sweeping three games the next weekend. Since that sweep, the Bears have gone 4-2-1. They now have 76 points on the season and sit atop of the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Atlantic Division.
Late in the month, Hershey saw their top scoring defenseman, Christian Djoos, shipped off to the Anaheim Ducks by the Washington Capitals at the NHL trade deadline. In return, speedy winger Daniel Sprong came to Chocolatetown. Then, the team faced a scary on-ice situation when enforcer Kale Kessy was knocked out cold in a fight with Charlotte’s Derek Sheppard on February 25. Kessy was carried off on a stretcher and thankfully released from the hospital the following day after all his tests checked out.
Philippe Maillet continues to lead the way offensively, posting an 11-point month, with help from Bobby Nardella, Garrett Pilon, & Matt Moulson.
The Hershey penalty kill remains one of the top units in the AHL, ranking second in the league with a kill percentage of 87.6. The Bears are tied for sixth in the AHL in shorthanded goals with nine.
Pheonix Copley – G – Undrafted – 28-years old. The North Pole, Alaska native started February with a 31-save shutout over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 7. Copley defeated Springfield on the next night to run his winning streak to six. In that game against Springfield, the netminder robbed Joel Lowry from in close to keep the Bears in front in the second period. He dropped two of his next three starts, one in overtime and ended the month with a record of 3-1-1. Copley has 17 wins on the season, putting him in a tie for 10th in the AHL. The 17 victories matches his career-high he set in Hershey during the 2014-15 season. He ranks eighth in the league with a 2.47 Goals-Against Average.
Vitek Vanecek – G – Drafted Second Round, 2014 NHL Entry Draft – 24-years old. The Czech netminder finished the month strong, winning his last three starts to finish February with a 4-2 record. In his last two starts, Vanecek stopped 46 of the 48 shots he faced. In a 5-2 victory over Lehigh Valley on February 9, he turned away all 15 shots fired at him in the third period. The Bears would score three times in the third despite being outshot 15-5. Vanecek kept his team in the game and gave them the chance to win. The netminder made two big saves on a penalty kill in the first period against Charlotte on February 25, first stoning a wide-open Oliwer Kaski with a pad save. Later on the same power play, Steven Lorentz came in on a mini-breakaway, but Vanecek made a big save to deny the scoring chance. Vanecek ranks seventh in the AHL with a Goals-Against Average of 2.38 and is tied for 10th in the league with 17 wins.
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby – LW – Drafted Fifth Round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 22-years old. The Swede is consistent if nothing else. He scored five points in October, December and January, with November his only down month. In February, Jonsson-Fjallby recorded six points, the most he has recorded in a month this season. He dished out two helpers against Lehigh Valley on February 16, including the primary assist on Beck Malenstyn’s third period, game-winning goal. That game was the start of a three-game point streak for Jonsson-Fjallby. The Stockholm, Sweden native is a major contributor to Hershey’s highly-ranked penalty kill and he rarely takes penalties, having 10 penalty minutes on the season. As a result, he is usually available to kill penalties.
Alexander Alexeyev – D – Drafted First Round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old. Alexeyev experienced a bit of an up-and-down month. He scored his third goal of the season against Springfield on February 8 and added an assist in that game. That was an up. The rookie defenseman then found himself a healthy scratch on February 15 after a poor game at Binghamton on February 14. That was a down. To his credit, he responded to being scratched and played better after returning to the lineup. Additionally, Alexeyev topped the 50-games played plateau during the month, which is a career-high in games played. Alexeyev had three assists in the last five games of the month, and was a plus-4 in a 6-1 win over Charlotte on February 25.
Beck Malenstyn – LW/RW – Drafted Fifth Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 22-years old. Malenstyn posted four points in February to run his season point total to 15, one off his total from last year. He registered his first two-point game of the season in a 5-3 Hershey win over Lehigh Valley on February 16. His goal in the third period was the game winner and he added an assist on Brian Pinho’s empty-net goal. On the season, Malenstyn has seven goals, with three of them game-winning goals. On the other end of the ice, the Delta, British Columbia remains one of Hershey’s top penalty killers. He, along with Pinho, are usually the first forwards over the boards in shorthanded situations. Malenstyn also continues to bring a physical presence to the ice. Unfortunately for the winger, he left the game on February 29 with an injury after taking a slash to the wrist/hand.
Mike Sgarbossa – C – Undrafted – 27-years old. Sgarbossa returned from an injury on February 29. It was his first game action since January 5 and he picked up where he left off prior to his injury. Playing on a line with newly-acquired Daniel Sprong, and Liam O’Brien, the Campbellville, Ontario native potted two goals and assisted on Sprong’s game-winning goal in a 5-1 win over Wilkes-Barre-Scranton.
Martin Fehervary – D – Drafted Second Round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old. Fehervary went scoreless in the month of February. It was the first month in which he did not register a point. He has not recorded a point since tallying a goal against Rochester on January 19. The Slovak played three games for the Washington Capitals in February and posted his first career NHL point with an assist against Philadelphia on February 8. He had a rough night on February 10 against the Islanders. His turnover led to Anthony Beauvillier’s second goal of the first period and he ended the game as a minus-3. Fehervary returned to Hershey after that game and was a little off in his first few games back. He then settled back in defensively and was a steady presence the last four games of the month.
Brian Pinho – C/RW – Drafted Sixth Round, 2013 NHL Entry Draft – 24-years old. Pinho followed up his seven-goal January by potting five goals in February. His goal total stood at 18 after February, good for second on the team and 14 more than the four goals he scored as a rookie last season. The Providence College alum did not register an assist in the month, but still has six more assists on the season than he did last year. Pinho amassed 32 points for the season through February, 20 more than his 12 points as a rookie. The North Andover, Massachusetts native continues to be one of Hershey’s top penalty killers and is a big reason why that unit continues to be one of the AHL’s best. He netted his team-leading third shorthanded goal on a breakaway in the third period against Charlotte on February 25.
Brett Leason – RW – Drafted Second Round, 2019 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old. Coming into February, Leason had one goal and seven assists for eight points on the season. The rookie winger nearly matched that point total in February. He ended a 22-game goalless drought when he backhanded a shot past Lehigh Valley goalie J.F. Berube on February 9. Leason posted his first three-assist game as a pro on February 16 against Lehigh Valley. The Calgary, Alberta native added a goal against Bridgeport on February 22 to end the month with six points. It is the most productive month of Leason’s season, although he continues to be a healthy scratch on occasion. He needs to continue to be productive to stay in the lineup because Sprong’s arrival has deepened Hershey’s depth on right wing.
Lucas Johansen – D – Drafted First Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 22-years old. It continues to be a frustrating season for Johansen. He has only played in nine games and has been out with an injury since January 5. Johansen is in the final year of his entry-level contract and his future with the Capitals organization is up in the air.
Connor Hobbs – D – Drafted Fifth Round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 23-years old. Hobbs underwent shoulder surgery on January 29, which will likely keep him out for the season. It is an unfortunate break for the Regina, Saskatchewan native, who is in the last year of his contract and was looking to make an impression on the Washington Capitals organization. Now, Hobbs may have played his last game for the Bears.
Philippe Maillet – C – Undrafted – 27-years old. Maillet continues to be arguably Hershey’s best player. After tallying 15 points in January, the pivot amassed a team-high 13 points in February. He now sits atop of the team’s scoring list with 40 points and with the departure of Christian Djoos, Maillet has the most assists on the team with 26. He is second on the Bears with 10 power play assists. Maillet posted consecutive three-point games on February 8 and February 9 in 5-2 Hershey wins over Springfield and Lehigh Valley. The Montreal, Quebec native raised his game in Sgarbossa’s absence. He has also rekindled the chemistry he had with Matt Moulson last season in Ontario and the Bears have benefited from it.
Garrett Pilon – C/RW – Drafted Third Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 21-years old. For the second straight month, Pilon tallied six goals. He has 18 goals for the season, six more than the 12 he scored last season. The Mineola, New York native dished out four assists in February and ended the month with 10 points. He has 38 points on the season, surpassing the 33 he compiled last year. Pilon recorded three multi-point games in the month, including a two-point game at Binghamton on February 15. Coming into the month, the son of former NHL defenseman Rich Pilon had one power play goal. He potted four on the man-advantage in February. Pilon has avoided scoring droughts, and since ending a four-game pointless streak on January 15, Pilon has not gone more than one game without scoring a point.
Bobby Nardella – D – Undrafted – 23-years old. Nardella put together another strong offensive month. He netted two goals and dished out nine assists in February. The Notre Dame product has four goals and 24 assists on the season. Nardella one-timed a shot off a nice feed from Joe Snively in the first period against Charlotte on February 25. He also made a nice pass to Matt Moulson on Moulson’s game-winning power play goal on February 9. With the departure of Djoos, Nardella is now Hershey’s top scoring defenseman and is clearly the top option as the power play quarterback. While Nardella’s offensive ability is unquestioned, he still has his moments defensively. On February 8 against Springfield, he turned the puck over when he tried to force a pass into the center of the ice and he ended up taking a penalty on the play. Later in the same game, the Rosemont, Illinois native got caught out of position and left Springfield’s Joel Lowry wide open in front of the net (Lowry scored). On the next night, his turnover in the second period led to Lehigh Valley’s power play goal. Later in the month, Nardella settled down in his own end after being paired with veteran Erik Burgdoerfer.
Liam O’Brien – LW – Undrafted – 25-years old. Last season, O’Brien would go through lengthy scoring droughts and was unproductive offensively the second half of the season. He has not had the same issue this season and has been a more consistent offensive player. The longest-tenured Hershey Bear put home two goals in February and added three assists. O’Brien surpassed his point total of 28 from last season when he posted an assist against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 29. He has 19 assists on the campaign and is one off his career-high assist total. The biggest difference in O’Brien’s game this season is in his own end. Last season, he was a minus-12. This season, the Halifax, Nova Scotia native is tied for the team lead in plus/minus with a plus-16 and leads all Hershey forwards in that category. O’Brien also is a contributor on Hershey’s stellar penalty kill.
Colby Williams – D/RW – Drafted Sixth Round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 25-years old. After spending time playing right wing, Williams has been back in his usual position on defense. He played in seven games in February and did not record a point, and finished with an even rating for the month. With the trade of Djoos, Williams moves up the depth chart on defense and has a chance to earn more playing time. He is in a battle with Eddie Wittchow for playing time and will probably be in a platoon situation until one of them takes a hold of that spot.
Tyler Lewington – D – Drafted Seventh Round, 2013 NHL Entry Draft – 25-years old. Lewington was on the ice for all six of Hershey’s goals in a 6-1 win over Charlotte to finish a plus-6 for the game. He also dished out two assists in the game. The Edmonton, Alberta native finished February with a plus-17 rating, tied for the best on the team with O’Brien. Lewington is the team’s best defensive defenseman and is one of Hershey’s leaders. He has three goals on the season, one off tying his career-high of four, and has nine assists for 12 points.
Shane Gersich – LW/C – Drafted Fifth Round, 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 23-years old. After potting six goals in January, Gersich slowed down in February. He netted a single goal in the month and added one assist for two points in February. Earlier in the season, the North Dakota product saw time on the top lines. However, Gersich now finds himself in a bottom six role and likely will remain there the rest of the season. He can still make an impact there because players like Pilon, Pinho, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Beck Malenstyn will be there and all of them are impact players. Saying that, Gersich needs to produce more.
Joe Snively – LW – Undrafted – 24-years old. Snively returned on February 7 after missing a month with an injury. He did not score in his return, but followed it up by recording an assist in his next two games. The Herndon, Virginia native then went on a four-game scoreless streak. Snively broke out of that slump in a big way. The Yale University product tallied his first professional hat trick against Charlotte on February 25 and also added an assist to post a four-point game. He had one assist against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 29 to finish the month with eight points in nine games.
Riley Sutter – C/RW – Drafted Third Round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old. Sutter still finds it hard to get into the lineup every night. He suited up for six games in February and was a healthy scratch for five. The rookie usually slots in on the fourth-line when he plays and has found it difficult to get into a rhythm offensively. Sutter had one assist in the month and has one goal and three assists on the season. The son of former NHL center Ron Sutter needs more ice time to help his development, but could find it difficult to do so in Hershey.
Kody Clark – RW – Drafted Second Round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old. Clark doled out two helpers in seven games in the month. The rookie has three goals and six assists this season. Clark could find his playing time limited going forward with the acquisition of Sprong. He is likely in competition with Leason for ice time and Clark needs to contribute a little more offensively to stay in the lineup.
Daniel Sprong – RW – Drafted Second Round 2015 NHL Entry Draft – 22-years old. Sprong came to Hershey as the return in the Washington Capitals’ trade that sent Christian Djoos to Anaheim. The speedy winger played in the Bears’ final game of February and made an immediate impact. He potted the game-winning goal against his former team, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, in a 5-1 Hershey win on February 29. He also added two assists in the game. Sprong had 11 goals and 16 assists for San Diego prior to the trade. He brings an element of speed to the Bears, but his defensive game needs work.
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE (WHL)
Aliaksei Protas – C – Drafted Third-Round, 2019 NHL Entry Draft – 18-years old
Protas had another relatively underwhelming month of February, as his game continues to stagnate a bit since returning from World Juniors. However, February was still better than in January, as he managed to record seven goals and seven assists in February; nothing to sneeze at, but his overall offensive production has cooled quite a bit. He’s still firing the puck, but as expected, his shooting percentage has also taken a dip since returning from World Juniors. He has 11 goals and 20 since returning (Late December). So is Protas getting tired? He played 61 total games for Prince Albert last season, and another five games for the Belarus U20 team for a total of 66 games, a career-high. So far this season, Protas has played in 54 games for the Raiders, and another five games for the Belarus U20 team, for a total of 59 games, approaching his career-high. There is not much to worry about at this point. Protas is still very young and raw, and will be returning to the WHL next season, where he can spend the entire season prepping for his next step.
Eric Florchuk – C – Drafted Seventh-Round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
Florchuk seems to be somewhat reinvigorated as a result of being traded from Saskatoon to Vancouver in early January, as he has 10 goals and 21 assists in 22 games since joining the Giants. He extended a point streak to a league-best 13 games last Sunday. During that span he recorded five goals and 17 assists for 22 points, a streak that came to an end Friday night against Victoria. For the season, Florchuk has 21 goals and 34 assists in 55 games played. As far as development is concerned, he’s making it real tough for the Capitals to not have him report to Hershey in September. Remember, Florchuk was the very last player selected (“Mr. Irrelevant”) in the 2018 draft (Seventh-round, #217).
Alex Kannok-Leipert – D – Drafted sixth-round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
Kannok-Leipert continues to quietly get things done for the Giants. He has shown signs of additional aggressiveness around the puck as of late, which he will need if he is going to be in Hershey in September. AK-41 has also seen a slight uptick in his scoring in February. He needs to have a strong March in advance of making the move, to the next level this summer/fall.
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE (OHL)
Connor McMichael – C – Drafted first-round, 2019 NHL Entry Draft – 18-years-old
McMichael’s scoring pace cooled-off quite a bit (for him) in February, as he registered just five goals and nine assists in 12 games played. For comparison, McMichael had 12 goals and nine assists in just nine games in January, including three hat tricks. He fired the puck 54 times for a January shooting percentage of 22.2%. However, his impressive shot rate continued in February. He fired 73 shots for a monthly shooting percentage of just 6.8%, his low spot for the season. That’s 10 percentage points below his season average. So, is McMichael getting tired? Probably not. He played in 67 games all of last season, his career-high in games played. So far this season, he’s played in 48 games for the Knights and seven games for the Canadian National Junior Team, for a total of 55 games. However, when you consider all of the additional travel, practices, etc. associated with representing the national team, one could surmise he is reaching his career-high in team play. For the season, McMichael has 42 goals and 52 assists in 48 games played. He’s recorded 249 shots for a season shooting percentage of 16.8%.
Martin Hugo Has – D – Drafted Fifth-Round, 2019 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old.
February was supposed to be a settling month for Has, as the first few months of the season saw him play on five different teams. Unfortunately Has was struck by illness for a period, then an eye infection that caused him to miss games. He played in just seven games in the month of February. Has is also still trying to find his spot in the Storm’s defensive corps, as he continues to bounce around in pairings. Offensively, Has has five assists in 17 games played since joining Guelph. However, in the grand scheme of things, this season has been a good one for Has, as he has moved rapidly through the Capitals’ development system, and could be assigned to Hershey in September, a truly impressive climb for the 6’-4” right-handed defenseman.
Damien Riat – D – Drafted Fourth-Round, 2016 NHL Entry Draft – 22–years old.
Damien Riat struggled with a concussion earlier in the season, but has since returned to play and is performing well for EHC Biel-Bienne. Riat has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 27 games. The young blueliner is also leading the team in penalty minutes, having spent 53 minutes in the sin bin. Riat is likely to surpass his career-high in points (25) if he continues to produce at the same pace. Riat turned 23-years old since we last checked in and is doing well for Biel-Bienne, who are ready for the playoffs after finishing in fifth place. The Swiss winger finished the regular season with a total of 22 points in 38 games, a good bounce-back season after an injury-filled start of the season. Riat isn’t really a star player, but more of a good secondary scorer with some upside in the defensive game. It’s tough to value his eventual chances of reaching the NHL in the near future. It seems like he may have reached his ceiling.
Kristian Røykås-Marthinsen – LW – Drafted Seventh-Round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old.
Røykås Marthinsen’s HC Dalen’s season has ended. The Norwegian left wing ended the season with a total of 12 points in 40 games, which must be viewed as a rather weak performance. After recording decent numbers in the Canadian Hockey League, it was expected Røykås Marthinsen would at least record offensive numbers to a decent extent entering senior hockey. He has another year on his deal with Dalen, maybe next year will be better, but don’t expect him to be a Mats Zuccarello-type player.
Tobias Geisser – D – Drafted Fourth-Round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old.
Geisser and EV Zug finished the regular season with a second place finish, securing home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The defenseman ended the season with a total of two points in 25 games, in what was quite a tough season. The Swiss blueliner has another two years on his deal with the Capitals, and even if things progress, it seems as though Geisser has a long way to the NHL.
Sebastian Walfridsson – D – Drafted Fifth-Round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old
Walfridsson’s minutes continued to decrease in Södertälje, where he continues to log time on the third-pairing. In total the young defenseman averages south of 12 minutes per game, on a team that has struggled in the second tier of Swedish hockey. The team has been bouncing back after a rough start and is in the race for a possible promotion spot to the SHL, but the way there is long and tough. Walfridsson’s chances for reaching the Capitals seems narrow and tough at the moment. The Swedish rearguard currently has eight points in 50 games.
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (NCAA)
Benton Maass – D – Drafted Sixth-round, 2017 NHL Entry Draft – 19-years old
In early February, defenseman Benton Maass had his most productive offensive game in his three seasons at the University of New Hampshire. Maass fired six shots on goal against the University of Vermont, the most he had ever generated in a UNH uniform. With the game tied 1-1 in the first period, he scored the first shorthanded goal of his college career. In the third period, he upped UNH’s lead to 5-2 with his third goal of the season. It was Maass’s first multi-goal game in the NCAA. UNH went on to win 6-3, and defeated Vermont again the following night 2-1. In the highly competitive Hockey East, UNH’s record is 9-11-2. Among the UNH defense core, Maass has the best Plus/Minus rating (plus-2) and the fewest penalties (two minors) in Hockey East competition. With only two games remaining in the regular season, UNH is battling for a berth in the Hockey East playoffs. They must earn at least two points in the home-and-home series against first-place Boston College this weekend to have any chance of making the playoffs. Overall, Maass leads UNH with a Plus/Minus rating of plus-7. His 34 blocked shots in 32 games are second-most on the team and his 59 shots on goal are fifth on the team and second among UNH defensemen. He has contributed three goals and seven assists.
Mitchell Gibson – G – Drafted Fourth-Round, 2018 NHL Entry Draft – 20-years old
After a blazing-hot start to the season, Gibson cooled in the second half. Gibson went 2-4-1 in February and finished the regular season with a record of 9-8-3 with a 2.66 Goals-Against Average and a .917 Save Percentage. He ended the regular season ranked 42nd in the NCAA in GAA and ranked 26th in the NCAA in Save Percentage. As we mentioned in previous monthly and weekly reports, Gibson’s weakest games during the regular season came on the second night of playing in back-to-back games. Harvard finished the regular season ranked 23rd in the Country. They begin ECAC tournament play this week with a three-game set at St. Lawrence on Friday. After all is said and done, Gibson, who was the primary starter for most of the season for Harvard, had a fairly decent Freshman season.
TOP FIVE RANKINGS
Our monthly “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 Analysts Team:
Eric Lord (AHL)
Jesper Svensson (Europe)
Mike Lowry (NCAA)
Jon Sorensen (CHL/AHL)
Diane Doyle (KHL/CHL)
Mic Yugo (Prospects Insider)
Michael Fleetwood (Editor)