Next up in our annual prospect review and forecast series is Connor Hobbs, defenseman for the Hershey Bears. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Hobbs, 23, a 6’-1” right handed defenseman from Regina, Saskatchewan, was selected by the Capitals in 5th round (#143 overall) of the 2015 NHL entry draft. Hobbs signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals on July 1, 2016 for $798,333 average annual value (AAV). Hobbs is a restricted free agent this summer.
Hobbs saw a spike in his offensive numbers during his time in the WHL, beginning with his 2015-2016 season in Regina. He totalled 19 goals and 22 assists in 58 games in his first full season with the Pats. He led all Regina defenders with 41 points and was second on the team with 106 penalty minutes.
Hobbs’ statistical high-point to date came in his final year at Regina (2016-2017) where he tallied 31 goals and 54 assists in 67 games played, setting a number of team records. Hobbs did play some at the forward position due to a rash of injuries to the Pats forwards, but most of his scoring came from the defensive position.
Injuries hampered a good portion of Hobbs’ 2017-2018 season for the Hershey Bears. Hobbs suffered a fractured wrist on November 4th against the Toronto Marlies (here), causing him to miss six weeks of the season. He returned to action on December 21st. Hobbs suffered another injury on March 2nd, causing him to miss most of the month of March. He had just three goals and 13 assists in 44 games played in his rookie season. He scored his first career AHL goal on October 28th against the Providence Bruins (here). It was the game-winner. Hobbs also displayed a good deal of grit in his first year in Hershey, dropping the gloves on occasion (here.) He was 6th on the Bears in total PIMs with 61 minutes.
Hobbs registered three goals and 15 assists in 59 regular season games during the 2018-2019 season, essentially the same offensive production as the previous season. Once again the season included a significant injury, sidelining him from December 15 to January 11.
Hobbs experienced a bit of a downturn in the middle of the season, and was a healthy scratch for three games in February. Hobbs was a healthy scratch five times in March. The mistakes in Hobbs defensive game also began to resurface in the second half of the season.
In the end, Hobbs was a -7 on the season, registered 88 shots, good enough for 11th on the team, and third-most for a Bears defenseman.
The 2019-2020 season was much more of the same. Offensively he recorded just a goal and an assist in 16 games played. He struggled to find playing time in the first half of the season and missed the second half of the season with a shoulder injury.
2019-2020 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports Connor Hobbs during the 2019-2020 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
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.
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Hobbs saw action in nine games in November. He did not score any points, but did make an impact in other ways. On November 10, the Bears were shorthanded late in overtime versus Lehigh Valley. Hobbs was shaken up on the play, but still managed to clear the puck out of the zone from his knees. The clearance sent Hershey to the shootout, which they won 1-0. Then, Hobbs delivered a big hit on Providence’s Trent Frederic in the first period on November 27. The Bears got a power play out of the ensuing scuffle. With Hershey’s numbers game on defense, Hobbs needs to find more consistency in his game and add a little more offense if he wants to get more playing time.
December was a rough month for Hobbs, as he was on press box duty for all but one game during the month. The Regina, Saskatchewan native did make an impact in the lone game he played. On December 29, he earned the Bears two power plays by drawing penalties against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Late in the first period in that same game, Hobbs fired a shot from the point. The shot was tipped in by Brian Pinho to give Hershey a 3-0 lead. With the emergence of Eddie Wittchow and the return of Lucas Johansen from injury, the Bears once again have a glut of defenseman. Hobbs is going to have make a similar impact when he gets the chance to earn more playing time. Hobbs has a goal and an assist in 15 games played this season. He’s registered 20 shots for a shooting percentage of 5.0%.
January was a lost month for Hobbs. He played in one game against Bridgeport on January 4. He was scoreless in the game, but suffered a lower-body injury and has not played since. He had surgery on the shoulder towards the end of the month and may not return this season.
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.
Since departing the WGL, injuries have derailed Hobbs’ overall development trajectory. As previously noted, he is a restricted free agent this summer, so a decision will need to be made by the Capitals. At just 23, the Capitals could may one more year with Hobbs.
If his is indeed extended an offer from the Capitals, it will be extremely important for Hobbs to play a majority of next season without a significant injury, and prove he can withstand the rigors of professional hockey. It will also be important for Hobbs to find his offensive game once again, or at least show some improvement over his rookie season.
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By Jon Sorensen