The COVID-19 pandemic essentially stopped the hockey world cold during the first week of March. Since then, playing time for all of the Washington Capitals prospects has been scarce, with little guarantee of when league play will return to play.
The extended closings have therefore created a significant need for teams and prospects looking for competitive games to continue prospect development. As a result, general managers are looking for alternative opportunities for their prospects, and have begun loaning (re-assigning) players on a temporary basis.
Several Capitals prospects have found teams to take them in for the near term, but for the most part playing time is at a premium, and varies widely among the prospects.
PLAYING TIME SO FAR
Here is the latest table for game action for each prospect. The table does not include private workouts or casual pick-up games, but centers more on organized play. [Click to enlarge]
Most of the Capitals top tier prospects participated in the Capitals two-week summer training camp held in July, with all but Shane Gersich and Garrett Pilon traveling with the team to Toronto. In addition, several prospects have been officially loaned to teams in Europe, who are already beginning their seasons.
Damien Riat (Switzerland) and Martin Hugo Has (Czech Republic) have been somewhat fortunate in that they are already participating in training camps and scrimmage games with their respective national teams.
Aliaksei Protas – KHL (Dinamo Minsk) – The Capitals announced that Aliaksei Protas has been loaned to Dinamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Protas has played in four exhibition games so far, centering the fourth line in his last two games. His first regular season game with Dinamo is September 3.
Damien Riat – SNL (Geneve-Servette) – The Capitals confirmed various earlier reports that forward Damien Riat would return to the Swiss National League. Riat played for Geneve-Servette for three seasons from 2015-2018. Riat and Geneve-Servette had their first tune-up game on Saturday. Although Riat did not attend the Capitals return to play training camp last month, he did participate in the Swiss National teams training camp.
Tobias Geisser – SNL (EV-Zug) – The Capitals also confirmed that defenseman Tobias Geisser would start the 2020-21 season in the Swiss National League. Geisser transferred from Hershey to EV-Zug after the start of last season to find more playing time. It is expected that the Capitals will recall Geisser to North America when the organization’s 2020-21 training camps open.
Connor McMichael – Probably the most important prospect move for the Capitals right now is finding a team that will be a good fit for McMichael. He did participate in the Capitals summer training camp and traveled with the team to Toronto. There is no way that they are going to allow McMichael to sit until the end of the year. It’s likely that a Swedish League team would be his best fit.
Martin Fehervary – Fehervary announced last week in an interview with Slovak media that he was considering two offers to play with local teems (Slovan Bratislava and Bratislava Capitals) prior to the NHL’s return to play in November. Fehervary did participate in the Capitals summer training camp and played in one postseason game before sustaining an upper body injury against the Islanders. Look for an announcement this week.
Alexander Alexeyey – Alexeyev is also in need of a temporary playing spot. He participated in the Capitals summer training camp and traveled with the team to Toronto, however, with the AHL scheduled to start no sooner than the first week in December, it would be ideal if he was loaned to another team for two months. The KHL remains the best plan.
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby – Jonsson-Fjallby has been idle since the Bears last game in early March. He has begun skating with a coach in Stockholm, however, there has been no word on Axel being loaned to another team. Djurgarden makes the most sense from here.
Connor Hobbs – Because of injury, Hobbs has not played an organized game since the first week of January. He is looking at a full year away from the game if he is unable to find another team to take him in prior to the AHL returning to play.
Brett Leason – Leason has also been sitting idle since the Bears last game in March. He did not participate in the Capitals summer training camp. He would also benefit from finding playing time in Europe.
*It should be noted that several players are current restricted or unrestricted free agents, and are likely awaiting a new contract or word that the Capitals will not renew.
CURRENT START DATES FOR NORTH AMERICAN LEAGUES
AHL – The Board of Governors announced that the anticipated start of the 2020-21 regular season has been moved to no earlier than December 4, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
OHL – The Ontario Hockey League announced that it is planning to return to play on December 1, 2020, subject to ensuring that the players, fans, staff and community are able to play and attend games safely.
WHL – The Western Hockey League announced that it is now scheduled to open its 2020-21 Regular Season on Friday, December 4, 2020.
We will update next month.
By Jon Sorensen