Welcome to the fourth installment of NoVa Caps’ Washington Capitals Monthly Prospects Report for the 2020-2021 season. This report summarizes activities for each of the Capitals’ prospects for the month of December, 2020.
As noted in previous progress reports, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding shutdown of hockey leagues throughout North America, NHL teams have loaned prospects to leagues currently playing in Europe. As a result, several Capitals prospects have found playing time this fall, while others have remained off the ice.
Prospects active during the month of December:
- Alex Alexeyev (KHL)
- Aliaksei Protas (KHL)
- Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (SHL)
- Damien Riat (SNL)
- Tobias Geisser (SNL)
- Bobby Nardella (SHL)
- Bogdan Trineyev (KHL)
- Oskar Magnusson (SHL)
- Hendrix Lapierre (Team Canada U20 selection camp)
- Connor McMichael (Team Canada U20 selection camp)
- Martin Hugo Has (Team Czech Republic U20 selection camp)
- Benton Mass
- Sebastian Walfridsson
- Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen
All other prospects were idle for the month of December. You can always catch-up on all the latest Washington Capitals prospect news and analysis on our prospects page.
PROSPECT UPDATES FOR DECEMBER, 2020
ALEX ALEXEYEV – Alexeyev returned to the top pair on December 2 against Jokerit, but by default, as Helsinki authorities prohibited several Salavat players from playing within city limits. The subsequent statement from Salavat:
“Authorities of Helsinki unilaterally introduced restrictive measures against our team. By the decision of the authorities of Finland, only those who have required percent of antibodies to COVID-19 in their blood are allowed to play.”
“At the same time, HC “Salavat Yulaev” did not receive any warnings or recommendations on restrictive measures that are being introduced in the territory of Helsinki either from the representatives of the Finnish club or from the KHL.”
“Defenders Philip Larsen, Evgeny Biryukov, Alexei Semenov, forwards Ilya Baranov, Vladislav Kartaev and Danil Alalykin will not take part in the game. Management of club, part of the staff and administrative staff are also not allowed to enter the territory of the Arena”
As a result, Salavat would play with just 16 skaters. Salavat would lose the game, 3-1. Alexeyev played 27:12 and was a minus-3 for the game.
Otherwise, the month of December was really quiet for Alexeyev.
Alexeyev returned to the left side of the third defensive-pairing on December 21 against fellow Capitals prospect Aliaksei Protas and Dinamo Minsk, and remained in that role for the remainder of the month. He had been playing on the right side for the previous month.
For the month of December, Alexeyev had an assist and was an overall -1.
ANALYSIS – Alexeyev continues to struggle at times in his own end, but is slowly learning the KHL game. He continues to see significant minutes on both the power play and the penalty kill, and is getting around 18-20 minutes and 24 shifts of total ice time. This is exactly what he needs. He will not be attending Capitals training camp.
From Salavat/KHL scout Azamat Shavlukov – “He’s more solid now, much fewer giveaways. He had taken couple of rough hits, but it seems he is healthy enough. He is [a] key Salavat player on the PK. But it should be noted, that last four games (including current against Sibir) Salavat become weak on the PK. Although, it is not necessarily his fault. He should shoot more.”
ALIAKSEI PROTAS – Protas returned to center the top-line on December 11 against Ak Bars. He would move throughout the lineup towards the end of the month after Dinamo Minsk lost their top center to the NHL. Towards the end of the month Protas would be relegated to the fourth-line due to lack of offensive production.
The Western Hockey League (WHL) announced on December 15 that it will delay the start of the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season. The Board of Governors will meet in January to consider potential start dates. This will mean more time in the KHL, as Protas was not recalled for Capitals training camp.
Protas was also extremely quiet during the month of December. He would generate just 11 shot attempts and six shots on goal in nine games in December.
For the month of December, Protas had no goals and two assists in nine games. For the season he has six goals and five assists in 37 games.
ANALYSIS – Protas seems to have acclimated well with the speed of play and difference in rink size in the KHL, but just can’t generate shots. He needs to find a way to get more shots off. The team has tried him at all four center positions, and he responded last month after the coach had a private conversation with him, urging him to get more in the action.
By now, most NHL loans have left Sweden and returned to their parent clubs in North America to begin preparations for the coming season. However, Axel Jonsson-Fjällby currently remains in Sweden.
The 22-year-old was loaned from the Capitals to Västerviks IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan league on September 14. Now Vasterviks coach Mattias Karlin tells VT.se that Jonsson-Fjällby will not participate in Washington’s camp – and that he can thus remain with the club. More here.
As for his playing time, Jonsson-Fjallby continues to play on the left wing of the second-line for Vasterviks.
As for his play with Vasterviks IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan league, his scoring remained scarce for the month of December, all while his playing time remained consistent at around 18-20 minutes per game.
For the month, Jonsson-Fjallby had no goals and two assists in six games played in December. For the season he has three goals and 10 assists in 23 games played, and is a plus-5. He has a shooting percentage of 5.1%, down from last month’s 5.7%.
DAMIEN RIAT – Riat scored in a shootout against Lausanne on December 1 to help Geneve-Servette advance in the semi-finals of the Swiss Cup.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) December 2, 2020
The Tribune deGeneve reported on December 30 that Capitals prospect Damien Riat has been recalled by the team. The report stated that Riat would play for Geneve-Servette against Lausanne on December 30 before flying to Washington. [Update: January 2: Riat was not named to training camp roster and remained in Switzerland with Geneve-Servette]
Riat recorded the lone goal for Geneve-Servette in a 4-1 loss to Lausanne.
“I signed for two seasons there and I am ready to put all my energy and chances on my side to succeed. I am ready to be patient and go through the AHL if necessary. When you see the Caps’ lineup, you have to be really strong to integrate into it,” said Riat.
For the month, Riat had a goal and two assists in five games played. The 6’0”, right-handed winger has scored 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 17 games for Geneve-Servette this season.
TOBIAS GEISSER – At the beginning of March (before the worldwide lockdown) Washington Capitals prospect and EVZ defender Tobias Geisser was infected with COVID-19. Months later, the 6’4” blueliner is still suffering from the consequences, as he has still not regained his sense of smell.
It all started harmlessly as he told the look : “I thought a flu or a bad cold was approaching.”
When he woke up the next morning, the symptoms were gone again. A few days later, however, he noticed that he could no longer smell anything.
“But back then, the loss of the sense of smell as a corona (COVID-19) symptom was not so well known”. For this reason, no COVID test was arranged for him at the time.
Since then, however, his sense of smell has not returned to normal, and as a result, the team wanted to get to the bottom of it all and he underwent a COVID-19 antibodies test, which turned out positive, meaning at some point he had the COVID-19 virus.
Offensively for the month of December, Geisser played in all 10 games in which his team, EV Zug, played and recorded one assist. For the year, Geisser has scored one goal and recorded one assist in 18 games.
BOBBY NARDELLA – Nardella was moved from the top pair to the second defense pairing early in the month.
Nardella notched his first tally of the season on December 5 against Malmo.
— C More Sport (@cmoresport) December 5, 2020
Nardella also found the scoresheet on December 10
— C More Sport (@cmoresport) December 10, 2020
Offensively for the month, Nardella had two goals and six assists, including assists in his last three games, in nine games played in December. For the season, Nardella has two goals and 10 assists in 20 games played.
For the month of December, Capitals’ 2020 fourth-round pick Bogdan Trineyev played in six games at the VHL (Second Tier) level, scoring no goals and recording no assists. He did not play in any games for Dynamo Moscow in the VHL until December 13. At the VHL level this year so far, he has played in 16 games, scoring one goal and recording one assist for two points overall, averaging 12.9 minutes in ice time per game.
Trineyev played in no MHL games during December and as a result recorded no points. Overall, his totals for the season at the MHL level are six goals and five assists in 16 games.
Trineyev did not play in any KHL games during December, and on the year has played only three games.
DANIEL CARR – Carr has not played since he ended his playing time in Switzerland following HC Lugano’s game on November 14.
You may recall that Carr ended his loan in Lugano leading the team in points. Carr, who played for Peter Laviolette in Nashville, and was acquired by the Capitals after Laviolette was hired by the Capitals, could be a surprise in training camp.
OSKAR MAGNUSSON – In 2020-21, Magnusson primarily played for the Malmo Redhawks at various levels until being lent to Tyringe SoSS in the HockeyEttan (third-tier Swedish League), a move made to find him more playing time. He has played nine games with Tyringe, scoring three goals and recording three assists.
Magnusson played with the Malmo Redhawks’ Under-20 Junior team for 12 games, scoring three goals with six assists. Additionally, he played seven games with the Malmo Redhawks’ Swedish Elite League team this season. recording no goals or assists.
HENDRIX LAPIERRE – Hockey Canada announced on November 25 that all players, coaches, and staff participating in Team Canada’s U20 selection camp currently being held in Red Deer, Alberta will undergo a 14-day quarantine, as required by the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services.
Team Canada received official clearance from Alberta Health today to resume U20 selection camp activities in advance of the 2021 World Junior Championship on Tuesday, December 8.
Hendrix Lapierre moved from fourth-line Center on Team Red to second-line Left Wing on Team White, behind fellow Capitals first-round pick Connor McMichael, for the third intrateam scrimmage held on December 9.
Hockey Canada announced its first round of cuts from the Team Canada U20 selection camp on Thursday. Unfortunately for the Capitals’ 2020 first-round pick, Lapierre was one of the first seven cut.
Seven players have been released from Team Canada’s selection camp.
Goaltenders: Brett Brochu and Tristan Lennox
Forwards: Adam Beckman, Tyson Foerster, Hendrix Lapierre, Cole Schwindt and Shane Wright
— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) December 10, 2020
Lapierre faced stiff competition in this year’s selection camp, held in Red Deer, Alberta, which included fellow Capitals prospect McMichael.
Lapierre was a relative long shot to make this year’s team, but the experience was good for the 18-year old in his first selection camp, and he should be a strong candidate for next year’s team.
CONNOR MCMICHAEL – Hockey Canada announced on November 25 that all players, coaches and staff participating in Team Canada’s U20 selection camp currently being held in Red Deer, Alberta will undergo a 14-day quarantine, as required by the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services. The quarantine was required after a player and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
Team Canada received official clearance from Alberta Health today to resume U20 selection camp activities in advance of the 2021 World Junior Championship on Tuesday, December 8.
McMichael had two assists in the third intrasquad game on December 9.
FINAL | Intrasquad scrimmage – Dec. 9
⚪️ 6 — 🔴 4
Dach – 🚨🚨🍎🍎
Byram – 🚨🍎
Suzuki – 🚨🍎
Cozens – 🍎🍎
McMichael – 🍎🍎
Perfetti – 🍎🍎
Levi – 16🛑
Gauthier – 15🛑
MORE at https://t.co/0wSsJkoP40.
— #WorldJuniors (@HC_WJC) December 10, 2020
Hockey Canada announced the Canadian roster for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships in Edmonton, which will start on Christmas Day and end on Tuesday, January 5, and McMichael, the Capitals’ first-round pick in 2019, was among the last picks to make the team.
How deep is Team Canada this year? McMichael was slotted as the left wing on the third-line last year when he was 18-years old. In Canada’s only exhibition game on December 23, he moved to the third-line Center position.
McMichael was held off the scoresheet but had several nice scoring chances in the game.
The Ontario Hockey League (OHL), which was set to start its season on February 4, announced earlier in the day on December 23 that it will further delay the start of its season due to the province-wide shutdown in Ontario, which began on Saturday, December 26 for four weeks.
McMichael recorded a shorthanded goal and two assists in Team Canada’s 16-2 blowout of the Germans on December 26. Due to a tournament-ending injury to Kirby Dach, McMichael was elevated to center the top line for the opening game. He was also named as an alternate captain.
In Canada’s second game against Slovakia on December 27, McMichael remained at center on the top-line. Canada won 3-1, with McMichael held off the scoresheet. He tried the between-the-legs shot midway through the final period.
McMichael and Team Canada faced Team Switzerland in their third game of the tournament on December 29, during which McMichael recorded his second goal of the tournament in the middle frame.
Dylan Cozens once again shows his smart defensive stick, this time using his long reach to get the steal before feeding McMichael for the goal. Canada leads Switzerland 5-0 at the second intermission. pic.twitter.com/std7vfnuXF
— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) December 30, 2020
McMichael would finish the game with a goal and an assist in Team Canada’s 10-0 drubbing on Switzerland. Through the first three games, McMichael tallied two goals and three assists and was tied for ninth in points for the entire tournament.
McMichael had a good game against Finland on New Year’s Eve, but no points; he hit two posts and a crossbar in the contest. He would finish the qualifying round with two goals and three assists and a plus-5 in four games and recorded 16 shots on goal for a shooting percentage of 12.5%.
MARTIN HUGO HAS – The Czech Hockey Federation officially unveiled its 42-man National Junior Team Selection Camp roster on Wednesday. Washington Capitals prospect Martin Hugo Has returned for his second Czech squad selection camp, which got underway on December 5 in Vyskov.
Has returns to the Czech blueline following a rookie OHL season split between the North Bay Battalion and Guelph Storm. Has posted six assists in 21 games last season and recorded three points (1-2–3) for the Czechs in the World Juniors.
The 6-foot-4, 187Ib. right-handed defender has spent the last two weeks on temporary transfer to the Czech second division’s HC Benatky nad Jizerou club, putting up an assist in three outings. Has was Washington’s fifth round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
After sitting idle since March, Has returned to the ice on November 4, when he joined the Team Czech Republic U20 Team for training camp at Katich Arena in Litoměřice. The camp was in advance of this year’s World Junior Championship selection camp.
‘Has had a primary assist for the Czech Republic’s first goal in their lone exhibition game on December 23 against Slovakia.
Pavel Novák (@MnWild) redirects the Martin Hugo Has (@Capitals) shot on-goal to get the Czech Republic on the board first. Stanislav Svozil (2021) with the secondary helper. pic.twitter.com/GQKa55Pm2A
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) December 24, 2020
He would add a secondary assist later in the game to stretch the Czech Republic’s lead to 5-0.
In the Czech Republic’s first game of the tournament against Sweden, Has misplayed a puck along the boards that led to a goal for the Swedes.
— Caitlin Berry (@caitlinsports) December 26, 2020
Has would play a decent game overall. Here he recognizes the need to step up on a play and levels a Swedish player.
Victor Söderström maybe getting a little too fancy. Martin Has shuts him down pic.twitter.com/JBXSw6QbUj
— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) December 26, 2020
The Czech Republic would blank the Russians 2-0 in their second game of the tournament on December 27; Has has a very good game in the shutout.
The Czech Republic and Team USA met for the third game of the tournament for each team. The Czech Republic continued to roll just five defenseman, with Has on the right side of the first pair.
Team USA would trounce the Czech Republic 7-0, however, Has went unscathed in the contest with an even plus/minus rating; he recorded 17:26 and 24 shifts of ice time.
BENTON MAASS – The COVID pandemic delayed the start of Hockey East’s season and has limited Benton Maass and UNH to just three games. In his fourth year of NCAA eligibility, Maass is UNH’s longest-tenured defenseman and was selected alternate captain.
In a 6-2 win over cross-border rival Maine on December 12, Maass played one of his best NCAA games. In the offensive end, Maass showed some of the offensive flare of his freshman campaign (four goals, 13 assists, in 44 games). He led the team with five shots on goal, scored on his third shot in the first period, and rang the post on his fourth shot. On both plays, Maass glides backdoor from the blueline to the faceoff circle and snaps off a one-timer past the Maine goalie (see highlight video below).
— UNH Men’s Hockey (@UNHMHOCKEY) December 13, 2020
Maass played in his 100th game on November 30.
Senior defenseman Benton Maass has played in 100 career games with eight goals and 25 assists for 33 points. He has two career game-winning goals which includes the winner in overtime versus Vermont in the home-opener of the 2018-19 season! #BeTheRoar pic.twitter.com/fijYZqXosw
— UNH Men’s Hockey (@UNHMHOCKEY) November 30, 2020
In the defensive zone, Maass displayed his relentless ability to block shots. Trailing by two goals midway through the third period, Maine went on a 4-on-3 power play. In his role as top defender on UNH’s penalty kill unit, Maass denied Maine with a sequence of three blocked shots in 45 seconds, the last two without his stick. His efforts effectively closed the door on Maine. They did not score another goal and UNH eventually added two more.
PROSPECT PLAYING TIME DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The following table tracks the playing time of each of the Capitals’ prospects on a week-by-week basis since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It should be noted that several players remain unsigned free agents. [Click to enlarge]
- The Washington Capitals announced on December 5 that Capitals forward prospect Beck Malenstyn will miss six-to-eight months after undergoing surgery to repair an Achilles tendon. He sustained the injury while training in Vancouver.
- The AHL announced at the end of the month that they remain on track for a February 5 start date.
- The Western Hockey League (WHL) announced on December 15 that it will delay the start of the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season. The Board of Governors will meet in January to consider potential start dates. The league has delayed the start of the 2020-21 season two times prior to today’s announcement.
- The Ontario Hockey League (OHL), which was set to start its season on February. 4, announced on December 23 it will further delay the start of its season due to the provincewide shutdown in Ontario, which begins Saturday for 4 weeks.
- If the OHL should decide to cancel the entire season, the NHL has ruled that certain prospects may transfer to the AHL for the remainder of the season. This could mean that players like Connor McMichael that were previously prohibited from playing in AHL until age 20, could see AHL action this season.
By NoVa Caps Prospect Analysts Team