In a “normal” hockey season, NHL prospects playing in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) are not eligible to play in the American Hockey League (AHL) if they are under the age of 20. The rule is aimed to prohibit a mass exodus of younger players from the CHL to the AHL. However, this is not a normal season.
Due to uncertainty associated with the start of the season for leagues in the CHL, including the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the NHL is now striking the age rule for prospects and allowing them to participate in the AHL this season.
A team source reached out to mention NHL teams can have their CHL prospects play in the AHL up until their CHL league gets going and that is something the Canadiens might like to do with Kaiden Guhle. Would be rare opportunity to work with a young CHL prospect at the pro level.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) January 4, 2021
prospects must have been 18 years old by Sept. 15.
This means that Capitals top prospect Connor McMichael, 19, is now eligible to play for the Hershey Bears this season.
McMichael, who is wrapping up his run with Team Canada in the World Juniors Championship, is expected to report to the Capitals following the conclusion of the tournament. He will need to serve a mandatory 7-day quarantine upon his arrival in Arlington.
Because of the quarantine, McMichael is unlikely to see much, if any time in Capitals training camp, but it’s very likely he could garner a spot on the Capitals 4-to-6 player taxi squad to start the season.
However, in his last press conference, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan stated that he did not want to place prospects on the taxi squad if they were going to just sit and miss playing time that could be had elsewhere. This also adds to the likelihood that McMichael could see time playing in Hershey.
Of course, this also hinges on the AHL beginning their season. However, the last report appears to indicate that the league is on track to start their season on February 5.
McMichael will likely be a taxi squad member to start the season, in order that new coaches can meet with him, work with him, and get a good look at his play. However, if delays continue with the CHL season, it’s likely that MacLellan would move him to Hershey in order to play in some games.
By Jon Sorensen