Washington Capitals forward prospect Damien Riat has decided to stay home and play in the Swiss League this season. The 24-year-old originally stated that he planned to return to Hershey for one more season with the Bears. He will join Lausanne HC of the National League.
“I’m coming to Lausanne because Petr Svoboda and John Fust showed a lot of interest in me very quickly and because all the conditions are here to make this an exciting opportunity” explains the 25-year-old forward.
Last season, Riat played 20 games for Genève-Servette HC (18 points) on loan from the Capitals while waiting to join their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears (AHL). Riat suited up 33 times for the Bears, recording nine points.
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Back in June Riat was asked about his first year in the AHL. “We had some very good meetings at the end of the season. I learned the North American mentality which is completely different from Switzerland. We have a lot less time on the ice to create a play. It also goes much faster. So there was an adaptation to make at the beginning but at the end everyone could see that I was comfortable in this League. In Washington, they were very happy. After that, my goal is to go quickly to the NHL.”
Also in June there was a rumor that Riat was going to sign with Lugano. He addressed the rumor in an interview with Swiss media. “It’s a rumor, I didn’t get this info from my agent. My goal is to continue my experience and show what I’m worth in Washington even though it’s tough for the kids to play for the Capitals right now. For me, who gave myself two years to reach NHL, it’s a big challenge that I’m ready to take on.”
Riat and girlfriend Eloise Capt were engaged over the course of this offseason, which could be behind his decision to stay in Switzerland.
Riat is a 6’0”, 180-lb right-handed winger, drafted by the Capitals in the 4th round (#117 overall) of the 2016 NHL entry draft. The Capitals announced on March 5, 2020 that they had signed Riat to a two-year entry-level contract for an average annual value of $817,500. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season.
Riat will be eligible to return to North America at the conclusion of the National League’s 2021-22 season.
By Jon Sorensen
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