Washington Capitals Prospect Report – April, 2022: Aliaksei Protas, Brett Leason And Chase Clark Heat-Up

Welcome to the seventh installment of NoVa Caps’ Washington Capitals Monthly Prospects Report for the 2021-2022 season. This report summarizes activities for each of the Capitals’ prospects for the month of April, 2022. 

Format
The report is organized by the leagues/regions in which each prospect plays, in the following order:

  • AHL (Hershey Bears)
  • CHL (WHL/OHL/QMJHL)
  • NCAA/USHL/ECHL
  • EUROPE (SWEDEN/SWISS LEAGUE)
  • KHL (MHL/KHL)

Previous Monthly Prospect Reports for the 2021-22 Season
October
November
December
January
February
March

[You can access all of our prospect news and analysis on our “Prospects” page located in the top menu]


AHL/HERSHEY BEARS


April was another struggle for the Hershey Bears, as the chocolate and white continued to find it difficult to win on the road. The Bears went 2-5-1-0 in eight games away from the Giant Center during the regular season’s final month.

Each of the two victories were important. The 4-3 overtime triumph in Bridgeport on April 5 was the franchise’s 3000th win, making Hershey the first American Hockey League (AHL) team to reach that milestone. The other road victory came against Lehigh Valley in the team’s last road game of the campaign on April 22 and it clinched a Calder Cup playoffs berth for the Bears.

Hershey concluded the regular season in fifth place of the AHL’s Atlantic Division, with a points percentage of .513. They ended the regular season with a record of 34-32-6-4 after going 4-8-1 in April. The Bears compiled 78 points on the season and will face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a best-of-three, first round Calder Cup playoff series beginning on May 6.

On the offensive side of things, Hershey was anemic at times. The chocolate and white were shut-out three times in the month and that came in a span of four games. The Bears also scored a single goal in three other losses.

Mike Vecchione posted five points in the month to finish the season as the team’s leading scorer with 44 points. Aliaksei Protas produced the most points for Hershey in April with nine, including seven assists in the month.

Garrett Pilon contributed eight points, but only one goal. Brett Leason scored seven points in April. Leason also tied for the most goals in the month with four. Mason Morelli was the other Bear with four goals. Defensemen Cody Franson and Bobby Nardella both ended April with six points, as did center Mike Vecchione.

The Bears got strong goaltending for most of the month, but the netminders were often the victims of a lack of offense. There were many games where Pheonix Copley and Zach Fucale kept Hershey in games, only to end up with the loss because the team could not score.


ALEX ALEXEYEV (LD/RD) – 22 – Drafted 2018 (First Round, 31st overall)
Alexeyev had four helpers in April to tie a career high in assists with 18. The biggest of those assists was a secondary helper on Mason Morelli’s overtime goal against Springfield on April 10. He netted a single goal this season and that came on December 12.

The former first rounder is on a 49-game goalless streak. Alexeyev ended the regular season with 19 points in 68 games.

The strongest part of the blue liner’s game is his shot blocking. He consistently comes up with big shot blocks, especially on the penalty kill.

TRENDING: SAME


KODY CLARK (RW) – 22 – Drafted 2018 (Second Round, 47th overall)
April was a microcosm of the entire season for Clark. The month featured signs of life in his game, a scoreless streak and an injury. He started the month with a goal in the opening game of April in Charlotte.

The tally snapped a 19-game goalless drought for the winger. Clark then produced his first multi-point game since February 19 on April 5 in Bridgeport. His shot from between the circles deflected off of teammate Drake Rymsha for the first goal of the game, earning the winger a primary assist.

Clark then put himself in the franchise history book. He took a pass from Lucas Johansen at the top of the right circle and backhanded a shot through Bridgeport goalie Cory Schneider for the overtime game winner to give the Bears their 3000th win.

The son of former NHL winger Wendell Clark seemed to be finding his game at this point. Unfortunately for Kody, the overtime goal was his last point of the month. He went without a point in four games and then sustained an injury that caused him to miss three games.

Clark returned for the last four games of the regular season, but went pointless. The seven-game scoreless streak is the sixth time this campaign where Clark has gone five or more games without a point.

Clark also had four stretches of seven or more games where he failed to tally a goal. The inconsistency is really hard to figure out. There are games where Clark looks like a world beater and then he disappears for long stretches. He recorded eight goals and 11 assists in 63 games played.

TRENDING: SAME


PHEONIX COPLEY (G) – 29 – Undrafted
The North Pole, Alaska native got the start in net seven times in April, going 3-4 in the month. Copley was the victim of no support in three of those losses. On April 2, he stopped 37 of 39 shots in Charlotte, but the Bears scored once in a 3-1 loss (third goal was an empty netter).

The veteran netminder was stellar at Lehigh Valley on April 13. He had 23 saves in the first two periods and was the reason the Bears were ahead 1-0 after 40 minutes. The Alaskan denied Adam Johnson from in close with a right pad save in the first period. Copley got a glove on Max Willman’s attempt from the doorstep in the middle frame. He ended up with 36 saves, but took the loss after a Hershey miscue led to the first Lehigh Valley goal and the winner was awarded after a review when the net came off of its moorings.

Two nights later, the Michigan Tech product turned aside 27 of 28 shots, but the Bears failed to score at all and lost 1-0.

Copley is tied for eighth in the AHL with a 2.38 goals-against-average and posted a .913 save percentage. The netminder went 18-12-5-2 in 35 games. He ranks sixth all-time in Hershey history in goalie wins with 88. He is tied for sixth all-time in shutouts with 11 and has played the seventh most games by a goalie with 164. Copley was named a co-recipient of the PNC Team Most-Valuable Player Award at the season finale.

TRENDING: UP


ETHAN FRANK (RW/C) – 24 – Undrafted
The Bears signed Frank to an AHL contract for the 2022-23 season on April 11. He then agreed to an amateur tryout agreement, allowing him to play the rest of the campaign with Hershey.

Frank comes to the organization with a goal-scoring pedigree. He led the NCAA in goal scoring this season with 26 goals, helping Western Michigan earn the number three overall seed in the NCAA tournament. He ended the season with 39 points in 38 games. Frank finished his collegiate career with 70 goals and 48 assists.

The Papillion, Nebraska native played five games for Hershey down the stretch. He netted his first professional goal in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on April 15, his second game. Frank took a feed from Bobby Nardella and fired a rocket over the blocker of Tommy Nappier for a power play marker.

He has a shot first mentality and that is something the Bears can use. The team does not have enough of these types of players. Frank has played on the right wing in Hershey, but played center in college. He missed the final two games of the season after being injured on April 22.

TRENDING: SAME


ZACH FUCALE (G) – 26 – Drafted 2013 (Second Round, 36th overall – Montreal)

Fucale started six games in April. He won only one of those starts and has lost nine of his last 10 outings. The Laval, Quebec native gave up four goals in each of his first two starts of the month and had a save percentage below .860 in both games.

Fucale then turned away 24 of 26 Springfield shots in a 3-2 overtime victory on April 10. His best stop came with 4:31 remaining in the first period when he denied Dakota Joshua on a two-on-one rush with a left pad save.

The netminder lost his final starts, but did not play poorly. He saved 35 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on April 13. Fucale surrendered two goals in each of his last two starts, but the Bears scored a total of one goal in support in those contests. He concludes the regular season with an 11-15-5-3 record. Fucale’s save percentage for the season is .896 and his goals-against average was 2.62.

TRENDING: SAME


TOBIAS GEISSER (LD) – 22- Drafted 2017 (Fourth Round, 120th overall)
In a month where most Hershey players were minus players, Geisser ended April with a plus four rating. He was only a minus player in one game during the month. He was a plus eight on the season, the second-best rating among all Hershey defensemen. The Swiss blue liner has developed into one of the Bears’ most reliable defensive players.

Geisser is not flashy, but he understands who he is as a player. He does not try to force things. He plays strong, positionally and makes the smart pass. Geisser has become one of the team’s best penalty killers and can be depended on in tight defensive situations. Offensively, the native of Stans, Switzerland had three assists in April. Geisser finishes the campaign with three goals and 10 assists in 68 games.

TRENDING: SAME


SHANE GERSICH (C/LW) – 25 – Drafted 2014 (Fifth Round, 134th overall)
Gersich was a steady presence in the Hershey lineup up until he was injured blocking a shot at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on April 19. He missed the final three games of the regular season.

The North Dakota product played in 71 games for the Bears this season, the most among Hershey forwards and the second most on the team. Gersich posted two goals and three assists in April. His second period tally on April 9 was the game winner in a 5-2 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds.

The Chaska, Minnesota native came back on the next night and recorded his first multi-point game since February 12 against those same Thunderbirds. He opened the scoring 36 seconds into the game when he redirected a Cody Franson shot home. Gersich then set up Mason Morelli’s game-winning goal in overtime with a drop pass.

The Minnesotan has set career highs in goals (14), assists (20) and points (34) this season. Gersich is a solid penalty killer and improved on faceoffs as the season went along.

TRENDING: SAME


LUCAS JOHANSEN (LD) – 24 – Drafted 2016 (First Round, 28th overall)
April was the least productive month, offensively for Johansen. He totaled two points in the month, one goal and an assist. The Vancouver, British Columbia native suffered through his longest scoring drought of the season during a seven-game stretch from April 8 to 19.

Johansen snapped the streak with a marker in the third period at Lehigh Valley on April 22.

His defensive game suffered a little bit down the stretch after being paired with Cody Franson. He was a minus player in four of his last six games, but still finished with a plus 20 rating. That was the highest plus/minus rating for any Bear who played 40 games or more. In 62 games played, there was only one game where Johansen was worse than a minus one.

Offensively, the blue liner set a career high with 28 points. He tallied eight goals, also a career best. Johansen also had 20 helpers, one off of a career high. The Vancouverite was awarded the Milton Garland Memorial Award as the team’s best defenseman.

TRENDING: SAME


AXEL JONSSON-FJALLBY (LW) – 24 –  Drafted 2016 (Fifth Round, 147th overall)
The Swedish winger has been in the NHL since March 4. Unfortunately for Jonson-Fjallby, he has been on press box duty for much of the time. His absence has been felt by a Hershey team scuffling offensively. The native of Stockholm, Sweden played in 44 games for the chocolate and white this season.

He potted 16 goals, which is tied for the second most of the team, and compiled 18 assists for 34 points. Jonsson-Fjallby ended tied for fifth on the Hershey scoring list and tied for the team lead with four game-winning goals. He remains an elite penalty killer who is a threat to score shorthanded.

TRENDING: SAME


BRETT LEASON (RW) – 22 – Drafted 2019 (Second Round, 56th overall)
Leason did not register a point in the month’s opening game, but then scored a goal in his next two games. The winger then went seven games without a goal. He did record a pair of assists during that span.

Leason picked a good time for his first multi-point game of the season. He set up Aliaksei Protas’ second period marker on April 22 in Lehigh Valley. Then, the Calgary, Alberta native delivered the biggest goal of the season. He had a pass blocked by a Lehigh Valley defender. Leason gathered the loose puck and wristed it past Felix Sandstrom for the overtime game-winning goal. The marker clinched a Calder Cup playoff berth for Hershey.

He also netted the first goal of the game for the Bears in the season finale on April 24. Leason tallied four goals in April, tied for the most on the team with Mason Morelli. He ended the month with seven points. That is one more point than the winger had entering April.

Leason concludes the season with six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 31 games.

TRENDING: UP


BECK MALENSTYN (LW/RW) – 23 – Drafted 2016 (Fifth Round, 145th overall)
Coming off his best offensive month in March, Malenstyn was unable to match that production in April. Like most of the Hershey team, the winger’s offense dried up. He recorded one point in the month, an assist on Kody Clark’s overtime winner in Bridgeport on April 5, and failed to score a point in the last 10 games of the campaign.

Malenstyn’s even-strength play also dropped off. He was a minus-six for the month after being a plus-five in March. The Delta, British Columbia native remains a high-end penalty killer and an excellent shot blocker and still delivers the big check. However, the Bears are a better team when Malenstyn is playing well in all areas of his game like he was in March.

TRENDING: DOWN


DYLAN MCILRATH (RD) – 30 – Drafted 2010 (First Round, 10th overall – New York Rangers)
It was a rough month defensively for McIlrath. He was a minus eight during the month and was not a plus player in a single game. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native looked fatigued at times. He played in 74 of Hershey’s 76 games, only missing a pair of contests due to a suspension. McIlrath decision making was poor at times.

In a game at Lehigh Valley on April 13, he was unpressured in the right corner of his own zone in the third period. For some reason, McIlrath backhanded a pass towards his own goal. The feed hit the side of the post. Lehigh Valley’s Alex Kile got to the loose puck and fired a shot on net. Pheonix Copley made the initial save, but Kile put home the rebound to tie the game. The Bears would lose the game. McIlrath also had trouble clearing the puck out of his zone and had passes intercepted on several occasions. He netted a first period goal on April 9 against Springfield for his only point on the month. McIlrath had four goals and six assists on the season.

TRENDING: SAME


JULIAN NAPRAVNIK  (LW) 24 – Undrafted

The German-born winger inked an AHL contract with Hershey for the 2022-23 season on April 14 and then signed an amateur tryout agreement to play with the team for the rest of the season. Napravnik was fourth in the NCAA scoring with 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists), playing with Minnesota State in the 2021-22 season.

He helped lead Minnesota State to the national championship game. Napravnik was the WCHA’s Forward of the Year during the 2020-21 season. The Bad Nauheim, Germany native skated in four games with the Bears and did not score a point. He exited the game against Lehigh Valley on April 23 after being driven into the boards by Isaac Ratcliffe in the third period and did not return.

TRENDING – SAME  


BOBBY NARDELLA (LD) – 25 – Undrafted
The University of Notre Dame product had a good month, offensively. He tallied a goal and assisted on five others. Nardella’s goal came on April 22, his birthday. He tied the game in the first period when he tipped a Garrett Pilon pass over Lehigh Valley goalie Felix Sandstrom.

The Rosemont, Illinois native also picked up the lone assist on Brett Leason’s overtime winning goal that clinched a playoff berth later in the game. Nardella also had a multi-point game in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on April 15 when he had two power play helpers. In 44 games, the blue liner netted six goals and had 16 assists for 24 points.

Nardella continues to have issues in his own end. He was a minus-eight for the month and at times makes poor decisions with the puck in his own zone. Nardella is offensive-minded and always tries to make a play to create the attack. This gets him in trouble sometimes because he tries to force a pass that is not there and that leads to a turnover. Nardella is a good skater and moves the puck up the ice well, but he has to learn to make the safe play when he has to.

TRENDING: SAME


GARRETT PILON (RW) – 24 – Drafted 2016 (Third Round, 87th overall)
Pilon snapped a 12-game goalless drought when he tallied Hershey’s second goal in the regular season finale against Syracuse on April 24.

His lack of goal scoring has contributed to the overarching problem for a Bears team that has been offensively challenged. He too often looks for a pass when he has an open look at goal. The Mineola, New York native needs to shoot more. Pilon did that in the final regular season game, firing six shots. He needs to continue to do that in the playoffs.

The son of former NHL player Rich Pilon split time between center and right wing during the month. He did dish out seven assists in April, tied for the most on the team. Pilon finished second on the Bears scoring list with 42 points in 60 games played. He topped the team in goals with 17 and shared the team-lead with six power play goals.

TRENDING: SAME


BRIAN PINHO (RW) – 26 – Drafted 2013 (Sixth Round, 174th overall)
Pinho missed the entire month after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in March. The Providence College alum skated in only 27 games this season due to a variety of injuries.

Pinho finishes the season with eight goals and nine assists. He is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and it is possible that he has played his last game as a member of the Hershey Bears.

TRENDING: SAME


ALIAKSEI PROTAS (C) – 21 – Drafted 2019 (Third Round, 91st overall)
Protas was Hershey’s best forward in the month of April. It was his most productive month of the season. Protas netted two goals and dished out seven helpers for nine points in the month. The nine points were the most for a Bear in April. His seven assists were tied for the most on the team in the month.

He recorded his first three-point game of the season on April 9 against Springfield. Protas started his night by taking a Mike Vecchione feed behind the net, moving out in front and jamming the puck by Charlie Lindgren to give Hershey a 2-1 lead late in the first.

He then picked up the primary helper on Vecchione’s third period goal and added a secondary assist on Cody Franson’s power play marker. Protas would post two more multi-point games in April.

One of these came in Lehigh Valley on the night Hershey clinched a playoff berth. He gave the Bears a 2-1 lead in the second period when he put a shot over the right pad of Felix Sandstrom from the bottom edge of the right circle.

He then had the lone helper on Lucas Johansen’s third period tally. Protas’ productive April allowed to end the regular season with eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points in 42 games played. He was awarded with the Jack Gingrich Award as Hershey’s Rookie-of-the-Year.

TRENDING: UP


MIKE SGARBOSSA (C) – 29 – Undrafted
Sgarbossa returned to action on April 13 after missing eight games with an upper body injury and played in Hershey’s last seven games. The veteran pivot showed some rust after his return and went four games without a point. He broke that drought with a secondary assist on Bobby Nardella’s first period goal at Lehigh Valley on April 22. Sgarbossa finished the regular season off by assisting on all three goals in a 5-3 loss to Syracuse in the finale.

The Campbellville, Ontario native did not score a goal in the month. He did hit the post a few times, but could not convert. One area where Sgarbossa struggled following his return from injury was faceoffs. He lost a lot of draws, especially on the power play.

The center skated in 30 games this campaign for the chocolate and white due to injuries and recalls to Washington. He tallied 10 goals and had 11 assists.

TRENDING: SAME


HUNTER SHEPARD (G) – 26 – Undrafted
The Minnesota-Duluth alum appeared in 23 games with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL this season. Shepard went 12-9-2-0 in those games. He posted a .917 save percentage and a 2.88 goals-against-average with the Stingrays.

The Grand Rapids, Minnesota native recorded two shutouts with South Carolina. Those numbers are respectable when one considers that the Stingrays were one of the worst teams in the ECHL. They finished last in the South Division with 62 points and a record of 28-38-6-0. Only one team had fewer points and fewer wins than South Carolina.

In the AHL, Shepard played nine games with the Bears, going 5-3-0-1. He had a goals-against-average of 2.06 and a save percentage of .922. Shepard shut out Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on January 8.

TRENDING: SAME


JOE SNIVELY (LW) – 25 – Undrafted
Snively last skated in a game for the Bears on January 25. Hershey really missed his offense. The chocolate and white were shut out seven times after he was recalled to the Washington Capitals.

The Yale University product scored a point in 22 of his last 26 games with the Bears. Starting on November 7, he did not go more than a game without registering a point.

Snively recorded a point in his last 14 home games, tying Alexandre Giroux for the longest home point streak on record. At the time of his recall, he was the team leader in most offensive categories. He was not surpassed as the points leader until March. Snively still finished third on the team in scoring with 38 points. He amassed those points in just 35 games, making Snively the only Bear to average more than a point per game.

The Herndon, Virginia native’s 15 goals were the fourth most on the Hershey roster, as were his 23 assists. Snively was named a co-recipient of the PNC Team Player of the Year Award.

TRENDING: SAME


CLAY STEVENSON – (23) – UNDRAFTED
The Washington Capitals most recent free-agent signing joined the Hershey Bears on an amateur tryout agreement (ATO). The agreement with the Bears was announced on April 7.

Stevenson has spent quality time with the Bears, participating in each workout, but he has yet to see any game action. Stevenson’s contract with the Capitals doesn’t begin until this fall

TRENDING: SAME


RILEY SUTTER (C) – 22 – Drafted 2018 (Third Round, 93rd overall)
April was another lost month for Sutter. He missed the entire month with an injury he suffered in March. Sutter totaled eight points, two goals and six assists, in 39 games on the season.

The Calgary, Alberta native was outplayed by players on AHL only contracts and finds himself at a bit of a crossroads. He has one year remaining on his contract and next season will be a make-or-break season for Sutter. He needs to find a niche for himself or next season will be his last in the organization.

TRENDING: SAME


MIKE VECCHIONE (C) – 28 – Undrafted
The final month of the regular season started off well for Vecchione with an assist in Charlotte on April 1. After going scoreless in his next two games, the Union College product tallied Hershey’s lone goal in a loss at Lehigh Valley on April 8.

The Saugus, Massachusetts native produced in best game of the month on April 9 against the Springfield Thunderbirds. He picked up the primary assist on Aliaksei Protas’ late first period goal. In the third period, Vecchione took a feed from Protas, dragged the puck around Springfield goalie Charlie Lindgren and roofed his shot for the fourth goal of the game for the Bears. He then assisted on Cody Franson’s power play goal for a three-point night.

After that game, Vecchione’s offense dried up. He netted a goal on April 13, but then went without a point in his last six games of the season. It was the longest scoring drought of the season for Vecchione and coincided with Hershey’s offensive struggles down the stretch.

The chocolate and white need him to score. Vecchione ended the season as the team leader in points with 44 in 59 games. He also dished out the most assists on the team with 28. Vecchione had the most power play assists with 14 and tied for team lead with six power play goals. The Union College alum tied for second on the Bears with 16 goals.

TRENDING SAME


CHL (WHL/OHL/QMJHL)


GARIN BJORKLUND (G) – 19 – Drafted 2020 (Sixth-Round, 179th Overall)
Bjorklund wrapped up his tough season with Medicine Hat going 8-36-2 with a 4.26 goals against average and a .877 save percentage. Again, on a bad Medicine Hat Tigers team.

Bjorklund joined teammate Dru Krebs in reporting to Hershey following the conclusion of Medicine Hat’s season on Friday April 15. Both Bjorklund and Krebs signed amateur tryout agreements with the Bears.

The Washington Capitals announced on April 29 the signing of Bjorklund to a three-year, $843,000 per season entry-level deal. The Capitals selected Bjorklund, 19, in the sixth round with the 179th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. He was released from his ATO with the Bears earlier this week.

TRENDING: UP


HAAKON HANELT (F) – 18 – Drafted 2021 (Fifth-Round, 151st Overall)
Hanelt returned from shoulder surgery on Friday, April 8 against Acadie-Bathurst. He started at right wing on the 3rd line.

Hanelt had a goal and four assists in eight games played before sustaining the injury and undergoing surgery in November.

Hanelt returned to the score sheet on April 12th with his first goal since the very beginning of the season.

Hanelt had three assists and was the first star of the game on April 27th against Armada. Hanelt missed the first game in May and was not listed on the Olympiques roster on May 1, so there may be movement afoot.

For the season, Hanelt, 18, had two goals and eight assists in just 16 games played.

TRENDING: SAME


MARTIN HAS (RHD) – 21 – Drafted 2019 (Fifth-Round, 153rd Overall)
Offensively, it was another quiet month for Has. He recorded a goal a goal and an assist and was the third star of the game on April 1. It would be his only goal of the month of April.

Defensively Has has been sound, playing in every game of the month of April for Shawinigan. For the month of April Has had a goal and four assists in 11 games played and was a +6. For the season he has eight goal and 12 assists in 57 games played.

Has is ready for Hershey.

TRENDING: SAME


BEAR HUGHES (C) – 20 – Drafted 2020 (Fifth-Round, 148th Overall)
A 2020 fifth-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals, Hughes has yet to sign a professional deal. If that doesn’t happen by June 1, the Capitals relinquish his rights and Hughes will become a free agent.

“We’ll see what happens with next year,” said Hughes in an interview with The Spokesman. Obviously, I want to sign a pro contract. And for my career, everything’s kind of happened in a good way that’s beneficial to me and my family. If Hershey offers me a contract, yeah, I’m going to sign it. But if they don’t, then I’ll take it as a sign from God, that maybe that’s not for me.”

Hughes was named to the second team all-star of the Western Hockey League’s US. Division. The Post Falls native led the team during the regular season in assists (43) and total points (67).

He notched his first career hat trick and tallied his 100th WHL point on the same night on March 12 against the Tri-City Americans for a career-best six points (3G-3A). He finished the regular season with 24 goals in 64 games – the most in his three full seasons with the Chiefs.

Over his 127-game WHL career, the 20-year-old racked up 116 points on 42 goals and 74 assists. Hughes was named team captain in January, the 35th in franchise history.

As for the postseason, Hughes and the Chiefs were swept by Kamloops in the first round. The loss ended the career of Chiefs overagers Hughes.

“The best part of this year for me was just being able to be with the guys,” Hughes said. “We had a really good group of guys. You make some pretty strong friendships.”

His head coach appreciated Hughes’ game and his leadership.

“I have a lot of respect for Bear and his 200-foot game,” Smith said. “He plays hard, he plays with an edge and he’s got some skill. He’s got a bright future. He led by example and took some young guys under his wing, and that bodes well for the Chiefs in the future.”

TRENDING: SAME


VINCENT IORIO (RHD) – 19 – Drafted 2021 (Second-Round, 55th Overall)
Iorio had a decent month of April for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Offensively, he had a goal and five assists in eight games played to close out the regular season.

Iorio had a goal and an assist in six postseason games before the Wheat Kings were eliminated from the postseason.

For the season, Iorio had 11 goals and 33 assists in 60 games played, was +14 and was a consistent starter on the blueline for Brandon, his best season offensively in his four seasons with the Wheat Kings.

TRENDING: SAME


DRU KREBS (LHD) – 18 – Drafted 2021 (Sixth-Round, 176th Overall)
Krebs joined teammate Garin Bjorklund in reporting to Hershey following the conclusion of the Medicine Hat season on Friday April 15. Both Bjorklund and Krebs signed amateur tryout agreements with the Bears and we’re officially released from the agreement a week later.

For the season, Krebs finished with four goals and 15 assists in 66 games played for a porous and poor Tigers team. Defensively, Krebs was a whopping -58 for the season, again, on a poor Medicine Hat team.

It’s been a challenge this season trying to gauge both Bjorklund and Krebs, as the team was bad. It’s likely the reason both were summoned to Hershey at the end of the season, so Capitals management could get a better feel for their development over the last nine months.

TRENDING: SAME


HENDRIX LAPIERRE (C) – 20 – Drafted 2020 (First-Round, 22nd overall)
Lapierre sustained a lower body injury during the Titan’s game on April 1 and was out of the lineup for the next six games. He returned to the lineup on April 14, and was moved to left wing on the second line in his first game back.

Lapierre, 20, potted a pair of goals in the first period against the Islanders. His first strike came at 10:56 of the period, extending the Titan’s lead to 2-0. Lapierre received a beautiful exit pass off the boards and deked the netminder for the open-goal shot. It was his 20th goal of the season.

Lapierre’s second goal came five minutes later in the opening frame. He knocked home a close-range shot from the right side on the power play, giving the Titan a 3-0 lead.

Unfortunately, Lapierre once again returned to the injury list on April 21 and missed the last four regular season games of the month. He did return for the Titan’s final regular season game on May 1.

For the season, Lapierre had 21 goals and 30 assists in 40 games played. He finished the season with 1.28 points per game, good for 21st overall in the QMJHL, and 4th on the Titan roster.

A decent, but not overwhelming season for Lapierre. 40 games played is also on the Low side for a player who has not played many games over the last four seasons – 128 games total over the four seasons in the QMJHL, or 32 games per season average.

He shot the puck 150 times for a 14.0% shooting percentage. His time in the QMJHL is done.

TRENDING: SAME


HENRY RYBINSKI (C) – 20 – Drafted 2019 (Fifth-Round, 136th Overall) – Florida Panthers
Rybinski went undrafted as a winger. The Seattle Thunderbirds then decided to move him to the center position for the 2021-22 season and his game took off. As a result, the Washington Capitals signed Henrik Rybinski to a three-year entry-level deal on March 1.

Assist on 4/2

The icing on the 2021-22 cake for Rybinski? On April 10 he was named the Thunderbirds’ Most Valuable Player for the 2021-22 season.

For the season, Rybinski has 21 goals and 44 assists in 47 games played for a 1.39 points per game average and has shot the puck 146 times for a 14.4% shooting percentage. His game total is on the low side after he sat out most of March with an injury.

Rybinski should be in Capitals development camp this summer and will most likely report to the Hershey Bears for the start of the 2022-23 AHL season.

TRENDING: UP


NCAA/USHL/ECHL


CHASE CLARK (G) – 19 – Drafted 2021 (Sixth-Round, 183rd Overall)
During the month of April, Clark posted a 2-3 record with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, the USHL team that acquired him in February. Overall for Muskegon, he compiled a 3-5 record overall with a save percentage of .889 and a goals-against-average of 3.66.

He then excelled in the playoffs, as Muskegon eliminated Cedar Rapids in a best of three series.

On April 25, he made 31 saves as Muskegon shut out Cedar Rapids 6-0 during the first game of their best-of-three first-round playoff series. The next night, he nearly got another shutout, giving up a goal towards the end of the game as Muskegon beat Cedar Rapid 6-1, advancing to the second round of the playoffs. 

For the series, he made 64 saves and compiled a save percentage of .985. Muskegon has advanced to play the Dubuque Fighting Saints. For the playoffs thus far, he has played in three games, has a 2-0 record, a save percentage of .959 and has made 94 saves.

In related news, Yaniv Perets (undrafted) has committed to return to Quinnipiac next season, which will no doubt impact Clark, who has also committed to Quinnipiac next season.

For his prior team, the Tri-City Storm, he posted a 4-2-1 record, a save percentage of .915, and a Goals Against Average of 2.51.

TRENDING: SAME


MITCHELL GIBSON (G) – 22 – Drafted 2018 (Fourth-Round, 124th overall)
Gibson season came to an end in March. Harvard won the Whitelaw Cup for the ECAC championship on March 19. As a result they faced Benton Maass and Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA playoffs on March 24. His season would come to an end with a 4-3 loss to Maass and Minnesota state.

Gibson had a strong season once he dusted off the cobwebs. (He too missed about 18 months of playing time during the pandemic). Gibson ended the season 18-10-1-2 with a 2.17 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.

TRENDING: SAME


BRENT JOHNSON (RHD) – 18 – Drafted 2021 (Third Round, 80th Overall)
Johnson’s season ended in March. During the month of March, Johnson played in five games for the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. These games included the last two games of the regular season, one game in the NCHC Quarterfinals, one game in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, and one game in the NCAA Tournament. All quality starts for the “Frisco Kid”.

He scored a goal against Notre Dame on the NCAA Tournament on March 24. It was the first goal of the game in a game that the Fighting Hawks lost 2-1 in Overtime.

That ended his hockey season. Over the course of the season, he was thrust into a bigger role down the stretch as injuries mounted. For the season, he played in 23 games for the Fighting Hawks where he scored two goals and recorded one assist.

All-in-all a good solid freshman season for Johnson. He should get plenty more starts next season.

TRENDING: UP


JOAQUIM LEMAY (LHD) – 19 – Drafted 2021 (Fourth Round, 114th Overall)
Joaquim “Jo” Lemay played in nine games for the Lincoln Stars in the USHL during the month of April. During that time, he scored one goal and had five assists. He scored his goal in a 7-3 win against the Omaha Lancers on April 9. He had a five-gamepoint streak from April 3 through April 23.

Overall, for the season, Lemay had nine goals and 36 assists in 58games. He has played on both the first and second defensive pairing and serves as an alternate Captain.

Lemay has committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the fall, which is a solid next step in his development.

TRENDING: SAME


BENTON MAASS
Maass and Minnesota State made a serious run in the NCAA playoffs, ultimately losing to university of Denver in the final. Maass did tally a goal in Frozen Four on April 7 against Minnesota to tie the game 1-1 in the second period.

Maass reported to Hershey following the national tittle game. It was officially announced on April 20 that he, along with Garin Bjorklund and Dru Krebs, signed amateur tryout agreements with the Bears.

While Krebs has since been released from his ATO, and Bjorklund has inked a deal with the Capitals, Maass continues with the Bears. We had Maass as a borderline signing for the Capitals, and it could be the reason he is getting the extended look.

TRENDING: UP


EUROPE (SWEDEN/SWISS LEAGUE)


DAMIEN RIAT (F) – 25 – Drafted 2016 (Fourth-Round, 117th Overall)
Damien Riat seemed to be on track for possibly challenging for a spot on the Washington Capitals’ roster this season or next season. The Capitals signed Riat to a two-year entry-level contract on March 5, 2020. Riat was preparing to report to Hershey when the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown hockey a week later.

Riat, now 25, would finally make his only appearance in the chocolate and white last spring, playing in 33 games for the Bears, recording three goals and six assists. The 2021-22 season was set to be Riat’s shot at finally competing for a roster spot in Washington.

But last summer Riat apparently changed his mind about pursuing a career in the NHL and requested a loan by the Capitals to a team in his home country of Switzerland, all but ending his North American hockey career.

Swiss Hockey news is now reporting that according to Jérôme Reynard (Sport-Center, published on 24 heures), Riat has agreed to terms with LHC, ending any minuscule chance of Riat returning to North America. Riat will apparently remain part of the team for several seasons to come. The team should announce his deal as early as this week.

Riat was originally a 4th round draft pick by the Capitals in 2016. His deal with the Capitals expires at the end of this season.

TRENDING: SAME


OSKAR MAGNUSSON (C/W) – 19 – 2020 Draft (Seventh Round, 211th Overall)
Magnusson’s season ended in March. He continued his season with AIK in the Hockey Allsvenskan (Second Highest League in Sweden). He played in six regular season games during the month of March and scored one goal.

Magnusson scored a goal against Vasterviks IK on March 4, which put his team up 2-1 at the time. They were unable to hold the lead and lost 4-2.

His overall regular season statistics are five goals and six assists in 35 games. He played in two playoff qualifying games and did not have any goals or assists. Since his team lost their two playoff qualifying games, his season is now over. Magnusson generally played at left wing on the third line.

TRENDING: SAME


KHL (VHL/KHL)


BOGDAN TRINEYEV (F) – 19 – DRAFTED 2020 (Fouth-Round, 117th Overall)
Trineyev’s season ended in March. During March, Trineyev played in one regular season game for MHK Dynamo on March 7 and earned an assist on the team’s first goal in a game they ultimately won 3-2.

He spent most of March with Dynamo Moscow in the KHL, playing in nine playoff games with them, earning one assist, as Dynamo was swept by CSKA during the second round of the playoffs.

Overall, he averaged more minutes in the second round of the playoffs than in the first round. He then returned to MHK Dynamo for their playoffs. He played in just one game, on March 26, and earned an assist. MHK Dynamo lost 6-2 and were eliminated from the playoffs. Trineyev’s season is now over.

The Washington Capitals announced May 2 that they have signed Bogdan Trineyev to a three-year entry-level deal. Trineyev’s contract will carry an average annual value of $859,167.


ODDS AND ENDS

Connor McMichael And Martin Fehervary

Where are Connor McMichael and Martin Fehervary? – We’ve graduated them from our formal prospect pool. Should they return to Hershey we will re-introduce the players to our monthly reports.

Prospect Roster

The following is a summary of monthly prospect trends through April. [Click to enlarge]. [Click to enlarge]

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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8 Responses to Washington Capitals Prospect Report – April, 2022: Aliaksei Protas, Brett Leason And Chase Clark Heat-Up

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for these detailed updates all season!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good to see Clark step it up in goal during postseason.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe he can fill the gap. He’s a ways off as well, if he plans to stay all four years in college.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Protas continues to work hard, he and Leason are priming themselves for a full time roster spot.

  4. redLitYogi says:

    Lots of surprising news for me in this report: 1. neither the Caps nor Bears offered Bear a contract. 2. they signed Trineyev despite all of the trouble with Russia (I thought the NHL and KHL had ended the agreement that made these signings impossible). 3. the Caps seem to be signing free agents as if it’s going out of style. Any comments on that?
    As usual, thanks for the brilliant work on this.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Caps are getting a closer look on the prospects they have yet to sign. Bear had a decent season, but it wasn’t overwhelming. He and Benton Maass are getting a good look in Hershey this week and the team will decide next week. I expect Hughes will get contract and possibly Maass, but the team has just 5 contracts to play with. Bears might sign one or the other.

      The free agent signings by scout Danny Brooks have been excellent to date (Snively, Nardella, etc.) now Rybinski and Frank. He has a Midas touch for free agent signings and the Capitals realize it. They are better bets than 4th round draft picks have been panning out.

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