Connor McMichael Ready To Battle For Capitals’ Center Position

Photo: Joe Noyes/NoVa Caps

With a full NHL season now tucked under his belt, Capitals forward Connor McMichael enters the Capitals 2022 training camp toting more confidence and experience. And while the media spotlight may have shifted to “shinier” prospects, McMichael has quietly gone about his way, preparing for camp, and is poised to make a statement this preseason.

“It was a big summer for me. I kinda got the feel of the pace of the NHL and what it takes to actually play, day in and day out, in this league,” McMichael told Mike Vogel on Saturday. “I kinda took those things into the gym and on the ice this summer, and trying to translate that into camp and these preseason games.”

McMichael steamrolled his way through the OHL and AHL after being drafted by the Capitals in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He entered the 2021-22 season looking for a full time roster spot, and managed to muster nine goals and nine assists in 68 games played during the regular season and an assist in four postseason games.

McMichael generated a lot of scoring chances last season and led all Capitals forwards in expected goals for percentages at 56.45%. He also impressed coaches with his play at the center position later in the season, something that further bolstered McMichael’s confidence.

“Anytime you can get that kind of confidence from the coaches, it means a lot. It kinda just shows they have faith in you, and they like how you’re playing in that position. It’s a position I want to play in, and it’s great to have that confidence from the coaches, and I’m just looking to prove I belong there.”

McMichael knows there is competition for the center position, but he is looking forward to making his case.

“I think it’s really healthy to have a battle with guys for certain positions on the ice. We brought in a lot of good players this year,” said McMichael. “I want a be a centerman and that’s my natural position. I’m looking to do so, and working hard against the guys that are up against me.”

Areas For Improvement

McMichael had a fairly decent rookie campaign, far outpacing many of the Capitals players in key offensive metrics. He did however struggle mightily in one key stat – “finishing”. Finishing, in this case, is the difference between actual goals for and expected goals for (GF – xGF). Simply put, he wasn’t converting his chances. [Click to enlarge].

McMichael finished dead-last among all Capitals forwards in finishing. The good news, he generated a lot of scoring chances and optimists and analysts, including myself, expect that number to improve significantly this season.

McMichael has pretty good NHL-level play-making abilities, is a vacuum around the goal mouth and has a fairly decent shot. It’s likely the pucks will eventually find the back of the net for him.

The Capitals open their 2022 preseason schedule,on Sunday when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 2:00 PM.

By Jon Sorensen

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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2 Responses to Connor McMichael Ready To Battle For Capitals’ Center Position

  1. novafyre says:

    “I want a be a centerman and that’s my natural position.”

    My ancient memory bank says that last year Lavi did not play him much at center. Am I right? Do you have a TOI breakdown based on what position he was playing? That was a big part of my frustration with how Lavi was playing him. He was a center for the Bears so to me using him on the wings felt as though Lavi was handicapping him from the start. That was my impression, but I don’t know if stats would back me up.

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