Photo: Della Young/NoVa Caps
The Washington Capitals opened their 2022 preseason slate of games with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday at Capital One Arena. No less than 13 of the Capitals prospects played in the opener. Here’s a breakdown of how each of the prospects fared in the first preseason game.
LINES AND PAIRS
The Capitals forward lines and defensive pairs included an NHL veteran on each line and pair. Zach Fucale got the start in goal.
#Caps‘ lines vs. BUF:
59-Protas, 26-Dowd, 72-Sheary
16-Suzdalev, 24-McMichael, 39-Mantha
91-Snively, 29-Lapierre, 40-Pilon
65-Hanelt, 84-Hofer, 49-Leason
Fucale vs. Luukkonen. #CapsSabres
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) September 25, 2022
Beck Malenstyn and Gabriel Carlsson were the healthy scratches from the team’s announced roster on Saturday.
Alexander Suzdalev – a somewhat quiet game for the 18-year-old, which is to be expected. He was also denied in the shootout. I’d like to see him get at least one more game before he returns to the Regina Pats, now that his feet are wet.
Connor McMichael – McMichael had a very good outing. Showed playmaking skills, played well on both special teams and was a puck-hound. There really isn’t much to learn about McMichael in a game like this. His tests will come later in the preseason when rosters start getting real.
Hendrix Lapierre – Lapierre had a decent game. Had an excellent chance early in first period but shot was wide of the goal. He had a very nice rush late in the third period but was unable to finish. He also came up empty in the shootout. All-in-all, an o.k. showing.
Garrett Pilon – Pilon looked really good, had a nice backhanded centering pass early in the first period, and recorded the only prospect shot on goal in the first frame. He was very noticeable, both offensively and defensively. Pilon is an interesting case. He’s always shown the ability to play at the next level, and scored a goal on his only NHL shot last season. Hard to top that.
Brett Leason – Leason looked good, early, but his game quieted down late. He had a nice centering pass early in the first frame. Hopefully he gets another game or two before returning to Hershey.
Aliaksei Protas – Protas had a solid showing, and really had nothing to prove in this game, for me. He showed his smarts, physicality, game sense and experience that make him already a viable candidate for a Capitals roster spot, should one ever open up for him. It’s a waiting game for the 6’-6” forward.
Haakon Hanelt – Hanelt showed he can play at NHL-ish game speed. He had a nice feed to Leason in the middle frame, but probably should have shot the puck. His board work has also picked up, and seemed to be ahead of the play for most of the game. I’d like to see him get another game before he returns to The Q.
Ryan Hofer – a rather quiet outing for the 20-year old Hofer. Nothing significant to report, one way or the other.
Joe Snively – Snively was sharp in this contest and the best forward among all Capitals prospects. After an incredible season in both Hershey and with the Capitals last season, it looks like he is picking up where he left off before the wrist/hand injury. He had a nice deflection for a score in the 3rd period and scored in the postgame shootout. Snively is making it extremely difficult for Caps management to leave him off the roster. He would need to clear waivers to reach Hershey.
Vincent Iorio – had a very good showing, best among Capitals defensive prospects. He had two very nice scoring chances and was sound on the backend as well, paired with Fehervary. 19:25 of ice time. He deserves another game, preferably on Wednesday against the Flyers.
Dru Krebs – Krebs held his own, and had a nice stop on former Capitals defensive prospect Chase Priskie in the first period. He had two hits, was a +1 in 20:29 of ice time, the second most on the team. I was impressed with his outing. He also deserves another game in my book.
Martin Has – The Gustafsson-Has pairing had a breakdown in the first minute of play, but rebounded nicely. Gustafsson had a very good first period, shining indirect light in Has. Has was defensively solid the entire game, and should be a candidate for Hershey. He deserves another preseason game as well.
Zach Fucale and Hunter Shepard were the two callups for the Capitals last season, so it’s likely they are starting training camp #3 and #4. This game probably did more for the Capitals coaches to solidify who exactly is #3 (first callup) and who is #4, regardless of how things play out at the start of the season in Hershey. Clay Stevenson may play into things as the season progresses.
Zach Fucale – Fucale was solid in the first period, stopping all 11 shots he faced. He gave up two tallies in the first half of the second period, but one goal he was completely screened on. Not a bad showing, but could have been better. Fucale stopped 15 of 17 for an .882 game save percentage.
Hunter Shepard – Came off the bench with 9:59 remaining in the second period, in a 2-2 game. His only real blemishes were a 6-on-4 goal late, where he really had no chance and a 3-on-3 goal in overtime. Shepard stopped 9 of 11 for an .812 game save percentage.
SUMMARY AND STANDOUTS
Prospect standouts were: Joe Snively, Garrett Pilon, Connor McMichael, Aliaksei Protas and Vincent Iorio.
The Caps are back in action on Wednesday when they visit the Flyers in Philadelphia.
By Jon Sorensen
There is no way Snively clears waivers.
I agree across the board. I’m very impressed by Iorio. He just seems to understand the flow of the game. He makes smart plays and anticipates where the game is going.
McMichael looks ready. I’d to see him deke a little to get the goalies guessing.
Snively looks like an NHLer to me.
Protas’ offense seems to be coming around. If he can provide some offense he’s gonna be a great pick up.
Pilon looks like an NHLer. I just don’t know what line he belongs on.
Krebs made some solid plays. Lapierre can sure skate but he didn’t get much accomplished.
With ya on 100% of your analysis. 👊
It’s great to see NHL hockey again!
Gustafsson had a good start, first period, but seemed to go away. Had that killer penalty as well. Still, he likely replaces Schultz unless Lucas Jouansen has a standout preseason.
Great summary. Thanks. Haven’t watched yet as just back from the weekend. But based on what is here:
1. Great to see McMichael as one of best players. Correct, it will get real but he should have been strong here and he was.
2. I have longed loved Snively and was thinking he should get a middle LW spot. Looks like he is making a stake.
3. Damn I wish Has would be better!
Thanks DWG. If you watch, just maybe the first two periods? 😁
That one goal last season for Lapierre could be a curse for him. Since then he has been cut three times by team Canada. The media sheds a lot of superfluous little get on him. That’s a heavy load for the kid.
Snivley needs to make the team. Maybe split time with MoJo on the 3rd line this year until he’s the clear choice. Iorio looks like a freaking stud too. I wonder if the organization sees him and Fever as a potential pair here in the very near future because they looked great together. I could see Iorio passing Alexeyev really quickly on the depth chart. AA needs a big season in Hershey once healthy to avoid LuJo status.
I have 3 Q’s please answer them, thanks. First I agree about Snivley but hard to see him on anything but the 3rd line which is not ideal for his game. Great to see the team back on the Ice, especially our Key Players from Russia with the current situation. Jon, I agree with your insight as always but opening night rosters are pretty set on Defence though I do feel Lori is a second line defender and Alexeyev is NHL ready though I feel only a third line defender but thats next year. I think Brent Johnson is also one to watch as I like his offence but Lucas Johansen, played very well at Hershey and in my mind deserves consideration as a 3rd line D – again that’s next year if he they stay healthy and consistent. Our forwards are pretty set to and I think this season the team gives McMichael a shot to center but not at the expence of Eller who I see being traded late in the season if he performs well between Oshie and Sheary which are two potentially dynamic forwards though health is an issue with Oshie.
QUESTION- We loose both AJ and Leason if we send them down because they have to clear waivers correct???
Ovechkin Kuznetsov (Wilson) Brown
Strome McMichael Mantha
Sheary Eller Oshie
Snivley Dowd Hathaway
Second and third Qs.
I see the Caps trying to extend Strome and Hathaway but Sheray, Brown, and Eller will be gone next year so we will have two openings who fills them from Hershey or do you see the Caps going free agent?
Defense in my mind will see Hershey players moving up taking over the 3rd line for sure, Question is can we extend Orlov with both Wilson and Mantha coming up with new contracts and Fehervary needing a new deal to?
Thanks- Capt P
Yes, we could lose players in the upcoming waivers. One potential saving grace would be timing, when all the other teams are also trying to reduce their rosters to 23. Although I see a couple of prospects not clearing no matter what.
Sheary had 19 goals last season, so if he repeats that again this season, the Caps may try to keep him. He’s good value.
I’m not sure I got all your questions Captain?
OK Jon… despite your advice i still watched the whole thing including the shootout. Lots to like… some not to like. Particularly on the urgency on PK including Iorio. And I am just not impressed at all with “Gus”. Iorio will be on outside looking in this year, but I do think he has the potential to get a callup later this year and battle for a spot next year.
I don’t think McMichael is our answer at 2C. But neither is Eller. So really hope that Strome is what we are hoping he’ll be. I do think McMike can grab 3C but progression aside and looking at it today, Eller is the better player. I still think he should be moved during the season for assets.
OK… now for the crazy thinking about our log at forward and potential players that need to go through waivers. While he is beloved here, and really value wise Sheary is a great player and fit for us. But what about trading him now (preseason) for say Oliver Kylington (LD in Calgary). He is 25 with two years left at 2.5M. Calgary is stacked at dee and could use a utility forward (and save some cap space). It means Mojo has a role in middle 6, but he is similar to Sheary. And it is one less forward we have to worry about in waiver crunch. Did i mention I wasn’t impressed with Gus? Haha.
I loved it! Not her diehard like myself. I like C-Mac at 3C myself, I think that’s the best fit for the team right now.
Sheary scored 19 goals last season. That’s pretty good value at his cost. Unless he dips this season, I feel he’s a great find by Mac. But if he can’t replicate 19 goals, then you are the wiser one.
He is a great find. And I don’t really want to move Sheary. He is super valuable regardless of cap, but given his 1.5M hit, he is extra valuable. I”m just spitballing ideas given he is UFA at season end, we have a lot of youngsters, and I am worried about that 3LD.