How Aliaksei Protas Capitalized On A Rare Opportunity During The Covid Pandemic


The 2020-21 season was jam-packed full of hockey for Aliaksei Protas. While most other hockey prospects world wide were struggling to find ice time and ultimately played just a handful of games because of the Covid pandemic, Protas would play from August straight through to May.

Protas began his 2020-21 campaign as a loan to Dinamo Minsk in the KHL. The NHL, AHL and all of the other leagues in North America were heading for lengthy closures due to the pandemic, but Protas was heading home to play a full season in the KHL.

The North American shutdown would prevent Protas from returning to Prince Albert for a third season in the WHL, and by rule, he was too young to play in the AHL, which was  shutting down anyway. The KHL was his only real option. It turned out to be the best move of his career.

Protas would record 10 goals and eight assists in 58 regular season games and one goal and three assists in five postseason games for Dynamo Minsk before being re-assigned to the Hershey Bears in April. Simply put, Protas became a pretty good pro player while in Russia.

During his full season in Russia’s premiere league Protas set the Dynamo Minsk team record for goals scored by a 19-year old (here), was named KHL’s rookie of the week in November (here) and was named the KHL’s best rookie for the first round of the playoffs (here).

Photo: Dynamo Minsk

Dinamo Minsk head coach Craig Woodcroft (Blackhawks, Predators) had high praise for Protas before he left for North America.

“As we said earlier at press conferences, this season is the first for Aliaksei in adult hockey, and he plays very well and confidently. Knows what he needs to do both on defense and on the attack, and rarely makes mistakes. Playing alongside such masters as Rob Klinkhammer and Brandon Kozun, Aliaksei gets the opportunity to develop much faster and show his strengths: he can give a good pass, open up for the pass, be in the right place and complete the attack. In general, we are watching the process of Protas becoming a player.”

Dynamo Minsk was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs and Protas immediately jumped a plane for the states, as the AHL was just starting-up their Covid-abbreviated season. Protas, and all other CHL players, were given a one-time age exemption to play in the AHL because of the pandemic. Another huge break for Protas.

While in Hershey Protas would record two goals and five assists in 16 games for the Bears. Protas would then leave Hershey for the World Championship in Riga, Latvia, and record two assists in six games played.

Protas played a whopping total of 86 games in 2020 and 2021, all while most other prospects played maybe a handful of games and some, (Martin Has, Mitchell Gibson) played none at all. Arguably his best year of hockey to date.

By Jon Sorensen

RELATED ARTICLES
Aliaksei Protas Has Made The Most Of His Opportunities Over The Past Year
The First Dance: A Look At Aliaksei Protas’ First AHL Game
Connor McMichael And Aliaksei Protas Score In Bears 3-2 Win Over Devils
Aliaksei Protas Scores First Career AHL Goal, As Bears Down Penguins, 2-0
Capitals Re-Assign Aliaksei Protas to Hershey
Aliaksei Protas Returning To Capitals System
From KHL To AHL: An Interview With Washington Capitals’ Prospect Aliaksei Protas [Translated]
Aliaksei Protas Named “Best Rookie” In First Round Of KHL Playoffs
Aliaksei Protas And Alex Alexeyev Are Heading To The KHL Playoffs
Aliaksei Protas and Brett Leason: Former Linemates On Different Paths To The NHL
Alexei Protas Participates in ‘World Day Of Pets’ Promotional Events for HC Dynamo Minsk
Aliaksei Protas Is Heating Up In The KHL – Two Goals, Two Assists in Last Four Games
Aliaksei Protas Wins ‘Rookie Of The Week’ Award In KHL
Aliaksei Protas Sets Dinamo Minsk Franchise Record For Most Goals By A 19-Year-Old In A Single Season
A Look At Billet Family Life With Capitals Prospect Aliaksei Protas
Aliaksei Protas Ties Dinamo Minsk Franchise Record For Most Goals By A 19 Year-Old
Aliaksei Protas Fined For Contact With An Official In KHL Game
Aliaksei Protas Scores Second Career Goal in KHL
Aliaksei Protas On Being Drafted By The Capitals, Getting A Stick From Alex Ovechkin And Playing In The NHL
Aliaksei Protas Discusses His First Game In The KHL
Capitals Prospect Aliaksei Protas Ends Scoring Drought In Dramatic Fashion
Capitals Sign 2019 Third-Round Pick, Aliaksei Protas To Three-Year Entry-Level Contract
Capitals Take Aliaksei Protas 91st Overall At 2019 NHL Draft
Interview with “The Viper”, Aliaksei Protas
Damien Riat Has Four-Goal Game, Brian Pinho, Aliaksei Protas Score Twice: Week 23 Capitals Prospect Report
Garrett Pilon Continues Hot Streak, Aliaksei Protas Scores Two Goals: Week 22 Capitals Prospect Report
Connor McMichael Advances With Team Canada; Aliaksei Protas Shines In Junior Qualifying, Vitek Vanecek Continues To Heat Up: Week 13 Capitals Prospect Report

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.
This entry was posted in News and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How Aliaksei Protas Capitalized On A Rare Opportunity During The Covid Pandemic

  1. novafyre says:

    I’m glad he had the opportunity but am even more impressed that he took full advantage of it. Shows his mindset, one I never saw in Sammy.

Leave a Reply