Washington Capitals Prospect Report: December, 2022 – Mitchell Gibson Continues To Top NCAA, Ivan Miroshnichenko Impresses In Return And Ethen Frank Leads The Way In Hershey


Welcome to the third installment of NoVa Caps’ Washington Capitals Monthly Prospects Report for the 2022-2023 season. The report summarizes activities for each of the Capitals’ prospects for the month of December, 2022.  

The report is categorized by leagues/regions in which each of the prospects play:

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

Evaluation

We are implementing a new monthly scoring system this season to enable a greater flexibility and granularity for monthly reporting. Each player will be scored 0-5 for the month, with 2.5 being an average development score.

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


AHL/HERSHEY BEARS


The final month of 2022 was a strong one for the Hershey Bears. The chocolate and white posted an 8-3-0-1 record and were two second period meltdowns from finishing with an even better month.

The Bears head into 2023 sitting atop the American Hockey League (AHL) standings with a record of 22-7-2-1 and 47 points. The record has earned head coach Todd Nelson a spot as the coach of the Atlantic Division team at the 2023 All-Star Classic in Laval, Quebec.

Hershey’s road play has improved dramatically, winning four of five road games in December. The chocolate and white have lost two road games since the start of November. This comes after going winless away from the Giant Center in October.

The line of Mike Sgarbossa, Mike Vecchoine and Ethen Frank led the way for the Bears in the year’s final month. Sgarbossa posted the most points in the month with six goals and had 10 assists to. Vecchione tallied six goals and dished out seven assists in the month. Frank found the back of the net seven times and added seven assists. Connor McMichael pitched in with eight points and Mason Morelli continued his strong season with a goal and five helpers.

With Hunter Shepard on recall to Washington for most of the month, Clay Stephenson stepped in and won all three of his starts. Zach Fucale received the bulk of the starts when Shepard was in the National Hockey League (NHL), posting a 3-2-0-1 record.


GARIN BJORKLUND – (G) – 20 – DRAFTED 2020 (Sixth Round, #179 Overall)
Bjorklund was re-assigned to South Carolina at the beginning of the season, but he has yet to appear in a game. Not much has been publicly reported regarding his status, but it’s believed that he may be dealing with an injury.

Monthly Score: Incomplete


HENRIK BORGSTROM (C/LW) – 25 – DRAFTED 2016 (First Round, 23rd overall – Florida)
The Finnish forward missed five games in December. He was out with an illness for the games against Cleveland on December 10 and 11 and then suffered an injury in a game at Lehigh Valley on December 21 and did not suit up for the rest of the month.

In the seven games he did play, Borgstrom posted three assists. Two of those helpers came against Lehigh Valley on December 19. The native of Helsinki, Finland saucered a feed to Hendrix Lapierre for a power play goal that tied the game in the second period. Borgstrom’s second assist came as a result of a defensive play. He got his stick on a Lehigh Valley clearing attempt at center ice. The puck ended up on the stick of Connor McMichael and after McMichael buried his shot, Borgstrom had the assist.

Borgstrom has five goals and eight assists in 26 games played so far this season.

Monthly Score: 3.0


GABRIEL CARLSSON (LD) – 25 – DRAFTED 2015 (1st Round, 29th overall – Columbus)
There is nothing flashy about Carlsson’s game, but he provides a steadying presence on the Hershey blue line. The Swede is not going to provide a ton of offense. However, he can be relied upon to play a solid defensive game.

Carlson’s defensive positioning is strong and he makes smart decisions in his own zone. Carlsson has gone 15 games without being a minus player and has been a minus just once since October 29. Carlsson’s plus 14 is the best plus/minus rating among Bear defensemen.

The native of Orebro, Sweden is a strong penalty killer as well. Carlsson did tally his first goal of the season at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 16 and added an assist on December 17. He has a goal and six assists so far this season.

Monthly Score: 4.0


KODY CLARK – (RW) – 23 – DRAFTED 2018 (Second Round, #47 Overall)
Clark remains sidelined following October surgery on his left quad. He is out long term and is unlikely to play this season.

Monthly Score: Incomplete


ETHEN FRANK (RW) – 24 – Undrafted
The Western Michigan alum tallied a team best seven goals in December and also added seven assists for 14 points. Frank finished the month with four goals in his last five games.

Frank netted two goals in a game twice in that stretch. The Nebraskan potted Hershey’s opening goal in the first period at Lehigh Valley on December 21. Frank then ripped a one-timer over the blocker of Pat Nagle for a power play marker in the second. That goal would be the game winning tally.

The rookie’s best game of the month came on December 9 in Bridgeport against the Islanders. Frank contributed to all four goals the Bears scored. He had the primary helper on Mike Vecchione’s opening goal in the first period.

The Papillion, Nebraska native then picked up a secondary assist on Mike Sgarbossa’s second period goal. He followed with the lone assist on Vecchione’s marker in the second. Frank then sealed the win with an empty net goal. It was his first four-point game as a professional.

The Western Michigan product leads the Bears in goals with 13 and power play goals with five. He is third on the team in scoring with 22 points.

Frank’s best skills so far this season have been his NHL-caliber shot, his skating speed, and his nose for the puck.

Frank is currently on a Bears contract and inelliglbe for call-up to Washington without restructuring his current deal. It’s very likely the Capitals are considering doing just that, if not now, before the start of next season.

Monthly Score: 4.5


ZACH FUCALE (G) – 27 – DRAFTED 2013 (Second Round, 36th overall – Montreal)
Fucale began the month giving up seven goals on just 21 shots faced on December 4 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He found better ground in the next two games, giving up just two tallies to Charlotte and Bridgeport but then gave up five goals against Cleveland on December 11. He next gave up three against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 16 before being recalled by the Capitals on December 17.

Fucale saw no live action with the Capitals and was returned to Hershey on December 19. He ended the month on a high note, stopping 24 of 25 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 27.

In the month of December Fucale gave up 20 goals on 164 shots against for a .878 save percentage.

For the season, Fucale is 11-6-1-1 with a 2.50 GAA and a .900 save percentage. Hunter Shepard has shined all season and has taken over the number one role for the Bears.

Monthly Score: 2.0


SHANE GERSICH (LW) – 26 – DRAFTED 2014 (Fifth Round, 134th overall)
December was a quiet month, offensively for Gersich. After recording an assist in the month’s second game on December 6, the North Dakota product went six games without a point before snapping the streak with a helper on Mason Morelli’s empty net goal on December 21.

Gersich would not record a point in the last three games of the month. The Chaska, Minnesota native has not had steady linemates as he has shifted between the third and fourth lines (also got a game or two on the second line) depending on who has been available for the Bears. He sees a lot of time on the penalty kill and often joins with Riley Sutter on that unit

Monthly Score: 2.5


MARTIN HAS (RD) – 21 – DRAFTED 2019 (Fifth Round, 153rd overall)
Has received his first recall to the AHL, but did not get into a game when he was in Hershey and was then sent back down to South Carolina.

The Czech defender has three points on the season and has appeared in 19 games. Has is more of a stay-at-home defenseman. On some nights, he plays on the top defensive pairing and on others, he is on the second pairing.

Monthly Score: 3.0


BEAR HUGHES (C) – 21 – DRAFTED 2020 (Fifth Round, 148th overall)
Hughes netted his third multi-goal game of the season as the South Carolina Stingrays beat the Savannah Ghost Pirates by a final score of 2-1 on December 1 at Enmarket Arena.

Hughes provided the overtime game-winner over the Greenville Swamp Rabits on December 9.

Hughes was named to the 2023 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic roster. The mid-season event is hosted by the Norfolk Admirals and will take place on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.

“I am honored and excited to be the one player representing the Stingrays,” said Hughes. “There are a lot of guys on the team that could have been picked to play in the game. We have a locker room full of teammates that are excellent people both on and off the ice.”

Hughes, 21 signed an AHL contract with the Bears this past offseason and was assigned to South Carolina before the start of the season on October 13th. The 6-foot-2, 172-pound forward leads the Stingrays with 26 points and 14 assists to go along with 12 goals, second most on the team. The rookie out of Post Falls, ID ranks third among rookies in points, fourth in goals scored, and is tied for sixth in assists.

Monthly Score: 3.5


VINNY IORIO (RD) – 20 – DRAFTED 2020 (Second Round, 55th round)
Iorio’s game continues to be a work in progress. There are times when he looks like a rookie and makes mistakes. Against Bridgeport on December 9, he got a little flat-footed and allowed Ruslan Ishakov to use his body to angle Iorio off the puck. Iorio still had the chance to make a move on the puck with his stick, but waited too long and Ishakov backhanded a low shot in to give Bridgeport a 1-0 lead.

There are also instances when the blue liner makes risky passes in front of his own net instead of taking the easier play out of the zone. Other times, Iorio looks like a seasoned veteran, putting himself in strong positions, defensively and making good plays on the puck.

The positive news is Iorio’s strong plays outnumber his mistakes and that is a good sign. If he cleans up the areas that still give him trouble, he is a potential top pair defenseman. Offensively, the Coquitlam, British Columbia native chipped in with three assists to bring his season point total to 10.

Monthly Score: 3.0


LUCAS JOHANSEN (LD) – 25 – DRAFTED 2016 (First Round, 28th overall)
Johansen played just four games for the Bears in December, as he was recalled by the Capitals twice during the month. Johansen played in one game with the Capitals, against Winnipeg on December 11, and logged 13:32 of ice time. Other than that, Johansen was a scratch.

It appears that Johansen has assumed the “next defenseman up” role at this point of the season (ninth defenseman), which isn’t a bad place for him in his career. However, it remains to be seen whether he will see much game action with the Capitals in the future.

Monthly Score: 2.5


HENDRIX LAPIERRE (C) – 20 – DRAFTED 2020 (First Round, #22 Overall)
Coming off of an 11-point November, Lapierre’s offensive production dipped in December. He found the back of the net in the first two games of the month, but then went on a five-game scoring drought.

The Gatineau, Quebec native broke that streak with a second period power play tally against Lehigh Valley on December 18. That would prove to be Lapierre’s final point of the month as he would go without a point in his final four games of the month.

The rookie had some struggles with turnovers in the month and was a minus player six times in 12 games, while only being a plus player once. Lapierre also took a costly penalty in the third period against Providence on December 31. He was whistled for a slashing penalty behind the play. Chris Wagner would score on the ensuing power play and that goal would be the difference in the game.

Lapierre ended the month of December with a four-game pointless streak, giving him no points in nine of the 12 games played for the month of December. Despite his struggles, Lapierre still ranks fifth on the team in scoring with 17 points.

Lapierre is entering an interesting part of the season, as he is approaching the maximum number of games he has played over the last four seasons. It will be interesting to see how he handles the additional workload during the final months of the season.

Monthly Score: 3.0


BENTON MAASS (RD) – 23 – DRAFTED 2017 (Sixth Round, 182nd overall)
Maass found more consistent playing time in December. After playing third pair minutes, he has seen time on the top defense pairing.

Offensively, Maass posted a goal and an assist in the month to up his season point total to three. 

Monthly Score: 3.0


BECK MALENSTYN (LW/RW) – 24 – DRAFTED 2016 (Fifth Round, 145th overall)
Malenstyn had a relative quiet month of December, as he spent most of rehabbing his injury. Malenstyn was returned to the Bears at the end of December following his rehab from finger surgery. He played the last two games of the month for the Bears and immediately made an impact with his physicality.

Monthly Score: 2.5


DYLAN MCILRATH (RD) – 30 – DRAFTED 2010 (First Round, 10th overall – New York Rangers)
Coming into the month, McIlrath had four points on the season. The rugged blue liner compiled three assists in December to run his season point total to seven. Offense is not the area where the Hershey captain contributes the most to the team. He is at the core, a defensive defenseman.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba native can play with any type of partner. He played with the offensive-minded Bobby Nardella and now has been partnered with Gabriel Carlsson to form a rock solid defensive pairing.

McIlrath was a minus player in the first game of December, but was not a minus the rest of the month. The captain is a strong penalty killer and always stands up for his teammates when called upon.

Monthly Score: 3.5


CONNOR MCMICHAEL (C) – 21 – Drafted 2019 (First Round, 25th overall)
The Ajax, Ontario native found his groove in December. McMichael amassed eight points in the month, potting four goals and dishing out four helpers.

He has been centering the second line, playing along side Mason Morelli and Sam Anas for most of the month. The pivot had the secondary assist on Anas’ game-winning goal versus the Cleveland Monsters on December 10.

McMichael tallied twice against those same Monsters on December 11 and then netted Hershey’s lone goal in the shootout.

McMichael was the only Bears skater to convert in the extra frame.

McMichael had a two-game goal streak, scoring in back-to-back games against Lehigh Valley on December 18 and 21. The goal on December 18 put the Bears ahead for good in the third period. McMichael collected the puck off of a Henrik Borgstrom defensive play and streaked into the offensive zone. He snapped a shot over Samuel Ersson’s right pad for the eventual game-winning goal in a 5-3 Hershey win. His marker, a wrister of the blocker of Pat Nagle, on the 21st tied the game at two in the second period (Bears went on to win 4-2).

McMichael scored the lone goal in the shootout in a 2-1 victory at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 27. He has converted three of four shootout attempts this season.

For the season, McMichael has six goals and four assists in 18 games played since returning to the Bears.

Monthly Score: 4.0


JULIAN NAPRAVNIK (RW) – 25 – Undrafted
The German-born winger continues to struggle to get consistent playing time. He saw action in only three of Hershey’s 12 games in December. Napranvik went without a point in those three games.

The Minnesota State product shows flashes when he is the lineup. He gets into good scoring positions and plays hard. The winger wants to make an impression and sometimes presses.

What Napravnik really needs is steady playing time to find his rhythm. He will find that hard to do with the Bears. Once Hershey gets some players back from injury, it would be beneficial for Narpravnik to go down to the ECHL and get regular minutes.

Monthly Score: 2.0


BOBBY NARDELLA (LD) – 26 – Undrafted
Nardella missed the final eight games of the month after suffering an upper body injury in a game against Cleveland on December 10. In the four games he did play, Nardella recorded a goal and an assist. His goal came against the Charlotte Checkers on December 6.

The Notre Dame product lasered a shot through traffic and past Charlotte goalie Alex Lyon to give Hershey a 3-0 lead in the first period. The marker wound up being the game-winner after the Checkers netted a pair of third period goals.

Monthly Score: 3.0


GARRETT PILON (RW) – 24 – DRAFTED 2016 (Third Round, 87th overall)
Pilon has been out with a lower body injury since November 19 and did not play in the month of December.

The latest reports from the Bears are that Pilon has returned to workouts and is skating and could be close to returning.

Monthly Score: Incomplete


HENRIK RYBINSKI (C) – 21 – DRAFTED 2019 (Fifth Round, 136th overall – Florida)
Rybinski played seven of the 12 games on the schedule in December. He missed the last four games of the month due to injury. The Vancouver, British Columbia native dished out a pair of assists on December 6 in a 4-2 win over Charlotte.

Those helpers would be the only points Rybinski registered in the month. He still plays on the penalty kill unit when in the lineup, but is no longer one of the first over the boards when the kill starts. On the season, Rybinski has two goals and five assists.

Monthly Score: 2.5


MIKE SGARBOSSA (C) – 30 – Undrafted
Heading into the November 30 game with Lehigh Valley, Sgarbossa had seven points on the season. He had three points in that game and the veteran pivot carried the momentum from that performance into December.

Sgarbossa recorded at least one point in the first five games of the month to run his scoring streak to six games. The Campbellville, Ontario native had at least one point in 10 of the 12 games in December.

For the month, he tallied, six goals and 10 assists for a team high 16 points. Sgarbossa registered five multi-point games in the month. This included netting both goals in a 2-1 overtime win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 17.

He started the scoring in the first period when he snapped a shot that beat Filip Lindberg to the glove side. Then, the pivot roofed a backhand over Lindberg’s glove from the right circle to secure the victory. Sgarbossa centered Hershey’s top line.

With linemates, Mike Vecchione and Ethen Frank on his wings, Sgarbossa’s line carried the Bears offensively. He is tied for the team lead in assists with 16 and his 26 points are the second most on the squad. Sgarbossa is also second on the Bears with three game-winning goals.

Monthly Score: 4.0


HUNTER SHEPARD (G) – 27 – Undrafted
Shepard spent most of the month in the NHL on backup duty with the Washington Capitals. He did not get into a game during his first recall. After being sent back to Hershey, he started three games.

The Minnesota Duluth alum went 2-1 in those three starts. In his first action in nearly a month, Shepard stopped 27 of 29 shots in a 4-2 road win at Lehigh Valley on December 21. The Coleraine, Minnesota native then turned aside all 22 of the shots he faced in a 1-0 blanking over Providence on December 28. It was the netminder’s first shutout of the season.

His eight game-winning-streak came to an end with a 4-2 loss to Providence on New Year’s Eve.

Shepard continues to lead the AHL with an 1.88 goal-against-average. His .928 save percentage is the fourth best in the league.

Monthly Score: 3.5


CLAY STEVENSON (G) – 23 – Undrafted
Stevenson stopped 37 of 38 shots he faced as the South Carolina Stingrays  beat the Savannah Ghost Pirates by a final score of 2-1 on December 1 and he stopped all 25 shots he faced in his first professional shutout in a 3-0 victory on December 3.

Stevenson was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for Nov. 28-Dec. 4. He went 2-0-0 with one shutout, a 0.50 goals-against average and a save percentage of .986 in two appearances against Savannah.

Stevenson was recalled by the Hershey Bears on December 5, in part due to the callup of Hunter Shepard to Washington. He would backup Zach Fucale on December 6 against Charlotte

Stevenson would shine in his AHL debut, stopping 25 of 27 shots faced in the Bears’ 3-2 win over the Cleveland Monsters in Hershey.

Stevenson, 23,  got the start again a week later against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and stopped 23 of 24 shots he faced for his second consecutive win. In the end, Stevenson made three starts during his first stint in Hershey and won all three games, posting a 1.96 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

Monthly Score: 4.0


RILEY SUTTER (C) – 23 – Drafted 2018 (3rd Round, 93rd overall)
In his fourth professional season, Sutter has finally carved out a role for himself. He is the fourth line center, a checking role, and his line is the energy line.

The son of former NHL center Ron Sutter has also become one of the top penalty killers on the team. He is often the first forward over the boards when the Bears go shorthanded.

Sutter is also the best faceoff taker on the team. While he contributes on most nights in these areas, the Calgary, Alberta native had some struggles this month. He was a minus five after being a plus one heading into December. Sutter had two assists in the month and has five points this season.

Monthly Score: 3.0


MIKE VECCHIONE (C/LW) – 29 – Undrafted
The Union College product entered December with 13 points. Vecchione ended 2022’s final month with 28 points after a 15-point month. The Saugus, Massachusetts native teamed with Mike Sgarbossa and Ethen Frank to form a highly productive top line. Vecchione recorded a point in 10 of the 12 games he played in the month. He posted three multi-point games.

His biggest output of the month came on December 9 in Bridgeport. Vecchione was involved in all four Hershey goals in a 4-2 win. He tied the game at one late in the first period after converting a feed from Ethen Frank.

The veteran forward then picked up the secondary assist on Mike Sgarbossa’s second period marker. The Union College alum then made it 3-1 Bears when he one-timed a shot past Bridgeport goalie Cory Schneider later in the period.

He finished off his four-point night with an assist on Frank’s empty net goal. Vecchione leads the chocolate and white in scoring with 28 points and game-winning goals with four. He is tied for the team lead in assists with 16. He ranks second in goals with 12.

Monthly Score: 4.0


CHL (WHL/OHL/QMJHL)


HAAKON HANELT (C/LW) – 19 – DRAFTED 2021 (Fifth Round, #151 Overall)
Hanelt’s goal-scoring continued to lack at the beginning of the month, but his play-making is beginning to standout as his best asset at this stage in his development.

Another example can be seen in this nice pass off the boards leading his teammate into the zone for the score.

Remember, this is essentially Hanelt’s rookie campaign in the Q, having missed most of last season following shoulder surgery. In the few games he played at the beginning of last season, Hanelt easily find the back of the net, but those games may be misleading.

Hanelt left for Germany to begin preparations for the 2023 World Junior Championship following the Olympiques game on December 11. Hanelt was one of 26 candidates to make Team Germany’s final 23-man roster, made the trip to Canada, but did not make the final round of roster cuts due to a foot injury he sustained during the run-up to the tournament. Team Germany released their final roster on December 24, sans Hanelt:

Hänelt left the German team on December 23. Five days later, he was back in Gatineau to consult the Olympic doctors and we they are waiting for a final diagnosis. Initial reports say it could be a fractured foot.

“We expect an absence of a few weeks,” says Louis Robitaille. Eight weeks? Six weeks? Four. We’ll let the doctors tell us. We are talking about a medium-long-term absence. It’s just another tile that falls on his head.”

For the season, Hanelt has three goals and 14 assists in 28 games played in the QMJHL this season.

Monthly Score: 2.0


RYAN HOFER (C) – 20 – DRAFTED 2022 (Sixth Round, 181st Overall)
Hofer continues to show an uptick in his play so far this season, recording seven goals and three assists in the 11 games he played in December. Hofer scored his 16th goal of the season on December 6 in Everett’s 3-2 victory over the Prince George Cougars.

Hofer recorded his 18th goal of the season on Secember 14 against the Tri-City Americans.

Hofer scored his 19th goal of the season (19g, 12a, 31 games) on December 28 against the Tri-City Americans.

Hofer continues to show above average play in front of the net and an above average shot. He has also been above average defensively in the six games we watched during the month of December. He will be a candidate for Herhsey in September and should make the squad.

For the season, Hofer has 20 goals and 11 assists in 33 games played.

Monthly Score: 3.0


JAKE KARABELA (C) – 18 – DRAFTED 2022 (Fifth Round, 149th Overall) Each season we have a prospect or two that play on bad teams, which clouds the analysis somewhat. This season it looks like Jake Karabela and the Guelph Storm will fall into the category. The storm are 13-18-3-1 and have struggled mightily in the month of December.

Karabela did manage to record four goals and two assists in 11 games for the month of December. Karabela scored his 6th of the season on December 10.

Karabela scored his last goal of the month on December 28 against the Windsor Spitfires.

Karabela has nine goals and nine assists in 35 games played so far this season, but is a -23 for the season, if you value that stat at all.

As for his game performances, in the four games we watched in December, Karabela seemed invisible at times (possibly a reflection of the team) but did surface for a big goal here and there.

Karabela’s skating continues to impress and his shot certainly looks next-level at times, although he only has 50 shots on the season (18%). We need to see more shots, but again, that’s also likely a reflection of the team. Regardless, it’s way too early early to formulate any kind of potential upside/ceiling projection for Karabela at this point.

Monthly Score: 2.0


DRU KREBS (LHD) – 19 – DRAFTED 2021 (Sixth Round, 176th Overall)
Krebs and the Medicine Hat Tigers are playing much better than last season, but are still struggling at times, amassing a record of 13-18-5-1 so far this season. However, we were able to watch three of his games in December, and Krebs has certainly shown improvement on his own level.

Krebs, one-on-one, defensively, has made a major step forward, and his zone exits and puck management in his own zone have also noticeably improved. He is a +4 this season, which is a major improvement from last season. Again, if you value that stat.

In his current situation in Medicine Hat, Krebs will always be looked to for defense, but did manage a tally in December.

Krebs has just three goals on 66 shots for a 4.5% shooting percentage so far this season, which is underwhelming. Krebs next step will be Hershey or South Carolina next season.

Monthly Score: 2.5


ALEXANDER SUZDALEV (LW) – 18 – DRAFTED 2022 (Second Round, 70th Overall)
Suzdalev continued to impress with his NHL-caliber shot during the month of December. However, what is really starting to jump out with regards to his game is his inventiveness and creativity on the ice, possibly the best among all Capitals prospects at this point in time.

Having watched most of his games so far this season, his ability to create on the ice has been really impressive. He will make mistakes with his inventiveness (intercepted behind the back passes, etc.) but give credit to the coaching at Regina, they are in no way trying to limit him and his creativity. That’s the right call at this point in his development.

Suzdalev has been discussed quite a bit during Regina Pats games, shedding a bit of insight on him as a player as well as a person. Suzdalev said he feels he is best described as a playmaker (not a goal scorer) and has repeatedly noted he knows what he needs to improve upon in order to make the NHL.

Suzdalev continued to start games at right wing on the second line (away from Bedard) which has been extremely valuable in assessing his game without the “Bedard affect”. However, he is often teamed with Bedard late in games.

Team Sweden announced their preliminary roster for the 2023 World Junior Championship on December 7 and Suzdalev was not included. Bedard left for Team Canada’s camp following the game on December 4.

Suzdalev scored his 18th goal of the season on December 14 against the Spokane Chiefs, giving him points in eight-straight games, points in 17 of last 18 games and 31 points over last 18 games.

Suzdalev ended his month of December with a power play goal against the Prince Albert Raiders on December 30. It was his 21st goal of the season, giving him points in 20 of his last 22 games played.

Suzdalev has 26 goals and 21 assists in 35 games played so far this season. For what it’s worth, he recorded five goals and seven assists in the 10 games that Bedard was at World Juniors.

Monthly Score: 4.0


NCAA/USHL/ECHL


RYAN CHESLEY (RHD) – 18 – DRAFTED 2022 (Second Round, 37th Overall)
Chesley was named to Team USA’s preliminary roster for the 2023 World Junior Championship on December 5. Prior to leaving for Team USA camp Chesley scored his first goal of the season on December 9.

“I saw a good play in front where Cooley had a good chance to score,” Chesley, the freshman defender, said of his first career goal. “I thought I could sneak down a bit and he made a good pass. Maybe a little roommate connection for sure.” Another angle of Chesley’s first tally for the Gophers, from upstairs:

Team USA head coach Rand Pecknold spoke to the media about Chesley on December 13.  “He fits well in the style we’re going to play. He’s been great here for two days . . . He’s trending in the right direction. He’s a man. He plays hard. Great shot. He’s got that physicality. He plays bigger than his size. I’ve been really happy.”

Chesley notched a tally in Team USA’s first tuneup game against Finland on December 19.

Chesley, while he didn’t see time on either of Team USA’s power play units, was a solid force on the team’s penalty kill in the two tuneup games.

As for the actual tournament, things did not go as well as the tuneup games. Chesley and Team USA fell to Team Slovakia, 6-3 on in the second game. Chesley remained on the second pairing with Lane Hutson, but was removed from the penalty kill following the first game and was beat on the zone entry that lead to Slovakia’s first goal.

Chesley had a team-low time on ice of 6:02 for the game, which included just 1:14 and two shifts in the first period.

Chesley was dropped to the seventh defenseman for the third game, which would turn out to be his best game of the first three. He would record his first point in the tournament.

This year’s tournament was most likely too soon for Chesley, who is still just 18 and will have future cracks at the tournament. Next year’s tournament will be a much better indicator of Chesley’s potential upside.

The speed of the game was at times too much for him. Team USA was somewhat undersized defensively and Chesley may have been awarded a roster spot because he was one of two defensemen six-foot or taller.

Note: The tournament is still underway at the time of this writing, so things could improve for Chesley.

Monthly Score: 2.0


CHASE CLARK (G) – 19 – DRAFTED 2021 (Sixth-Round, 183rd Overall)
Clark continues to learn the collegiate game in a backup to star netminder Yaniv Perets. Clark saw action on December 9th, mop-up duty, in a big blowout win for the Bobcats. He logged 28:21 of ice time, stopping 8 of 10 shots he faced in his 3rd collegiate appearance.

Clark also saw action on December 10 against Union. He logged 4:04 of ice time, stopping both shots he faced.

For the season, Clark has logged 37:30 of ice time in four appearances. He has made 14 saves out of 16 shots, giving him a save percentage of .875 and a goals against average of 3.20. Hopefully the minutes will increase in the beginning of 2023.

Monthly Score: 2.5


MITCHELL GIBSON (G) – 21 – DRAFTED 2018 (Fourth-Round, 124th overall)
Gibson has continued to play well for Harvard in the month of December, although he only played in two games due to the collegiate holiday scheduling. He gave up just one goal on 23 shots against Cornell on December before the holiday break.

Gibson stopped 33 of 35 shots he faced in a 2-1 overtime loss at Boston University on December 30, the first game back after the holiday break.

For the season, Gibson is 5-2-1 with a .932 save percentage (best in the NCAA) and a 1.83 GAA (4th-best in the NCAA).

The big question regarding Gibson at this point is will he sign with Washington, or test the free agency waters. He will graduate this spring, but he does have one more year of eligibility with Harvard due to the Covid pandemic, so he could decide to return to Harvard next season.

The Capitals are fairly deep in goaltenders in the prospect pool, which could deter Gibson. We will just have to wait and see what unfolds this spring. The Capitals would certainly love to add him to the depth chart.

Monthly Score: 4.0


DAVID GUCCIARDI (LHD) – 18 – DRAFTED 2022 (Seventh Round, 213th Overall)
Gucciardi played in six games in December. He was kept off the scoresheet in all six of those games. He has played in 19 games for the season, scored two goals, and recorded three assists. He is +5 for the season. He has taken 41 shots on goal and blocked 26 shots, with nine of those blocks in December. Gucciardi has usually played on the second defensive pairing.

Gucciardi committed an atypical amount of turnovers over the first two weekends of the month, according to StateNews.com

The Michigan State Hockey Hub commentators discussed the team’s performance during the first half of the season in mid-December, which included comments on Gucciarci. They remarked that he had contracted mono early in the season and that he has struggled defensively since he returned. He hopes to turn it around for the second half.

Monthly Score: 2.0


BRENT JOHNSON (RHD) – 18 – DRAFTED 2021 (Third Round, 80th Overall)
Johnson played in just one game during December and was kept off the scoresheet in that game. He has played in 13 games for the season, scored one goal, and recorded five assists. He is +5 for the season. He has taken 13 shots on goal and blocked 8 shots. He has taken three minor penalties for the season.

Johnson returned to the lineup on December 3, missing three games due to an illness, and was on the third defense pairing. He was a healthy scratch for the games on December 9 and 10.

According to Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald, Johnson needs to improve the defensive side of his game and become more reliable to increase his ice time. He has a tremendous skill level but needs to improve his defense.

Monthly Score: 2.0


JOAQUIM LEMAY (LHD) – 19 – DRAFTED 2021 (Fourth Round, 114th Overall)
Lemay played in two games during December (December 2 and 3). He did not score any goals in either of those games but recorded assists in both games. On December 2, he had an assist on a power play goal that occurred at 4:43 in second period. It put the team up 3-0. On December 3, he had the primary assist on the team’s first goal that Jake Pivonka scored at 2:04 during first period.

After that weekend, the Omaha Mavericks website reported that the freshman defensive pairing of Jo Lemay and Jake Guevin was a mainstay for the season, combining for 15 points (2 goals and 13 assists).

However, Lemay missed both games the weekend of December 9 and 10 and missed the games of December 30 and 31 that took place after Christmas. It is suspected there is an injury involved as he had performed well before his layoff.

Lemay has played in 16 of the team’s 20 games, has scored one goal and recorded six assists. He had 19 shots on goal and has blocked nine shots for the season.

Monthly Score: 2.5


EUROPE (SWEDEN/SWISS LEAGUE)


TOBIAS GEISSER – (LHD) – 23 – DRAFTED 2017 (Fourth Round, 120th Overall)
As we noted at the beginning of the season, we will continue to cover prospects as long as the Capitals continue to hold the NHL rights to the player. This includes Tobias Geisser, who signed a three-year deal in the Swiss league this past offeseason.

Geisser played in five games during December and scored two goals. He scored a goal on December 10 at 19:45 during third period that tied the game at 3-3 in a game they lost 4-3 in Overtime against Davos. (Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

Geiser also scored a goal on December 20 at 8:18 during second period in a during a 5-4 loss to Ambri-Piotta. (Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

For the season, Geisser has played in 30 games, scoring three goals and recording 11 assists. Geisser was not much of an offensive defenseman when he was in the AHL, and that continues in the Swiss league.

Monthly Score: 2.5


OSKAR MAGNUSSON (C/W) – 19 – DRAFTED 2020 (Seventh Round, 211th Overall)
During December, Magnusson played in eight games, scored one goal, and recorded two assists. On December 4, he scored a goal on against Modo at 11:14 in the second period which tied the game at 1-1 where they ultimately lost 4-2. (https://www.aikhockey.se/article/pl90albaj-1bbi1/view)

On December 16 in their game against Vita Hasten, Magnusson recorded an assist on the team’s second goal which tied game 2-2 at 9:23 in third period. They ultimately lost 5-2. (https://www.aikhockey.se/article/m1p1albqy-1bbi1/view)

On December 18, he recorded an assist on the team’s first goal against Tingsryd which tied the game at 1-1 at 7:07 in first period. They won 5-4 in a shootout. (https://www.aikhockey.se/article/p11ualbui-1bbi1/view)

Magnusson has four goals and eight assists in 29 games played so far this season.

Monthly Score: 2.0


LUDWIG PERSSON – (C/LW) – 19 – DRAFTED 2022 (Third Round, 85th Overall)
Persson did not make Team Sweden’s roster for the 2023 World Junior Championship, and turns 20 in October.

During December, Persson played in seven games for BIK Karlskoga in the HockeyAllsvenskan (Second Tier Swedish League). He did not score but had four assists. On December 9, assisted on a goal during a 6-3 win against Hasten. (2022-12-09 Karlskoga – Vita Hästen 6-3 – HockeyAllsvenskan)

On December 14, he had two assists in a 5-4 overtime loss against Södertälje SK.( 2022-12-14 SödertäljeKarlskoga 5-4 (OT) – HockeyAllsvenskan)

On December 16, he assisted on the team’s second goal that occurred during second period against Djurgarden. It put the team ahead 2-1 in a game they lost 5-2. (2022-12-16 KarlskogaDjurgården 2-5 – HockeyAllsvenskan)

For the season, he has three goals and eight assists in 23 games. He has generally played on the third line.

Monthly Score: 2.0


DAMIEN RIAT (F) – 25 – Drafted 2016 (Fourth-Round, 117th Overall)
In December, Riat played in four games. He scored no goals but had two assists. He recorded an assist on the team’s second goal at 12:19 in theirgame of December 9 where Lausanne lost 5-4 in Overtime to the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers. (Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

On December 20, he assisted in the team’s third goal at 13:57 during second period in a game against Bern which they won 5-2. (Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

For his season with a struggling Lausanne team in the Swiss National League, he has played in 31 games with six goals and eight assists.

Monthly Score: 2.0


KHL (VHL/KHL)


IVAN MIROSHNICHENKO (F) – 19 – DRAFTED 2022 (First Round, 20th Overall)
Ivan Miroshnichenko had a very productive month of hockey after returning from his treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Miroshnichenko completed treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June and returned to workouts with the MHL club on October 21.

Miroshnichenko was cleared to return to game action on November 8, which began the following day with games for Avangard’s Junior team.

Miroshnichenko was elevated to the KHL squad on December 2nd and participated in his first practice with the team on December 3.

Miroshnichenko made his first KHL start on December 4. He skated as a 13th forward and saw minor time on ice (4:28) as the game was more or less for getting his feet wet. He did record two hits in that small amount of ice time he did get.

Miroshnichenko was moved from 13th forward to 4th line for Avangard’s game against Salavat Ufa, his second game in KHL. He logged 9:13 TOI, 2 SOG and 3 hits for the game.

He was elevated to the third line for his third game on December 8 against Ak Bars. He recorded two shots and two hits in 12:04 of ice time. Miroshnichenko returned to the VHL for a game on December 10 while the KHL All-Star Weekend took place.

He returned to the KHL team on December 19 for his 4th KHL game. He recorded 3 shots and 3 hits in just 6:18 of ice time. Miroshnichenko skated in his 5th KHL game on December. He recorded one shot in 5:56 of ice time.

Miroshnichenko scored his first career goal in the KHL on December 26. The goal came at 16:24 of the first period in Avangard’s tilt with Barys Astana.

Miroshnichenko finished the game with a goal on two shots. He had one hit in 8:19 of ice time.

“I dedicate this goal to my family and loved ones, after all, a difficult path has passed. We were all together, no one left me,” Miroshnichenko told the media following the game.

“I think we can already say that I have adapted to the KHL. Probably, I have earned the coaches trust, so I can play more and more with each match.”

Miroshnichenko has played in nine games in the KHL and averaged seven minutes of ice time. He has primarily started at left wing on the 4th line, but has played one game at left wing on the third line.

The team is taking it slow with regards to ramping up his ice time, which is the right move.

Monthly Score: 4.0


BOGDAN TRINEYEV (F) – 20 – DRAFTED 2020 (Fourth Round, 117th Overall)
For the month of December, Trineyev played in just one game for Moscow Dynamo and was kept off the scoresheet. His only game was on December 30 and he recorded just over thirteen minutes of ice time.

His overall statistics for this season in the KHL are 18 games played, no goals, three assists, and is -7. He has taken two minor penalties for the season.

Monthly Score: 2.0


By NoVa Caps Prospect Team

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.

11 Responses to Washington Capitals Prospect Report: December, 2022 – Mitchell Gibson Continues To Top NCAA, Ivan Miroshnichenko Impresses In Return And Ethen Frank Leads The Way In Hershey

  1. Diane Doyle says:

    Fun fact on Ethen Frank — he’s from Papillon, Nebraska, which is where former St Louis Cardinals pitcher, Bob Gibson, used to live. Bob Gibson is a native of Omaha, which is where my mother’s sister spent her adult life.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Chesley barely broke a sweat in this years tournament, but you’re right, it was just too soon for him.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks again, folks. You guys were working through the holidays on this one.

  4. novafyre says:

    Emphasize that Bear is the sole player from the Rays at the All Star game, but their head coach is coaching the Eastern. So both Bears and Rays HCs have that honor. That speaks well of the Caps organization right now.

    Clay’s last win to me was more of a salute to a stellar Rays defense, but he was solid when called on. And, his highlight of the game was just missing by inches an ENG.

    I’m disappointed that Hunter did not get any ice time during his callup to the Caps. Same for Has in his time in Hershey.

    All 28 current ECHL teams (charter limit of 30) are now affiliated with NHL and AHL teams. I expect in the next few years they will amend it to expand to 32 truly giving the NHL a three tier pro scheme. (Athens Georgia will be #29 in 2024.)

    And remember, it was our very own Godzilla who was the first developmental player inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame (2010). Ave’s HC Bednar (who both played for the Rays and coached them) is the second person to have won it all in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL. First was Jay Beagle. (Go Beags!! We miss you.)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Excellent report, as usual ‘Cappers’ Thanks again.

  6. Jon Sorensen says:

    Bogdan Trineyev returned to Moscow Dynamo lineup on Tuesday and recorded a primary assist on their first goal:

Leave a Reply