Washington Capitals Prospect Report: February, 2023 – Alexander Suzdalev, Ethen Frank And Gabriel Carlsson Continue To Impress

Welcome to the fifth 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 February, 2023.  

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

  • AHL (Hershey Bears)

We are implementing a new monthly scoring system this season in order to enable a greater flexibility and granularity for monthly analysis and 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]


February proved to be the worst month of the 2022-23 American Hockey League (AHL) season thus far for the Hershey Bears. It was a month where the chocolate and white did not win back-to-back games, as the Bears finished with a record of 4-4-1-1. Hershey has fallen out of first place in the Atlantic Division and now trail the Providence Bruins by a point.

The power play was an issue for the Bears in February. The chocolate and white was 5 for 42, a conversion rate of just 11.9%, with two of those five power play goals coming in Charlotte on February 18. Take that game away and the power play was 7.6% for the month. The unit had a pair of five-on-three power plays in the third period in Charlotte on February 19 with a chance to extend their one goal lead, but failed to score on either man advantage. Hershey used a five forward power play for much of the month with little success. The team is too deliberate on the power play and the slow movement does not create shooting lanes or force the penalty killers to move.

Generating shots on goal was also a problem for the Bears. There were six instances where Hershey fired six shots or less on goal in a period. This included two frames where the chocolate and white mustered just two shots on goal. There are far too many shots that miss the net and a lot of shots are getting blocked because they are shooting into the opponent in front of them, instead of faking a shot to create an open lane.

The Bears continue to be paced offensively by the top line of Mike Sgarbossa, Mike Vecchione and Ethen Frank. Sgarbossa and Vecchione led the way, each netting four goals and dishing out four assists. Frank added three goals and a pair of helpers. Outside of the top line, Connor McMichael posted six points and Mason Morelli and Garrett Pilon chipped in with four points apiece.

GARIN BJORKLUND – (G) – 20 – DRAFTED 2020 (Sixth Round, #179 Overall)
Bjorklund was re-assigned to South Carolina at the beginning of the season, but has yet to appear in a game. It has been reported that his absence is due to a back injury, although no public announcements have been made by the Capitals organization.

Monthly Score: Incomplete

HENRIK BORGSTROM (C/LW) – 25 – DRAFTED 2016 (First Round, 23rd overall – Florida)
Borgstrom snapped a 12-game goalless drought on February 18 in Charlotte. He shoveled home the rebound off of a Logan Day shot in the third period. The Finnish forward also had the lone helper on the Connor McMichael’s empty net goal in the third period of the same game. Borgstrom did pot the shootout winner against the Phantoms on February 25.

Unfortunately for Borgstrom, those were his only two points of the month. He has maintained his spot on the second line despite being outplayed by Mason Morelli and Garrett Pilon. This could change if Hershey’s offensive struggles continue.

A bigger concern is Borgstrom game in his own end has taken a dip. After going 12 games without being a minus player, the Helsinki, Finland native was a minus player in five of 10 games in February. This included being a minus player in three straight games from February 4-11.

Monthly Score: 2.0

GABRIEL CARLSSON (LD) – 26 – DRAFTED 2015 (1st Round, 29th overall – Columbus)
Carlsson is Hershey’s most reliable defenseman at this point in the season. He is a plus 11 in his last 14 games and leads the Bears with a plus 22 rating for the season. The Orebro, Sweden native is sound positionally and makes good decisions in his own zone. Carlsson is a strong penalty killer and can be relied upon to play against the other team’s top players.

If it is a big defensive spot, Carlsson is likely on the ice. Offensively, the Swedish blue liner only had a single assist in the month, a secondary helper on a Riley Sutter goal in Bridgeport on February 3. He has 13 points on the season.

Monthly Score: 3.5

KODY CLARK – (RW) – 23 – DRAFTED 2018 (Second Round, #47 Overall)
Clark has returned to Hershey. He was a participant in a Season Ticket Holder Autograph event and indicated that his recovery from surgery on his left quad is going well. He is still unlikely to play this season.

Monthly Score: Incomplete

ETHEN FRANK (RW) – 25 – Undrafted
At the start of the month, Frank was named the AHL’s Rookie of the Month for January. Then, he went to the AHL All-Star Classic in Laval, Quebec and caught the attention of the hockey world. The rookie winger participated in the Fastest Skater Event at the skills competition. Frank blazed his way to a record-setting lap of 12.915 to claim the victory in the event.

The Western Michigan product then scored a goal and a shootout goal in the All-Star Classic, helping the Atlantic Division make the finals against the Pacific Division.

Back in Hershey, Frank netted three goals and dished out two assists in 10 games and has a team-high 23 goals this season. That total is the most among rookies in the AHL and the winger is tied for fourth in the league in rookie scoring with 40 points.

The Papillion, Nebraska native has scored the first goal six times. That is tied for the second most in the AHL. Also, Frank is tied with fellow rookie Sammy Walker for the most insurance goals scored in the league with six.

Monthly Score: 4.0

ZACH FUCALE (G) – 27 – DRAFTED 2013 (Second Round, 36th overall – Montreal)
Fucale started four games in February, posting a 2-2 record. His numbers may not show it, but the netminder actually played pretty well. At Lehigh Valley on February 1, he was done in by a very poor second period by the Bears. Hershey had just two shots on goal and Fucale was under siege most of the period. The Phantoms scored four times. One of those was on an odd-man rush and the player was left uncovered on two of the other tallies.

Fucale received little support in his next start as the chocolate and white failed to score. He made 30 saves on 32 shots, but took the loss. Fucale faced 12 shots in the first period and 14 in the second in that game and stopped 25 of those 26 shots. He kept his team in the game.

The Laval, Quebec native won his last two starts of the month. He made 22 saves in Charlotte, earning a 6-3 win. Fucale was the difference in Hershey’s 4-3 shootout win over Lehigh Valley on February 25. The chocolate and white recorded two shots on goal in the first period and the netminder kept the chocolate and white in the game despite giving up a single goal. After Hershey tied the game in the second, he denied Bobby Brink on a penalty shot to keep the game even. The Phantoms scored twice in the third to force overtime, but Fucale had little chance to stop either one of those shots. He made two saves in overtime to finish with 25 saves. Fucale then stopped three of four Lehigh Valley attempts in the shootout to allow the Bears to prevail.

For the season, Fucale is 16-9-2-1 with a 2.58 GAA and a .898 save percentage.

Monthly Score: 3.0

SHANE GERSICH (LW) – 26 – DRAFTED 2014 (Fifth Round, 134th overall)
The Chaska, Minnesota native was productive in limited action. Gersich suited up in five games in the month and had three points during those contests. He sprung Henrik Rybinski for a shorthanded goal in the second period against Hartford on February 11.

The North Dakota alum netted his first power play goal of the season in Charlotte on February 19 when he redirected a Vincent Iorio shot by Mack Guzda in the second period.

Gersich plays on the fourth line when he is in the lineup and he plays that role well. He is responsible in his own zone and is a good forechecker. He is also a strong penalty killer.

Monthly Score: 3.0

MARTIN HAS (RD) – 22 – DRAFTED 2019 (Fifth Round, 153rd overall)
The Czech defenseman spent much of February on South Carolina’s second defensive pairing and saw time on the penalty kill. He was also a healthy scratch in several games.

Has netted an even strength goal in the third period against Greenville on February 10. The marker was the third tally of the season for him. The former Shawinigan Cataracte also earned the primary assist on Jackson Leppard’s first period goal in Atlanta on February 14. Has has six assists on the campaign.  

Monthly Score: 2.5

BEAR HUGHES (C) – 21 – DRAFTED 2020 (Fifth Round, 148th overall)
With the departure of Carter Turnbull for Slovakia, Hughes is the leading scorer for the South Carolina Stingrays with 46 points in his rookie campaign. The Post Falls, Idaho native compiled eight points in February. Hughes dished out six assists in the month, five of those helpers came on the power play.

The pivot had the primary assist on Josh Wilkins game-winning power play goal with 1:08 left in the third period against Fort Wayne on February 22. Hughes has a team high 13 power play assists on the season. Hughes also has compiled a team best 28 assists. The Idahoan added two goals in the month to bring his season total to 18, which leads the Stingrays.    

Monthly Score: 3.0

VINNY IORIO (RD) – 20 – DRAFTED 2020 (Second Round, 55th round)
The rookie defenseman looks more and more confident as each month passes. Iorio carries the puck up the ice with more ease than he did earlier in the season and looks more sure of himself in every part of his game. He possesses a good, low hard wrist shot that he does a good job of getting through the defense.

His shot sets up teammates for redirections. Two of Iorio’s three assists in the month came when his shots were tipped home by teammates. The Coquitlam, British Columbia native is tied for the team lead in assists by a defenseman with 15 and has 17 points on the season.

Iorio is playing a strong defensive game, making good decisions and putting himself in good positions defensively. He is seeing more time on the penalty kill with Dylan McIlrath in the NHL.

“I think he’s playing his best hockey right now,” Bears head coach Todd Nelson told Bears radio. “He’s getting better every night. Every once in a while, he’s a human being, he might have a tough night one night. All in all, we’re happy with his body of work.”

Nelson added, “He’s improving as a hockey player. I just think he’s a defenseman that can do some things that other defensemen can’t. He can skate the puck out of pressure, he’s a big strong guy, he plays on the penalty kill. I just like his game right now, and hopefully he keeps on moving in the right direction.”

Monthly Score: 3.5

LUCAS JOHANSEN (LD) – 25 – DRAFTED 2016 (First Round, 28th overall)
Johansen dished out a pair of assists in February. That is his highest point outpoint of the season, as he entered the month with just two points. However, the Vancouver, British Columbia native has experienced a frustrating season, playing in just 24 of Hershey’s 52 games. Johansen has been plagued by injury and illness. His breakout season from a year ago seems like a distant memory.

On a positive note, he played in eight games in February and that is the most he has played in a month this season. Johansen’s assist came on February 19 in charlotte and was on a diagonal stretch pass that sent Ethen Frank in for a goal. His other assist came in the first game of the month on February 1 when his shot was redirected by Connor McMichael for the Bears first goal at Lehigh Valley.

Monthly Score: 2.5

HENDRIX LAPIERRE (C) – 21 – DRAFTED 2020 (First Round, #22 Overall)
The rookie center has hit a bit of a wall, as his offensive production has dried up. He had two assists in the month and has not scored a goal since January 14.

Lapierre was a healthy scratch for both games in Charlotte on February 18 and 19. Head coach Todd Nelson cited Lapierre sitting because he was frustrated and a desire to have him watch to see the intensity he needs to be playing with.

“Lappy’s sitting out, just because, right now he is frustrated. We kinda wanna use this as a reset button for him. He’s a great kid, he’s a student of the game. We just want him to watch the game from up top. Watch the intensity of the players, playing. We just feel that his intensity has to rise up. That’s very common with a young player like him. He’ll get back in the lineup very soon.”

Lapierre returned to the lineup for the last two games of the month, but left the game against Belleville on February 26 in the second period with an upper body injury.

Bears head coach Todd Nelson was asked about the status of Lapierre following game. “He has an upper body injury. I haven’t got the diagnose yet from the trainer… He definitely couldn’t play. He tried to fight through it but he couldn’t play.”

Lapierre is nearing a career-high for games played in a season (54 games). He has missed a number of games in the previous three seasons due to injuries and Covid shutdowns. He played 52 games for Chicoutimi (QMJHL) in the 2018-19 season, 19 games for Chicoutimi (QMJHL) in the 2019-20 season, 30 games for Chicoutimi (QMJHL) in the 2020-21 season and a career high 54 games for Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) in the 2022-23 season.

He’s played 49 games so far this season with the Bears (AHL), with 10 goals and 14 assists.

Monthly Score: 2.0

BENTON MAASS (RD) – 24 – DRAFTED 2017 (Sixth Round, 182nd overall)
Maass nearly equaled the season point total he had coming into the month. He entered February with five points and recorded four points in the month. The native of Elk River, Minnesota compiled three helpers in February, one more than he had in the season’s first four months.

One of those assists came on Kevin O’Neil’s game-winning goal in Worcester on February 5. He also picked up his first power play assist of the season against Atlanta on February 25. Maass netted his fourth goal of the season in the third period of a 3-2 loss to Jacksonville on February 18. The rookie blue liner has a plus 13 rating on the season, the best among South Carolina defensemen.

Update: Maass was recalled to Hershey on March 1.

Monthly Score: 3.0

BECK MALENSTYN (LW/RW) – 25 – DRAFTED 2016 (Fifth Round, 145th overall)
Entering the month with three points for the season, Malenstyn equaled that total in February. He netted Hershey’s fourth goal in Bridgeport in the third period on February 3. The Delta, British Columbia native deflected Aaron Ness’ point shot for the tally.

The winger registered his second point of the month with a secondary assist on Bobby Nardella’s tying goal at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 15. Malenstyn scored his second goal of the month in the first period on February 26 versus Belleville. He again redirected a point shot, this time from Vincent Iorio.

Malenstyn has been a key part of Hershey’s effective fourth line and continues to bring energy and physicality to the game. Another thing Malenstyn continues to do is block shot. Time and time again, he throws his body in front of a shot to keep it away from the goal. This is really apparent on the penalty kill where Malenstyn usually blocks multiple shots on each kill. Malenstyn is one of the top penalty killers on the team and is often one of the first two forwards over the boards when the Bears are shorthanded.

Monthly Score: 3.5

DYLAN MCILRATH (RD) – 30 – DRAFTED 2010 (First Round, 10th overall – New York Rangers)
The Hershey captain played in only five games for the chocolate and white in February. He was recalled to Washington twice and remains with the Capitals. McIlrath was scoreless in the month with the Bears.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba native saw action in five games with Washington. He failed to record a point, but did take the decision in a fight with Anaheim’s Sam Carrick.

Monthly Score: 3.0

CONNOR MCMICHAEL (C) – 22 – Drafted 2019 (First Round, 25th overall)
McMichael has anchored the second line for the chocolate and white. His offensive point production fell to six points from eight points in February, but that was a team wide issue.

McMichael had the third highest point total on the team in the month and is still creating chances. McMichael just needs to get more shots on target instead of missing the net. He found the back of the net three times in February.

One of these was the game-winner in Bridgeport on February 3 when he redirected a puck past Jakub Skarek. The Ajax, Ontario native also recorded a three-point game in Charlotte on February 18.

McMichael has been very good in the shootout for the Bears, converting four of the six attempts he has taken. The rest of the team has scored four times in the shootout.

He plays the point on Hershey’s five forward power play unit. McMichael is not seeing as much time on the penalty kill and that has been beneficial to him in other areas.

The pivot has compiled 12 goals and 13 assists in 38 games this season. He has found a rhythm by playing a lot of minutes and is a danger to score almost every time on the ice.

Monthly Score: 4.0

JULIAN NAPRAVNIK (RW) – 25 – Undrafted
The German winger played in his first game since December 28 on February 15 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Napravnik had one good scoring chance in the game and recorded one shot.

The Minnesota State product is a victim of a numbers game and cannot really get into a rhythm because of a lack of playing time. Naprnavik simply needs ice time and he is not getting that.

Monthly Score: 2.5

BOBBY NARDELLA (LD) – 26 – Undrafted
Nardella was held off the scoresheet during the first five games of February, but then recorded a point in three of his next four games. His lone goal of the month came at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 15. He ripped a shot from the right point through a screen and past Taylor Gauthier to tie the game late in the third period.

The Notre Dame product also had the primary assist on the game-winning goal in Charlotte on February 18. Nardella’s three points in the month bring his season total to 19, the most among Hershey blue liners.

Nardella is tied with Vincent Iorio for the most assists, 15, by a defenseman on the team. Overall, his offensive production has slowed and that is due in part to the fact that he is now on the second power play unit and sees less time on the power play.

Defensively, Nardella is a mixed bag. He will make a strong play with his stick on one sequence and then turn the puck over on the next one while trying to force a pass. The Rosemont, Illinois native got completely undressed by Hayden Hodgson on Lehigh Valley’s tying goal in the third period on February 25.

Some defensive lapses are to be expected with puck moving defensemen, but when the offensive production is down, it is harder to live with the mistakes. Nardella needs to find more consistency in all aspects of his game.

Monthly Score: 2.5

GARRETT PILON (RW) – 24 – DRAFTED 2016 (Third Round, 87th overall)
The native of Mineola, New York registered four points in the month, and potted one goal in February. It came in the second period against Lehigh Valley on February 25. Pilon converted a nice feed from Hendrix Lapierre, beating Nolan Maier from the slot.

Pilon has been playing on the third line with Mason Morelli and a revolving door of centers, and has not been getting time on the first power play unit and that has affected his offensive numbers. He is on the second unit that does not see as much ice time with the man advantage.

With the Hershey offense struggling to generate chances at times, an argument can be made to move Pilon up to the second line with Connor McMichael and Joe Snively. The move could spark the team and get Pilon back on the goal scoring track.

Monthly Score: 3.0

HENRIK RYBINSKI (C) – 21 – DRAFTED 2019 (Fifth Round, 136th overall – Florida)
February was a quiet month for Rybinski. He missed the first three games of the month with an illness. The Vancouver, British Columbia native’s lone point of February came against the Hartford Wolf Pack on February 11. With the Bears on a penalty kill, Rybinski took a feed from Shane Gersich at the top of the left circle. He accelerated up the ice and lifted a shot over the blocker of Dylan Garand for the first shorthanded goal of his professional career. It also proved to be his second game winner of the campaign.

When in the lineup, the rookie usually skates on the fourth line and is effective in the role. Rybinski is also a good penalty killer. He needs to provide more overall to stay in the lineup with players like Shane Gersich and Matt Strome playing well.

Monthly Score: 2.0

MIKE SGARBOSSA (C) – 30 – Undrafted
The Campbellville, Ontario native continues to lead the Bears offensively. He accumulated seven points in February, tied for the most on the team. Sgarbossa recorded a three-point game in Charlotte on February 18. He registered a secondary assist on the power play in both the first and second periods. Then, Sgarbossa netted an even strength goal in the third period with a strike from the right circle. The marker who prove to be the game winner in a 6-4 Hershey win.

The veteran pivot, who played his 200th game as a Bear on February 11, tops the team’s scoring list with 46 points. He leads the Bears in assists with 28 and in power play assists with 12. Sgarbossa ranks second on Hershey in goals with 18 and in game-winning goals with four.

Monthly Score: 4.0

HUNTER SHEPARD (G) – 27 – Undrafted
The two-time national championship at Minnesota Duluth was given six of the 10 starts for the Bears in February. He had a record of 2-2-2 in those starts. Shepard started the month strong, turning aside 20 of 21 shots in a 4-1 victory over Bridgeport on February 3. He surrendered four goals on 28 shots in a 5-1 loss to Lehigh Valley on February 4, an all around poor effort by Hershey.

The Grand Rapids, Minnesota native bounced back with his best performance of 2023 against the Hartford Wolf Pack on February 11. Hartford recorded the game’s first eight shots, but Shepard stopped all of those shots to keep the chocolate and white in the game. This included a blocker save on Alex Whelan who was alone in front. After the Bears took a 2-0 lead, Shepard made two high end saves on a Wolf Pack power play and then came up with another pair of big saves late in the frame.

The Minnesota-Duluth product stopped all 15 shots sent his way in the first. He allowed Hershey to lead 2-0 despite being severely outshot by Hartford. Shepard then turned away 12 of the 13 shots he saw in the second. The netminder held the Wolf Pack off the scoreboard in the third to finish with 33 saves in a 2-1 victory. 

Shepard was winless in his last three starts. He lost once in overtime, once in a shootout and once in regulation. The Minnesotan still leads the AHL with a 2.17 goals against average.

Monthly Score: 3.0

JOE SNIVELY (LW) – 27 – Undrafted
The Herndon, Virginia native split the month between Hershey and Washington. Snively compiled three assists in seven games in February for the Bears. He picked up the secondary helper on Connor McMichael’s game-winning goal in Bridgeport on February 3.

The Yale University product suited up for a pair of games for the Capitals. Snively netted a goal and added an assist against Carolina on February 14.

Monthly Score: 3.5

CLAY STEVENSON (G) – 23 – Undrafted
The Drayton Valley, Alberta native got the call in net nine times in the month of February. He compiled a 6-3 record in his nine starts. South Carolina was shutout in two of his losses.

Stevenson made 24 saves in a 4-2 road win over Worcester on February 3. The Dartmouth College product also picked up the secondary assist on Jonny Evan’s game-winning power play goal with one second remaining in the second period. The helper was Stevenson’s third of the season.

He stopped 36 shots in a 5-4 overtime win in Savannah on February 11 and then kept out 31 shots in a 5-3 victory in Atlanta on February 14. The netminder dropped his next to starts, surrendering seven goals total in the games.

Stevenson bounced back to turn aside 33 of 34 shots in a 3-1 triumph over Fort Wayne. He also won his final start of the month. For the season, Stevenson has a record of 16-6-3-1 with two shutouts. He ranks fifth in the ECHL with a goals against average of 2.46.

Monthly Score: 3.0

RILEY SUTTER (C) – 23 – Drafted 2018 (3rd Round, 93rd overall)
Sutter centers Hershey’s effective fourth line. The Calgary, Alberta native tallied two goals and assisted on another, making February Sutter’s most productive offensive month of the season.

Sutter recorded a two-point game in Bridgeport on February 3. The pivot opened the scoring 25 seconds into the second period when he put in a rebound off of a Mason Morelli shot. Sutter added a secondary assist on Beck Malenstyn’s third period tally.

His other goal came against Lehigh Valley on February 25. He tied the game in the second period when he tapped in a feed from Joe Snively on the back door. It was Sutter’s fourth goal of the season and that total ties a career high.

The son of former NHLer Ron Sutter has also tied a career high with nine points. Offense is not where Sutter makes his biggest impact. He is strong on faceoffs and his fourth line consistently provides energy for the Bears. Sutter is one of the best penalty killers on the team and is usually one of the two forwards who start the penalty kill.

Monthly Score: 3.0

MIKE VECCHIONE (C/LW) – 30 – Undrafted
Vecchione signed a two-year AHL contract on February 14 that will keep him in Hershey through the 2024-25 season. The signing provides the Bears with a steady offensive presence going forward because the Union College alum has been a productive player since his arrival in Chocolate Town.

After leading the chocolate and white in scoring last season, Vecchione is currently second of the scoring list with 41 points. He has potted a team high five game-winning goals and is second on the team in assists.

In February, the Saugus, Massachusetts native tied for the team lead with seven points. He had a three-point outing in Charlotte on February 18, a game in which he netted a pair of goals. Vecchione participated in the AHL All-Star Classic in Laval, Quebec. He recorded two assists and helped the Atlantic Division advance to the finals against the Pacific Division.

Monthly Score: 3.5


HAAKON HANELT (C/LW) – 19 – DRAFTED 2021 (Fifth Round, #151 Overall)
Hanelt missed all of January and February due to injury. He 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 with the Gatineau doctors. Initial reports said 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.

Monthly Score: Incomplete

RYAN HOFER (C) – 20 – DRAFTED 2022 (Sixth Round, 181st Overall)
Hofer continued his impressive scoring pace in February, posting nine goals and six assists in 10 games played for the month. He also recorded a hat trick on February 3 against Prince Albert.

It was his second hat trick of the season, the other coming on November 2 when he was still playing for Everett.

Hofer received a one-game suspension for a major penalty late in the 3rd period against Prince George on February 11, and missed the opener of a six-game Central Div. road trip in Red Deer on February 17.

For the season, Hofer has 36 goals and 22 assists in 53 games played. He’s shot the puck 238 times for a 15.1% shooting percentage. His physical presence in the crease and overall level of compete continued to impress in the five games we watched this month. He has the frame and makeup to do well at the next level (AHL).

The left-handed centerman is playing in his third season in the WHL as an “overager” for the Blazers, and will be looking to make the jump to Hershey next fall. He remains unsigned by the Capitals.

Update: Hofer signed a three-year entry deal on March 1.

Monthly Score: 3.5

JAKE KARABELA (C) – 18 – DRAFTED 2022 (Fifth Round, 149th Overall)
Karabela had four goals in the month of February, with two of those tallies coming in the last two games of the month. His last goal of the month was an overtime game-winner against the London Knights.

“That’s playoff hockey. Everything down the line’s playoff hockey. You’ve got to prepare for the playoffs and I think that was a good example of it,” Karabela said.

“We didn’t have a lot of shots, but i think we controlled the puck very well in the offensive end and played well in our own end the first two periods … solid, solid play,” Karabela said.

Karabela, still just 18, continues to struggle to generate shots, and at times is unnoticeable on the ice in the four games we watched in February. When he becomes a consistent part of the play in a game he is formidable and his shot continues to impress.

Karabela now has 18 goals and 19 assists in 57 games played so far this season. He’s shot the puck just 84 times for a 22.6% shooting percentage. He is a whopping -24 for the season.

Monthly Score: 2.5

DRU KREBS (LHD) – 19 – DRAFTED 2021 (Sixth Round, 176th Overall)
Krebs continues to anchor the left side of the Tigers’ top defensive pairing. “I feel like I’ve made a steady incline this entire season and have given myself a chance to prove myself to the organization and Washington as a whole to earn myself a contract,” Krebs said. “But it’s still a lot to come and still have a lot to prove, it’s a constant process.”

Offensively, Krebs had no goals and six assists in nine games played in February. For the season he has five goals and 30 assists in 56 games played. He’s shot the puck 106 times for a 4.7% shooting percentage.

This season is a contract year for Krebs before he would become a free agent who any interested NHL club could sign.

Monthly Score: 2.0

ALEXANDER SUZDALEV (LW) – 18 – DRAFTED 2022 (Second Round, 70th Overall)
Alexander Suzdalev continued to impress in the nine games we watched in the month of February, notching another 10 goals and six assists in 10 games played. He’s shot the puck 133 times for a 25.6% shooting percentage. WHL scouts that we talked to in February say Suzdalev is a shoe-in for Rookie Of The Year in the WHL.

Suzdalev had tried ‘The Michigan’ several times so far this season, but was unable to convert. He finally pulled of the shot on February 17 against the Prince Albert Raiders.

Suzdalev recorded his first career WHL hat trick on February 25 against the Brandon Wheat Kings in Regina.

Suzdalev met with the media following the game. Suzdalev has always been a play-maker, but said that he has been encouraged to shoot more as the season progresses. This will be interesting to see if he does indeed focus on shooting more, as his shot is lethal.

Where Suzdalev plays next season is an interesting case. An argument can be made that he should play one more season in the CHL, although the counter-argument could be made that he has gleaned a bulk of the learning curve and developmental value in junior hockey. He still needs work on puck battles, making sound decisions and the overall 200’ game which could be a better fit with the AHL or in Europe.

[EDIT] On March 1 The Western Hockey League announced today that Regina Pats forward Alexander Suzdalev has been named the WHL Rookie of the Month for the month of February. Suzdalev was previously named the WHL Rookie of the Month for December 2022.

Monthly Score: 4.0


RYAN CHESLEY (RHD) – 18 – DRAFTED 2022 (Second Round, 37th Overall)
Chesley played in just two games during the month of February – against the Wisconsin Badgers on February 10 and 11. He was kept off the scoresheet in both games.

Chesley sustained an upper body injury in the Gophers’ game on February 11 and was unable to play in any of his team’s remaining four games in the month of February, which constituted the remainder of their regular season.

Gophers head coach Bob Motzko indicated that Chesley would not play until March, at the earliest. “[Chesley] will come back in the playoffs sometime. Brock, we’re going week-to-week. Injuries are part of sports. They happen, you’ve just got to roll on.”

Until getting injured, Chesley had played in all 30 of the Gopher’s games, scoring two goals and five assists. He has taken 45 shots on goal and blocked 44 shots. He played on the third defensive pairing during February.

Golden Gophers Head Coach Bob Motzko considers this year’s defense the best he’s ever had. The top three, Brock Faber, Jackson LaCombe, and Ryan Johnson, are some of the best upper-classman defenders in the nation, with Faber and LaCombe being nominees for the Hobey Baker Award. In addition, three freshman defensemen have played important roles on the team.

According to Dylan Loucks of the Gopher Hole website, “Besides the top three, the Gophers have three freshman defenders who have all played important minutes for Minnesota. Ryan Chesley currently leads the team in hits and has become more and more comfortable in breaking up plays and rush chances. He’s been super physical and more aggressive as the season has been going on.

The Gophers ended their regular season at 25-8-1 overall and 19-4-1 within the Big Ten Conference. They finished first in their conference. They have a bye week for the first weekend of March and await the playoffs and will host a one game final on March 11 in Minnesota.

Monthly Score: 2.5

CHASE CLARK (G) – 22 – DRAFTED 2021 (Sixth-Round, 183rd Overall)
Clark appeared in two games for Quinnipiac University during the month of February, both in relief. On February 17, in a 5-1 win over Yale, Clark played 4:58 in relief of Yaniv Peretz, but faced no shots.

On February 18, Clark played 20 minutes in 5-2 victory over Brown University.  In those 20 minutes, he made five saves and gave up one goal. The game was the team’s final home game of the 2022-23 season and the victory allowed them to clinch their third consecutive Cleary Cup Championship.

For the month, Clark played in two games for a total of 14:58, faced six shots and saved five of them. For the regular season, he’splayed in seven games, all in relief, for a total of 75:38. He made 21 saves and allowed 4 goals for a save percentage of .840 and a goals against average of 3.17. He was not credited with any wins or losses.

Quinnipiac’s next hockey action will take place at the ECAC Hockey Quarter finals which begin on Friday March 10 and will continue through March 12.

Monthly Score: 2.5

MITCHELL GIBSON (G) – 23 – DRAFTED 2018 (Fourth-Round, 124th overall)
Gibson played in eight games for the Harvard Crimson during the month of February, posting a 6-1-1 record in the process.

During the month, Harvard University played in the annual Beanpot Bowl, which involves all the Boston area college teams. Harvard faced #2 ranked Quinnipiac on February 3 and lost 3-0. Gibson made 22 saves on 24 chances. Quinnipiac scored their third goal in an empty net situation after Gibson was pulled in favor of an extra attacker.

On Monday, February 6, Harvard faced Boston College in the semi-finals of the Beanpot Bowl and beat them, 4-3 in overtime. Gibson made 45 saves out of 48 chances to earn the win.

On February 10, Harvard faced Dartmouth College on the road and won 6-3. Gibson made 16 saves in 19 chances.

On Monday, February 13, Harvard faced Northeastern in the Finals of the Beanpot Bowl and fell 3-2 in the shootout. Gibson made several great saves during the game. The Beanpot Finals was a game where several members of the team were unable to play due to injury.

On February 17, Harvard faced Union College at home and won 5-3. Gibson was the winning goaltender and made 26 saves on 29 shots.

On February 18, Harvard played Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and won 4-0. Gibson made 20 saves in a shutout. The game was Senior Night where Harvard honored its seniors, including Gibson. This was Gibson’s second shutout of the season, and his fifth career shutout overall.

On February 24, Harvard faced the St. Lawrence Saints at St Laurence University and won 6-2, with Gibson making 27 saves out of 29 chances. For much of the latter part of the game, Gibson made big saves on some second and third-chance efforts from the Saints.

Gibson closed out Harvard’s regular season with record of 15-5-2, a career-high save percentage of .920 and a goals against average of 2.19.

Harvard’s next hockey action will take place at the ECAC Hockey Quarter finals which begin on Friday March 10 and will continue through March 12.

Monthly Score: 3.0

DAVID GUCCIARDI (LHD) – 20 – DRAFTED 2022 (Seventh Round, 213th Overall)
On February 3 in Michigan States’ tilt against Norte Dame, Gucciardi had the secondary assist for the team’s third goal, an empty net goal, which took place at 19:08 during third period.

On February 4, Gucciardi scored the team’s third goal at 4:00 on a power play. He scored by launching a powerful one-timer from the left point. The goal held up as the game-winner. It was his first goal since October.

The Spartans faced the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, Wisconsin on February 17 and 18 for their last games of their regular season, playing the series despite the mass shooting that had taken place on their campus. The Spartans won the first game on February 17 by a 6-2 score. Gucciardi scored the team’s third goal in that game at 18:47 of the first period, which put the Spartans up 3-0 and held up as the game winning goal.

During February, Gucciardi played in all six games that Michigan State played. He scored two goals and recorded no assists during the month. 

For the season, Gucciardi has played in 32 of the team’s 3games. He has scored four goals and recorded five assists. He has 74 shots on goal and has blocked 35 shots. During February, he played on the third defense pairing.

The Spartans earned the #5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, narrowly missing out on home ice. They will play a best-of-three series against fourth seeded Notre Dame next weekend (March 3-5).

Monthly Score: 3.0

BRENT JOHNSON (RHD) – 19 – DRAFTED 2021 (Third Round, 80th Overall)
Brent Johnson played in no games for the North Dakota Flying Hawks during the month of February. The last game in which he played was on December 3. He has played in just one game since November 19.

Johnson 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 had blocked 8 shots. He has taken three minor penalties for the season.

It appears he is now on the bottom of the defenseman depth chart for North Dakota.

Monthly Score: 2.0

JOAQUIM LEMAY (LHD) – 20 – DRAFTED 2021 (Fourth Round, 114th Overall)
During the month of February, Joaquim “Jo” Lemay played in five games for the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. In a 6-2 win against St Cloud State on February 25, he earned the secondary assist on the team’s second goal. The goal put his team ahead 2-0.

Lemay has played in 27 of the team’s 32 games, scored one goal and recorded nine assists. He has 31 shots on goal and has blocked 16 shots. Scott Wheeler ranked him as #13 among Capitals prospects.

The Omaha Mavericks finish their regular season against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in North Dakota on March 3 and March 4. They play in the Quarterfinals of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) playoffs from March 10 through March 12. If they advance, they would play in the Frozen Faceoff that takes place from March 17-18.

Monthly Score: 2.5


TOBIAS GEISSER – (LHD) – 23 – DRAFTED 2017 (Fourth Round, 120th Overall)
During February, Geisser scored two goals in nine games and recorded two assists for EV Zug in the National League (top Swiss hockey league). Gross, Geisser, Herzog and Senteler in the Nati squad | EV Zug – The official website

The Swiss national ice hockey team met in Zurich on Monday, 6 February 2023 to prepare for the Beijer Hockey Games which was a round robin among Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Czechia. Geisser was selected for the Swiss team.

The Swiss played the Finns on Feb 9, the Swedes on Feb 11, and the Czechs on Feb 12. Geisser did not score or record an assist in that tournament but took one minor penalty.

On February 22, in a game against the SCL Tigers, he earned two assists. The first was on the team’s second goal that came at 4:05 in the first and equaled the score at 1-1. His second was on the team’s second goal which pulled the team ahead at 2-1. The final score was 5-2 in favor of EV Zug. Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

On February 25, in a game against ECH Biel-Bienne, he scored his sixth goal of the season at 18.11. This goal narrowed the team’s deficit to 2-1. EV Zug went on to lose 6-3. Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

On February 28, he scored a goal during in a 4-2 win against Fribourg-Gotteron. His goal came at 7:00 into the second period and increased the team’s lead to 3-0 and ultimately was the game winner. Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

He is a top defenseman on his team and eats a lot of important ice time.

Through the end of February, he had played in 50 games, scoring seven goals and recorded 13 assists for the season.

Geisser told NoVa Caps back in 2022 that he planned to return home and play in Switzerland, but he also wanted to return “when the rebuild starts”. You have to wonder if that time is drawing near.

Monthly Score: 3.0

OSKAR MAGNUSSON (C/W) – 19 – DRAFTED 2020 (Seventh Round, 211th Overall)
During the month of February, Magnusson played in nine games, scoring one goal and recording one assist for AIK in Hockey Allsvenskan (Second Tier Swedish League).

On February 11, he scored a goal at 11:10 during the second period. It gave AIK a 2-1 lead which they were unable to hold as they ultimately lost 6-3. 2023-02-11 AIK – Karlskoga 3-6 – HockeyAllsvenskan

On February 13, he had the primary assist on AIK’s only goal that occurred in a 5-1 loss. The goal was scored at 9:57 into the third period. 2023-02-13 Kristianstad – AIK 5-1 – HockeyAllsvenskan

Magnusson has six goals and 10 assists in 48 games played so far this season.

Monthly Score: 2.5

LUDWIG PERSSON – (C/LW) – 19 – DRAFTED 2022 (Third Round, 85th Overall)
During the month of February, Persson played in eight games for Karlskoga in Hockey Allsvenskan (Second Tier Swedish League). He did not score any goals but recorded one assist for Karlskoga. He mainly played on the fourth line throughout February.

On February 22, he earned the primary assist on a late second period goal at 19:45. It tied the score at 2-2 in a game they ultimately lost 3-2 to OIK. 2023-02-22 KarlskogaÖstersund 2-3 – HockeyAllsvenskan

Persson has four goals and 11 assists in 41 games played so far this season.

Monthly Score: 2.0

DAMIEN RIAT (F) – 25 – Drafted 2016 (Fourth-Round, 117th Overall)
During February, Riat played in nine games for Lausanne. He scored one goal and recorded four assists.

On February 2 during a 5-4 win against HC Davos, he had the primary assist on the team’s second goal which occurred at 8:43 into the third period and put the team up 2-0. Lausanne ultimately won 5-4 in a shootout. Riat shot once in the shootout and did not score. Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

On February 24, he scored a goal at 14:48.  The goal put Lausanne ahead 2-1. They ultimately won the game 3-2 in a shootout. Riat was the only shooter in the shootout who could score. Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

On February 28, He earned the primary assist on the team’s first goal which was scored at 5:34 during second period. They were down 2-0 before that goal. The ultimately won the game in a come from behind 3-2 victory. Spielübersicht (nationalleague.ch)

For the season with Lausanne in the Swiss National League, he has played in 50 games, getting nine goals and recording 16 assists.

Monthly Score: 2.0


IVAN MIROSHNICHENKO (F) – 19 – DRAFTED 2022 (First Round, 20th Overall)
One of Miroshnichenko’s highlights for the month of February was scoring his third goal in the KHL on his nineteeth birthday on February 4. The goal came midway through the second period of Avangard’s tilt with Amur Khabarovsk. Miroshnichenko hammered home a one-timer from the right circle for the score, giving Avangard a 1-0 lead. [MORE HERE]

Miroshnichenko returned to the MHL (Russian’s Junior hockey league) prior to the game on February 13 so that he could get more playing time. On February 14, he scored a power play goal at eight minutes into the second period in a game they ultimately won, 4-2 against Sputnik Almetievsk..

On February 17, he had a primary assist on the team’s first goal.

On February 18, Miroshnichenko scored on a power play two minutes into the third period, putting the Hawks ahead by a 2-1 score, a lead the team could not hold onto as they ultimately lost 3-2 in Overtime.

Miroshnichenko returned to Omsk Avangard (KHL) in time for their game of February 24 but did not get into the game. His first game since the return was on February 26 where he had 14:50 of ice time but got no points.

Avangard ended up third in their division for the 2022-23 season and will play Sibir in the first round of the KHL playoffs. The MHL regular season ends on March 2.

For February, Miroshnichenko played in five games in the KHL and scored one goal. His overall KHL statistics are that he played 23 games, scored three goals, and recorded one assist. His MHL statistics for February are four games played, two goals, and one assist. His season totals in the MHL are 12 games played, 10 goals scored, and four assists.

Monthly Score: 3.5

BOGDAN TRINEYEV (F) – 20 – DRAFTED 2020 (Fourth Round, 117th Overall)
During the month of February, Trineyev played in eight games and recorded one assist and no goals. His lone assist for the month came on February 3 against Barys.

Trineyev’s ice time diminished as the month of February proceeded. His ice time for February ranged from a low of 5:39 on February 26 to a high of 15:49 on February 3.

For the season he has played in 39 games for Moscow Dynamo, scoring two goals and recorded 11 assists.

The KHL regular season has ended and the Gagarin Cup playoffs will begin. Moscow Dynamo will begin their playoff series against Nizhny Novgorad Torpedo for Round 1 with Dynamo getting home field advantage.

Off the ice, Trineyev and a teammate were present at an event called Sun of Moscow where they signed autographs and posed for pictures. [HERE].

Monthly Score: 2.5

By The 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.
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15 Responses to Washington Capitals Prospect Report: February, 2023 – Alexander Suzdalev, Ethen Frank And Gabriel Carlsson Continue To Impress

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good to get an update on Gabriel Carlsson and Tobias Geisser, considering the current dismantling and restructuring of the Capitals blueline. Thx!

  2. Lance says:

    I expect Gabriel Carlsson, Ethen Frank, Vincent Iorio and Connor Michael to be given a real chance to play with Caps next season. I also like Beck Malynstein and Garrett Pilon. Lots of talent in Hershey. Thanks for the update on our prospects.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      No question, There will be plenty of opportunity for prospects. It will be interesting to see if the Capitals are a little more open to giving youth playing time next season.

      • KimRB says:

        To me, that all depends on the employment status of one Peter Laviolette. If you bring him back on a one year deal, you can just expect more of the same. Favoring vets over youngsters, young guys sitting in the press box for several weeks, then when they do get a jersey, getting only 6 minutes or so, of ice time.

        To me, the sell-off is a tacit admission that PL won’t be back. Remains to be seen whether it’s an established head coach like Gabby, or a 1st time NHLer like Nelson, Spencer Carbery or Jeff Galpern

      • GRin430 says:

        I’d like to see several of them get playing time with the Caps THIS season… Just need to move out a few more old guys…

  3. Jon Sorensen says:

    Edit: Ryan Hofer just inked his entry-level deal. Good signing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all the hard work you guys do on this each and every month. Tremendous insight as always.

  5. KimRB says:

    Thanks for the run down, gang. Kudos to your hard work! It’s appreciated.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Thanks you Kim! It’s a month long project, each and every month, but we love watching all the games, evaluating players, etc. I haven’t missed a Bears game in 8+ years, and I think Eric is in the same neighborhood.

  6. Jon Sorensen says:

  7. vanorm says:

    Great coverage, thanks.

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