Connor McMichael Making Most Of AHL Stint: “He’s Playing His Best Hockey”

It could have gone one of two ways, as it typically does for a kid who is sent down from the NHL to the AHL. A player can easily dwell on the negatives and struggle to focus on what’s important, or a player can use the demotion as motivation to get back to the NHL, and work to improve their game.

Connor McMichael was officially loaned from the Capitals to the Hershey Bears on November 20. To his credit, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He’s made great use of his time in chocolate town.

“He plays penalty kill, power play. Gets a lot of ice time. He deserves it, because he’s playing good hockey,” said Bears head coach Todd Nelson. “The biggest thing moving forward is just having him be consistent the rest of the year. He’s taken some major steps, and that’s good to see.”

McMichael has indeed found consistency down the stretch for the Bears. He’s even stepped up his game. He has three goals and seven assists in his last 11 games, including points in his last eight games.

“He’s a pretty well rounded player, right now. He’s playing his best hockey this time of year, and that’s great to see. We obviously want him to work on his 200 foot game, playing good with the puck and without the puck,” said Nelson.

And while McMichael has hit his scoring stride in 2023, he knows there is always work to do. There are always plenty of game elements to work on.

“There’s a lot of little things. For me, being a centerman, it’s always faceoffs, that’s such a key thing. Especially this time of the year, going into playoffs, every single faceoff matters. So that’s something I’ve been working on,” McMichael recently told Todd Sadowski of Fox 43.

McMichael also knows the AHL grind can take its toll on a young player, and that preparation is just as important as his play on the ice. As a result, he takes his preparation and recuperation very seriously.

“I think that at this time of the year there’s is a fine line. You gotta listen to your body and make sure you are taking care of it before and after games,” McMichael told Fox 43. “With playoffs approaching, we’re playing a lot of hockey, you don’t want to be too sore going into games. I think we’ve been on top of that and we’re rolling now.”

McMichael and the Bears are winding down their regular season, which concludes on April 15. They’ve already punched their ticket to the postseason, so McMichael could conceivably see a return to the Capitals in the final few games of the Capitals season, prior to the start of the Bears postseason run.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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17 Responses to Connor McMichael Making Most Of AHL Stint: “He’s Playing His Best Hockey”

  1. KimRB says:

    Don’t Stephenson McMichael!

    Let’s keep this one around, and develop him. Don’t give him away for peanuts. We could make a pretty good team out of the players we’ve practically given away the last few years: Vanacek, Siegenthaler, Stephenson, Burakovsky

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Ha! We have a new action verb! Don’t “Stephenson” x. I like it 🙂

      • KimRB says:

        Stephenson : verb. The act of giving away for little return, a promising prospect. Related words: Siegenthalering and Forsbergery

      • hockeydruid says:

        the only ones I object to giving away were Sigenthaler and Stephenson. Problem is the HC and /or GM get impatient or do not know how to play them to get the most of their talent. Also the GM and HC had no faith in Vanacek and didn’t want to pay his price as they wanted to go cheaper, so they moved him for picks. Shame as he would have been a good backup to Kuemper however he would have cost more than Lindgren and probably not gotten the playing time he needed to develop. .

  2. hockeydruid says:

    Hopefully they will let Connor develop another year with Lapierre before bringing him up. Maybe late in the 23/24 season after several trades or by the start of the 24/25 season.

  3. Jon Sorensen says:

    Greetings folks! Just a quick note, if you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps posts in the “subscribe” box located in the upper right corner. Thank you!

    • jonicap says:

      It’s a bit confusing but I get this message when I tried to subscribe:

      “Oops! There was an error when subscribing. Please try again.” So…I try again and get the same message.

      I’ve no idea what to do. Back in 2019, I apparently tried to subscribe, but didn’t complete the process from my email address after being sent a note, for that was the only message I got from NVF. How about sending a followup message to my email address to help me figure this out?

  4. Prevent Defense says:

    Future Hall of Famer Former Washington Capitals Head Coach Todd Reirden is safely tucked away as an assistant coach where he can’t personally damage anymore young hockey careers like Chandler Stephenson’s. PiStol Pete has been even worse. We recall in a NovaCapsFans article some months ago where excellent Caps’ prospects, a bunch of them, “beg to catch the first ticket out of Washington” after being buried or wrecked in the Pi$tol Pete school of prospect development. This makes SIX solid years of disgusting futility on the “Big Club.” Assuming that Pi$tol Pete is relieved of his duties on 14 April 2023 (day after regular season ends), we have exactly two more weeks of suffering to endure.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Get em Connor!

  6. jonicap says:

    “He plays penalty kill, power play. Gets a lot of ice time”

    My biggest grip about McM playing with the Caps was that he didn’t play any pp or pk, so for him to replace Eller, that means he would be taking the place of a great pkiller, perhaps at the time our most important faceoff guy (btw, trade Eller, and look at the losses…..just sayin’). I’m thrilled he was sent down to improve his versatility and help get more development time to make him more of an asset and capable of beating out NHL established players. He’s just about there.

    ““The biggest thing moving forward is just having him be consistent the rest of the year. He’s taken some major steps, and that’s good to see.””

    That development is working. It took way too long to send him down, but when they finally did, success was one it’s way.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Yes! This☝️ One of C-Mac’s greatest skills is puck battles in the crease. Put him in bumper spot on PP 2l his hand -eye reaction time is unreal. I’ve slowed video down of his play in front of the net and he makes stick moves to a loose,puck before other/opposing players can react.

      • jonicap says:

        Thank you Jon. That’s helpful analysis. For McM and LaPierre’s benefit, this is what I would have liked to see from management: Trade: two of the following: 1) Kuzy, 2) Backy, 3) Strome. Open up a 2nd line center spot. Keep Eller would be my preference, but if you had to trade him, make Protas your 3rd center to maintain an important defensive presence in the middle vs tougher bigger centers and split that duty with the 4th center with Dowd. Then let LaPierre and McM fight for the 2nd spot next camp.

        The trades and the way Lavy plays the guys, we are weaker defensively both on the blue line and the forward line. That sucks. No wonder we are loosing games and giving up more goals.

        So, I do want those two to get a chance to play in the NHL, but I want them to be put in the best possible situations for the team to succeed as well as them succeed.

  7. novafyre says:

    I recently stated that I no longer wanted our prospects to play for Lavi this year. Jim Bay just said in his THW article: “No matter the level, playing games that get you into the playoffs and the actual games in the playoff greatly benefits a team. That is because with similar to certain on-ice skills, such as speed, playoff experience cannot be taught. It’s also impossible to replicate postseason scenarios in practice. This is something that must be earned, and while it doesn’t guarantee success in the postseason, it makes a tremendous impact in critical moments.”

    “playing games that get you into the playoffs” Right now, the Bears are the team playing games that will prepare them for the playoffs. They are gearing up for the playoffs. Will it help our prospects to move them away from that culture, that environment, their playoff teammates, and these final regular season games to put them with Lavi and the Caps who are, realistically, not looking at the playoffs with a coach who might be meeting with real estate agents and moving companies and Caps players looking at travel brochures?

    • KimRB says:

      I kinda suspect that BMac and/or Leonsis have already made the decision to part with PL. And I also suspect that they’re keeping the kids away from him. For all his faults, and sometimes head scratching decisions, BMac is a good hockey man. He knew our defense needed shoring up when he took over, and brought in Orpik and Niskanen, and Kempney for the Cup run. And he didn’t stick his head in the sand this year, and got assets for the future.

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