Next up in our annual prospect review and forecast series is Connor McMichael, center for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL). (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
McMichael, 22, is a 6’0”, 180lb, left-handed forward, selected by the Washington Capitals in the first round (25th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The Ajax, Ontario native signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Capitals on July 12, 2019 for $925,000 AAV. With two entry-level slides, he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2023-24 season.
The 2017-2018 season, McMichael’s rookie campaign in the OHL, was relatively pedestrian (for him). He registered just eight goals and eight assists in 60 games for a .26 points per game average. He recorded just 67 shots for a shooting percentage of 11.9% for the season.
The 2018-2019 season was a breakout season for McMichael, good enough to garner a first round selection in the NHL draft. He recorded 36 goals and 36 assists in 67 games for a 1.07 points per game rate for his sophomore season in the OHL. McMichael fired 221 shots for a shooting percentage of 16.3% for the season.
The 2019-2020 season was extraordinary for McMichael, from start to finish. He recorded his second hat trick of the season by November 1st, and had a total of six tricks for the season. McMichael was named OHL player of the week three times, the most in the OHL that season. He finished the season with 47 goals and 55 assists (102 points) in 52 games for a 1.96 points per game average. He recorded 283 shots for a shooting percentage of 16.6% for the season.
He also had a pretty good showing at the World Juniors that year. His confidence never wavered the entire season. He would mention in numerous interviews throughout the season that he felt he gained confidence in Capitals training camp the previous September.
The 2020-21 season started late for McMichael. In November he joined Team Canada for World Juniors selection camp and would join the team for the tournament in Edmonton. He recorded four goals and four assists in seven games and took home a silver medal. He would then quickly head to Washington where he spent a few days before being re-assigned to Hershey for the season. Because of the pandemic, CHL players that would normally be precluded from playing in the AHL were allowed to join AHL teams. It would be a tremendous break for McMichael. He recorded 14 goals and 13 assists in 33 games with the Bears, demonstrating he belonged at the AHL. Bears coach Spencer Carbery would say in an end-of-year presser that McMichael was ready for the NHL, but still needed to work on a few of the finer points of his game.
McMichael spent the entire 2021-22 season with the Capitals, recording nine goals and nine assists in 68 games. While many called for more scoring from McMichael, his underlying possession metrics were excellent, and recorded the highest expected goals for percentage of 55.67%.
McMichael began the 2022-23 season with the Capitals, but struggled from the onset of training camp. He was ultimately re-assigned to Hershey on November 20 where he played for the remainder of the season. To McMichael’s credit he took the re-assignment in a positive manor. By springtime, Bears head coach Todd Nelson was raving about his game.
“He plays penalty kill, power play. Gets a lot of ice time. He deserves it, because he’s playing good hockey,” said Nelson in March. “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.”
Nelson added, “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.
McMichael finished the regular season with 16 goals and 23 assists in 57 games. He added six more goals and four assists in 20 more postseason games in the Bears run to their 12th Calder Cup.
2022-2023 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Connor McMichael during the 2022-2023 season. Also included are his monthly scores (0-5, with 2.5 being average). You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
McMichael made the Capitals opening night roster, but his play seemed to take a step back from his 2021-22 campaign. He posted no points in just six games at the start of the season, before he was ultimately re-assigned to Hershey. His dip in performance was noticeable from the start, including in the preseason.
Monthly Score: 2.0
McMichael was reassigned to Hershey on November 20 and suited up for the Bears that same night. He went scoreless in that game, but found the back of the net in his next game in Springfield. McMichael snapped a shot from the right circle over the blocker of Joel Hofer to tie the game.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) November 24, 2022
McMichael went scoreless in his next three contests, but did convert in the shootout in a 1-0 Hershey win in Hartford on November 26.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) November 27, 2022
McMichael netted his second goal of the season on November 30 at Lehigh Valley. He sniped a shot from just above the left circle over the blocker of Samuel Ersson for a power play marker in the second period.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 1, 2022
McMichael is still finding his game after being used sparingly in Washington. The more game action he gets, the better he will be. Head coach Todd Nelson has also deployed McMichael on the penalty kill to give him another element to his game.
Monthly Score: 3.5
McMichael found his groove in December. He amassed eight points in the month, potting four goals and dishing out four helpers.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 4, 2022
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.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 11, 2022
McMichael tallied twice against those same Monsters on December 11 and then netted Hershey’s lone goal in the shootout.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 11, 2022
McMichael was the only Bears skater to convert in the extra frame.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 12, 2022
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).
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 19, 2022
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
McMichael had his most productive offensive month of the season in January. He opened his January account with a quality goal on January 8 against Syracuse. He took a feed from Aliaksei Protas and burst down the left wing. The pivot came in on goal and dragged the puck around Max Legace. McMichael then slid a backhand around Legace’s left skate.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) January 8, 2023
McMichael recorded his second multi-point game of the season versus Springfield on January 14. He scored with a snap shot from the left circle to tie the game at two in the second period. McMichael then set up Joe Snively for Hershey’s fifth goal.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) January 15, 2023
The former London Knight would register two more multi-point games in the month and they came in back-to-back road matchups with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. On January 25, he tallied the first goal of the game, converting a rebound off a Dylan McIlrath’s shot. McMichael later picked up the primary helper on Mason Morelli’s power play marker. He then dished out two primary assists against the Phantoms on January 28.
For the month, the former first rounder netted three goals and had six assists. He is up to 19 points for the season. McMichael continues to see time on the penalty kill and has been manning the point on the first power play unit.
Monthly Score: 4.0
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. He just needs to get more shots on target instead of missing the net. He found the back of the net three times in February.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) February 2, 2023
One of these was the game-winner in Bridgeport on February 3 when he redirected a puck past Jakub Skarek. He 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.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) February 19, 2023
McMichael plays the point on Hershey’s five forward power play unit. He 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
McMichael is riding an eight-game point streak. He recorded a point in 10 of the 11 games he played in March.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) March 18, 2023
The pivot potted three goals and dished out eight helpers in the month. He scored goals in back-to-back games against the Rochester Americans on March 18 and 24. His tally on the 18th came 28 seconds after the Americans opened the scoring in the first period. McMichael intercepted a clearing attempt and lifted a shot over Michael Houser’s glove.
Connor McMichael on the door step for his 15th goal of the season. Joe Snively with the sweet dish. C-Mac is heating up, has points in six straight and 8 of last 9 games. #ALLCAPS #HBH pic.twitter.com/xJxFdkRwqE
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) March 25, 2023
The former London Knight picked up his play in his own zone as well. After being on the ice for all three Providence goals on March 12, McMichael rebounded to be a plus player in his next six games.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) March 15, 2023
On the season, he has 35 points in 49 games and ranks fifth on the Bears in scoring. Of those 35 points, 27 of them are primary points. This means that those points are either goals or primary assists.
Monthly Score: 4.5
McMichael had a decent postseason run, but it could have been more productive offensively for a player with his skill set.
He added six goals and four assists in 20 postseason games, and came up huge in the Bears game 7 victory in Coachella Valley, posting the Nears first goal of the game.
Monthly Score: 3.0
MONTHLY SCORE SUMMARY
McMichael experienced a discernible drop in performance from the start of the 2022 Capitals training camp, which we detailed here back on November 18, two days before he was re-assigned to the Bears. The reason for the drop in performance is up for debate, but his possession metrics and overall game play was down from his 2021-22 season, right from the start.
As noted, McMichael dealt with the re-assignment to Hershey fairly well, at least according to his play on the ice, and ultimately turned in an excellent season of development. When all is said and done, it was the right way for him to spend the 2022-23 season. The question now, will he return to the Capitals roster?
McMichael has a very strong proponent in Spencer Carbery in his corner, which may help his shot in Washington.
“He’s the real deal, but I think the best compliment [that] I can pay Mics is [that] he’s a gamer,” said Spencer Carbery to ABC27 in 2021.
“When the games get really competitive, tight game 1-1 in the third period, a hostile environment in Wilkes and it’s a chippy game, he plays his best in [those] big moments,” Carbery said.
“Especially for someone that young, usually situations like that overwhelm them. Usually it’s like ‘woah, I’m just trying to find my footing.’ [But] he embraces it and wants the puck and wants to be the guy. It’s almost like the bigger the situation, the better he plays, which is really, really impressive at his age.”
“He’s just right place, right time, big moments, Connor McMichael.” added Carbery, “When it continues to happen for a certain player, it’s for a reason. You can tell he has that clutch gene in him. When the game’s on the line, he wants to be out there. He believes he is going to get the job done or he’s going to score the big goal or make the big play. That’s a special quality.”
McMichael will be one of three or four prospects (Malenstyn, Snively, Protas, Frank) that will have an honest shot at making the Capitals roster this fall. Hopefully he can come into camp better than last season. His status will ultimately be decided by his level of performance in September and early October, before the season begins.
By Jon Sorensen
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Connor McMichael Loaned To Hershey Bears
Connor McMichael Voted Best Shot, Most Dangerous In Goal Area in OHL Western Conference by OHL Coaches
Capitals’ Prospect Connor McMichael Scores Twice, Hits 100-Point Plateau in 50th Game vs. Sting
Top 3 Surprises in Connor McMichael’s Game (So Far)
Capitals’ Prospect Connor McMichael Named OHL’s ‘On The Run’ Player Of The Week
Capitals’ Prospect Connor McMichael Scores Hat Trick In Win With London Knights; Records 6th Hat Trick Of The Season
Capitals’ Prospect Connor McMichael Gets Fifth Hat-Trick Of The Season
Capitals’ Prospect Connor McMichael Records Fifth Goal In Two Games, Including Insane Between-The-Legs Shot
I’ll Have A Mc-Triple: Caps’ 2019 First-Round Pick Connor McMichael Records Hat Trick Against Saginaw Spirit
Capitals’ 2019 First-round Pick Connor McMichael Helps Rally Team Canada To Gold Medal In 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship
Connor McMichael Scores 4th Goal Of Tournament, Canada Beats Finland 5-0, Advances To Finals vs. Russia
Connor McMichael Scores In Team Canada’s 6-1 Victory Over Team Slovakia, Advances To Semi-Finals
Connor McMichael Scores In Team Canada’s 7-2 Trouncing Of Fellow Caps Prospect Martin Has’ Czech Republic
Connor McMichael Scores In Team Canada’s 6-4 Win Over Team USA; Martin Hugo Has And Czech Republic Beat Russia
Connor McMichael Is Ready For Any Role In 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship
Connor McMichael Survives Final Cut, Makes Team Canada’s 2020 World Junior Team
Connor McMichael: Update From The Road To The 2020 World Junior Championship
Capitals’ Prospect Connor McMichael Poised To Take International Stage
Capitals’ 2019 First-Round Pick Connor McMichael Scores Hat Trick In London Knights’ Trouncing of Kitchener Rangers
Knights’ Connor McMichael Named OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week
Connor McMichael Scores Second Hat Trick Of The Season
Capitals Prospect Connor McMichael Named OHL Player Of The Week
Red-Hot Prospect: Caps’ 2019 First-Round Pick Connor McMichael Nets Hat Trick and Two Assists, Continues Hot Start to the Season
Connor McMichael, Capitals’ Prospects Impress In First Preseason Game
Review Of Connor McMichael’s Play in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase
Capitals Sign 2019 First-Round Pick, Connor McMichael To Three-Year Entry-Level Deal
Capitals’ Development Camp Scrimmage Recap – Connor McMichael Scores, Adds Another In Shootout
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2022-2023 Prospect Reviews And Forecasts