Washington Capitals Prospect Tiers: Who Has A Real Shot At A Full Time Role In Washington?

We are now less than three weeks away from the opening of the Washington CapitalsRookie Camp” which is slated to begin on September 16 at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. There aren’t many roster spots realistically open for prospects at this point in the offseason, although a trade could change the landscape dramatically and quickly.
Here’s the latest as far as which players have a realistic shot at making the Capitals roster on a full-time basis.


Aliaksei Protas – Protas is probably the closest thing to a “sure bet” as far as Capitals prospects are concerned. With a season under his belt and offseason work to enhance his physical play, Protas will get a spot. He can play more than one position, and thrived on the Capitals 4th line last season.

Beck Malenstyn – Malenstyn played really well in the “Hagelin Spot” on the 4th line before he sustained an injury, derailing his run at a full-time spot on the roster last season. He will get a very long look again in training camp and is currently penciled-in at left wing on the fourth line and on the Capitals depth chart for the penalty kill.

Connor McMichael – It’s McMichael’s time to make a statement. Other forward prospects will begin mounting a challenge in the coming months and next year, so he needs to lock it down in this year’s training camp.


Joe Snively – Snively could have very easily been added to the “favorites” but it’s a numbers game at this point. Snively produced for the Capitals when he was healthy, and is also a known commodity to new head coach Spencer Carbery.

Ethen Frank – Frank had a tremendous regular season, but his postseason was very underwhelming. Whether he missed Mike Sgarbossa as his center, hit a wall or a combination of both, is up for debate, but his finish did not help his case. He will be a real wildcard in training camp. A hot camp could elevate him to the first group, but it’s likely he begins in Hershey.

Hunter Shepard – Make no mistake, Shepard, the 2023 Calder Cup MVP, is now the Capitals true number three netminder behind Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren. He will get a good look in training camp, but will most likely be a callup during the season. That’s possibly his best shot at challenging for the number two spot.


Vincent Iorio – Iorio’s rookie campaign and subsequent development last season was excellent, as he showed real signs of a seasoned vet by the end of the Bears campaign. He will very likely get more games with the Capitals this season, but is still a year or more away from seriously contending for a full time job in Washington.

Hardy Haman Aktell – Should all go well with Haman Aktell’s acclimation to the American game in Hershey, he could see a mid-season callup, for a few games, if for no other reason, than for Capitals coaches and management to get a closer look.


Lucas Johansen – Johansen’s time to compete for a full-time roll in Washington is nearing an end, but because he has NHL games under his belt, could get the call in an injury situation.


All teams like to give some of their promising young prospects a taste of the NHL early in the development process, to give the players an idea of what they need to work towards, as well as to give fans a closer look (see Hendrix Lapierre in 2021). Players like Ivan Miroshnichenko, Alexander Suzdalev, Clay Stevenson, Henrik Rybinski, Ryan Hofer, Chase Priskie and Bogdan Trineyev could conceivably do a solo lap prior to a Capitals game this season, depending on their development status.


Hendrix Lapierre – Lapierre had a great season of development for the Hershey Bears last season. He went through it all – hot start, hitting the rookie wall and extended postseason play. He nearly doubled the previous high in games he’s played in a season in his career, which was a primary objective. He still needs work, however, particularly in puck battles and making the right play. He needs at least another year in Hershey.

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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14 Responses to Washington Capitals Prospect Tiers: Who Has A Real Shot At A Full Time Role In Washington?

  1. Anonymous says:

    What about Matthew Phillips?

  2. RichD says:

    What about Matthew Phillips?

    • Anonymous says:

      Anything is possible, I believe he’s on an NHL contract. But if he is called up, the Capitals have suffered serious injuries at the center/forward position.

    • Lance says:

      I think MP has a real chance to be a good NHLer.

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s old.

    • DWGie26 says:

      Phillips should at least be mentioned given he is on a one-way contract. But i mostly agree with the tiers.

      At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the more important reason to move Mantha (and maybe either Kuzy, NAK, or Milano) is to open up spots, not to shed salary cap. This needs to be a development year versus “running out contracts” year. This more likely happens after camp and we see what McMichael, Frank, and Snively look like (already penciling in Protas and Malenstyn as 12 and 13.

      • Anonymous says:

        Phillips is turning 26 on a one year deal to help Bears with replacement of Pilon and Morelli. He’s not considered a prospect.

      • Anonymous says:

        NAK and Milano were signed to extensions last year due to good play. Those aren’t contracts being run out nor players that need to be moved for cap space.

        • DWGIE26 says:

          hear you on Phillips. But he is just as likely, at same age as Frank, to have a shot at making the roster.

          I like Milano. We got him for free. Great value contract. So he is moveable for value creating a win for us if others step up in Camp. NAK doesn’t have as much value but on a one-way he can also be moved for assets and free up a roster spot if someone needs him and either Frank or Phillips can take a role with Caps.

          I’m just looking at whom we can realistically move IF, our youth shows they can play in the NHL. If McMichael, Snively or others can’t impress then yeah, don’t trade them. But these will be post camp/start of season moves.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think McMichael and Lapierre are serious trade candidates.

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