Capitals Prospect Ryan Hofer Brings AHL-Style Game To Hershey Bears For 2023-24 Season

There have been quite a few changes in Hershey this summer following the Bears winning their 12th Calder Cup Championship back in June. But that’s business as usual in the American Hockey League (AHL). Players depart and new talent arrives. One of the new arrivals this fall will be forward Ryan Hofer.

Hofer, 21, is a 6’3″, 192-pound left-handed center from Headingley, Manitoba. The Capitals selected him in the sixth round (#181 overall) of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and signed Hofer to a three-year entry level contract on March 1, 2023. Hofer’s contract will carry an average annual value of $851,666.67 (NHL) and $82,500 in the AHL.

The Capitals selected Hofer as an “overager” (he was passed-up in the previous draft) and many will make quick reference of that fact, in attempts to diminish his value. But Hofer also showed changes and improvements to his game last year. Changes that could prove interesting as he begins his AHL career.

RELATED: Ryan Hofer: 2023 Annual Review And Forecast

In tracking Hofer since his draft day, one thing becomes very apparent early in the analysis process. He likes to beat and bang in the crease, knock guys off the puck and applies a physical style of play in all aspects of his game.

Washington Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney feels Hofer, the latest in the Capitals WHL pipeline, has benefited from a recent change in his role on the team.

“He’s playing a lot of big minutes, a lot of responsibility and more of an offensive role. Last year was more of a two-way checking, hardworking guy, and I think it’s been really good for him as far as his development. We’re really pleased with how he’s doing.”

Hofer began the 2022-23 season with the Everett Silvertips before being traded with teammate Olen Zellweger to the Kamloops Blazers, mid-season. The Blazers beefed up their roster in advance of the Memorial Cup, which they hosted this season.

For the regular season, Hofer finished with 40 goals and 28 assists in 66 games played. Again, that’s for an “overager”. He shot the puck 278 times for a 14.38% shooting percentage. Hofer added eight goals and seven assists in 14 postseason games.

“He’s relentless in his puck pursuit and he’s a physical player,” Mahoney said. “And I would say that he’s got a good shot. He’s probably been working on his skill, even more this year, because he’s always had kind of a physical aspect to his game. And he plays hard; he’s a pretty intense guy. He seems like a physical player, but he’s probably working more on his skill level, on his hands and his shot.”

But will Hofer’s AHL-style of play in the WHL actually translate to the AHL? I believe it will. In the 30 or so games I was able to watch of his last season, his game screamed AHL-style. Maybe not in the first half of the upcoming season, but we should see signs of his true game by the beginning of the new year.

By Jon Sorensen


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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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5 Responses to Capitals Prospect Ryan Hofer Brings AHL-Style Game To Hershey Bears For 2023-24 Season

  1. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see what happens when he no longer has a size/strength advantage. Some guys succeed (Wilson) others not so much (Kody Clark, plus a host of AHL/ECHL lifers). I have nothing against Hofer but it’s hard to get too worked up about a guy drafted in the back half of the 6th round.

    The Caps have a lot of bottom-6 guys in the system, which is likely where Hofer tops out. What they need are some of the top-6 prospects to turn into real top-6 NHLers –e.g., Leonard, Cristall, Miroschnichenko, Lapierre, maybe Suzdalev and/or Frank.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think article only talks about Hofer and jump to AHL.

      • GR in 430 says:

        Where he will either turn into an NHL prospect (likely bottom-6) or fade away in a couple of years.

        The point is, that big, overage guys who excel in their last year of juniors most often fade away when they have to play against men their own size/strength. Hofer might beat the odds, but in any case is very unlikely to make a big difference in the Caps’ performance over the next several years, where they need top-end talent, not AHL grinders. If he does become an impact player (in every sense of that term), I will cheer him on, as I have Beck Malenstyn, who appears to be a very similar player.

        • Anonymous says:

          The intended audience is Bears fans so they know a little about player coming to Hershey. You might be new to this site, but they’ve been covering Bears full time as well for 10 years.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nobody messes with The Hof

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