Connor McMichael Seeks Consistency In Potentially “Make-Or-Break” Season

Connor McMichael
has been trying to prove he can be a consistent NHL player for three seasons now. However, the former 2019 first-round pick has been anything but. 

Washington Capitals fans have been hyping McMichael up as if he is the player that will save this franchise and say that former head coach Peter Laviolette had something against the 22-year-old forward, which was the reason he did not get a lot of ice time. 

Neither of those statements are true…so far.

That hype started after his first full season with Washington, where he had 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 68 games. Though those are not eye-popping numbers, he created tons of offense according to his underlying numbers. His 55.67 xGF% was the best on the team, so there were lots of reasons for optimism for the rookie forward.

The next year, McMichael made the opening night roster out of training camp, but only competed in six games in D.C. He was not the same player that everyone thought he could be, and served as a healthy scratch for the next 14 games before getting sent back down to Hershey in November.

Fans were frustrated, but in those six games he played, he was dreadful.

RELATED: Assessing Connor McMichael’s Discernible Dip In Performance

However, the former London Knight did not complain about being demoted. When he finally got back on the ice for the Bears, he was playing his best hockey and slowly becoming a solid 200-foot player.

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,” Bears coach Todd Nelson said in March. “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.”

For McMichael to take his game to another level and become a good NHL player is to continue to improve his compete level and bring his developed, 200-foot play to the NHL level. More importantly, as Nelson noted, be consistent on a night-to-night basis.

RELATED: Connor McMichael: 2023 Annual Review And Forecast

Capitals coach Spencer Carbery, who coached McMichael in Hershey, has high hopes for the Ajax, Ontario native to bounce back and be consistent at the NHL level.

He’s the real deal, but I think the best compliment [that] I can pay Mics is [that] he’s a gamer,” Carbery said. “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… 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.”

By Jacob Cheris


Connor McMichael: 2023 Annual Review And Forecast
Assessing Connor McMichael’s Discernible Dip In Performance

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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13 Responses to Connor McMichael Seeks Consistency In Potentially “Make-Or-Break” Season

  1. Anonymous says:

    It definitely is make or break. I think they trade Mac if he doesn’t show up

  2. Anonymous says:

    Get it done Mac!

  3. GR in 430 says:

    Folks need to accept that McMichael is a 3C/3LW, maybe a 2C/2LW if he improves his skating. He isn’t fast, or big, doesn’t have the best hands in the world, but he’s smart and has good vision. He isn’t the key to the Caps winning this year, or in the future. But he could be a useful piece of the puzzle over the next several years if they let him.

    Every team needs a 3C at a reasonable price to be competitive. Right now it appears that the Caps have a >$9M 3C, which is not a very good way to build a roster, so here’s hoping Backstrom is really Back[strom], allowing the Caps to move him up to 1C or 2C, and McMichael or Protas can fill the 3C slot. They’d then have to figure out what to do with Strome or Kuznetsov, but I’d rather have that problem than be in their current situation of spending too much and getting too little.

    • hockeydruid says:

      I looked at him as maybe taking Ellers’ spot. Not flashy or high production but just a solid player who would contribute. I think you are wishing for to much in Backy being your 1c or even 2C. Strome worked well as the 1C and if McMichael or Protas can nail down the 3C then we have to find a 2c from the ranks. Maybe Kuzy will step up as he knows if he really wants out he will have to show what he can do. So that leave Backy as a wing on which line, the 3rd? So wonder where that leaves Mantha, Snively and Lapierre, sitting in the stands?

      Found this on another sports site and its interesting that they do not even mention McMichael or Lapierre! They were ranking the teams prisoects:
      21. Washington Capitals (C+)
      Key prospects: Ryan Leonard, Andrew Cristall, Ivan Miroshnichenko

      The high end is excellent: Ryan Leonard, Andrew Cristall and Ivan Miroshnichenko all look like valuable commodities. After that? The gap starts to widen. The future blueline options are lacking, and I don’t have much faith in any of the team’s goaltending options. Cristall and Miroshnichenko were both taken lower than they probably should have, which could make them both some excellent value pickups.
      I was not shocked that he gave our prospects a C+ however I was shocked that he didn’t like our goaltenders in the wings: Shepard and Stevenson! Wonder if it was an age ting as they are 27 and 14.

      • Anonymous says:

        DWGie26 says:
        Agree with much of that Druid. And that is unusual. Haha.

        Backstrom wants to prove he can play. But we don’t have to play him a C. Let McMichael have the 3C spot. Backstrom as 2LW with Kuzy and they can interchange. Milano on left side of McMichael could work with TJ on right.

        On dee prospects… I like both Chesley and Iorio. Both have great growth opportunities this year. Chesley playing top 4 pairing after leaning from some now going to NHL. Iorio should also be top 4 (if not top pair) in Hershey. Hopefully that makes TVR or Jensen tradeable for assets (and cap relief).

  4. Anonymous says:

    It so strange how things flipped over last summer. Night and day.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Make or break? Give me a break! He’s 22. Let him have one more season in the A if we don’t move Nick or Kuzy. Panic much.

    • Anonymous says:

      You obviously are new to Capitals. There are quite a few forward prospects lining up behind McMichael. Yes, make or break (be traded). That simple. Welcome to Caps though.

      • Anonymous says:

        Been around long enough to see fans getting less patient with players in their development. And ready to repeat the same mistakes that cost us good players. Lest we forget Forsberg, Stevenson, Siegs. 22 is not the player he will be at 25 or 27. I hope those lining up behind him get more of a chance before we dump them. Plain stupidity.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Prevent Defense says:
    McMichael and several of his young teammates were treated to multiple seasons with the NHL’s single-most ineffective senior motivator and confidence enhancer, Pistol Pete Laviolette. Both Pistol Pete and Future Hall of Famer Washington Capitals Head Coach Todd Rierden ROYALLY screwed up a bunch of great young Caps talents. Each should be banished to Hockey Hades for their disastrous non-leadership. But OK — if McM works for Carbery and delivers more turd, we’ll wave him goodbye without reservation.

    • Anonymous says:

      DWGie26 says:
      this is a much more efficient way to respond versus filling everything out. Please bring back the WordPress fill function.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Forward prospects starting to stack up behind McMichael. He needs to go now!

  8. novafyre says:

    I think he was a square peg put by Lavi into a round hole. When he played the youngsters Lavi didn’t really use them to their advantage — they were placeholders. Carbery should give him a better tryout so we should see what his real potential is.

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