Connor McMichael More Confident Entering Capitals 2023 Training Camp

Connor McMichael has been trying to crack the Washington Capitals’ lineup for the past three years. Now he might get that chance. 

“I think he’s ready. I think he’ll probably start off in different positions. He might be playing wing to start, but eventually we’re gonna get him to center at some point. I don’t know the timeframe on that,” president of hockey operations and general manager Brian MacLellan said. “He had a good year last year. We’re really happy about his progress. But we’ll see where he ends up.”

McMichael played in six games with the Capitals last year but struggled to find his game. He did not register a point and eventually got sent back down to the AHL. He played well with the Hershey Bears, racking up 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists) in 57 games, but it was an up and down year. 

But the 2019 first-round pick believes that being a part of Hershey’s 12th Calder Cup run, and being a contributing factor, will help him take the next step.

“I think it just builds confidence. I think it just means that I can play in those big games in big situations. And it’s something that I’m looking to build on in camp and taking that into the season,” McMichael said. “I want to make the team and not only make the team and stay here all year.”

The 22-year-old is known to create offense and be a swiss army knife type player that can play in any situation. When he was demoted back in November 2022, the biggest thing he had to address was his overall 200-foot game. It got better and better the more he played and wanted to continue to build on that over the summer. 

“I think I’ve just matured into the pro game a lot better. I think I worked on my two-way game which is needed [in the NHL] obviously, and a lot of faceoffs and whatever I needed. So yeah, I think we had a good year in Hershey working on those little details.”

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

Along with being a more grown up player on the ice, the Scarborough, Ontario native learned how to carry himself away from the rink.

“From not seeing him over the last two years, you can just tell when I see him, talk to him, he’s just a more mature human being,” Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said. “These players are so young when they come into the league. When I had Mike’s [when he was] 19 [or] 20 those two years or one year, I mean that’s a really, really young hockey player. All of a sudden, he’s 22 years old, and I looked at him and I go ‘that’s an NHL player.’ He looks the part, he’s matured, he speaks like it, he looks like it.”

Along with reuniting with Carbery, who coached McMichael in Chocolate Town, another reason why the young center should be excited is his potential linemates. He was on the left side with Dylan Strome centering and TJ Oshie on the right. Though McMichael plays his best when he is in the faceoff dot, the Caps want to see him play on the wing with experienced players. 

“I’ve been bouncing questions off them. They’re two easy players to play with. They make really good plays and they’re obviously smart out there. So I’m just trying to read off them and do the best I can,” McMichael said. 

But while McMichael is a more mature player, he still brings the much-needed youth that the Capitals need headed into the 2023-24 season. 

By Jacob Cheris

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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9 Responses to Connor McMichael More Confident Entering Capitals 2023 Training Camp

  1. Anonymous says:

    If he doesn’t have a hat trick in the first game we should dump him. Bust!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Go get ‘em C-Mac!

  3. Anonymous says:

    It baffles me that as a true center the Caps want him to play wing. Guess he will be traded like Stephenson was, another player who the Caps did not know where to play him however Vegas sure did!

    • Anonymous says:

      Nobody said anything about him being a trade candidate. It’s easier for a center to play wing, than a wing to play center.

      MacClellan: “I think he’s ready. I think he’ll probably start off in different positions. He might be playing wing to start, but eventually we’re gonna get him to center at some point”

      Patience, grasshopper.

    • horn73 says:

      Many NHL centers start on the wing just like MLB starters often start their MLB career in relief. Regarding Stephenson, who were you playing him in front of?

      #1 center Backstrom, #2 center Kuzy, (both ranked in top 25 centers in NHL that Stanley cup year and the year after)

      #3 center Eller or #4 center and fan favorite Beagle???

      Stephenson got way, happens, get over it and quit writing dumb stuff.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Understand starting CMc at wing however if I remember correctly he did not do to well at wing in his past trips here. Lets just say for arguments sake that Backstrom makes the team as a C. Then you have Strome, Backstom, Kuzy, Protas and McMichael all playing for 4 spots. Who would you rather have on wing CMc or Protas? On the wing I would rather have Protas. At 6’5 and almost 200 I would rather have him there than CMc at 5’11. Has CMc improved any in the faceoff circle the past year?

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