August 31-in-31: Washington Capitals

Pat Quinn

2019-08-30

 

 

August 31-in-31: Washington Capitals

 

Welcome to the August 2019 edition of the DobberProspects 31-in-31 Series! This month, we will be diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their Top 20 prospects, risers, fallers, and recent graduates. Let’s dive in!

 

 

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The Capitals are coming off an early playoff exit to the Carolina Hurricane’s one year after winning the Stanley Cup. The team has decided to shore up its forward lines and defense to stay in contention for a few more seasons, and make sure to block any prospects coming up. Well it is good for Washington that they really do not have anyone coming through the pipeline up front, but when prospects are ready the Capitals do have players they can move.

 

On defense the team has the top four locked up until the end of 2021-2022, one year of Gudas, and a battle for a roster spot between Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler. Washington will be able to ease Alexeyev, Johansen, and Fehervey when the players are more seasoned in the AHL to join the line up.

 

In net is where it gets interesting as the Capitals may not be able to fit Holtby’s future contract ask within the salary cap for 2020-2021, and may instead rely on Ilya Samsonov or (surprisingly) Vitek Vanecek to take over.

 

The Capitals will continue to go for it as long as Ovechkin can pop goals at ease, Backstrom can still put up solid point totals, and if Kuzenetsov can play to the level we all expect. Once those dip (or certain players retire) the Capitals may be forced to actually draft skill later in drafts, instead of relying on the recent drafting of “low ceiling but highly-likely NHL player” than those with high boom/bust potential.

 

 

 

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Graduating Players

 

Brett Leason (WHL to AHL)

After breaking-out in his final year of CHL eligibility, the potential first round selection slid to the Capitals at #56. There is always caution when drafting (or signing) a late-bloomer in the CHL but thankfully the Capitals were able to grab Leason late and not waste a potential first round pick on what could be a possibly be future grinder. I remain bullish on Leason than most but a full season in the AHL for the Hershey Bears should help in future projections.

 

Kody Clark (OHL to AHL)

Finishing up his OHL tenure for the high-powered Ottawa 67’s Clark did not have the greatest statistical season many hoped for. Ottawa was incredibly deep, but many would have preferred to see Clark take over more games and at least be over a point per game (ppg), instead of sitting at 0.81 ppg. Clark will now head to the Bears where he needs to start scoring, or his future will be on the third line at best.

 

Axel Jonsson Fjällby (AHL/SHL to Full-Time AHL)

AJF left Hershey early in the 2018-2019 season to head back to Sweden, and in Sweden he did not do as much as he would have hoped until the playoffs. Now for 2019-2020 AJF has told the Capitals he will stick in North America until he makes the NHL squad.

 

Riley Sutter (WHL to AHL)

Sutter has progressed in every WHL season he has played in but it is too bad last season was so mired by injuries. There is potential there to be a scorer in Hershey but he is also a Sutter, meaning that we all know he will be an NHLer but will it be to score like the Capitals hope, or to grind like so many past Sutters.

 

Martin Fehérváry (SHL to AHL)

The slick two-way defenseman is coming to Hershey to join the 500 other left-handed defensemen that squad has (seriously check out the current roster, I swear there are at least 7 left-handed dmen currently on the roster).

 

Jonas Siegenthaler (AHL to NHL)

The only reason Siegenthaler went back to the AHL last season was because the Capitals had too many defensemen that can play. Now he will be either the 6/7 defenseman, with Christian Djoos, with a chance to move around the defense pairs if injuries occur.

 

Alexander Alexeyev (WHL to AHL)

Here is hoping the injury bug that has dogged Alexeyev’s career has stayed in the WHL and will leave him alone. Though there has been a consistent injury bug in Hershey to the entire team at times, let us hope AA does not have any more major injuries to deal with.

 

Graduating out of DobberProspects: Christian Djoos, Pheonix Copley, Travis Boyd, Garnet Hathaway (signee), and Brendan Leipsic (signee). Yes I know Michal Kempny is still on the list too.

 

 

 

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Risers

 

Martin Fehérváry

Fehervary has only seen his stock rise in the eyes of the Capitals and for good measure as he was fantastic all season. He was a standout at the World Juniors for a weak Slovakian squad, and he played extremely well in the SHL versus older players. For fantasy GMs though, do not buy the hype, as Fehervary will be a good NHL defenseman but not a good fantasy one.

 

Vitek Vanecek

Out of the two young goaltenders for the Bears last season many thought Samsonov would take over the net and instead, out of the two, Vanecek came out on top. He finished the season with a league average save percentage (sv%) of 0.907, but his sv% was brought down by all of the injuries the Bears endured over the first half of the season. If Vanecek keeps improving there is no guarantee the net is Samsonov’s right away, and it may turn in to a long-term battle between the two.

 

Brett Leason

Leason shot up a majority of 2019 draft rankings and will look to keep up the scoring from his spectacular regular season and playoffs in to his first AHL season.

 

 

 

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Fallers

 

Shane Gersich

I have noted before with Gersich, that he is a player that takes a while to adapt to a new league / higher level of play, but more was expected out of his first AHL season than 24 points in 66 games (and healthy scratches). What worked against Gersich was the Bears insistence on using an older lineup, so the minutes were not readily available. H=It could also be argues that he could have forced those minutes upon himself with better play. Gersich possesses the speed and skill to play but really needs to think the league faster. 2019-2020 will be a very telling year for the forward.

 

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

AJF left the Bears as he did not like his opportunity on the team, and then got less of an opportunity in the SHL. He again exploded in the playoffs (relative to his regular season production) but the Capitals would like more consistency to his game. Now sticking it out in North America we shall see how he develops.

 

Connor Hobbs

Since gong pro in the AHL, Hobbs has had a hell of a time. If he is not getting hurt he is losing players in the defensive zone or being turned around and skated past. He needs a full reset. Come to camp healthy and with improved skating or he will get left behind in time in Washington, as he is one of the only right-handed defensemen in the system.

 

 

 

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SO/SO to the good/bad

Here I just want to add a section talking about how these players did not really blow anyone away, nor did they have a terrible season, but instead they slightly leaned a direction

 

 

Ilya Samsonov (SO/SO to the bad)

Everyone expected him to take over the net but he had a tough time adjusting, especially when Hershey had essentially an ECHL defense in front of him for a portion of the season. The incredible ability is still there, no question, but he just needs to find consistency to his game.

 

Garrett Pilon (SO/SO to the good)

Pilon showed great skill in his first AHL season, but was not awarded ice time or powerplay time until late in the season. He will need to improve in year two as the Capitals could use someone of his ilk in the near future.

 

Lucas Johansen (SO/SO to the bad)

Johansen has been good in the AHL, although he is a good two-way defenseman and should not be confused with a PP quarterback. His problem has been health. If he could just have a fully healthy season for 2019-2020 you could easily see him crack the Capitals in 2020.

 

Alexander Alexeyev (SO/SO to the good)

When he plays he is great. He is a man-beast that can skate out there. The problem is staying healthy, which seems to be a theme for all Capitals defense prospects. Hopefully he can achieve a healthy 2019-2020 AHL season, as he has “future multi-cat beast” written all over him.

 

 

 

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Organizational Depth Chart (Combination of NHL readiness and upside)

 

LW

C

RW

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

Connor McMichael

Brett Leason

Shane Gersich

Garrett Pilon

Riley Sutter

Beck Malenstyn

Alexei Protas

Kody Clark

Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen

Brian Pinho

Damien Riat

 

Eric Florchuk

 

 

LHD

RHD

Alexander Alexeyev

Connor Hobbs

Lucas Johansen

Martin Hugo Has

Martin Fehervary

Alex Kannok-Leipert

Tobias Geisser

Benton Maass

Sebastian Walfridsson

Tyler Lewington

 

Goaltender

Ilya Samsonov

Vitek Vanecek

Mitchell Gibson

 

 

 

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Top 20 Fantasy Prospects

 This section is intended to paint a picture of the Washington Capitals’ prospects whose current trajectory projects them making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration. However, a player’s potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list.

 

  1. Ilya Samsonov
  2. Alexander Alexeyev
  3. Connor McMichael
  4. Brett Leason
  5. Lucas Johansen
  6. Vitek Vanecek
  7. Garrett Pilon
  8. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby
  9. Martin Fehervary
  10. Shane Gersich
  11. Kody Clark
  12. Riley Sutter
  13. Alexei Protas
  14. Martin Hugo Has
  15. Connor Hobbs
  16. Damien Riat
  17. Tobias Geisser
  18. Brian Pinho
  19. Eric Florchuk
  20. Mitchell Gibson

 

 

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Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the series this month, check in tomorrow for the last for it with Winnipeg.

 

Buy the Dobber Hockey fantasy guide here

 

Follow my Twitter: @FHPQuinn

 

 

 

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