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!
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.
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).