Capitals Prospect Report: Will Connor McMichael be forced back to juniors?

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J.J. Regan
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Caps prospects: Will Connor McMichael be forced back to juniors? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Here is the latest news on the Capitals prospects from the month of March.

Prospect Notes: Forwards

Daniel Carr

Washington Capitals: 3 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist

HC Lugano (NL): 8 GP, 4 goals, 4 assists

Currently on the Capitals taxi squad.

Kody Clark

Hershey (AHL): 18 GP, 7 goals, 2 assists

Shane Gersich

Hershey (AHL): 18 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists

Bear Hughes

Fargo Force (USHL): 27 GP, 8 goals, 12 assists

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

Hershey (AHL): 18 GP, 4 goals, 2 assists

Vasterviks IK (HockeyAllsvenskan): 26 GP, 4 goals, 11 assists

“He’s got a phenomenal shot," Hershey head coach Spencer Carbery said. "He doesn’t use it enough. And he loves to pass,” said Carbery following Saturday’s game. “He loves to try to make passes when he should be shoot first, shoot first, shoot first. Because it’s hard to pick up. His release is difficult to pick up.”

Check out the full article on Jonsson-Fjallby from Nova Caps here.

Mattias Persson from Hockey News SE is predicting Jonsson-Fjallby will return to Sweden next season. He is on the final year of his current contract with Washington and, according to Google translate, Persson notes that Jonsson-Fjallby's game may be better suited for the big rinks of Europe which could mean a more lucrative contract in his native Sweden as opposed to a minor-league role in Washington.

Hendrix Lapierre

Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL): 19 GP, 8 goals, 22 assists

Brett Leason

Hershey (AHL): 18 GP, 4 goals, 3 assists

Leason is having a strong rebound sophomore season with four goals, already improving on the three goals he scored in 50 games last season. NOVA Caps wrote a profile on him which you can read here.

Oskar Magnusson

Malmo Redhawks (SHL): 7 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Malmo Redhawks J20 (J20 Nationell): 12 GP, 3 goals, 6 assists

Tyringe SoSS (HockeyEttan): 24 GP, 6 goals, 7 assists, Relagation round: 4 GP, 2 goals, 0 assists

Beck Malenstyn

Hershey (AHL)

Out indefinitely with an Achilles injury.

Philippe Maillet

Washington Capitals (NHL): 1 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Hershey Bears (AHL): 4 GP, 1 goal, 7 assists

After spending the season with Washington primarily on the taxi squad, Maillet was reassigned to Hershey on March 24 along with Brian Pinho. Peter Laviolette said he felt the move was a reward of sorts in order to get them some real playing time. Maillet immediately showed off the skills that had kept him with the NHL squad with a career-high five assists in his first game back with the Bears. He then recorded a goal and an assist in his second game and earned CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors for the week ending on March 28.

Now in four games, he has one goal and seven assists.

At 28 years old, this likely is not a breakout season that will lead to a call-up and a lengthy NHL career. Maillet looks like an "in-between" player who is too good for the AHL, but not good enough for the NHL.

With Washington so thin at center depth this season, Maillet is a player to keep an eye on if the Caps suddenly find themselves in need of a center come playoff time. As much hype as there is around Connor McMichael, Maillet is probably a more realistic short-term replacement player for this season.

Connor McMichael

Washington Capitals: 1 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Hershey Bears (AHL): 18 GP, 6 goals, 4 assists

In a normal season, McMichael would not be eligible to play in the AHL. With still no plan in place for the OHL, he has been able to play in the AHL and is making the most of his time in Hershey. 

If the OHL ever does come back, McMichael made clear to me he would prefer to stay in the AHL.

"I honestly want to stay here and just play pro hockey," McMichael said. "I think it would be best for my development, but if I do go back to London I'll have to take the things that I learned here back there and try and keep those going, try and take the pro hockey experience back and keep playing the same way."

While an exemption was made for McMichael to play in the AHL, it is believed that if the OHL returns to action, he will be forced to return to play for his OHL team, the London Knights, unless he is recalled by Washington.

Garrett Pilon

Hershey (AHL): 14 GP, 4 goals, 12 assists

Currently on the Capitals taxi squad.

Pilon leads Hershey with 16 points. As Maillet and Pinho were sent to the AHL, Pilon and Mike Sgarbossa were the players named as additions to the taxi squad.added to the taxi squad.

Brian Pinho

Washington Capitals: 2 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Hershey Bears (AHL): 4 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists

Pinho was reassigned to Hershey with Maillet on March 24 and has also enjoyed a productive return.

In a game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on March 28, Pinho was obliterated by WBS forward Josh Currie.

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Incredibly, Pinho was OK after the hit and played in Wednesday's game.

There was no penalty assessed for the hit, but Hershey head coach Spencer Carbery expressed his displeasure after the game.

“The one Currie puts on Pinho, I thought was late,” Carbery said. “I thought it was late. I thought the puck was gone. One one-thousand, two one thousand, and then the contact comes.”

Aliaksei Protas

Hershey Bears (AHL): 1 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Dinamo Minsk (KHL): 58 GP, 10 goals, 8 assists, Playoffs: 5 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists

Protas was assigned to Hershey on March 18 following the end of the season for his KHL team, Dinamo Minsk. He ranked tied for 5th on the team in goals and tied for 8th in points. He also recorded four points in five playoff games and was named Best Rookie of the KHL playoffs’ first round.

Protas made his AHL debut on Wednesday in a loss to Lehigh Valley. He did not record a point.

Damien Riat

Hershey Bears (AHL): 18 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists

Geneve-Servette HC (NL): 20 GP, 7 goals, 11 assists

Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen

HC Dalen (HockeyEttan): 40 GP, 14 goals, 7 assists, Qualification round: 1 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Mike Sgarbossa

Washington Capitals: 5 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists

Hershey (AHL): 13 GP, 5 goals, 5 assists

Currently on the Capitals taxi squad.

Joe Snively

Hershey (AHL): 18 GP, 4 goals, 8 assists

Riley Sutter

Hershey (AHL): 14 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists

Bogdan Trineyev

Dynamo Moskva (KHL): 3 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Dynamo Krasnogorsk (VHL): 22 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist

MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL): 33 GP, 15 goals, 15 assists, Playoffs: 6 GP, 2 goals, 2 assistsDownload and subscribe to the Capitals Talk podcast

Prospect Notes: Defensemen

Alex Alexeyev

Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL): 55 GP, 8 goals, 8 assists, Playoffs: 9 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist

Martin Fehervary

Hershey (AHL): 14 GP, 2 goals, 8 assists

Tobias Geisser

EV Zug (NL): 47 GP, 5 goals, 15 assists

Martin Has

HC Benatky nad jizerou (Czech2): 4 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist

Lucas Johansen

Hershey (AHL): 5 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists

Paul LaDue

Hershey (AHL): 13 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists

Benton Maass

New Hampshire (NCAA): 20 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists

Bobby Nardella

Djurgarden IF (SHL): 47 GP, 7 goals, 26 assists

Nardella leads Djurgarden in points and assists. He has had a heck of a season in the SHL, so much so that much of the talk this month in Sweden is over whether he could return for next season.

According to Hockey News SE, Nardella's team, Djurdarden, intends to have a dialogue with Washington about the possibility of a return of Nardella for another season in the SHL. 

Nardella is on the final year of his contract and could become a restricted free agent in the offseason. Djurgarden general manager Joakim Eriksson said in his conversations with Nardella that Nardella has expressed his desire to return to North America and compete for the NHL.

Nardella's name is one I hear often as a player who has impressed the franchise, but the team has a log jam at left defense with Brenden Dillon, Dmitry Orlov, Zdeno Chara, Jonas Siegenthaler, Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev. Even if you believe Chara will leave as a free agent and at least one of the remaining defensemen could be shipped out in the offseason due to cap constraints, that's still four left defensemen Nardella would have to compete with for NHL time. Having said that, if a player like Fehervary were to make the NHL squad, Nardella would surely be in for a significant role with Hershey next season in the AHL. Having him play in Hershey would probably be a preferable scenario for Washington than him spending another year in Europe.

Cameron Schilling

Hershey (AHL): 16 GP, 1 goal, 7 assists

Sebastian Walfridsson

Visby/Roma (HockeyEttan): 40 GP, 5 goals, 7 assists, Qualification: 3 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Prospect Notes: Goalies

Garin Bjorklund

Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL): 8 GP, 5-3-0 record, .911 save percentage, 2.73 GAA

Grand Prairie Storm (AJHL): 4 GP, 2-1-1 record, .936 save percentage, 2.73 GAA

With 22 saves against Lethbridge on Friday, Bjorklund recorded the second shutout of his career.

Pheonix Copley

Hershey (AHL): 7 GP, 4-2-1 record, .885 save percentage, 2.83 GAA

Zach Fucale

Hershey (AHL): 7 GP, 5-2-0 record, .934 save percentage, 1.71 GAA

South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL): 1 GP, 1-0-0 record, .972 save percentage, 1.00 GAA

Fucale leads the AHL with his 1.71 GAA and is third in save percentage.His strong play this season has earned him a contract extension and he was re-signed on Sunday to a two-year, two-way contract with Washington.

Mitchell Gibson

Harvard was among the programs that shut down for the hockey season. It appears this may just be a lost season for Gibson.