How the KHL helped Capitals' prospect Aliaksei Protas grow, prepare for NHL

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How the KHL helped Capitals' prospect Aliaksei Protas grow originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Aliaksei Protas thinks he’s done growing. It’s not like he could have gotten any bigger. 

The 6-foot-6 Belarusian is now 20, and has already been around the globe quite a bit. Last season, the former Prince Albert Raider (WHL) played on loan with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL and had 18 points in 58 games before coming to AHL Hershey for 16 games. There, he grew his game as he played against men in the second-best league in the world. 

Now, he’s in North America to stay and continue to grow his game.

“It was totally different game for me, I needed to get used to it,” Protas said of making the adjustment. “Last games was way better, but first games I kind of wasn’t that good, because I needed to get used to it.”

Washington's third-round pick in the 2019 draft, Protas said his experience in the KHL helped him grow not only physically, but mentally as well. He learned how to pick up various aspects of the professional game from some of his older and more experienced teammates. 

And since he’s done growing, he’s finally able to begin to grow into his body.

“Some guys heavier, way stronger,” Protas said of the KHL game. “It’s kind of faster game there. The guys in there more experienced, so I try to learn from my teammates, older guys.”

He’ll stay in Washington for training camp, and the plan for him this season is to play in Hershey. Protas has NHL dreams, as does every young hockey player, but for now it appears he’ll continue to grow his game in the AHL. 

After an offseason of improving his strength and his skating, he thinks he’s ready to make an impact on the North American game for good.

“Show my best, compete against the best guys and show what I can do,” Protas said.