On Monday, Senior NHL prospects writer for The Athletic Corey Pronman kicked off his ranking of all 31 NHL teams’ farm systems and prospects for the 2019-20 season. The Washington Capitals rank second worst in the NHL, according to Pronman, with only the Calgary Flames below them.
With some exciting prospects already in the Capitals’ systems, such as goaltender Ilya Samsonov, defenseman Alex Alexeyev, and recent 2019 NHL Draftee and forward Connor McMichael, the ranking of 30th out of 31 teams is a little bleak. However, it is an improvement over Pronman’s ranking of the 2018-19 Capitals prospects, who came in 31st.
Each player that qualifies as a prospect is ranked into tiers by Pronman, ranging from special NHL prospect, elite NHL prospect, high-end NHL prospect, very good NHL prospect, legit NHL prospect, has a chance, a mixture of tiers, and depth players. The eligibility to be included in The Athletic’s prospect rankings is as follows:
A skater no longer qualifies as an NHL prospect if he has played 25 games in the NHL in any campaign, regular season and playoffs combined, or 50 games total; or reaches age 27 by Sept. 15.
A goalie no longer qualifies as an NHL prospect if he has played 10 games in the NHL in any campaign, regular season and playoffs combined, or 25 games total; or reaches age 27 by Sept. 15.
Of the 22 players on the Capitals who qualified as prospects, eight were considered legit NHL prospects, with Samsonov on the bubble of being classed as very good, six have a chance, and eight were considered depth players. None of the Capitals prospects were considered higher-end NHL prospects, who could join the roster immediately, which is typically reserved for high draft picks. With the likelihood of any of the current prospects seeing NHL time being slim, the farm system falls in the estimation of Pronman. In-depth reasons for Pronman’s individual rankings for the Capitals’ prospects are available in his article.
Since joining the Metropolitan Division during the 2013-14 NHL season, the Capitals have drafted no higher than 13th overall — with that selection being Jakub Vrana — and have won the division for the last four years straight, and secured their first franchise Stanley Cup in the 2017-18 season.
However, with several core players still locked up on the roster for the next few years, depth players are valuable to the Capitals, particularly those who could slot onto the third or fourth line or defensive pairing. That depth led to Bears top goalscorer and prospect Riley Barber leaving the Capitals organization in free agency to join the Montreal Canadiens on a one-year deal, to increase his chances of getting time at the NHL level.
Pronman’s conclusion on the impact the prospects in the Capital’s farm system wasn’t nearly as grim as the ranking might suggest.
“The Capitals don’t have a lot of players who look clearly ready for the NHL, but there’s a lot of guys who could plausibly be ready or be pushed into the NHL if there’s an injury,” Pronman wrote. “On defense, Alexeyev, Fehervary and Johansen could play games. At forward, Leason and Jonsson-Fjallby could play games. In goal, Vanecek or Samsonov could play. I just don’t feel confident about saying any of those players will play for the Capitals in 2019-20.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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