Capitals fans will have a chance to see Martin Fehervary in action in Wednesday night’s preseason game between the Capitals and the St. Louis Blues. The 19-year-old defenseman is considered by the Capitals front office as having a good shot at cracking the Capitals roster this season.
During July’s Development Camp, Capitals’ Director of Player Development Steve Richmond pointed out Fehervary as being very close to making the team soon.
“We’re all big fans of [Fehervary]. I think he has a chance to play in the NHL this year,” said Richmond. “He does everything well. He’s a great skater. […] He’s smart. He’s really close.”
Head Coach Todd Reirden called Fehervary a “sharp kid” and sang his praises after the first day of Training Camp. “He’s a guy who we’ve liked since we got him,” Reirden said. “With his ability to skate, he’s really today’s style of defenseman.”
The Capitals were impressed with Fehervary from the start, signing the second-round pick to an entry-level contract immediately out of his first Development Camp in 2018.
“Well, I didn’t expect it,” Fehervary said in July during his second Development Camp. “Right away the contract. I was really surprised and I’m really glad for it, that I got the chance. I’m just trying to develop myself every day and get into the team.”
In his draft interviews, Fehervary singled out Michal Kempny as one of the players he models his game after.
“I’m trying to play two-way, defensively, but I’m trying to be always 100% sure in the defense,” Fehervary said of his style. “If I get a chance to, I like to join the rush. If I can skate with the puck, I like to. I’m playing offensively if I can.”
Reirden said that Fehervary modeling himself after Kempny is a good blueprint to have. “The success that these type of guys can have just by being able to close time and space with their mobility, but also add to the attack, those are things you can expect to see from Martin,” Reirden said.
The Slovakian defenseman scored twice in the Capitals 10-3 rout of the Carolina Hurricanes during the Prospect Showcase earlier this month.
Fehervary is also getting to know Kempny better during this year’s training camp. The Czech and the Slovak members of the team got together for a dinner recently–apparently the Czechs footed the bill.
Martin Fehervary says the Czechs and Slovaks on the team have been having dinners together, where he’s gotten to know Michal Kempny, someone he models his game after. pic.twitter.com/PyeV0qAeL0
— RMNB (@russianmachine) September 13, 2019
Fehervary spent the past two season playing in the SHL, where he was one of the youngest players on his team. Richmond said Fehervary’s SHL experience was a good indication for his readiness.
“He’s been playing against men for two years,” Richmond said. “That’s a big difference when you’re playing against men for two years. He’s played in a World Championship two years in a row. He’s played against the big boys – not of the intensity of the Stanley Cup Final – but pretty good step for him up from junior hockey.”
The speed of the Swedish professional league is part of why Fehervary chose to develop there, he said.
“I would say that the Swedish League is one of the best for preparing young players for a North American style. It’s a fast league, it’s up and down. It’s really a lot like here. That’s why I decided to be in Sweden,” said Fehervary.
Fehervary’s speediness earned him the distinction of being the fastest young player in the 2019 World Championship. He was clocked skating a top speed of 37.9 km/h (23.6 mph) on the ice, beating out other top prospects like Kaapo Kakko and 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier.
The World Championship also gave Fehervary a taste of what it’s like to be suiting up against NHL-caliber opponents.
“It was a great experience playing against those players like Patrick Kane and [Johnny] Gaudreau,” Fehervary said of his experience playing for Slovakia. “I really enjoyed it. I got a lot of ice time too. I’m really happy for how we played and how we performed. Like you said, I was the fastest young player. That’s what I like most, my game is built off skating, so I’m trying to skate as much as I can.”
Fehervary said he hopes he will playing in North America this season, whether it’s with the Capitals or with AHL’s Hershey Bears.
“We’ll see what happens,” Fehervary said. “I would like to stay here in the US.”
Additional reporting by Ian Oland
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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