The Washington Capitals recalled Martin Fehervary on Tuesday morning. With the team defense struggling — the Capitals have given up three or more goals in their last three games (1-2 record) — and the trade deadline less than three weeks away, general manager Brian MacLellan decided to give the 20-year-old Slovakian defenseman another audition.
Fehervary will play his fourth career NHL game Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings. Head coach Todd Reirden slotted the prospect on the third pairing with Radko Gudas. Jonas Siegenthaler, who has been a big part of the team’s penalty kill this season, will sit.
Capitals expected lines vs Kings:
*Fehervary in for Siegenthaler
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 4, 2020
“He’s had a really strong year development-wise,” Reirden said after practice. “It’s the right spot to put him in to start (on his left side with Radko Gudas) and see where he’s at, so we can continue to evaluate where our prospects are at. And as we get closer to the trade deadline, taking inventory of where our players are at. It’s a good time to do it.”
Reirden said added that he’d like to see Fehervary get a “couple” of games if possible.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 4, 2020
“I always had hoped I get another chance,” Fehervary said after practice. “Last time was October I been here. Quite a long time. I’m super excited to be back here.”
Fehervary is playing his first year professionally in North America after playing parts of three seasons as a teenager in the SHL with the Malmo Redhawks and HV71. Fehervary also represented Slovakia in the World Junior Championship and the World Championship last year. During the latter tourney, the IIHF announced that the speedy defenseman was clocked as the fastest rookie.
In October, Fehervary won a Capitals roster spot out of training camp and replaced Michal Kempny in the lineup after the Czech defenseman still needed more time to recover from a torn hamstring. Fehervary impressed during his time in Washington, posting the third-highest five-on-five shot attempt percentage (59.4 percent) among Capitals defensemen through three games. Only Gudas (60 percent), his partner, and Dmitry Orlov (63.3 percent) tilted the ice more.
Fehervary, who does not have to be put on waivers to be sent down, was later optioned to Hershey after Kempny and a suspended Evgeny Kuznetsov returned on October 6.
“Big help,” Fehervary said of his time playing in the AHL this season. “It’s a way different style of hockey than in Europe and this is my first year in North America so it helped me a lot. I try to adjust to that kind of style of hockey and I think it’s going well. [There’s] not that much room. Ice is just way smaller so everything is way quicker. The crash of the forecheck is way quicker so you have to play a little bit easy and quicker.”
Fehervary will play his first game back on his natural side – his left (he shoots left). The Hershey Bears experimented with Fehervary playing on his right in December.
“I’m now used to it playing on both sides,” Fehervary said. “I don’t have any issues on the right side so I feel good on both sides.”
Now he just hopes he can perform well enough to stay.
“I don’t really know what gonna happen,” Fehervary said. “I’m here now and I’m trying to do my best.”
Headline photo courtesy of the @Capitals
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