We’re connecting some dots here (so if we’re wrong, please forgive us 🙏), but it appears both of the Capitals’ first-round picks from the 2018 and 2019 Drafts will be black aces for Washington during the NHL’s 24-team playoff.
Saturday, Russian defenseman Alex Alexeyev posted on Instagram from the Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg with the caption, “It’s been awesome time, but now it’s time to go back to work 🏋🏻♂️.”
Work for Alexeyev is hockey and his employer is the Washington Capitals. The NHL is also the only hockey league trying to resume right now. So that was clue number one.
Clue number two: Connor McMichael responded to Alexeyev’s post with the following comment.
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McMichael wrote, “See u soon.”
That’s significant because the Capitals, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, were planning to make McMichael a black ace “for development, not play” if the NHL “permitted” it.
Clue number three is black ace Martin Fehervary, who is already back in Washington, also commented saying “i’m waiting bro.”
When asked to confirm the additions of McMichael and Alexeyev, a Capitals’ spokesman did not deny the news. “We will be announcing Black Aces closer to the start of Phase 4- still finalizing our list.”
General manager Brian MacLellan tipped his hand that he’d like his younger prospects, like McMichael, to practice with the team during the playoffs while speaking to reporters in a video conference.
“I think it’d be a great learning experience for Connor,” MacLellan said in May. “He seems to be a guy that can pick up things from good players, from watching them and being around them. The feedback from him from last training camp was that he was engaged. He learned a lot from Nick [Backstrom]. He learned a lot from our veteran players. I think he would take a big leap in his development just from being in that environment – to see how guys work, see how guys practice, off-ice workouts, nutrition stuff. To see our main guys doing it on a daily basis in a competitive environment I think would be invaluable for him.”
McMichael won gold with Canada’s World Junior Championship team and had an insane six hat tricks during the OHL season for Dale Hunter’s London Knights during the 2019-20 season. He also scored 47 goals and tallied 102 points in 52 games and was named to the OHL’s Second All-Star Team at the end of the season.
Alexeyev, a defenseman, spent the entire 2019-20 season in Hershey, tallying three goals and 21 points in 58 games.
The NHL’s 24 playoff teams will reportedly be allowed to have 28 skaters on their rosters and unlimited goaltenders during the postseason. So far we know the Capitals will be adding Fehervary, Vitek Vanecek, Beck Malenstyn and Pheonix Copley to their expanded roster.
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