Washington Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney spoke to reporters on Zoom Wednesday a week ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft.
Mahoney, who described himself as a Zoomer due to all of the summer conference calls he’s done with draft-eligible prospects, said the Capitals will not focus on re-stocking any particular position and select the “best player available” when they pick 24th overall in the upcoming draft.
The longtime executive also spoke about several Capitals prospects he’s looking forward to watching during training camp to see if they’re ready to take the next step.
“I think Martin (Fehervary) has played really well,” Mahoney said. “He’s progressed very well since we drafted him and so has Vitek (Vanecek). Vitek has done a very good job also as far as his performance so far in the American Hockey League. I’m actually really curious to see, when we do get going again, how they both do.”
Mahoney added, “The biggest thing for both of them is when we do get going is for them to come in and make it hard on the coach and the coaching staff and management as far as decisions that we’ll have with them. It’s like any other player coming to a training camp now.”
When asked if the Capitals would potentially go with two young goaltenders, Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanceck, in net next season, Mahoney admitted that it was possible and he could see it working out well.
“I think Samsonov played very well last year given his opportunity,” Mahoney said. “And like I said, Vitek has done well. Those are decisions that will be made here in the near future. If that’s the direction it did go, I would be very confident in both those young players.”
One player that has Mahoney really intrigued is Connor McMichael who was one of the best players in junior hockey last season. The Capitals selected McMichael in the first round with the 25th overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft. McMichael currently plays for the OHL’s London Knights and is coached by Capitals legend Dale Hunter.
“I’m curious to see how Connor McMichael does when he comes in,” Mahoney said. “He still has another year of junior; he can go back and play junior. Connor had an excellent year last year. Maybe 102 points in (52) games, I think, which was a tremendous season. Had that played out over the regular number of games, he would been in that 130 point range. (He) contributed to Canada’s gold-medal junior team. He scored in that tournament also. Curious to see the gains he made strength-wise. The biggest thing for him is to get stronger. I’m curious to see how Connor does.”
OHL Training Camps are scheduled to open on Sunday, November 15, with exhibition play commencing on the weekends of November 20-22 and 27-29. December 1 is the target date for the start of the season.
Mahoney also said that he’s “curious to see how [Alex Alexeyev] does this year.” Alexeyev was the team’s first round pick in 2018. “Tough start for him last year, getting hurt in the rookie tournament. Curious to see how he does also.”
One player that appears to have an inside track on a roster spot is Daniel Sprong who signed a two-year, one-way contract worth $725k per season in mid-September.
“We’d like to see Daniel come in and have a really good camp,” Mahoney said. “Probably right now he’d be in the bottom six role as the forwards go.”
Sprong was impressive during Phase 3 Training Camp, using his speed and skill to score multiple times in scrimmages.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) September 30, 2020
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