It’s no secret that the two big names from the Capitals prospect pool that fans want to see make an impression this preseason are Martin Fehervary and Connor McMichael.
On a team that has the vast majority of NHL spots already locked down, Hershey Bears head coach Scott Allen believes that it will be up to the two youngsters to prove over the next few weeks that they not only belong at the next level but can stay there.
Fehervary is the more likely of the two players to make the Capitals out of camp due to two spots opening up on the left side of the Capitals defense. During the summer, the Capitals traded Brenden Dillon in a salary dump to the Winnipeg Jets for two second-round picks and Zdeno Chara recently signed with the New York Islanders. Caps general manager Brian MacLellan spoke in May about how he had confidence the young defender was ready to graduate to the NHL in 2021-22 and he made the moves over the offseason to prove it.
“I think Marty’s ready,” MacLellan said. “I think he’s ready to be a full-time player. How high he plays in the lineup will be up to him. I think we’re counting on him to play right away and we’ll make adjustments after that.”
Fehervary was responsible for most of the offense via the Hershey blueline last season, recording 17 points in 24 games for the Bears. Allen has had a firsthand look at what the young defender can do as they both arrived in Hershey at the same time in 2019.
“Marty is a very strong kid first and foremost,” Allen said. “He’s an excellent skater, another guy that has a fair amount of confidence in his game and his ability. I truly believe the toughest position to break into the National Hockey League and stay in the NHL is as a defenseman. So, I expect some growing pains but it’s gonna be up to him to have a strong camp and prove that he is not only capable of playing in the NHL, but staying in the NHL and that’s when the whole consistency factor comes in.”
McMichael had a great 2020-21 that saw the 20-year-old forward, who wasn’t even supposed to be allowed to play in the AHL last season, end up leading the league’s best team in scoring with 27 points (14 goals) in 33 games.
“I think very highly of Connor McMichael,” Allen said. “The biggest thing for any pro is consistency and I think he learned a lot about that last year and it was really good for him. He had to step up his game playing against older, stronger, more mature players and he learned what it takes on a daily basis to be the best he can be and that’s gonna be the challenge for him here.”
McMichael will likely have a tougher road to be able to break camp with the big club due to how cemented the forward positions on the club are. Twelve forwards are under NHL contract.
“I’m going to leave that up to him,” Allen said. “This week and the next few weeks through camp and the preseason games here in Washington are going to be big. I think he certainly looks a little stronger and it applies on the ice. Some guys when they train and put on weight and get stronger sometimes it doesn’t necessarily apply to their game on the ice but I think I’ve seen it [with him] in these last three days for sure. Certainly, he’s a very confident player, he’s very good with the puck. He’s certainly improved without the puck which is a big part of playing in the National Hockey League. You have to be responsible without the puck on both sides of the puck and I think he’s certainly taken that and run with it. I’m excited to see what he’s able to do. He’s one of those guys that playing with even better players, he gets even better also.”
Capitals Training Camp starts Wednesday and both players will be in attendance.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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