Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan loaned rookie forwards Connor McMichael and Brett Leason to the AHL’s Hershey Bears on Monday. McMichael, per The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, will remain physically in Washington in what is referred to as a paper move, but Leason has been sent to Hershey. Both players are now eligible for the Hershey Bears’ playoff run either before or after the Capitals’ own playoff run ends.
Monday was the AHL’s deadline for rosters to be set for the postseason.
For McMichael, today’s paper transaction along with trades the Capitals made today could be interpreted as an ominous sign for any major role he hoped to have in the NHL team’s postseason run. The Capitals acquired two veteran forwards ahead of Monday’s 3 PM trade deadline that fill McMichael’s role in the bottom six: Marcus Johansson and Johan Larsson.
When entirely healthy, the #Caps’ forward lineup *should* look something like this:
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) March 21, 2022
The Capitals, who sit in the second wild-card spot in the East, would be slated to play the Florida Panthers in the first round if the playoffs started today.
In the coming days, McMichael will still be needed as the team tries to work Nic Dowd and TJ Oshie back from injury. But once they’re back, the rookie could be sent to the press box as a healthy scratch or potentially down to Hershey where he can try to star in their playoff run. McMichael has spent the entire year in DC and played in 59 of 64 games this season.
General manager Brian MacLellan said at a recent press conference that if he had his druthers, McMichael would have been in the AHL this year.
“McMichael, he’s a young player,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. “He is still finding his way. I would have had him penciled in the American League at the beginning of the year. Because of injuries, he had a real good start. Probably stalled a little bit. Has done a great job for a young player. His skating’s improved, his pace of play has improved. It’s just a matter for me, his physical maturity, he’ll be more effective as he gets older. Puck battles, board battles, stuff like that.”
McMichael has shown himself to be a masterful creator of offense at the NHL level, owning a 52.8 shot attempts percentage, 55.8 scoring chance percentage, a 56.5 high-danger chance percentage, and a 57.2 expected goals percentage at five-on-five per Natural Stat Trick. But during important minutes, Peter Laviolette has kept the Canadian on the bench opting for veteran players who are better along the boards.
NHL rosters were eligible to expand past 23 active players on Monday.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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