The Washington Capitals kicked off their 2022-23 preseason at Capital One Arena with an overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Skating as the second line center in the game was Connor McMichael.
McMichael, in a previous Training Camp interview, was very blunt about his primary goal for this season. He wants to be a center in the NHL.
After Sunday’s defeat, he detailed some of the work he put in this offseason to help him toward that goal.
The conversation started with The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir remarking that the 2019 first-round draft pick is “visibly bigger”. One of the knocks on McMichael’s game last season was his size compared to other NHL centermen. That factored in especially due to the defensive work that playing the position can entail.
“I think I’m hovering around 190 (lbs) on some days,” McMichael said chuckling in response. The 21-year-old then stated that he was at about 185 (lbs) all last season.
To bulk up for his sophomore season, McMichael trained with 22-year NHL veteran Gary Roberts over the summer. Roberts owns a high-performance training facility in Ontario and also works with players like Connor McDavid and Steven Stamkos.
“I didn’t want to put on too much weight where I would lose speed,” McMichael continued. “I think I’m at a good weight right now and I’m at where I want to be. Especially, tonight I felt like I was a lot stronger on my stick and I won a few more battles than last year. I think that’s something that I’m working towards.”
McMichael played just a shade under 16 minutes in the game against the Sabres. That included some time on both Capitals’ special teams units which is not something he really ever got the chance to do in his rookie year.
Two minutes and 19 seconds of that ice time came on the power play and another 1:25 came on the penalty kill. During the 2021-22 regular season, Connor played just 5:55 total on the power play and 45 seconds total on the penalty kill in 68 games.
“That was awesome,” McMichael said. “Last year I didn’t get many opportunities. Just to get to show what I can do on the power play it meant a lot and obviously, I was on the PK tonight too. I like both of those roles and I like how the coaches are testing me out there so hopefully, I can stick to it.”
McMichael finished Sunday’s game as the Capitals leader in individual shot attempts (six), scoring chances (five), and high danger chances (three).
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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