The Washington Capitals were back on the ice for Training Camp practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday after having a day off prior. At the practice, head coach Peter Laviolette continued to tinker with his lineup and try out new combos.
That tinkering led to Caps 2019 first-round pick Connor McMichael skating as the thirteenth or extra forward of the group. McMichael made his preseason debut against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
After a day off Monday, here’s how the #Caps are lined up for Tuesday’s practice:
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) September 27, 2022
The 21-year-old McMichael had no points, but played 15:55 of total ice time against Buffalo, lining up at center between Anthony Mantha and Alex Suzdalev at five-on-five. He received both power play and penalty kill opportunities and finished the game as the team’s leader in individual shot attempts (six), scoring chances (five), and high danger chances (three).
The young forward, who put on five pounds of muscle this summer, is amid a camp battle for the Caps’ second-line center role with more veteran players like Dylan Strome and Lars Eller. He has been vocal in his early season interviews about being a natural center and wanting to play there.
“(Center) is a position that I want to play in,” McMichael said Saturday. “I’m just looking to prove that I belong there.
“I think it’s really healthy to have a battle with guys for certain positions on the ice,” he continued. “We brought in a lot of good players this year and there’s a lot of spots up for grabs. I want to be a centerman, that’s my natural position. I’m looking to do so and working hard against the guys who are up against me.”
Laviolette was blunt in his opening camp presser about what he expects from McMichael in camp. If he wants to make the roster again and receive more ice time, he needs to earn it.
“We’re going to look at him (McMichael) in camp this year to earn more and want more,” Laviolette said. “Training Camp is here. Make some noise, earn something. That goes for Lapierre, that goes for Connor McMichael, that goes for Strome. Push yourself up the lineup, earn more, want more.”
It is important to note that McMichael is the only member of the roster that finished last season to still hold waiver-exempt status. So, if the Capitals deem it necessary he can go back and forth from Hershey without the worry of another team claiming him.
Another player that is definitely still waiver-exempt is defenseman Vincent Iorio. The 19-year-old defenseman is looking to make his pro debut this season and is the other notable inclusion from Tuesday’s line rushes.
Iorio had a very successful preseason start against the Sabres with Martin Fehervary as his partner. With the 2021 second-round draft selection on the ice at five-on-five (17:03), the Caps out-attempted Buffalo 16 to 11, out-scoring chanced them 11 to 6, and out-high danger chanced them 7 to 1.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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