The Washington Capitals are a team in flux this offseason as multiple roster moves are expected to be made by general manager Brian MacLellan after a season full of disappointment.
According to a report from Swedish outlet Smålandsposten, the Capitals are interested in SHL defenseman Hardy Häman Aktell. The outlet says the Caps are the closest NHL team to agreeing to a contract with the Swede.
Häman Aktell stands at six-foot, four-inches tall, and has been part of the Växjö organization since the 2020-21 season. The 24-year-old defenseman was the Växjö Lakers’ leading scorer from the blueline this past season.
In 51 games, Häman Aktell recorded 36 points (9g, 27a). He added an additional seven points (3g, 4a) in 18 playoff games. The young rearguard was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL draft by the Nashville Predators though he never played in North America at any level. Before moving to Växjö, all of his hockey was played at the junior level in Sweden or in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second tier of pro hockey in the country.
— Preds Prospects (@OnTheFuturePBR) September 22, 2019
The big defenseman’s offensive breakout during the 2022-23 campaign has drawn eyes from around the NHL. In 100 prior SHL games before this season, he had just 27 points (8g, 19a).
Häman Aktell was Corey Pronman’s top available college, CHL, and European free agent in this year’s class. Pronman expects Häman Aktell to play NHL games.
“I don’t view him as a big points producer in North America, but he can make a good first pass and has a strong point shot,” Pronman wrote in his article. “His skating will be a major limitation in the NHL, but I think he defends well enough to potentially overcome that and be a third-pair defenseman in the league.”
Häman Aktell could be part of the defensive depth that MacLellan referenced adding this summer during his Breakdown Day media availability. Häman Aktell is a left-shot defender which could make him more attractive to the Caps.
“I think we could still improve [the defense] a little bit,” MacLellan said. “We’ll look at opportunities to do that. I like the right side, what they contributed. They all have roles they fill within our team and all do it well. The left side we have three 23-year-old guys that all look to improve and get better and get to the next level. I think it’s a pretty well-rounded group.
“I think depending on cap decisions,” he added. “To me, our main work will be in our top six forwards, and then based on that we’ll see what we can do on the backend.”
Screenshot via Växjö Lakers/YouTube
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