Ivan Miroshnichenko wasn’t on the ice for the Capitals’ final game of the preseason, a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. But the 19-year-old Caps rookie was there. You just had to look in the right spot.
Miroshnichenko was noticed by Caps fan Beth studiously watched the game from the suite level of Capital One Arena.
The 2022 first-round pick was a healthy scratch for the game along with Anthony Mantha, Martin Fehervary, and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
The picture shows the Russian forward dressed to the nines and with his hands crossed, sitting alone in a sea of empty seats as the Capitals play below. There’s no phone scrolling. There’s no nachos. There’s just a (likely) future star focusing and continuing to familiarize himself with his first North American system.
What’s next for Miroshnichenko is unclear. The Capitals must submit their final roster by Monday at 5 pm as Opening Night for the team comes Friday, October 13. The forward is on the bubble. His three-year, entry-level contract and flexibility on the roster — he doesn’t have to be put through waivers to be sent down — makes Hershey more likely than not.
But Miroshnichenko impressed during his two preseason games with the Caps. He tallied two assists, and the Capitals were dominant when he was on the ice at 5v5. The team held a 33 to 23 advantage in shot attempts and 20 to 10 in scoring chances. The team’s expected goals percentage with Miro on the ice was 64.8. He hustled, backchecked, and played physical. He didn’t look out of place on the first line during the preseason.
Carly and Miro link up for the score pic.twitter.com/SF4J3XOGu5
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 29, 2023
“There’s some areas of his game that he’s going to have to work on details wise, but when he gets that puck across the red line, look out,” a gushing Spencer Carbery said recently. “Something positive is usually happening — and even in the offensive zone for that matter.
“He’s just a hair off on a lot of quality, quality chances. Whether it’s getting his shot off or a little puck bobble. But, I constantly find myself going, ‘Oh!’, when he has the puck, when he’s in the offensive zone, or attacking off the rush.”
Tom Wilson, who’s not known for exaggeration, said of Miroshnichenko that his “upside is awesome” and that “he looks like he’s got a lot of tools.”
No matter if Miroshnichenko is in DC or Hershey for the start of the season, he certainly put his best foot forward and did all that he could to make the decision difficult for Caps brass.
Where do you think he belongs?
Headline photo: @bethann5858/IG
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