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Caps Prospect Roundup: The Kids Are All Right
This week featured a couple broken streaks and quite a few team losses, but overall, the Caps prospects persevered. These kids are going to be just fine, especially Ilya Samsonov who has been cruising through the KHL lately. Oh, and in honor of the holidays, find out which Caps prospect and his team jammed out to Mariah Carey.
KEVIN ELGESTAL: Winger (#21) for the Vita Hasten HC of the Swedish Hockey Allsvenskan league; drafted seventh round, 194th overall in 2014
There’s not a whole lot to write about Elgestal this week. As was mentioned in a previous post, he hasn’t been lighting up the score sheet. However, he did miss two games with Vita Hasten over the past couple of weeks, so that hasn’t helped. Elgestal returned to the lineup Monday for Vita Hasten’s 5-2 loss to AIK. In that game, once again, he was invisibly on the score sheet. Keep in mind that these European teams can be harder to track, so don’t lose out hope n the youngster just yet.
SHANE GERSICH: Sophomore center (#19) for University of North Dakota; drafted fifth round, 134th overall in 2014
Gersich and the North Dakota Fighting Hawks faced off against Michigan State twice last week in the Subway Holiday Classic. UND lost the first game 4-3 and tied the second game at 2-2 after overtime. In Friday’s loss, Gersich was his usual high-scoring self, notching a goal and two assists. In fact, with his plus-2 rating, the only way that game could have gone better would be if North Dakota had won. However, in Saturday’s game, his four-game scoring streak came to a halt, and Gersich was a minus-2. No. 9 North Dakota will only play one game this week, against No. 3 Boston College, AKA current-Cap Zach Sanford’s old team.
Friday’s game highlights (Gersich scores at the beginning, and assists on the goals at 2:57 and 3:15):
CONNOR HOBBS: Defenseman (#44) for the Regina Pats of the WHL; drafted fifth round, 143th overall in 2015
Another point streak bit the dust last week when Hobbs failed to record a point in last Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to Prince George. It was the first time since October that he hadn’t recorded a point. Hobbs was also scoreless in Regina’s 3-0 win over Kamloops on Friday. However, it didn’t take Hobbs too long to get his next point streak going. The defenseman recorded an assist in the Pats’ 3-2 overtime loss to Kelowna on Saturday. (He wasn’t the only Caps prospect to record a point in that game — Lucas Johansen assisted on one of Kelowna’s goals — but more on that below.) Hobbs will look to extend his point streak this weekend when Regina hosts Prince Albert on Saturday and travels to Swift Current on Sunday.
LUCAS JOHANSEN: Defenseman (#7) for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL; drafted first round, 28th overall in 2016
Speaking of Johansen, after 22 games, he has recorded 11 points (one goal and 10 assists). Even a journalist knows he’s averaging a point every other game. Those are pretty good stats for a defenseman. In addition to having alternate captain honors, Johansen is a key cornerstone on Kelowna’s power play. Almost all of his points have come on the power play. As John Carlson and company get older, it’s certainly good to know there are young defensemen in the wings ready to take over that power play point position if needed. Johansen seems to have a strong puck-protecting sense and doesn’t appear to panic in the defensive zone. While no one wants to wait for Johansen to mature enough to be NHL ready to be consider the savior of the Caps, it’s nice to know there’s another solid defensive prospect in the wings along with Madison Bowey.
BECK MALENSTYN: Center (#11) for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL; drafted fifth round, 145th overall in 2016
Malenstyn continued his quiet scoring campaign with a goal in Calgary’s 4-2 loss to Lethbridge on Saturday. It’s been a tough season for Calgary. The 7-12-2-0 Hitmen (in the WHL, standings are tallied by wins-losses-overtime losses-shootout losses) are currently sitting 10th in the West out of 12 teams. They’re ranked 20th out of all 22 teams. In the game against Lethbridge, Malenstyn scored on the power play, so he’s considered a valuable player for Calgary. He’s also one of the team’s alternate captains. Whether your team is at the top of the league or the bottom, being trusted with that kind of leadership means Malenstyn has a good chance at moving on to the next step in his career.
Click here for Saturday’s highlights, including a teddy bear toss (Malenstyn scores at 1:50). Below is more teddy bear toss, because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love seeing hockey player jump into piles of stuffed animals? And, as an added bonus, Malenstyn and company singing along to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” (Malenstyn is one of the cookie decorators)
GARRETT PILON: Center (#41) for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL; drafted third round, 87th overall in 2016
Pilon continued his consistency last week, scoring in last Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Spokane. Almost this entire season, Pilon has scored a point in every other game. That streak continued last weekend when he was held without a point in Kamloops’ 3-0 loss to Regina on Friday. Yes, another theme last week was Caps prospects facing off against one another. However, while both prospects recorded a point in the Regina-Kelowna matchup, neither prospect recorded one in the Kamloops-Regina one. But back to Pilon. While he may be alternating games where he records a point, he’s been consistently recording points all season. This is a kid who clearly knows how to score. This week, Pilon and the Blazers have three games, so maybe he’ll be able to rack up a bunch of points. You’ll just have to tune into next week’s roundup to find out.
Wednesday’s highlights (Pilon scores at 2:49):
BRIAN PINHO: Junior center (#26) for Providence College; drafted sixth round, 174th overall in 2013
Pinho extended his point streak to a career-high seven games Friday with a goal in Providence’s 5-2 loss to Merrimack. However, Pinho was yet another Caps prospect whose scoring streak came to an end. He did not score a point in the Friars’ 3-2 win over Colgate on Saturday. It was also an uncharacteristic game for Pinho in the faceoff department as he only took nine faceoffs; he usually takes 20-25 faceoffs a game. However, of those nine faceoffs, he did win seven of them, so he’s still proving strength on the faceoff dot. This week, Providence will face No. 6 Boston University in a two-game, home-and-home series.
Friday’s highlights (Pinho scores at 0:24):
ILYA SAMSONOV: Goaltender (#30) for the Mettalurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL; drafted first round, 22nd overall in 2015
Samsonov has really been cruising lately, and it’s about time he was given a proper chance. Last week he started — and finished — two game for Mettalurg. If that’s not good enough, he also won both of those games. So far this season, Samsonov has played 12 games and won 11 of them. The one game he didn’t win, Metallurg lost in a shootout, and let’s be honest, that’s not even close to being a real loss. For all intents and purposes, we can just say Samsonov is undefeated. In Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Lokomotiv, Samsonov turned away 38 of 39 shots for a 0.974 save percentage. In Friday’s 5-4 win over Vityaz, he *only* stopped 31 of 35 for a 0.886 save percentage.
Even with Friday’s four allowed goals, Samsonov has only let in 24 goals on 374 shots for a 0.936 save percentage. To compare that to current NHLers, that save percentage would be good enough for seventh in the NHL. Currently, Nashville’s Pekke Rinne sits in seventh with a 0.934 save percentage, and Boston’s Tuukka Rask sits sixth with a 0.938. That’s not bad company.
In completely unrelated news, ex-Cap Alexander Semin is tied for fifth on the team in scoring with 13 points and long-ago former Caps prospect Oskar Osala is fourth with 15 points. Talk about a small world for former Caps players.
Samsonov also cracked the KHL’s top 10 saves of the week at No. 7 AND No. 3 for these amazing saves against Dynamo a couple weeks ago (check them out at 0:58 and 2:10). Sure can’t wait to see this kid in action at the NHL level: