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Caps Prospect Roundup: Happy Holidays
There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for why there wasn’t a Caps Prospect Roundup last week. The dog ate it. It was left in the other pair of pants. It got stuck in traffic. …. Anyway, this week, to make up for it — and in honor of the upcoming holiday breaks — the prospect roundup is jam-packed like never before. Be sure to scroll through for mid-season updates on every player, how their progress so far compares with their peers and, of course, the usual video highlights.
KEVIN ELGESTAL: Winger (#21) for the Vita Hasten HC of the Swedish Hockey Allsvenskan league; drafted seventh round, 194th overall in 2014
Elgestal’s main update is that there is no update. Through 21 games, his lone point came as an assist on Dec. 3. Maybe it’s the league, maybe it’s the system, maybe it’s the coach. Or maybe there’s a reason he was drafted in the seventh round. Either way, Elgestal hasn’t been lighting up the stat sheet so far this season. In those 21 games, he’s taken 13 shots and is a minus-5. With any luck, the Caps will invite him to development camp again this summer and fans will be able to see for themselves what he’s capable of.
SHANE GERSICH: Sophomore center (#19) for University of North Dakota; drafted fifth round, 134th overall in 2014
On the completely opposite end of the Caps prospect spectrum is Gersich. This kid has been absolutely flying this season. Through 18 games, his 13 goals are tied for most among all National Collegiate Hockey Conference players and tied for second most among all NCAA players, and his 24 points are also an NCHC-high, and leave him tied for ninth in scoring in the NCAA. Gersich also leads the rest of his No. 8 North Dakota teammates in assists (11), shots (59), plus/minus (plus-12), power play assists (4) and power play goals (4). His four power play goals also rank him tied for 21st in the NCAA.
Gersich’s most recent goal contributions came in North Dakota’s weekend series against No. 16 Western Michigan. The Fighting Hawks won the first game 5-1, but fell to the Broncos 3-1 on Dec. 10. Gersich scored in both games, but was named the second star in the loss.
Highlights from North Dakota’s Dec. 9 win over Western Michigan (Gersich scores at 0:33):
Highlights from the Dec. 10 loss (Gersich scores at 1:38, but be sure to check out his takeaway at 0:47):
CONNOR HOBBS: Defenseman (#44) for the Regina Pats of the WHL; drafted fifth round, 143th overall in 2015
Hobbs is another Caps prospect who has been dominating this season. Although, he was doing quite well for himself last year, too. The biggest change, statistically, is the number of penalty minutes he’s taken. Last year, in 57 games, he took 126 penalty minutes, averaging 2.21 penalty minutes a game. This season, through 29 games, he has 45 PIM, an average 1.55 per game. While that might not seem like a big change, the difference is that this season he seems to be racking up his penalty minutes after big fights, whereas last season, every couple of games he’d take at least one penalty. The lower number of minutes shows a greater sense of maturity. We’ll see if he can continue that trend the rest of the season.
As for the rest of his stats, his 38 points and 14 goals leave him fourth and tied for fourth, respectively, among the rest of the East Division-leading Pats. He’s also second in the WHL among defensemen in both goals and points. His 24 assists are good enough for fifth on the Pats, and tied for sixth in the WHL. Most recently, in a home-and-home series against Moose Jaw, Hobbs recorded a fight in the Pats’ 5-4 loss, and scored a goal and assist in Regina’s 7-3 win.
Highlights from the Dec. 16 loss:
Hobbs’ Dec. 16 fight:
Highlights from the Dec. 17 win (Hobbs scores at 2:33 and assists on the goal at 2:57):
As a bonus, below are highlights from the Pats’ 8-1 win over Swift Current on Dec. 9 (Hobbs scores at 1:59, assists on the goal at 3:12 and scores again at 3:32)
LUCAS JOHANSEN: Defenseman (#7) for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL; drafted first round, 28th overall in 2016
Last year’s first round pick hasn’t been a disappointment. Through 33 games, Johansen has recorded one goal and 15 assists. His assist total ranks him tied for fourth on the team. However, what’s better than 15 assists is the fact that 10 of those have come on the power play. Johansen’s 10 power play assists rank him tied for second most on the team and tied for 12th most in the WHL. His reoccurring presence on the power play is good for two main reasons: it’s always good to have a defenseman who can anchor the point on the power play, and it means that he’s trusted to anchor that point position.
Most recently, Johansen recorded two assists, one of which on the power play, in a 6-2 win over Calgary. He also recorded an assist in the second-in-the-B.C.-Division Kelowna’s 2-1 shootout win over Edmonton.
Click here for highlight’s from Kelowna’s Dec. 17 win over Calgary (Johansen assists on the goals at 1:44 and 2:22).
AXEL JONSSON-FJALLBY: Left wing (#41) for Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey Allsvenskan league; drafted fifth round, 147 overall, in 2016
There’s not a whole lot known about Jonsson-Fjallby, just by the nature of playing the majority of his games for a J20 team. However, what little is known is pretty impressive. In 25 games, he has 14 goals and 13 assists. His 27 points and goals lead the team, and sixth and tied for fifth in the league, respectively. His assists are third-best on Djurgardens. It seems as if he’s mastered the J20 level and is ready for the bigger leagues of Swedish hockey. Jonsson-Fjallby is also still young, so he has some growing to do, but it’ll be interesting to see what he can accomplish at a slightly higher level. Hopefully we’ll get to see that sometime soon.
BECK MALENSTYN: Center (#11) for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL; drafted fifth round, 145th overall in 2016
Malenstyn has been on an absolute tear recently with nine points in his past 10 games (five goals and four assists). While Calgary has been struggling in the standings — the Hitmen are 10th in the Eastern Conference and 20th overall — Malenstyn has used his recent scoring streak to climb in the team’s rankings. Through 29 games, his 17 points are fourth best on the team, and his 10 goals leave him tied for second best. On the flip side, his 37 penalty minutes are also tied for second most. He’s also notably a minus-11, but just chalk that up to Calgary’s lack of success. There are two weeks of highlights below for Malenstyn, so enjoy.
Click here for highlights from Calgary’s 3-2 win over Prince Albert on Dec. 6 (Malenstyn scores at 1:11).
Click here for highlights from Calgary’s 4-3 win over Saskatoon on Dec. 7 (Malenstyn scores at 1:32 and 1:44).
Click here for highlights from Calgary’s 3-2 overtime win over Red Deer on Dec. 9 (Malenstyn assists on the goal at 2:46 and scores at 2:55).
GARRETT PILON: Center (#41) for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL; drafted third round, 87th overall in 2016
Pilon has proved he’s worth that third round pick. He’s proved to be quite the go-to center for Kamloops, who currently sit fourth in the Western Conference. In 34 games played, Pilon’s 34 points rank him third on the Blazers, and his 28 assists are a team-high, and tied for 10th-best in the WHL. The 5-foot-11 center is also a plus-15. Pilon is regularly featured on Kamloops’ power play, which also means he’s used to take those key faceoffs. In his past 10 games, he’s registered 13 points — one goal and 12 assists. Could Pilon be the next Caps prospect to make the jump to the pros? Who knows, but he sure is fun to watch now.
Click here for highlights from the Blazers’ 3-2 win over Edmonton on Dec. 10 (Pilon assists on the goals at the beginning and 1:27).
Click here for highlights from Kamloops’ 3-2 shootout loss to Calgary on Dec. 11 (Pilon assists on the goals at 0:42 and 1:30).
Click here for highlights from the 5-3 loss to Medicine Hat on Dec. 16 (Pilon assists on the goal at 2:12).
BRIAN PINHO: Junior center (#26) for Providence College; drafted sixth round, 174th overall in 2013
Pinho, as a junior, is now in his crucial year as a prospect. Many college prospects drop out about their junior year or right after. Zach Sanford would have been a junior at Boston College this year, but we all know where he ended up. In his freshman year, Providence won the NCAA Championship, and Pinho has continued to factor into that success. Through 16 games, he has 14 points — five goals and nine assists — which place him second on the team. His assists are tied for a team-best, as is his plus-6 plus/minus rating. Pinho also has a 56.0 percent faceoff success rating. Were he in the NHL, that would put him about the middle of the pack. Players such as Claude Giroux, Jeff Carter, Joe Thornton and Mike Fisher have slightly lower success ratings.
Pinho’s most recent successful outing, though, came in unranked Providence’s 5-1 win over RIT on Dec. 9. Pinho notched one goal and two assists to earn him second star honors.
Highlights from Providence’s win (Pinho scores at the beginning, and assists on the goal at 0:46):
CHASE PRISKIE: Sophomore defenseman (#13) for Quinnipiac University; drafted sixth round, 177th overall in 2016
After starting the season with one goal and two assists in his first five games, Priskie has calmed down a bit, but there’s nothing wrong with that. His last point didn’t come too long ago in the form of an assist on Dec. 2. In 17 games played with No. 14 Quinnipiac this year, Priskie has 11 points — one goal and 10 assists — which places him fifth on the team. His 10 assists are the third-highest among his fellow Bobcats. However, while Priskie hasn’t been scoring that much, it’s certainly not for a lack of effort. He’s got 40 shots this season, so by the law probability, his scoring touch has to kick back in at some point. Also notable is that the 6-foot-1 defenseman has blocked 15 shots, so he’s doing his part on the back end, too.
DAMIEN RIAT: Center/right wing (#9) for the Geneve-Servette HC of the Nationall Swiss League; drafted fourth round, 117 overall in 2016
Riat is another Caps prospect who just can’t seen to crack his way into the roundup, but again, that doesn’t mean he’s just sitting in Switzerland twiddling his thumbs. Through 31 games, he has 10 points — five goals and five assists — which rank him 12 on eighth-place Geneve-Servette in scoring. He’s also fifth on the team in penalty minutes with 28, so take that as you will.
However, in what looks to be the final roster, Riat will be representing Switzerland at this year’s World Junior Championship. While Team Switzerland isn’t expected to have that much success — it’s the youngest team in the tournament — Caps fans should be sure to tune in to watch these prospects play. More on that in a hot second.
ILYA SAMSONOV: Goaltender (#30) for the Mettalurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL; drafted first round, 22nd overall in 2015
When we last left Samsonov, he had lost his first game of the season. Well, not a whole lot has changed. He’s only played in one game since, and he came in relief midway through the second period. In that game, a 5-3 win over Admiral, Samsonov played 28 minutes and faced 11 shots, turning away all of them. Kid’s still got it. In fact, his 0.936 save percentage is tied for 12th-best in the KHL. Not too shabby for a 19-year-old nugget.
Speaking of not being 20, while Russia has yet to release its final roster, Samsonov was on the preliminary WJC roster and has suspiciously not even been backup for Western Conference-leading Metallurg. Read into that what you will. Should there be a Caps prospect representing Team Russia at the WJC, the Russians open the tournament against Canada on Dec. 26. They then play Latvia on Dec. 27, USA on Dec. 29 and Slovakia on Dec. 31.
JONAS SIEGENTHALER: Defenseman (#97)for the ZSC Lions of the National Swiss League; drafted second round, 57th overall in 2015
Remember how Riat is representing Team Switzerland? Well, turns out he’s going to have a Caps prospect buddy by his side. Siegenthaler will be the only returning defenseman from last year’s roster. The Swiss open the tournament Dec. 27 against the Czech Republic. Siegenthaler and his countrymen will then face Sweden on Dec. 28, Denmark on Dec. 30 and Finland on Dec. 31. Good luck to these kids.
As for his season accomplishments, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about, so instead, here are some more facts to get a better idea of how 19-year-old Siegenthaler compares to the rest of his team. He’s averaging 14:47 of ice time per game (fifth among ZSC defensemen), 1:23 of penalty killing time per game (seventh among defensemen) and is taking about 22 shifts per game (sixth among defensemen). Judging by those stats, it’s a pretty safe guess that Siegenthaler is the third defensive pairing. Sure, out of a second round pick you might be wanting a bit more, but he IS only 19 and playing in a professional men’s league. Keep an eye out during WJC to see what he looks like compared to others his age. That’ll be a good tell of where he ranks.
STEVE SPINNER: Sophomore right wing (#26) for University of Nebraska-Omaha; drafted sixth round, 159th overall in 2014
Regrettably, Spinner hasn’t done a whole lot of scoring lately. His last point came in the form of an assist on Nov. 19 against Minnesota-Duluth. However, that’s not to say he’s done nothing all season. Through 18 games, he has 12 points — four goals and eight assists — which rank him seventh among the rest of his No. 20 Nebraska-Omaha teammates. He also ranks seventh in assists. He does have a team-best plus/minus rating of plus-4, though. One other notable for Spinner is that he’s been taking more faceoffs lately. In the past six games, he’s taken 30 faceoffs and won 12 of them for a 40 percent success rating. At the beginning of the season, he was only taking one, if any, faceoffs in a game, so it’s possible his position is being moved around, which would also explain the decrease in scoring.
DMITRI ZAITSEV: Defenseman (#95) for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL; drafted seventh round, 207th overall in 2016
Zaitsev might not be appearing super frequently in the roundup, but he’s been quietly producing all season. Through 32 games, he has 14 points — all assists — with Moose Jaw. His points rank him 10th on the third place Warriors, and his assists rank him ninth. However, he’s tied for eighth in the league among other rookies in assists. Before the WHL, Zaitsev played a season Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights of the NAHL (maybe that’s where he learned how to rack up his current 30 penalty minutes). This means he’s not only already in North America and not under some crazy Russian contract he can’t get out of, but he’s getting more acclimated to hockey on this side of the globe. Obviously he’s still quite young and isn’t likely to make the jump to the pros in the super near future, but it wouldn’t be hard to coax him into a contract.