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Caps Prospect Roundup: How Time Flies
It has, admittedly, been quite some time since an update. However, since the playoffs are in full swing for most of our Caps prospect youngins – looking at you, WHL – there’s no better time to catch up with the kids.
KEVIN ELGESTAL: Winger (#21) for the Vita Hasten HC of the Swedish Hockey Allsvenskan league; drafted seventh round, 194th overall in 2014
There’s really nothing to say about Elgestal. He hasn’t played since Jan. 22 thanks to an injury. But he did score a hattrick on Jan. 13, so there’s something. Elgestal finished the season with four goals and one assist in 30 games. Not super impressive stats, but maybe some recovery time and a nice little trip to the Caps can give a spark to his game and show us what he’s made of.
SHANE GERSICH: Sophomore center (#19) for University of North Dakota; drafted fifth round, 134th overall in 2014
No. 11 North Dakota got through the first round of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s quarterfinal round over the weekend, sweeping St. Cloud State 5-2 and 6-5 in overtime. Gersich scored a goal in both games. In Friday’s 5-2 win, he also recorded an assist. The Fighting Hawks move on to face No. 1 Denver in Friday’s semifinal game. Earlier this season, North Dakota split its only series against Denver, losing one game and tying, but getting the conference point, in the other. It was also against Denver that Gersich scored his spin-o-rama goal that made him (sort of) internet famous. At least in the hockey world.
Highlights from Friday’s 5-2 win (Gersich scores at 1:29):
Highlights from Saturday’s 6-5 overtime win (Gersich scores at 0:37):
And here’s that spin-o-rama from the regular season, in case you forgot:
CONNOR HOBBS: Defenseman (#44) for the Regina Pats of the WHL; drafted fifth round, 143th overall in 2015
Hobbs and the East Division-clinching Regina Pats are poised for a deep playoff run. That’s not just because their 104 points lead the entire WHL, but they’re outscoring their opponents by almost 100 goals; the Pats have scored 329 goals while their opponents have scored 204. As for Hobbs, lately he’s traded in his scoring hat for his passing one. In the past 10 games, he’s scored two goals and assisted on eight others. Of course, when your team has scored 40 goals in 10 games, it’s almost impossible not to land on the scoresheet. Regina’s regular season comes to a close Saturday – along with the rest of the WHL – and with playoffs a sure thing, the question is who they’ll be facing.
LUCAS JOHANSEN: Defenseman (#7) for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL; drafted first round, 28th overall in 2016
Kelowna is another WHL team that has secured a playoff spot. As for Johansen, he’s already signed his entry-level contract with Washington, so he’s a more permanent Caps prospect now. The Caps obviously like what they’re seeing, and there’s no reason not to. Through 65 games, Johansen has 38 points; six goals and 32 assists. A good chunk of those assists have come on the power play. If the Caps can’t sign Kevin Shattenkirk this summer to a new contract, they’ll be loooking for another solid puck-moving defenseman on the power play, aside from John Carlson. Not that Johansen is likely to make a jump straight to the big leagues, but he could certainly do some growing in Hershey. Just a thought.
BECK MALENSTYN: Center (#11) for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL; drafted fifth round, 145th overall in 2016
Malenstyn is the only Caps prospect in the WHL whose playoff standings have not been set. Last season, the WHL adopted the NHL’s playoff rankings, adding a Wild Card spot. Calgary is currently sitting at 66 points and in the second Wild Card spot, with Saskatoon hot on its tail with 63 points. However, Red Deer is currently the third-best team in the Central Division with 70 points. Either Calgary needs to fend of Saskatoon the remaining three games of the season, or take over Red Deer for that division spot. And here’s the kicker: one of Calgary’s last three games is against Red Deer.
As for Malenstyn, kid’s been on fire lately. He’s got six points in his past five games; four goals and two assists. He’s also been named the game’s first star twice and third star once in that same time span, scoring two game-winning goals. Fingers crossed the Hitmen make it into the playoffs because it seems Malenstyn has a lot more to show.
GARRETT PILON: Center (#41) for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL; drafted third round, 87th overall in 2016
It’s almost becoming too repetitive to say a Caps prospect is doing well in the WHL, but Pilon is not going to be the one to break that trend. The center is averaging 1.016 points per game with 20 goals and 45 assists in 64 games. Not only has he been producing a lot, he’s been producing consistently. There’s only been one game in his past 10 that he’s gone without a point. Kamloops has also secured its ticket to the postseason as the third seed in the B.C. Division.
BRIAN PINHO: Junior center (#26) for Providence College; drafted sixth round, 174th overall in 2013
Providence’s Hockey East Championship dreams came to an end Saturday at the hands of No. 10 Notre Dame. After sweeping Massachusetts 3-0 and 5-1 in the opening tournament weekend, the Fighting Irish were able to stop the No. 12 Friars with back-to-back hammering 5-0 and 5-2 wins. For his part, Pinho scored both of Providence’s goals in Saturday’s loss. Should Providence’s NCAA Championship run end here, it wasn’t a bad postseason for Pinho. He had six points – three goals and three assists – in four games. However, being ranked in the top-20 does give Providence a chance at being selected for the national championship tournament.
Highlights from Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Notre Dame (Pinho scores at 0:41 and 1:18):
CHASE PRISKIE: Sophomore defenseman (#13) for Quinnipiac University; drafted sixth round, 177th overall in 2016
No. 19 Quinnipiac squeaked out a trip to the ECAC semifinals, dropping the first game to St. Lawrence 2-0, but then rebounding to win 3-2 Saturday and 3-2 again on Sunday. The Bobcats will face Harvard on Thursday. The winner will play for the conference championship Saturday.
As for Priskie, he’s been kept pretty quiet this postseason. His lone assist in five games came in Saturday’s win. Before Saturday’s assist, Priskie’s last point was on Feb. 18, so he’s been going through a bit of a drought. But hey, even Alex Ovechkin goes through those.
DAMIEN RIAT: Center/right wing (#9) for the Geneve-Servette HC of the National Swiss League; drafted fourth round, 117 overall in 2016
Riat makes the second Caps prospect – after Elgestal – to have his season come to an end. While Geneve-Servette did make the playoffs, it was hammered by EV Zug and swept in four games, losing 3-2 in overtime, 5-2, 5-1 and finally 5-1. Riat did not record a point in any of those games. However, in March 9’s 5-1 loss, he recorded 7:03 of time on the penalty kill. Throughout the season, he seemed pretty split on power play vs. penalty killing. Overall, Riat scored 14 points – seven goals and seven assists – in 46 games. With his season now over, we’ll just have to wait until development camp to see what else Riat has to offer.
ILYA SAMSONOV: Goaltender (#30) for the Mettalurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL; drafted first round, 22nd overall in 2015
There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is Mettalurg has cleared its first two playoff opponents, Kunlun and Barys. The bad news is Samsonov has played about one and a half games. He started the first game of the playoffs – a 4-2 win over Kunlun – and played 32 minutes in relief in a 3-1 loss. In his relief effort, he saved all 11 shots he’s faced. However, with the third round of the playoffs already around the corner, it looks like Samsonov could be available to make a Calder Cup run with Hershey … if the Bears can make the cut. If not, there’s always the summer’s development camp.
JONAS SIEGENTHALER: Defenseman (#97)for the ZSC Lions of the National Swiss League; drafted second round, 57th overall in 2015
Unlike his fellow Swiss-leaguer Riat, Siegenthaler’s team made it through the first round of its playoff run. Siegenthaler hasn’t made any scoring contributions for ZSC, but he has logged a fair amount of penalty-killing time. In the regular season, he scored one goal and six assists in 28 games. In terms of overall playing time, Siegenthaler has been averaging about 16 minutes a game in the playoffs, and about three minutes of penalty killing. For the most part, Siegenthaler has been completely kept off the power play, which implies he’s more of a stay-at-home defenseman. Depending on what happened with this summer’s signings, the Caps’ farm teams could be in need of some more defensemen. But for now, Siegenthaler and his ZSC teammates are still plugging away at the second round, hoping to advance.
STEVE SPINNER: Sophomore right wing (#26) for University of Nebraska-Omaha; drafted sixth round, 159th overall in 2014
Omaha started off its quarterfinal round with a 2-1 overtime win against No. 8 Western Michigan. Unfortunately, the luck stopped there. The Mavericks dropped the next two games 5-2 and 2-1, again in overtime. Spinner also did not contribute to the scoresheet. While Omaha is uranked, they did receive a couple votes. At this point, it’s a waiting game to see if Spinner’s season continues. Should it end here, Spinner 21 points in 36 games; eight goals and 13 assists.
DMITRI ZAITSEV: Defenseman (#95) for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL; drafted seventh round, 207th overall in 2016
Breaking news: yet another Caps prospect is playing on a team that has clinched a WHL playoff spot. Crazy, right? Moose Jaw has ensured its spot as second in the East Division, just behind (read: 17 points behind) Connor Hobbs and his Regina Pats. As for Zaitsev personally, after going virtually dormant in the middle of the season, he seems to have found his way back to the score sheet. So far, he has 19 points in 66 games; one goal and 18 assists. And while there’s plenty of debate on the validity of a player’s plus/minus to determine how good he really is, the WHL doesn’t track ice time as conveniently as the Swiss league does. Say what you will about plus/minus, but Zaitsev is a plus-17. The playoffs will be another good test of his strength as a defenseman.