Caps Prospect Roundup: It’s Playoff Time

Posted March 24, 2017
Caps prospects

It’s officially Caps prospect postseason time. The NCAA prospects are gearing up for the tournament, and all the WHL ones closed out their regular seasons with a bang, and all have qualified for the playoffs. Then there’s Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg is so good, it still hasn’t played since last roundup. That’s right, nine whole days between games. Keep reading to find out what’s next for your favorite prospects.

Shane GersichSHANE GERSICH: Sophomore center (#19) for University of North Dakota; drafted fifth round, 134th overall in 2014

First, let’s start with the important news: No. 10 will play No. 6 Boston University in the first round of the NCAA tournament at 3 p.m. Friday. For those interested, the game will be aired on ESPN2.

As for an update, after beating No. 1 Denver 1-0 in the semifinal game, North Dakota fell just short of defeating No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth in the NCHC Championship. The Bulldogs were able to pull out a 4-3 win. Gersich was held without a point in both games, but he manage to throw a combined seven shots on goal. Let’s hope that trend changes Friday. We know three Caps who will likely be spending their afternoon off watching intently (although some seem to have more of an unbiased perspective than others)…


Connor HobbsCONNOR HOBBS: Defenseman (#44) for the Regina Pats of the WHL; drafted fifth round, 143th overall in 2015

Last week, Connor Hobbs played four games and scored five points, including three goals. But  what made last weekend more special for Hobbs was hitting two different Regina milestones. In last Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Swift Current, Hobbs joined the Pats’ exclusive 30-goal (by a defenseman) club. In fact, in the whole WHL, a defenseman hasn’t scored 20 goals since the 2010-11 season. You could write a short story about how many record books Hobbs joined Wednesday, but on Saturday he set a new one for Regina – goals by a defenseman – when he scored his 31st of the season. It seems like now the only sensible question is when do the Caps get him.

Lucky for Regina, the Pats are nowhere near done with their season. They’ll open up the playoffs with a best-of-seven set against the Calgary Hitmen (and fellow Caps prospect Beck Malenstyn) on Friday.

Highlights from March 14’s 5-4 win over Saskatoon (Hobbs assists on the goal at 0:24 and scores at 3:49):

Highlights from March 15’s 6-2 win over Swift Current (Hobbs scores his record-tying goal at 2:46):

Here’s Hobbs talking about his record-setting goal:

Lucas JohansenLUCAS JOHANSEN: Defenseman (#7) for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL; drafted first round, 28th overall in 2016

Last week, Johansen notched two assists over three games. It seems like every WHL Caps prospect wanted to go into the playoffs hot. Johansen himself has been keeping consistent, and still a big puck-mover on the power play. That’s everything you want from a defenseman. It looks like there’s about to be a lot of competition in at least Hershey for a spot on the blue line. They couldn’t have picked a better year to jump into the pool with both Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk as unrestricted free agents, and Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt as restricted free agents.

As for Kelowna’s playoff picture, it’ll be another Caps prospect matchup. The Rockets will take on Garrett Pilon and the Kamloops Blazers. That series also starts Friday.

Beck MalenstynBECK MALENSTYN: Center (#11) for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL; drafted fifth round, 145th overall in 2016

Malenstyn is Calgary’s second-leading goal scorer, and he certainly helped boost his campaign with a hattrick last Friday in a 6-1 win over Kootenay. The Hitmen will certainly need all the firepower Malenstyn can deliver when they face Regina in the playoffs. Malenstyn hass become one of the more go-to scorers for the team, especially after scoring not one, but two short-handed goals last week. While Regina is the clear favorite to win the series, Malenstyn will help give the Pats a run for their money.

Click here for highlights from March 17’s 6-1 win over Kootenay, including Malenstyn’s hattrick.

Garrett PilonGARRETT PILON: Center (#41) for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL; drafted third round, 87th overall in 2016

Kamloops only played two games last week – a 3-1 loss Friday to Prince George and a 2-1 shootout win Saturday over Prince Gearge – so his stats probably seem lower compared to his fellow WHL-playing Caps prospects. Not to be completely outdone, though, Pilon did assist on the Blazers’ lone goal on Friday.

Going into the playoffs, it’s likely Pilon will be matched against fellow Caps prospect Lucas Johansen. Johansen has proven to be one of the top defenders for Kelowna, and Pilon is on one of the best lines in the WHL. It’ll be an interesting series to keep tabs on.

Brian PinhoBRIAN PINHO: Junior center (#26) for Providence College; drafted sixth round, 174th overall in 2013

While Pinho and the Providence Friars didn’t play last week (Notre Dame knocked them out of the Hockey East tournament during the quarterfinal round), they did have a good enough regular season to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. Providence will be playing Harvard at 4 p.m. Friday. The game will be aired on ESPNU.

Chase PriskieCHASE PRISKIE: Sophomore defenseman (#13) for Quinnipiac University; drafted sixth round, 177th overall in 2016

Even though Quinnipiac’s season is over, it doesn’t mean there’s no news surrounding Priskie. The sophomore defenseman was named to the 2017 Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey Third Team. According to a Quinnipiac news release, this is the second straight year Priskie has received an ECAC honor; he was named to the All-Rookie Team last year. As for this season, he lead all Quinnipiac defensemen with 26 points (seven goals and 19 assists). Because he’s an NCAA athlete, Priskie is ineligible to join the Caps/Bears, so fans we’ll have to wait for a development camp invite to see him up close and personal.

Jonas SiegenthalerJONAS SIEGENTHALER: Defenseman (#97)for the ZSC Lions of the National Swiss League; drafted second round, 57th overall in 2015

Last we checked in with Siegenthaler, he and the Lions were close to moving on to the next round of the playoffs. They just had to finish off HC Lugo. Seems simple, right? Weeeeeeeell … things didn’t exactly go well. HC Lugo made quick work of ZSC, finishing the Lions off in six games, both of the last two games by a score of 2-1. Siegenthaler didn’t record any points all series and finishes the season with one goal and six assists.

However, ZSC’s loss isn’t totally bad for Siegenthaler. Not only did he get a fair amount of power play time in the last two games (2:50 and 2:08, respectively), but with the Lions’ playoff exit, he has now reported to Hershey. Yay for more defensemen! With any luck, he’ll get another shot at a playoff run in the coming weeks.

Dmitri ZaitsevDMITRI ZAITSEV: Defenseman (#95) for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL; drafted seventh round, 207th overall in 2016

Zaitsev is the lone Caps prospect not playing a fellow Caps prospect in the opening round of the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw will face Swift Current in the first round.

As for Zaitsev, the defenseman scored his second goal of the season last week in a 3-2 overtime loss to Prince Albert. This is Zaitsev’s rookie season, so some good old fashioned playoff experience will help show what his skill set is.

Highlights from March 14’s loss to Prince Albert (Zaitsev scores at 0:49):