Connor McMichael Finishes Spectacular First Pro Season in Hershey

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Posted May 17, 2021

(via the Bears)

Connor McMichael is the most valuable forward prospect in Washington’s system. The 20-year-old was a first round selection by the Caps in 2019. McMichael spent the 2019-20 season with the London Knights of the OHL putting up a whopping 47 goals and 55 assists in 52 games in the pandemic-shortened season.

Due to the NHL/CHL agreement, McMichael would have been destined for another year with London, as he was under the age of 20 at the start of the year, but due to the pandemic, the OHL did not have a season, and thus McMichael was able to start the year in Hershey.

“My game, I took it to the next level,” McMichael said. “In junior, you get away with a lot more things than you would here. That taught me every little mistake can be costly.”

He added that some off-ice things, such as diet and workout routine, were an advantage of being in Hershey as that isn’t a huge focus in junior.

McMichael’s first goal for the Chocolate and White came in just his second game. It took him five games to record his first professional hat trick.

McMichael finished the season as the Bears’ leading scorer, with 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points in 33 games. He finished the regular season with six points (two goals, four assists) in two games and was named the CCM AHL Player of the Week as Hershey finished the year with the best record in the league.

“I was pretty happy with the season I had,” McMichael said. “A few games at the start I was learning and getting used to the pace of play. But overall, I had a really good season, and I’m only going to build upon that next season.”

It wasn’t just the points that caught the eye of Hershey head coach Spencer Carbery, however.

“Last two games of the season, league championship on the line, division title on the line, best two games he’s played all season,” Carbery said. “And not just the point production. Not just the goals. Both ends of the ice. His ability to get in on the forecheck. Willing to hold onto pucks and manage the puck and not throw hope plays. Being able to play in the defensive zone down low. Make those reads. Close with urgency. All the detail stuff that’s going to be critical for his game at the next level.”

Another element that Carbery saw in the young star is his coach-ability.

“You tell him something once, it’s in his game,” Carbery said. “He’s very receptive and can put things into his game that you ask of him. He’s very, very intuitive and smart when it comes to being coached.”

McMichael was playing on a line with Bears captain and long-time NHL veteran Matt Moulson this season. Moulson took the rookie under his wing and helped him develop.

“That kid is going to be a tremendous player for years to come,” Moulson said. “His skillset is not something everyone has. I think he’s come a long way from when he first got here. [He had] some junior tendencies that he had to get out of his game. When we were on a line at the start [of the season], he had me playing low in the d-zone on every shift. After about three games, I said, ‘I’m done with that.’ so I think that part of his game is definitely improved a lot.”

While the AHL season is over, McMichael’s isn’t. He is heading to the Washington to be a “Black Ace” with the team on Tuesday. He was also with the Caps in the bubble last season and made his NHL debut early in the season against Buffalo.

McMichael might not appear in a playoff game for the Caps, as Carbery thinks there are still some little things that are part of the challenge of playing center in the NHL that he needs to work on, but when asked if he’s ready to showcase his “world class” talent at the next level, Carbery was definitive.

“I do.”