Connor McMichael is 21-years-old and the team’s top center prospect.
McMichael made the team out of training camp — the Caps lost a prospect on waivers in order to keep the waiver-exempt player in DC — but he’s not playing. He’s been held out of six out of the Capitals’ first seven games to start the season with no end in sight.
The situation is curious. Conventional hockey wisdom is that for McMichael to continue growing as a player, he would be playing in games, whether it’s in Washington or Hershey. McMichael’s age and contract status give Capitals leadership the flexibility to send him down to Hershey at any time.
Playing big minutes and being put in big situations in the minor leagues could allow McMichael to continue growing as a player moreso than just practicing with the NHL team. It could also make him more confident when called upon — even if it’s next season — for a bigger role on the Caps.
Laviolette was asked at practice if the team has considered sending McMichael down to Hershey. The short answer is no.
Here’s what Lavy had to say per the Capitals:
Peter Laviolette: [Connor McMichael] it is here. He’s part of our 23 right now. Things always change when guys go into the lineup or somebody gets injured or decisions on the roster that need to be made. There haven’t been any conversations about that. Right now, we’ve got a roster going that we’re happy with.
I’m sure it’s tough sitting out. Every player wants to play and that’s a good thing. He’s just got to keep working hard and wait for his chance.
Do you think it can be good for him only to be practicing with the team at the NHL level?
Peter Laviolette: I think it’s good both, to be honest with you. It’s good to play games and I also think it’s good to be around it and practice at a certain level and a certain pace every day.
McMichael sat in favor of Beck Malenstyn on Monday against the Devils as Laviolette preferred more of a checking-line style forward on the fourth line.
Previously, Laviolette said of Connor that he’s “a good player that’s developing, that’s getting better as he stays here and practices and plays games, and gathers experience. He’ll continue to grow and get better.”
He added that “There are times when I think young players look like they need to continue to work on their game. He’s a good kid. He works hard every day.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB