Connect with us

Washington Capitals

Connor McMichael Getting First Looks At Left Wing — Not Center



Washington Capitals center Connor McMichael (24) looks on during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Connor McMichael won’t be playing his natural center position — at least for now.

“I want to see him play the wing, so early in camp he’s going to be over on the left side there and I want to see how that goes,” Carbery said. “I want to see him play some game action, some five on five.”

McMichael has filled the left wing spot on a line with Dylan Strome and T.J. Oshie since training camp opened Thursday, but he will eventually get a look in the middle, according to general manager Brian MacLellan.

“I don’t know the timeframe on it,” MacLellan said Thursday.” (He) had a good year last year, we’re really happy about his progress. But we’ll see where he ends up.”

Based on the makeup of the Capitals roster, McMichael’s quickest road to consistent playing time will come on the wing. All four of the team’s top centers return from last season, while the absences of Conor Sheary (left via free agency) and Max Pacioretty (recovering from Achilles injury) have left openings on the team’s depth chart.

Most of McMichael’s ice time with the Hershey Bears last season came at center, allowing him to rank fourth on the team with 23 assists. Along with 16 goals, his 39 regular season points ranked fifth-best on the team.

McMichael, the Capitals’ first-round draft pick in 2019, was relegated to the AHL after playing in 68 NHL games during the 2021-22 season — mostly on the wing — under former head coach Peter Laviolette.

“Obviously you want to play in the NHL, it’s your dream come true,” McMichael said Friday, “When you go back down to the AHL it is for sure hard at first, but it was a lot of fun going down there. I think it didn’t take me long to build my confidence back up and we had a great group of guys, so it was really good.”

Training camp has been a reunion of sorts between McMichael and Carbery, who was the head coach of the Hershey Bears during the 2020-21 season — McMichael’s first year in the professional ranks.

“From not seeing him over the last two years, you can just tell, when I see him, talk to him, he’s just a more mature human being,” said Carbery, who coached McMichael with the Hershey Bears in the 2020-21 season. “You can see there’s some growth there.”

“I looked at him I go, ‘That’s an NHL player,’” Carbery later added. “He looks the part, he’s mature. He speaks like it, looks like it.”

Sunday marks the team’s first game action of the preseason, with the Capitals hosting the Buffalo Sabres at Capital One Arena.

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.