The 2022-23 season hasn’t been easy for the Washington Capitals. And given the struggles and injuries, there are several questions regarding the future of the team. The prospects are the answer.
Washington has seen plenty from the players in the system, from impressive scoring to big saves to upside.
Here’s a check-in on just some of the Capitals prospects this season.
Hendrix Lapierre- C, AHL’s Hershey Bears
Hendrix Lapierre was hoping to win a roster spot for Washington out of training camp as he did last year, but amid a lack of vacancies on the Capitals roster and more star power from other players, he was sent to the Hershey Bears to continue his development with his rookie AHL season. And he hasn’t disappointed.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) October 16, 2022
The 20-year-old has four goals and eight assists for 12 points through 17 games this season, and he has a +/- of plus-5. He is a crafty playmaker who is using his speed and vision to his advantage, and he has chemistry with pretty much anyone. Lapierre is also thriving at the center role and is much more confident in his two-way play. He appears to always be in the right spot. On offense, he is also becoming more confident in his shot with each game and has 39 SOG under his belt this season.
Three goals (and five points) in his last four games for @punanen5 – is that good?
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) November 26, 2022
With several questions surrounding the Capitals future rising amid the NHL club’s struggles this season, seeing Lapierre hit his stride in his first pro season is a great sign.
Ivan Miroshnichenko – LW, MHL’s Omskie Yasterby
Ivan Miroshnichenko is looking like the steal of the 2022 NHL Draft. The Russian was pegged as a top-5 talent, but was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in March, leading to a drop in draft stock. However, the Capitals chose to take a gamble with him, and it’s paying off.
— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) November 26, 2022
Since being cleared to return to play on Nov. 6, Miroshnichenko has been an absolute force to be reckoned with. Through eight games, he has eight goals and three assists for 11 points and also has some big hits and a fight under his belt. The 18-year-old also got a game up with the VHL club, and has two assistsHe has showcased his wicked shot, elite skating, physicality and playmaking ability.
— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) November 11, 2022
Miroshnichenko is under contract with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk through 2024, and as he continues to develop and show battle and star power in his game, expect him to be a top player when he comes over to North America in the next couple of years. As Alex Ovechkin said, the youngster can be a “superstar.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals’ Ivan Miroshnichenko Embodying Alex Ovechkin In Return From Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Alexander Suzdalev – RW, WHL’s Regina Pats
In his first WHL season, Alexander Suzdalev is fitting in just fine with Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats following a 51-point campaign over in Sweden. The 18-year-old, who was selected by the Pats in the import draft, has 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points in 21 games this season.
The 2022 third-rounder, who signed an entry-level deal this offseason, has been playing top-6 minutes and has spent a lot of time on the second-line right wing, but has also gotten time with Bedard, and the two have great chemistry together.
Connor Bedard goes wide on the entry and hits Alex Suzdalev in the slot for the PPG.
The points keep on flowin' pic.twitter.com/caYKdXHQ2b
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 13, 2022
Ludwig Persson – LW, HockeyAllSvenskan Bofors IK
After spending last season in the Swe-Jr. League and Swedish Hockey League, Ludwig Persson made the move to HockeyAllsvenskan, the second-highest tier of pro hockey in Sweden, to play with Bofors IK. He’s off to a solid start in his rookie HockeyAllsvenskan campaign.
— SwehockeyGIFs (@swehockeygifs) October 7, 2022
Through 14 games, Persson has three goals, two assists and a +/- rating of minus-1. He earned an entry-level deal with Washington this offseason, and the 6-0, 185-pound forward has plenty of upside, and he’s shown battle, persistence and skill. And playing at the second-highest level of Swedish hockey at age 19 is a great start to his budding career. Still, there’s work to do and progress to be made.
Haakon Hanelt – C, QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques
Haakon Hanelt was among the standouts for the Capitals at development and rookie camps, and also had an impressive showing for Team Germany at the World Junior Championships. He went back to the QMJHL on a mission to earn his entry-level contract. So far, he’s having a decent sophomore year with the Gatineau Olympiques, and has two goals and 11 assists (tied for sixth on the team in scoring), as well as 41 shots. Hanelt has also gotten power-play time and has five assists on the man advantage.
Un premier cette saison pour Hank!
— Olympiques de Gatineau (@OlympiquesGAT) October 29, 2022
His playmaking has been impressive, though he needs to have more confidence in his own end, as he’s a minus-3 to open the season. There’s still room to grow, but things are looking up as he continues to adjust to the North American game.
However, as was the case last year, he is dealing with an injury. Hanelt is out indefinitely, per the Olympiques.
Dru Krebs – D, WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers
Last season was rough for Dru Krebs and the Medicine Hat Tigers, who were far away the WHL’s worst team. He had 19 points and a +/- of minus-58. He’s turned that around this season and is on pace for a career year and a much cleaner all-around showing.
There’s a reason that Washington extended his rights this past season. He has 12 points in 22 games, putting him on pace for a career-high 37 points, and he also has a +/- of plus-2. Krebs is wearing the “A” this season and playing mainly on the second defense pairing. The 19-year-old is also showcasing his elite skating ability that has impressed scouts.
Vincent Iorio – D, AHL’s Hershey Bears
After closing out his WHL tenure with a career year in Brandon, Vincent Iorio went on to impress at Washington’s development, rookie and training camps. The 20-year-old blueliner made it pretty far in training camp and earned praise from the coaching staff, but was sent to Hershey to continue his development and get a taste of the pros.
It doesn't get much better than this. pic.twitter.com/h0WT7kMdhk
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) November 12, 2022
The 6-3, 205-pound defenseman has been solid on the third pairing and has a goal, four assists and a +/- of plus-9. He has been playing a solid shutdown game and showcasing his skating, physicality, booming point shot and battle while also getting involved in the rush. Iorio ranks second among Hershey’s defensemen in points, and he has also become a leader in the locker room. Expect big things from him going forward as one of the only RHDs on the higher end of the depth chart, and his play could even earn him a call-up.
Brent Johnson & Joaquim Lemay – D, NCAA’s University of North Dakota & NCAA’s University of Nebraska – Omaha
After impressing at development camp this offseason, Brent Johnson is showing great growth in his sophomore season with North Dakota. He has a goal and five assists for six points in 12 games, and he has a +/- rating of plus-5. Johnson also plays with great compete, and he’s played a solid, physical defensive game as well.
— North Dakota MHockey (@UNDmhockey) November 13, 2022
Joaquim Lemay is a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and he is off to a decent start to his career with a goal and four assists for five points in 13 games, and he’s a plus-1. Lemay is a solid skater with a lot of upside. He’s strong on the puck, stays with it and can make crafty plays on the fly. He’s showing that skill at the NCAA level to open his career.
— Omaha Hockey (@OmahaHKY) October 30, 2022
Bear Hughes – C, South Carolina Stingrays
After a career year wearing the “C” for the Spokane Chiefs, Bear Hughes made the jump to the ECHL after signing a one-year deal with Hershey this offseason. He’s still in the hunt for his ELC, and he’s making quite the case with a stellar showing with the affiliate South Carolina Stingrays so far this season.
AND THE HAT TRICK 🧢 HAVE A DAY, BEAR HUGHES! pic.twitter.com/sGGmHygeUc
— SC Stingrays (@SCStingrays) November 6, 2022
Through 12 games, Hughes has seven goals and five assists for 12 points, including a hat trick. He is showcasing his speed and tenacity, and he is taking good care of the puck, getting to the dangerous areas and playing a solid all-around game.
Mitchell Gibson – G, Harvard Crimson
Mitchell Gibson, a 2018 fourth-round pick, has been outstanding to open his NCAA career with Harvard, and his junior year is going according to plan as well. The 23-year-old has played five games so far and has boasted a .924 save percentage and 1.75 GAA. Throughout his entire college career, Gibson has never posted a save percentage of under .916.
Harvard at Michigan overtime Friday, clip ends with game saving stop from @HarvardMHockey goalie & @Capitals draft pick Mitchell Gibson on Gavin Brindley. #cawlidgehawkey #ncaahockey pic.twitter.com/3iFlpxX9k9
— Ben Holden (@benholdenpxp) November 26, 2022
It’s a fantastic sign for the organization. Because he’s in the NCAA, he can’t have an entry-level deal, so there is more leniency when it comes to retaining his rights. While Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren are making up the team’s future for now, Gibson is in a good spot.
READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Impressed With Darcy Kuemper’s Accountability
Hunter Shepard – G, Hershey Bears
Hunter Shepard, who signed with Washington after becoming one of the most memorable goaltenders in U-Minn Duluth history, got some games up with Hershey last season but spent most of his time with the Capitals’ ECHL-affiliate Stingrays. This season, he is making the most of his opportunity as the rookie backup to Zach Fucale, and he’s stolen the show on more than one occasion.
Save of the year? We'd like to think so.@Shepdadyy doing WORK. 👏
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) November 24, 2022
The 27-year-old has played in seven games and has a .940 save percentage and 1.69 GAA.