Heading into next season, there are several players who could make a strong case within the Washington Capitals organization. Left wing Beck Malenstyn is one of them.
The 23-year-old was originally taken in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL draft. He played three games with Washington in 2019-20 and dished four shots, five hits and a block, and he was also a “black ace” for the 2020 playoffs. Malenstyn was a candidate for a roster spot this year but was sidelined 6-8 months with a torn Achilles.
Now, with a new year on the line, he faces the tall task of not only earning a full-time spot and starting from scratch with a new coach but also proving his worth as he returns on a one-year, two-way deal.
What will we see from him in 2021-22?
Malenstyn is a versatile player who can play a strong 200-foot game. He’s a grinder and strong bottom-6 presence that can go hard to the net, play a gritty game and battle hard for the puck. In his own end, the 6-3, 200-pound winger is a physical presence that throws hard hits and sacrifices the body. Additionally, he’s an excellent penalty killer who can protect the puck and backcheck effectively.
Off the ice, Malenstyn has a positive attitude and is a hard-working, coachable player. He can bring energy to the lineup and will also stand up for his teammates, whether that be engaging in scrums or dropping the gloves every now and then.
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Following a long layoff this season, he’ll have to ease back into things. However, he’ll be well-rested, and his positive mindset and work ethic should help him get back up to speed quickly.
Heading into next year, Malenstyn faces heavy competition when it comes to the opening night roster. Washington already has a plethora of reliable LWs on the NHL roster. Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Sprong round out the first two lines, and Conor Sheary and Carl Hagelin fill out the bottom-6. He also faces pressure from fellow Hershey teammates in Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Shane Gersich and Joe Snively also looking to graduate to the big club.
Given the uncertainty of the offseason ahead, Malenstyn could be a dark horse to watch heading into October. Sprong, Sheary and Hagelin could be exposed and taken by Seattle, which would open a spot on the left side. Free agency and potential trades also add question marks when it comes to the Capitals salary cap situation, so turning to a young player like Malenstyn within the organization to fill in on the bottom-6 may be the right call.
Even if he doesn’t win a full-time NHL role, still expect him to be a call-up for Washington. This possibility should also fuel a strong performance with the Bears as he looks to not only earn time up with the big club but another extension as well.
Overall, Malenstyn is on the right track for his career. It’s a matter of when, not if, he graduates to the highest level.