ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals forward Connor McMichael found himself as an extra again, skating on an extra defense pairing with Matt Irwin as the team took rushes on Wednesday. If those lines hold, he’ll be a healthy scratch for the seventh time in eight games to open the 2022-23 campaign.
Taking that into account, many have questioned why McMichael isn’t down with the AHL’s Hershey Bears to get playing time. Head coach Peter Laviolette shared some more insight there.
“No. He’s here. He’s part of our 23 right now,” Laviolette said when asked if the team has considered sending him to Hershey. “Things always change from guys going into the lineup or somebody gets injured or decisions in the roster that have to be made. There haven’t been any decisions, and there hasn’t been any conversations about that right now.”
McMichael made his season debut last week against the Ottawa Senators, where he had his first NHL fight and a bit of a lackluster showing through 8:33 minutes in a disappointing 5-2 loss. Since then, Joe Snively and Beck Malenstyn have drawn in over him.
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The 21-year-old played in 68 games last season, dishing nine goals and nine assists. Washington likes him best at the center role, and there are currently no vacancies available there. Conor Sheary has taken over on the top-line wing for an injured Connor Brown, and the only spot open is next to Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway. So far, Snively and Malenstyn — and Malenstyn mostly — have fit in there better.
Laviolette said that his time will come, though, and that he wants McMichael to continue to get the NHL experience by being up and around with the club. He’s also satisfied with the current group.
“We got a roster going that we’re happy with,” Laviolette added. “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… it’s good to play games, and I also think it’s good to be around it and practice at a certain level and certain pace every day.”