Washington Capitals 2021 fifth-rounder Haakon Hanelt is a man on a mission and out to prove that he could be a major steal, and he’ll look to prove that at training camp in the coming weeks.
Per Le Droit, a Gatineau newspaper, Hanelt will miss the start of his sophomore QMJHL season with the Olympiques as he attends Washington’s training camp starting on Sept. 22. He is coming off an impressive offseason that saw him stand out at Capitals development camp and also represent Germany at the 2022 World Juniors. Hanelt had a goal in Germany’s run to the quarterfinals.
The Berlin native didn’t get to skate much at last year’s rookie or training camp for Washington, though he was in attendance for off-ice sessions. After getting some ice time, the team sent him down to Gatineau for his rookie campaign in North America. However, it didn’t go exactly as planned, as he suffered a shoulder injury early in the season that would require shoulder surgery.
During his four-month recovery, Hanelt focused on improving other areas of his game.The 19-year-old returned for the end of the season and ended up dishing eight points in 10 games before adding two goals in the playoffs.
Hanelt was in Gatineau for media day and recording promos but will reportedly be in the District in the coming weeks, where he will join good friends Hendrix Lapierre and Vincent Iorio. The Capitals will release their rosters soon.
A versatile forward, Hanelt is ready to bring a little bit of everything to D.C. He has played center, wing and even defense (though he emphasized that goaltending wouldn’t be the best idea). Over the offseason, he worked to fine-tune his skating and two-way play and said that he hopes to become a key center for Washington in the future. And, as a German-born player, he wants to separate himself from Leon Draisaitl and other big names and build his own legacy at the highest level.
“When you look at the guys in the NHL, how they skate and how good they are on their edges, I think that’s the biggest part,” Hanelt noted. “And I think that will be a big part of me like working on during the summer.
“I just try to play my own game, make my own statement, that’s my biggest goal,” he added. “Of course, it’s an honor if someone compares you to a really good player in the NHL or something. But honestly, I’m just trying to play my own game.”