WASHINGTON, D.C. — Off the ice, Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary is still a fun-loving kid at heart, a 22-year-old rookie who is excited to suit up alongside his role models and childhood heroes. But when he’s on the ice, he’s a different player, a hard-hitting, fast-skating blueliner who plays a shutdown game and controls the tempo.
With a quarter of the season already said and done with, Fehervary has been one of the main drivers of Washington’s success as he plays with the speed and maturity of a more veteran presence.
“I don’t even know how old he is, but he plays like he has been playing so many years in the league,” teammate Lars Eller said of No. 42.
After a strong 2020-21 campaign developing with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Fehervary was expected to make his NHL jump with the Capitals this season. Washington had a number of voids to fill on the left side of the blue line with Brenden Dillon departing for Winnipeg and Zdeno Chara headed to New York.
And, with Peter Laviolette and the team discovering that Michal Kempny needed more playing time in Hershey to get back to full NHL speed, Fehervary got an even bigger opportunity not just on the top-4, but the top pairing alongside No. 1 blueliner John Carlson.
“I think he’s in a great spot with John because John is a really smart, high-end, top-end defenseman in the National Hockey League and he’s a good communicator,” Laviolette said of the decision to pair the two together. “He likes playing with Marty. So they’re establishing a relationship and they’re working to build that trust together out on the ice. So a young player coming in gets somebody who is a good communicator and is eager to help a young player out. Together, that seems to be working really well right now for us inside the locker room.”
The Slovak hit the ground running right out of the gate, taking good care of the puck, skating well and moving the play up ice. As time went on with Carlson he learned to get more confident on the forecheck, while also maintaining defensive awareness and getting back quickly.
Not only that, but he has developed tremendous strength over the last couple of years and is using that to incorporate more physicality into his game. He had 50 hits in November and leads all rookies with 65 hits this season which also ranks 13th among all NHL skaters.
Through 23 games, Fehervary leads all rookies in games played and has two goals and five points and a +/- of plus-5, and also averages 19 minutes per game, the ninth-highest TOI among freshmen. His 34 blocks also lead the Capitals and rank third among rookies.
“I feel every game more confident, I’m playing a lot of minutes,” Fehervary said. “I’m really happy for every chance I got, and I’m just trying to do those small things right. Compete, play hard, battle and just trying to do all the time my job. Hard work every day.”
As he continues to work hard on the ice, Fehervary still tries to keep it light off the ice, spending time with friends or fishing when he gets the chance.
When it comes to his upside, the sky is the limit, and Carlson believes that there’s still a lot more to come from the blueliner, who was Washington’s defensive player of the month for November.
“We know him pretty well… he’s kind of been around a lot,” Carlson said. “Everyone knew his potential and what he could do. We all see his physical side and his defensive-minded side, but the more and more he gets comfortable, the more and more he’s capable of making high-end plays all over the ice. The more and more he gets comfortable with us, with the team, with his confidence within that, he’s going to be a heck of a player.”