The Washington Capitals are currently without three top-6 players as Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Anthony Mantha remain on the shelf for a bit. In the meantime, they are turning to their youth and depth to help fill the void, and are giving several players a chance to prove their worth. Now, it seems to be Axel Jonsson-Fjallby’s turn.
Washington recalled Jonsson-Fjallby from the AHL’s Hershey Bears on Sunday, giving them a healthy 13th forward as they continue to work through several ailments down the roster.
The Capitals play the Sabres on Monday, and he could be the fourth rookie to make his NHL debut with Washington this year. It would be an interesting game, considering he was a Sabre for a week. Buffalo had picked him up off waivers when Washington was making training camp cuts, but they waived him on Oct. 10. The Capitals reclaimed him and re-assigned him to Hershey, where he ended up starting the 2021-22 campaign.
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Through nine games with Hershey this season, Jonsson-Fjallby has been excellent, dishing three goals and seven points. Last year, he spent a lot of time overseas on loan with HockeyAllsvenskan’s Västerviks IK, where he posted four goals and 15 points in 26 games. He also suited up for 31 games with Hershey, contributing 10 goals and 15 points.
This season, the speedy forward was skating on a line mainly with Brett Leason and Aliaksei Protas, both of who also made their debuts with Washington this season. Leason remains up with the big club, while Protas was re-assigned on Saturday after being called up on Friday and on Monday for the team’s Florida road trip.
Leason has three points in his first four games with the Capitals. All of Washington’s rookies on the roster have their first NHL goal this year. Now, Fjallby will get his chance to show what he can do up at the top level.
Beyond the great hockey hair, the 23-year-old resembles Carl Hagelin in a lot of ways. He’s got wheels and can generate pressure at both ends of the ice. His speed is his biggest asset, and he also has skill and vision. All AJF needs to work on is staying consistent and finishing those skill plays. Overall, though, he’s a solid, two-way forward who can generate chances and also play on special teams.
Looking at the Capitals lineup, they need speed and youth as they continue to work without the services of some of their biggest assets. AJF, who went in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Draft, now has a big chance to show that he can be a contributor up with Washington, who is relying on anyone to step up right now.