On Friday night the Washington Capitals made an investment into the forward fold in the first round for the first time since 2014. Say hello to Connor McMichael.
Connor McMichael comes from Canada and is a center for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). The London Knights are one of those popular names and historic franchises with many elite NHL names once suiting up for them. Players such as Dan Girard, Patrick Kane, and John Tavares do ring a bell. But two strong defenseman such as former Capital Dennis Wideman and current veteran blueliner John Carlson passed through those walls, a welcome sign for any Washington Capitals fan.
Coached by former Capitals player and brief time bench boss Dale Hunter, the London Knights finished 2018-19 with a 46-15-6 for 90 points in 68 regular season games. That was the best mark of the OHL Western Conference and they separated themselves for the top of the Midwest Division by nine points.
Through 67 games played, McMichael was at the top of the pack in scoring in all statistical categories among the London Knights. He scored both 36 goals and assists for 72 points. In the playoffs, the Knights swept the Windsor Spitfires before falling to the Guelph Storm in seven games in the second round.
McMichael is the first forward selected in the first round of the NHL Draft since the Capitals took Jakub Vrana with the 13th pick in 2014. Additionally, McMichael is the first center the Capitals selected in round one since Evgeny Kuznetsov in 2010.
The highlight reel has shown McMichael to make snap backhanded no-look passes almost like a Kuznetsov. The 18-year old flies down the ice with a speed like a Connor McDavid and makes the snipe shots go in before an opposing goaltender can blink their eyes.
Hunter likes to coach up a defensive game and McMichael acknowledged to the media that he is a two-way center with a defensive game to complement the offense. Here is his first media interview as the Capitals’ newest member below.
It is highly unlikely you’ll see him in Washington this upcoming season. At 5′ 11” and 174 pounds and just 18, plus center depth on the current Capitals roster locked up for the foreseeable future, he will likely spend the next two seasons with the London Knights. Or perhaps maybe even another year with London and a stint with Washington’s AHL affiliate Hershey the following season.
Regardless, this sounds like a great pick by the Capitals and another big investment in their commitment to a winning culture. Welcome to Washington, McMichael!