Washington Capitals: Connor McMichael wisely gets head start to 2021-22

The Washington Capitals have begun their rookie camp and Connor McMichael is looking to impress the coaches enough to vie for a spot on the NHL roster. When the 2019 first round pick spoke to reporters after day one, you could tell that he got jacked over the offseason. He confirmed just as much, noting that he trained with some NHL stars while putting on muscle.

McMichael spent the summer focusing on improving his lower body strength while gaining about five to six pounds. He now weighs around 188-189 pounds. After playing in just one game with the Capitals last season, McMichael’s goal was to get stronger over the offseason and he did just that. And coming off a good season with the Hershey Bears further pads his resume. Now it’s up to McMichael to put that strength to the test.

McMichael told the media via Andrew Gillis of NBC Sports Washington:

“I had a really good offseason, I feel like I worked on my lower body strength. Able to protect the puck a lot more, hopefully make the next jump. I think that’s one of the biggest things I need to work on, is protecting the puck against bigger and stronger guys. I think I took big strides there, and I’m looking to show it in camp.”

Last season McMichael recorded 27 points in 33 games with the Hershey Bears. Getting that experience of playing in the AHL a year early thanks to the pandemic only helped McMichael in his development. He spent the summer working out at Gary Roberts High Performance Training and even spent time on the ice with the likes of Steven Stamkos and Connor McDavid.

McMichael added:

“Those guys are obviously great players, and they’re still great players. Being on the same ice as them, it’s pretty cool. Just watching those guys day in and day out, it’s cool to be around them and watch how they grow their game.”

It will be easier said than done for McMichael to make the opening night roster. The Capitals are already tight against the salary cap and are stacked on centers. It is likely he begins the season in Hershey but that doesn’t mean you won’t see McMichael suit up for the Caps. Whether it be an injury or the team wanting to get an extended look out of him, look for the Caps to call up McMichael at some point.