What Would A Solid Season From Connor McMichael Look Like?

Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

This really is the make it or break it year for Washington Capitals forward Connor McMichael. This will be his fourth season of professional hockey and it is time to show the hockey world, and more importantly his team, and himself, that he is a no doubt NHL player. If he were to struggle this upcoming season, it may be time for both sides to move on.

But we are a long way from that possibly happening. We are also not here to talk about someone not playing well. We’re here to talk about someone playing pretty good. That someone obviously being McMichael.

But, in my mind, this is kind of a weird season for the 22-year-old McMichael. It sort of feels like 2022-23 was a lost season for him. It kind of feels like when you look back on last season, maybe we should throw that season out, for now at least.

From everything I have hard, and admittedly the little I’ve seen, McMichael has had a very good training camp, and had a pretty good pre-season. It looks like he has a lot of confidence, and he is ready to take that next step. That should have happened last season.

Last year at this time McMichael was coming off a pretty good season. Nothing spectacular, but something to build off still. In 2021-22 he played in most of the Capitals games, 68 of the 82. He also had 9 goals and 18 points. Nothing spectacular, but on most nights he looked pretty good.

The on ice stats would show you how well he looked most nights. For that season McMichael had a Corsi% of 52.24%. Pretty good. All of his other on ice stats were even better. His Scoring Chance For% was 54.12%, his High Danger Attempts for% was 55.34% and his Expected Goals For% was 56.45%. All very good numbers.

McMichael also had some very good individual numbers. Believe it or not, he tied for second on the entire team for individual scoring chances for. That season, he had 113 scoring chances for. Behind only Alex Ovechkin, tied with Evgeny Kuznetsov, and ahead of names like Wilson, Backstrom, Oshie, to name a few. Some of those guys didn’t play a lot of that season, but Backstrom had 46 chances in 47 games. Oshie had 49 in 44. McMichael had 113 in 68. A way stronger pace than the other two bigger names.

McMichael also tied for the lead in individual high danger attempts with 60. Tied with Garnet Hathaway of all people. Ovechkin had 57.

Do those last two stats mean anything? Well, at the end of the day it shows people are getting chances and getting to the scoring areas of the ice. I’d rather see guys putting up good numbers there than not. When you watched McMichael that season, he was in fact getting chances. It’s just the finishing he needed to work on.

He did not improve that much last season. Quite frankly, he did not get a huge chance and that is why last season feels like a lost year for him.

I’m going to make this quick.

McMichael played in 6 games last season. His CF% was 29.57%, his SCF% was 31.03%, his HDCF% was 31.82% and his xGF% was 22.49%. Ew! On top of all of that he did not produce a single point in the six games he played.

He eventually got sent down to the American Hockey League, it sounded like he played pretty well and hey, at the end of the day won a Calder Cup. Worse things have happened to people.

But it was a lost season in terms of his NHL days. That’s why I think this year is a little bit of a weird year for McMichael. This is probably the year where we should be expecting that bigger jump in production. This should probably be the year where we hope that this kid is jumping into the 20+ goals and getting into the fifty or maybe even sixty points area.

But thanks to his stalled season last season, I don’t think that is fair to expect. What we expected last year, is probably what we should expect this season…again.

We should basically be looking at his first season and going off of that. As we said, in his first season with the Capitals he had 9 goals and 18 points. We shouldn’t be expecting a big leap from that.

Instead, in my opinion, we should be expecting a step up, showing he can take a big leap next season and beyond. This season, thanks to last year, is about showing he is a part of the future, not part of the present. He isn’t and shouldn’t be relied upon to put up 25 goals and nearly 60 points.

Just take the next step that you were not allowed to last season. We need to use his first year as a comparison, even though it feels like that was forever ago. So what would a good season from McMichael look like?

Double the stats from his first season would be a good season I think. Continue to do what he did on the ice in his first season. Show the speed and skill like he did that season. Use that to generate chances like he did that year. But instead, find ways to put up more goals and points, unlike that year. Take that next step in development where you have shown you have the ability, now put that ability on paper in the form of goals and points.

What would a good season look like. In my eyes, play well, be in the lineup almost every night, 16-20 goals with 40-50 points. That is what I expected last season. Thanks to, what I’m calling his “lost season”, I think that should be the expectation again. Anything more than that would be a terrific season and a big bonus for the Washington Capitals.

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But 16-17 goals, with around 25 assists for around 45ish points would once again show us that he is a part and potentially big part of the Capitals future once again.