Connor McMichael Had A Successful Disappointing Year

Something to build on
Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals
Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Coming into this season I thought and said that this season would be a make it or break it season for Connor McMichael. If he had a good season that would vault him into a full time NHL player and a key player for the Washington Capitals, hopefully for a long time. If he had a poorer season his time in D.C. might be close to being over.

Here we are. The 2023-24 Capitals season has ended and we now know how McMichael did. The Capitals qualified for the playoffs so the picture is not completely drawn yet, but we know McMichael's season totals which for now is all we need to know. How did the young center do? Did he have a good season or a bad one?

McMichael had an okay season. I don't think you could say otherwise. He didn't do anything that would make someone say he had a poor year. Then again, when you look at his numbers he didn't really have a great season either. That being said he did nail one of the hopes and expectations that I had for him before the season began.

I considered this season MicMichael's second NHL year. In 21-22 he played in 68 NHL games. The next season he played in just 6 games. He got scratched a lot and when he did play he had very little impact. I call that season a lost season for him. At least in terms of NHL time.

In 21-22 he had 9 goals and 18 points. Those were the numbers I was using to decide what a good season would look like this year. I argued you cannot expect a huge jump from those numbers thanks to how his 22-23 season went. You're hoping that he took his first full NHL year and doubled his points and goals.

Lets start with the bad and end with the good. Before this season started I wanted to see McMichael get in the 40-50 points range. That is a pretty big step up. Again, he had just 18 points his first full year. But I thought around 45 points would be a nice step up and show us that he is a good full time NHL player.

Unfortunately he did not hit this mark and he didn't even really come close. He finished the season at 33 points. Not too bad. Again, I don't think you can look at this numbers and say he had a poor year. It was just my hope and my expectation that he didn't reach.

The reason his stats are not as good as I hoped was his assist total. He had just 15 assists this year in 80 games. At the end of the day to get assists you need your teammates to finish. The Capitals still are not a great scoring team. You can't put too much blame on him for not having many assists.

If we're going to stay on the bad we could also look at his advanced numbers. Those were not great either. But again, no one on the Capitals had very good numbers. McMichael's numbers finished looking like this. His shot attempts percentage was 46.92%, which was 17th out of 32 Caps this season. His scoring chance percentage was 49.07%, 16th. And his high danger attempts percentage was 48.96%, or 15th on the team.

One more bad thing that I think needs to be mentioned. Like most younger players, he can be a little streaky and we saw that this season. He didn't get off to a great start, then got going, then had a big long period without goals and many points, then got going again, then had a smaller streak of nothing. That's nothing to worry about right now, but I think it's something he and other young guys on the Capitals need to figure out if they want to be big contributors going forward.

Ok. Enough with the bad. Lets move on the the good.

Before the season I said I wanted McMichael to score 16-20 goals. If he could hit 16-17 goals it would be a good season for him. As we now know, he scored 18 goals this season. I think that's great.

Like I said, I don't think it was realistic to expect him to score 20+ goals this season. He previous high was 9 and then he had a lost season. I thought 16-20 would be fine and he got it. Now I think this could help next season. Next season if he scored 16-20 now that's a disappointment. Hopefully he can use this 18 goals season to jump into the mid twenties next season.

If he were to score 25ish goals next season and if that is where his career stayed he would have a terrific NHL career. If McMichael were to turn into a 25 goal scorer every year for the next ten years, he could score 250-300 career goals. Who wouldn't take that? You know who has scored around that many goals in their NHL career? T.J. Oshie, who has 302. Wouldn't you take another goal scoring career like that?

Something else to like about McMichael's season is the amount of chances he finished with. At 5v5 McMichael finished with 137 scoring chances. That was third on the team behind only Ovechkin with 161 and Strome who finished with 143. He also had 69 high danger attempts which was second only to Strome who had 72. Ovechkin was behind him at 64.

I'm calling this season from Connor McMichael a successful disappointment. He hit 18 goals which I love. But when you look at other things I'm a little disappointed, and I think that has to do with the team overall not being that good. His point total is lower than I would have wanted. His advanced numbers are not very good. There were too many times this season where I didn't notice him on the ice. His swings were too drastic. That obviously meaning he was putting up points for long periods of times or he wasn't putting up points for long periods of times.

But overall I still think this was a pretty succesfful season for the now 23-year-old. It's a season that should help him jump into the next phase of his career. Where next season we can look at 25 goals being a possibility. We can see that maybe a 50+ point season could happen. On a better team, which hopefully the Capitals are next season, maybe he can be more consistent. Maybe he can get more assists, maybe those percentages go up thanks to a better team.

And we're not even quite done here. Maybe a good playoffs helps him jump to an even better season next season. I think of Evgeny Kuznetsov as a good Capitals example there. In 2014-15 he had 11 goals and 37 points in the regular season. He had a pretty good playoff that year, 5 goals and 7 points in 14 games. The next regular season? 20 goals and 77 points in 82 games.

Overall, it was a okay season from Connor McMichael. Some good, some not so good. Definitely a season to build on and the Capitals and Capitals fans should still be pretty excited for the future with McMichael.