Coming off a Stanley Cup victory a few Capitals prospects could make their NHL debuts this coming season.
1: Illya Samsonov: Samsonov has been arguably the top goalie prospect in the world who’s been playing great hockey in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) the second best pro league in the world behind the NHL. Samsonov was drafted 22 overall in 22 and is making his North American debut this year. Samsonov started 26 games for Metallurg Magnitogorsk with a 12-9 record with a save percentage of 92% and three shut outs.
With Philip Grubauer being traded to the Colorado Avalanche the Capitals don’t have a backup goalie at the moment. Phoenix Copley is the favorite to back up Braden Holtby since Copley has been the starting goalie in Hershey, but a strong pre-season and training camp performance from Samsonov could easily make the Capitals roster at the start of the year.
Connor Hobbs: Hobbs has been playing great hockey for the Hershey Bears last year. Hobbs was drafted in the fifth round in the 2015 draft, and seemed to be a late round gem after a great end to his WHL career. With Orpik possibly not coming back to the Capitals Hobbs will be looked at to fill the spot, but likely Maddison Bowey to fill the spot. Hobbs could make an appearance if Bowey doesn’t live up to potential.
Hobbs on the other hand plays a different style of defense since he has more offensive skill. Hobbs plays a game similar to Nate Schmidt. Hobbs has made great impressions to the Capitals coaching staff and could make his NHL debut this coming season.
Brian Pinho: Pinho played this past season as the captain for Providence College and was signed onto the team after his college season. Pinho produced 32 points in 40 games this past year for the Friers. With players like Jay Beagle and Alex Chaisson gone Pinho could fill in on the fourth line this year.
Pinho is a big body listed at 6’2 200 pounds and can be a decent power-forward in the NHL. Pinho will be given the opportunity to showcase his skills in pre-season.
Beck Malenstyn: Malenstyn another potential late round gem who was drafted by the Capitals in the fifth round in 2016 could make his NHL debut this coming year. Malenstyn has spent the past year in the WHL playing for the Swift Current Broncos was a major part of the Broncos success.
Malenstyn produced 29 points in 38 games as well as 11 points in 20 games in the playoffs. Malenstyn will most likely start in Hershey this year, but could get a call up sometime if the injury bug hits the Capitals at some point.