Connor McMichael makes case for roster spot in Capitals’ win over Red Wings

McMichael makes case for roster spot in Caps' preseason win originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — The Capitals have given Connor McMichael every opportunity to show he deserves a spot among their active forwards during training camp and on Wednesday he took advantage.

McMichael had a quiet first two preseason games, tallying four shots on goal in 15:13 of ice time without recording a point. He came alive Wednesday, however, scoring a goal off a pass from Alex Ovechkin in the first period and recording an assist on a Nick Jensen score in the second in Washington’s 4-2 victory.

“I think today was the best game I’ve had so far in camp,” McMichael said after the game. “I feel like every game that I play I just keep getting better and better and I’m trying to soak it all in and just be a sponge out here and just improve.”

The 21-year-old forward skated on the Capitals’ third line as the left wing alongside Lars Eller and Conor Sheary. Though his natural position is center, Washington’s depth at the position has forced McMichael to fight for a spot on one of the wings.

He has seen plenty of competition, most notably from fellow prospect Aliaksei Protas. The 22-year-old Protas has played in all five preseason games thus far, including Wednesday. The Capitals had Protas take the ice early for multiple practices this week along with Brett Leason, Joe Snively, Axel Jonsson Fjallby and Henrik Borgstrom for “taxi squad” sessions.

McMichael has skated with the Capitals’ top four lines for most of camp.

“He’s trying to work towards it,” Laviolette said of McMichael after practice Tuesday. “The practices and the exhibition games…I don’t want to discount the five guys that were out here earlier. This is still training camp and some of those guys will be in the lineup tomorrow night and they’ll be playing and there are people that are trying to cement their place here. So we’re still in an evaluation process with Mikey, with everybody. So the practices are important, the games are important and there’s evaluating going on.”

Following Wednesday’s contest, the Capitals have one more exhibition game Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets before they take on the Boston Bruins for their season opener Oct. 12.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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