Washington Capitals: Top 8 prospects worth getting excited about

Connor McMichael #17 of Canada (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Connor McMichael #17 of Canada (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /
1 of 4
Connor McMichael (17)
Connor McMichael #17 of Canada (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Here is a look at the Top 8 Prospects in the Washington Capitals system.

For many years, the Washington Capitals, led by Alex Ovechkin, were considered a great regular-season team who didn’t have what it took to win a Stanley Cup, and for good reason. Through his first 12 seasons in the league, he and his teammates over that time had failed to advance past the second round of the Playoffs. Thankfully, that all changed in 2018 when Ovechkin led the Capitals to their first ever Stanley Cup Championship.

More from Puck Prose

The last two years however, the Capitals have gone back to what they were previously. They have once again been great in the regular-season, but have had no postseason success. While they will certainly have another shot at a Stanley Cup this year, Ovechkin is now 35-years-old, making it fair to question how much longer he will be one of the league’s top players.

Due to the Capitals being in win-now mode for the last decade, they have traded many prospects over the years in order to help their current roster. As a result, they have one of the weaker prospect pools in the entire NHL, meaning that whenever players like Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom do fall off, this is a team who could struggle for a few seasons. Still, despite not having a strong pipeline of prospects, they do have a few gems, one in particular who could become a great NHL talent very soon.

As mentioned in every other Top 8 Prospects articles throughout this series, any player who has played in more NHL games than any other league in a season, regardless of the season, will not be included. (Exception has been made for the 2020-21 season, given that many leagues, including the AHL, have yet to play any games).

Here are the Top 8 Prospects in the Washington Capitals system:

Garrett Pilon (41)
Garrett Pilon #41 of Kamloops Blazers. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images) /

8. Garrett Pilon

Garrett Pilon, who was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the Third-Round (No. 87 overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, had a pretty successful second season with the Hershey Bears in the AHL in 2019-20. After a rookie season where he had 10 goals and 33 points in 71 games, the 22-year-old forward was able to improve those totals to 18 goals and 36 points despite playing in just 61 contests.

light. Related Story. Top 8 Dallas Stars Prospects

Pilon’s 18 goals last season was the third highest total amongst his teammates, while his 36 points was just eight shy of the team lead. He proved during his three seasons in the WHL that he is very offensively talented, so it comes as little surprise to see him branching out in the AHL. He will look to once again build on those totals with the Bears this season in hopes of catching the attention of Capitals management ahead of the 2021-22 Training Camp.

Aliaksei Protas (21)
Center Aliaksei Protas #21 of the Prince Albert Raiders. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images) /

7. Aliaksei Protas

When the Capitals selected Aliaksei Protas in the Third-Round (No. 91 overall) at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, there was not much hype surrounding the pick. The Belarusian forward was coming off his rookie season in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders in which he posted a modest 11 goals and 40 points in 61 games. However, it is likely that his 23 points in 22 Playoff games that year is what caught the Capitals attention, and he has since proved that the offensive outburst was no fluke.

Last season, Protas went off with the Raiders, scoring 31 goals and 80 points in just 59 regular-season games, both of which led his team. On top of those impressive numbers, he also recorded a plus/minus rating of +37. Given that the WHL has yet to start this season due to the pandemic, Protas is currently playing for Minsk Dynamo in the KHL where he has 13 points in 46 games. While he is still years away from being a finished product, he has a very high ceiling given his talent.