After an overtime win last night, the Washington Capitals are now on break for the next ten days. Aliaksei Protas, however, won’t get quite as much rest. The young forward has been reassigned to the minor leagues, where the Hershey Bears play three games in the next few days.
Protas, 22, has played 42 games for the Capitals this season but only one in the last few weeks as the team started to get back some veteran forwards. With ten points in those games he has surpassed his total from last season but hasn’t taken quite the step some expected after a good rookie showing.
The massive, 6’6″ forward still doesn’t use his frame as effectively as he could and fails to get on the inside of the defense very often. There’s a belief that big power forwards take a little longer to develop, though, so any experience that Protas can get is valuable.
In the minor leagues this season, Protas has three points in five games. He’ll get a chance to score his first AHL goal of the year while the rest of the Capitals enjoy some rest and relaxation.
I know that the point of the team is to put an experienced group around Ovechkin for the rest of his career, and this is a playoff team just about every year, but you can see the cliff coming. On defense, even who I always thought of as “the younger guys” (Orlov, TVR) have hit 30, and of the top 3 forward lines 6 or 7 of the 9 are 30+. The younger players who have been brought through Hershey can’t seem to stick and get consistent ice time. I’m enjoying the party while it lasts.
(I hate to say “the team is old” when I was already 30 when Ovechkin debuted, but I’ll say “overly experienced”)
I think Strome and Milano are huge finds that can further the window though