2:05pm: The team has made it official, announcing the three-year entry-level contract that will start in 2022-23.
12:30pm: The Washington Capitals are getting into the CHL free agent forward market, as Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic reports that the team has signed Henry Rybinski from the WHL. Rybinski currently plays for the Seattle Thunderbirds and was originally drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2019. Because he failed to sign a contract with them by last summer, he became a free agent and quickly started to draw interest from around the league.
Today is the first day teams can sign free agent prospects to entry-level contracts that kick in for the 2022-23 season and given his age, Rybinski will be signing a three-year deal. The 20-year-old forward has been outstanding this season for the Seattle Thunderbirds, recording 18 goals and 54 points in 39 games. That’s good enough for 27th in league scoring even though he’s played up to 15 games fewer than some of his competitors.
Rybinski was in Edmonton Oilers development camp last August, and before that had been in camps run by the Panthers. That’s actually where he transitioned back to center, the position he now plays full-time. Adding another center prospect to the pipeline is never a bad thing, and Washington–like Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, who added players today–always needs to refresh the system in ways outside of the draft because of their perennial contender status and trade deadline escapades. There’s still a long road ahead of someone like Rybinski, but when his contract is made official, he’ll be taking a big step.