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Capitals prospect defenseman Alex Alexeyev helped lead Team Russia to a bronze medal in the World Junior Championship with a 5-2 win over Switzerland on Saturday.

Alexeyev had a brilliant tournament and finished second among all defensemen in points with two goals and four assists in seven games. As if that wasn’t enough, he also tallied an assist in his first game back in the WHL following the junior tournament.

Opinions of Alexeyev seemed to be mixed when the Caps selected him 31st overall in the 2018 draft. Since then, he has looked every bit the first round talent while playing for Red Deer in the WHL, and his performance in the World Juniors is encouraging as well.

I also love his maturity. You really get the sense that he has a good head on his shoulders when he speaks to the media. The Stanley Cup made a surprise appearance at the Caps development camp over the summer and I asked Alexeyev what that moment was like.

“The Stanley Cup has been here, it’s in dressing room,” he said. “It’s so nice, make me smile. I didn’t take a picture because I should deserve my Stanley Cup. Then I can take pictures.”

You’ve got to love that attitude.

As for how Alexeyev projects, I don’t ultimately think his performance this season changes much. Per my understanding of the age rules of the CHL, this will be his final year in juniors, so you can expect to see him in Hershey next season.

Washington currently has a logjam of talent on the blue line with John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, Michal Kempny, Madison Bowey, Jonas Siegenthaler all under contract for next season, plus Christian Djoos, who is a restricted free agent. They also have Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs and Tyler Lewington in Hershey.

It seems unlikely that Alexeyev would be able to climb onto the NHL roster next season. Ultimately, however, the Caps don’t need him to, and it will be good to see him perform in the AHL against grown men as opposed to in juniors.

Still, the talent appears undeniable. If that can continue to translate at each level, he could be a great one for Washington.

CAPITALS PROSPECT NOTES:

  • There has been a lot of confusion over what is going on with Tobias Geisser. The prospect defenseman was loaned from Hershey to Team Switzerland to participate in the World Junior Championship, but did not suit up for a single game and ended up getting sent back to Hershey before the tournament ended. Now we have a bit more clarity on the matter. Geisser suffered an injury during a tune-up game for the tournament that ended up keeping him out. I reached out to a team representative in Hershey for more details and was told he suffered an upper body injury but could be ready to return to the lineup for the Bears as early as this weekend. It’s good that the injury does not appear to be long-term, but it stinks he did not get a chance to represent his country, especially given that he was expected to be a major piece of their blue line.
     
  • Riley Barber recorded two goals and an assist on Saturday for Hershey in a win over Grand Rapids. That was his third three-point game of the season. He leads the team with eight multi-point games and 28 points.
     
  • Garrett Pilon also recorded three points on Saturday, all assists. It was the first three-point game of his professional career. 
     
  • Shane Gersich returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing 10 games due to an upper-body injury. He scored his fourth goal of the season in his first game back.
     
  • Lucas Johansen has been limited to just 17 games this season due to an upper body injury. He is skating, but still considered week-to-week.
  • Interesting article on forward prospect Maximilian Kammerer from NHL German. In the 2017-18 season, he scored six goals and 25 assists in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. This year, he has one goal and six assists in the AHL where he is frequently a healthy scratch. Yet, he does not regret the decision to come to the AHL.  “It’s not so easy in the beginning – new country, new language, new system in the new team … but I have not regretted my decision and give myself the time.” I bring this up because it is in stark contrast to the decision made by Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, who left the AHL to play back home in Sweden. I do not see the same amount of NHL potential in Kammerer as in Jonsson-Fjallby, but he does seem to realize that if he hopes to make the NHL, he needs to be in North America playing North American hockey. That’s the best way to do it. He would be far more successful in the DEL if he returned to his native Germany, but his NHL chances there would be somewhere between slim and none. By sticking it out in the AHL, he at least is giving himself a chance to learn, develop and impress the Caps more so than he would in Europe.
     
  • Riley Sutter suffered a lower-body injury on Dec. 29 in a WHL game and has not played since. According to a report by HeraldNet, Sutter is considered week-to-week and was seen in crutches with a boot around his left foot. As of Tuesday, there was still no major update on his status and Everett general manager Garry Davidson said Sutter still needed to undergo further x-rays.
     
  • Benton Maass returned to action for New Hampshire on Friday after missing six games with an upper-body injury. He recorded an assist in his return.

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