Alan May has no doubt Fehervary is the Capitals' top rookie originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Capitals have not been short on rookie talent this season. From the likes of Connor McMichael to Aliaksei Protas and others, the Caps’ young guns have stabilized the team in the face of never-ending roster adjustment due to injuries and COVID.
NBC Sports Washington’s Alan May thinks one young defenseman has run away with the designation of ‘best Capitals rookie’ of 2021-22.
“To me, there’s not a lot to choose from. This is 100%, hands down, Martin Fehervary,” May said after Washington snagged their first overtime victory of the season on Tuesday against Winnipeg. “What he’s done for the Capitals’ defense this year…Martin Fehervary is for real.”
Fehervary, 22, stepped in early this year to take over for Michal Kempny, who was assigned to AHL Hershey prior to the regular season. While expected to only be a stopgap, the young D-man has wowed night after night for Washington, becoming one of the team’s most reliable defensemen.
He leads all NHL rookie defensemen in hits and is in the top five in blocked shots while paired with John Carlson on the top D-line. He’s fourth on the Caps in +/- with +12 and has seldom committed turnovers in his first pro year.
“To me, it’s about how he plays defense,” May said. “The strength on his skates, the physical commitment, the one-on-one ability to take away space. When he’s out there, he allows John Carlson to get up in the play and to try to pinch on pucks down low, and Fehervary is there for him every time — he just closes the gap on the offensive players.”
Fehervary and Carlson appear to be the perfect yin and yang to anchor Washington’s defense. Carlson has always been more of an up-ice, offensive-minded player. Pairing him with an adept and physical defender allow the Caps to attack both ends of the ice when the duo is out there, allowing Carlson to rank third on the team with 32 points this year.
“Right now, the hardest position to play in the National Hockey League, absolutely 100% without a doubt is defense,” May said. “And to be a good, solid defensive defenseman—a great defensive defenseman at this age, with this little experience right now — it’s absolutely phenomenal and I marvel at [Fehervary’s] quality of play every game.”
The good news for Peter Laviolette and company is that Fehervary is still young, healthy, durable, and has shown little sign of stopping in his first year.