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Fehervary in no rush to make jump to Capitals

Defenseman selected in second round of 2018 NHL Draft will develop game in Sweden this season

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Martin Fehervary plans to play for HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League this season even though the defenseman signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals on July 1.

The Capitals like the idea of Fehervary, their second-round pick (No. 46) in the 2018 NHL Draft, playing in Sweden until he's ready to make the move to North America. Assistant general manager Ross Mahoney points to Nicklas Backstrom (No. 4, 2006 NHL Draft), Marcus Johansson (No. 24, 2009 NHL Draft) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (No. 26, 2010 NHL Draft) as examples of Capitals draft picks who followed a similar development path playing in European leagues.

 

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"They were playing in the elite leagues over there and the transition for them to North America was quite easy in the sense that most of them were able to step in and come right to the NHL," Mahoney said. "We didn't bring them over until they were 20 or 21. … So, for Martin to be over there and to play for HV71 this year in the elite league, it will be a good experience for him and it will speed up the process for us."

Fehervary, who turns 19 on Oct. 6, will attend Capitals training camp in September and intends to come to North America to play in 2019-20. He believes he's already learned a lot playing in Sweden since moving there from his native Slovakia when he was 14.

"First, I lived with a billet family," he said. "Then, since I turned 15, I've been there by myself, living by myself and everything. So, it was a great experience, a life experience. I think it helped me a lot in my social life too, and with hockey the most."

Video: Capitals draft D Martin Fehervary, F Kody Clark

Fehervary (6-foot-2, 194 pounds) played four games in the Swedish Hockey League as a 16-year-old with Malmo in 2015-16 and nine more in 2016-17. He spent most of last season with Oskarshamn in Sweden's second-highest league and had seven points (one goal, six assists) in 42 games.

"It helped me so much when I was young playing with older players," he said. "A couple guys who were there played in the NHL, so I tried to learn from them as much as I can."

A left-shot defenseman who is a strong skater and solid in the defensive end, Fehervary said his game is similar to that of Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny, a key player in their Stanley Cup run after being acquired in a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 19. Fehervary impressed the Capitals with his steady play for Slovakia at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark.

"He was playing against a lot of NHL players whose teams didn't make the playoffs or had lost out early in the playoffs, and I thought he did really well," Mahoney said. "He got better and better as that tournament went on. It seemed like he got more confident with the puck and was starting to jump into the play a little more and carry the puck a little more. 

"I think the skating, the character, the hockey sense were all appealing for us."

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