About a year ago, Washington Capitals prospect Beck Malenstyn was paying his first visit to the nation’s capital. Looking back, Washington’s 2016 sixth-round pick remembers not knowing what to expect.
Still, he came prepared for anything. One of his carry-on items was a bag full of suits, something he knows he doesn’t have to have for the week-long camp this time around. This time around, he feels more comfortable and realizes that the dress code and process is more relaxed.
“The biggest difference is just the comfort,” Malenstyn said. “You come in, you know a lot of familiar faces and it makes it a little bit easier. You’re not as stressed out and not as worried.”
Capping off a Breakout Year
After being drafted in 2016 by Washington and going through development camp in the offseason, Malenstyn became more confident in his game and also relieved that he wouldn’t have to go through the stress associated with his pre-draft season, where he felt that people were constantly watching him and that he had to impress scouts and people night in and night out.
“[Being drafted is] definitely a confidence booster,” Malenstyn said. “I think it’s a bit of recognition that work pays off… You know there’s a team looking out for you, but you’re not trying to impress everyone as much and it’s just one set of eyes so it was definitely comforting.”
As he entered the 2016-17 campaign with the Calgary Hitmen (WHL), Malenstyn wanted to elevate his game to the next level. In previous seasons, he noted that his game had seen a drop in offense and that he wanted to get back to putting up points so he decided to put in the extra effort to improve.
“I had a rough year two years ago and I think offense was lacking for me and that’s something I had in the past, so I just tried to put in work in the offseason,” Malenstyn said. “I was able to work with a skills coach and I think that translated really well for me going onto the ice.”
Hard Work Pays Off
Still, once the season started, Malenstyn found himself struggling a bit on offense, posting just two goals through his first 11 games. Because of this, he turned back to his coaches and sought more advice and that paid off.
“Even at the start of the year, I was trying to put the puck in a net a lot and it wasn’t going. I had a good conversation with our player development guy and things started to flow a lot better after that.”
After that slow start, Malenstyn saw an increase in production. He quadrupled his goal totals from the 2015-16 campaign, finishing with a career-high 32 goals and 56 points through 70 games. He said that he found his stride after he decided to “take my mind off it and just go out there and play.”
Malenstyn’s high-scoring season didn’t go unnoticed, and the Capitals rewarded him with a three-year, entry-level contract in April. He will be eligible to join the Capitals’ AHL-affiliate Hershey Bears when he turns 20 in February 2018 and, in turn, will be one step closer to his goal of playing in the NHL. Still, even though he earned an NHL contract, Malenstyn is not ready to take his foot off the pedal.
“It’s a huge honor. It’s a dream you have as a kid to get that chance. For me, I’m just looking at it as my foot’s in the door, but the work’s just starting. I’ve been given that opportunity and it’s what I do with it now.”
The 6-foot-2, 194-pound winger is an outstanding skater and plays a solid game at both ends of the rink. He not only plays an aggressive, physical game, but he can create scoring chances and put up points. Washington needs more physicality and size on their forward lines, and Malenstyn is definitely a player who can fit in well in a few years’ time.
As he wraps up his second development camp, he remembers entering camp with a simple goal.
“I’m just coming in here, looking to have fun, improve on my game and then get some feedback at the end of it and just keep working forward.”