Washington Capitals prospect Ryan Hofer is a pain in the butt to play against. He’s physical, relentless on pucks and has some skill to his game. The 2022 sixth-round pick is going to be playing in the AHL for the first time in his career, after spending four seasons in the Western Hockey League (WHL). He played four years with the Everett Silvertips and was traded to the Kamloops Blazers midway through the 2022-23 season.
The 21-year-old had 36 points (23 goals, 13 assists) in 36 games with Everett and racked up 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 30 games with Kamloops, totaling 68 points (40 goals, 28 assists) last season. He also had 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 14 playoff games with the Blazers, leading them to the WHL Western Conference Championship. Hofer also added five points (two goals, three assists) in the 2023 Memorial Cup.
“He’s relentless in his puck pursuit and he’s a physical player,” Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said. “And I would say that he’s got a good shot. He’s probably been working on his skill, even more this year, because he’s always had kind of a physical aspect to his game. And he plays hard; he’s a pretty intense guy. He seems like a physical player, but he’s probably working more on his skill level, on his hands and his shot.”
While his gritty style was on full display during the 2023 Capitals rookie camp, his shot stood out the most. Hofer’s release was so powerful and heavy, particularly on the second day of camp.
— Jacob Cheris (@JCheris17) September 17, 2023
“It’s kind of been a strength of mine. I’ve been working on a lot throughout the summer and just using my quick release to my advantage,” Hofer said. “Just kind of utilizing it as much as I can in practice. I thought it was going pretty good.”
The goaltenders were just a split second late to it because of how heavy it was. A big reason why it was so powerful during camp was because the 6-foot-3, 192-pounder wanted to focus on his overall strength to be prepared for his rookie season with the Hershey Bears.
“The big thing was [my] strength going up to the next level, playing against bigger, stronger guys,” Hofer said. “Also a little bit of the mental side too. Everyone can play up at that next level, but it’s more about how you handle yourself and knowing your role when you get up to the next level.”
However, even with his improved shot and overall skills, Hofer does not want to be a different type of player. The Capitals signed the center to a three-year, entry-level contract back in March to be the forward he currently is.
“It’s a great spot to be. I’m really looking forward to it. I think the biggest thing is just playing my role,” Hofer said. “I don’t really want to be a player, I’m not because they found me for the player that I am. I don’t really think it’d be good for me to go in and switch and try and do too much and try and make a bigger impact. I think going and being calm, collected and just having fun.”
Hofer looks to bring his toughness and upgraded shot to Chocolate Town this season as the Bears look to defend their 12th Calder Cup.
By Jacob Cheris