HERSHEY, Pa. – Connor Hobbs was a rookie just three seasons ago, debuting with the Hershey Bears in the 2017-18 season. Much like Lucas Johansen, who was the subject of our last profile, Hobbs completed the final year of his entry level contract in 2019-20.
Assuming that this year’s offseason will be as normal as it possibly can be, Hobbs will need a new contract to join the Washington Capitals organization in 2020-21. Hobbs was drafted in the fifth round, 143rd overall, by the Capitals in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in 119 regular season games (as well as nine playoff games) with the Bears.
Hobbs made his debut along with Johansen in 2017-18, skating in 44 games his rookie season and tallying 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in a pretty difficult year for the Bears; the club missed out on the postseason for only the second time since the beginning of Hershey’s affiliation with Washington back in 2005-06. Hobbs scored his first professional goal on October 28, 2017, which stood up as the game-winner in a 3-2 final over the Providence Bruins. Hobbs was limited to 44 games his rookie season due to a wrist fracture in early November that sat him out for nearly a month’s worth of time.
The next year, Hobbs suited up for a career-high 59 games, scoring three goals and 15 assists for 18 points (two better than his rookie campaign). Hobbs played through the season and in nine games during the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs, where he posted an assist as the Bears made it to the second round.
Hobbs plays with a physical edge to his game that a lot of defenders don’t possess, and having a strong, right-handed shooting defender is a huge presence for Hershey.
Unfortunately, this season didn’t quite work out the way Hobbs or the Bears expected, as he only got to suit up in 16 games for Hershey before suffering a shoulder injury that cut his year short in early January. Hobbs had successful surgery on January 29, but was already ruled out for the remainder of the season, only tallying a goal and an assist in 2019-20.
Much like with Johansen, the Bears had to learn to live without the pair of third-year defenders, allowing others like Bobby Nardella, Alexander Alexeyev, Martin Fehervary, and Eddie Wittchow to step up and take playing time. Even after the Capitals traded Christian Djoos to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Daniel Sprong at the deadline, Hershey’s compliment of defenders was still holding pretty steady before the break.
It’s more than likely the Capitals will extend Hobbs for another contract, retaining another player to compete for playing time with the club in the future. The big key for Hobbs — when the Bears get back to action — will be staying healthy and growing the offensive part of his game. When he is at the top of his game, Hobbs has a booming shot from the blue line. It’s where he potted his only tally this season back on October 19 in Laval.
Hobbs will continue to grow his defensive game. He also doesn’t back down from anyone, often dropping the gloves and doing whatever he can to help the Bears win hockey games. Hobbs has incredible determination, exemplified by the shot he blocked with his face back in his rookie season to save a goal versus the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Washington should be eager to extend Hobbs (much like the rest of Hershey’s restricted free agents) as the young defender should continue to grow and produce his best season yet as a professional. Staying healthy will be a big key, and having a confident Hobbs will be a huge benefit for the Hershey Bears in 2020-21.
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