As the regular season inches closer, day by day, the time has come to predict and begin to take a look at what the Caps and their fans can expect from each player on the roster. Today’s player is new winger Joel Ward, who will begin his first season in the organization this fall after signing a four-year, $12 million contract on July 1.
Recap of Last Season: Ward played last season with the Nashville Predators, where he played in 80 games and tallied 10 goals and 19 assists. Ward spent almost all of his minutes in a third and second line wing role, seeing a little bit of time on the power play but also seeing a great deal of time, in fact most of his special teams time, a man down. Last season was also his worst in terms of point production during his three full years in the league so far. During the playoffs, however, Ward caught fire, scoring 7 goals and adding 13 assists for the Predators in their 12 playoff games.
Expectations for this Season: Bring grit, grit, and more grit. Ward is the kind of player that takes the ice against the opposition’s top players and does so with success. He won’t see a ton of ice, but he will see important minutes and his goal is be as tough to play against as possible while keeping the puck in the attacking zone with strong forechecking and positional play. He’s not a big time scorer, and it’s unfair to expect that from him despite his great playoffs. For a more detailed take on what Ward will bring to the Caps, click here.
Playing Time: Third line; primary penalty killer; second line; secondary power play. I think that Ward will start the season on a line with Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera, which will be the Caps’ “shutdown” line and should also be a superior forechecking line with size and speed. He’s going to kill penalties a lot; he should be first or second among forwards on the team in shorthanded ice time, and he’s going to see a little power play time. He may also fill in on the second line from time to time.
Projections: 78 GP, 11 G, 21 A, +9 rating, 16:26 ATOI.
The next season preview will feature defenseman Roman Hamrlik.