When Washington Capitals’ fans look back at last year’s postseason run they will remember many triumphs and trials. While losing in the second round of the playoffs to the New York Rangers, the Capitals fought to the very end. They showed that they can play defensively late in games and come up big in monumental moments. Joel Ward played a big part in helping Washington advance to the second round of the playoffs, scoring the winning goal in overtime of Game 7 during the Capitals first round matchup against the Boston Bruins.
Ward signed with Washington during the summer of 2011, inking a four year deal with $12 million. The 31 year old forward previously played for the Nashville Predators, finishing his career in Nashville with 13 points in the Predators postseason run in the summer of 2011. He played three years in Smashville, amassing 98 points during that time. He previously began his career with the Minnesota Wild, but only played in 11 NHL games. Before reaching pro hockey, Ward played for the Owen Sounds Platers of the Ontario Hockey League and attended the University of Prince Edward Island for four years.
Other than his overtime winning goal against Boston, Ward struggled in his first year with the Capitals. He only compiled 18 points in 73 games for Washington, his lowest production ever in a full season. However, Ward did play strong defensively maintaining a plus six rating while on the ice.
Ward will likely enter the 2012-2013 campaign as a winger on the third or fourth line, potentially alongside center, Jay Beagle. He could potentially earn time on the penalty kill under new head coach Adam Oates, but another Capitals’ forward would likely need to get bumped off one of the penalty kill units. If he plays to his potential, Ward is capable of putting up a 25 point season offensively, while playing a key role defensively late in games.