Grit. Toughness. Courage. All are words to describe perhaps the biggest heart and soul player for the Washington Capitals, forward Jason Chimera. The 33 year old winger has been a stable leader in the nation’s capital since his arrival before the 2009-2010 season, bringing solid leadership to the club following stops with the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets. The 2012-2013 season will mark Chimera’s fourth year with Washington as he looks to increase his offensive production like he has the past two seasons.
The Edmonton native was drafted by his hometown team, the Edmonton Oilers in the fifth round of the 1997 NHL entry draft, embarking him on a long journey that has worked its way all the way down to Washington D.C. Following his selection by the Oilers, Chimera spent two more seasons with his junior team, the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League before transitioning to the AHL. In his first three years with Hamilton Bulldogs, the minor league affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, Chimera posted very respectable numbers posting 28 points in his first year, then 54 and 77 points in the next two seasons respectively.
He became a mainstay in the Oilers lineup beginning in the 2002-2003 season, playing in 66 regular season games while contributing 14 goals and 9 assists. His production dropped the following season, dropping 11 points in only six less games. The following offseason Chimera was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for draft picks, the offseason before the CBA expired.
Following his time in Italy during the lockout in the 2004-2005 campaign, Chimera was traded once again, this time to the Columbus Blue Jackets without ever playing a game for the Coyotes. He spent five years with the Blue Jackets and changed his role, becoming a more physical presence and increased his penalty minutes to a career high of 98 during the 2007-2008 campaign. While in Columbus, the gritty veteran forward posted three seasons of thirty plus point production including a 17 goal performance in his first year with the club.
Following his time in Columbus, Chimera was traded for the third time in his career, this time to the Washington Capitals in exchange for then captain Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina. Chimera struggled in his first year with his new club, only playing in 39 games but registered seven goals and ten assists. The following season, Chimera played in 81 games and truly became a veteran presence for Washington, posting ten goals and 16 assists along with 64 penalty minutes.
This past season Chimera signed a two year extension with the Capitals before the regular season started, worth $1.75 million per season. This avoided unrestricted free agency for both parties and kept the veteran presence in the Washington locker room. Chimera then went on to play in his best season for the Capitals, contributing 20 goals and 19 assists in a full 82 game season. He will likely play on the third line this upcoming season, helping provide offense alongside another gritty forward, Brooks Laich.
Whenever the lockout is lifted, Chimera will likely enter the season back with Brooks Laich and a younger forward, potentially Mathieu Perreault or newcomer Joey Crabb. His veteran leadership will be important as he is surrounded by such a young Capitals squad. His courage and undying will is necessary to propel Washington to a successful future.