After Barry Trotz’s first season as Coach saw a return to the playoffs and a trip to the second round, the Washington Capitals organization wasted no time adding some pieces in the offseason. The most high-profile of these pieces were RW Justin Williams (6-1. 188lbs, formerly of the LA Kings), via free agency, and RW TJ Oshie (5-11, 189lbs, formerly of the St Louis Blues), via trade (for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copely, and a 2016 3rd round pick).
Justin Williams brings and impressive resumé of three Stanley Cups, one Conn Smyth Award, and much-needed experience. While TJ Oshie brings creativity and puck possession. You also may have heard that he’s not bad in shootouts… where the Caps finished 5-4 in the skills competition (12th in the NHL by winning percentage).
While Caps fans everywhere discuss what each player brings to the table and the different possibilities with line combinations, part of me ponders which current Caps will benefit most from these new acquisitions. Below are my top 3.
“Playoff” Braden Holtby: Braden Holtby had a career year in 2014-15, cementing himself as the Caps franchise goalie. But playoff Braden Holtby has been pretty good, as well. In 34 career playoff games, Holtby’s GAA is 1.92 (including a 1.71 in the 2015 NHL playoffs). That is ridiculous. To put into perspective just how ridiculous that is, Corey Crawfords GAA in his Stanley Cup winning seasons was: 2.30 in 2010, 1.94 in 2013, and 2.27 in 2015. Jonathan Quick? In Quick’s Cup winning seasons of 2012 and 2014 his GAA were 2.45 and 2.07 respectively. Keep in mind that Holtby’s WORST GAA in a playoff season was 2.22 in the 2013 season. Does the experience of Williams and the creativity of Oshie get that Caps over the goal scoring schnyde this season? I think it does.
“Playoff” Alex Ovechkin: Secondary scoring has always been a key to the Caps playoff success. If the Caps saw secondary scoring, usually they’d see a W. It’s no secret that Ovechkin draws the top line defense pairing from the other team during the playoffs. It’s also no secret that the Caps haven’t had a legit RW to play opposite Ovi in a while. Williams, who has scored the clutch-est of goals on the biggest of stages is the perfect match. Oshie is also a legit scoring threat, whose puck possession is in the top echelon of the NHL.
Tom Wilson: Wilson was the 16th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft. His last season in Plymouth (OHL), he scored 58 points (23 goals and 35 assists) in 48 games. But at the NHL level, Wilson has scored only 7 goals in two full seasons. This could be attributed to Wilson playing on the 4th line for the most part, but Wilson, himself, needs to take that next step if he wants to live up to that potential that made him a 1st round draft pick. A veteran forward like Justin Williams, who is also from Ontario, could give Wilson the role-model he needs to take the next step to become a top-six forward for the Caps.
By Welch, Adam