Photo: Washington Capitals
With three days remaining until NHL Free Agency begins, NoVa Caps is taking a look at the Top 5 free agent signings in franchise history.
No. 3 – Mike Knuble
Signed by the Capitals to a two-year free agent contract in the summer of 2009, the former Philadelphia Flyer, Detroit Red Wing, and Boston Bruin was expected to provide a strong veteran presence and offensive touch on a team that featured young players such as Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green. And during his time in a Capitals sweater, the grizzled right wing rewarded the team with strong play.
In his first season in D.C. (2009-10), Knuble played the majority of his time playing alongside Ovechkin and Backstrom on the Caps’ dangerous top-line. In 69 games played, the 37-year old Knuble scored 29 goals and added 24 assists for 53 points while also contributing to the team’s penalty kill and power play. Almost instantly, the old veteran became a fan favorite with his hard work ethic and good nature off the ice.
Knuble followed up his debut season with the Caps with another productive season, remaining alongside Backstrom and Ovechkin and recording 24 goals and 16 assists in 79 games played. While his point totals decreased, his determination and commitment to to the game did not, continuing his two-way play even at the age of 38. One of his bigger highlights of the 2010-11 season was scoring the first ever Winter Classic goal in franchise history.
Knuble’s third and final season in the District did not go as well and was not as productive as his first two. Beginning the season under head coach Bruce Boudreau, Knuble (along with his teammates) struggled to produce, resulting in Boudreau’s termination and the hiring of strict, defensive-oriented Dale Hunter. Knuble’s age started to show, as he recorded only six goals and 18 points in 72 games played. While his regular season was a disappointment, he was credited with an assist on Joel Ward’s Game 7-clinching overtime goal against the Boston Bruins.
Knuble played just one more season in the NHL (returning to the Flyers) before retiring. Knuble is considered one of the Top 5 free agent signings in team history because he provided the Caps with an important veteran presence and helped the Caps reach the upper-echelon of the NHL.
Check back tomorrow for Free Agent Signing No. 2!