Top 5 Free Agent Signings in Franchise History: No. 1

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Washington Capitals

With NHL Free Agency less than 24 hours away, NoVa Caps has been counting down the Top 5 free agent signings in franchise history. 

No. 1 is…… Joel Ward
Signed by the Capitals in free agency of 2011, Ward turned out to be one of the smartest moves former General Manager George McPhee made in his tenure with the team. In his four memorable years in Washington, Ward turned out to be a clutch playoff performer and a big part of the Washington community.

Ward’s first regular season in D.C. would turn out to be an aberration compared to the rest of his tenure; in 73 games played, the rugged right winger scored just six goals and 18 points. It would be in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs where Ward would prove his worth. In overtime of Game 7 of the team’s first-round matchup against the Boston Bruins, Ward followed up on a shot by teammate Mike Knuble and buried the rebound past  Boston goalie Tim Thomas.

From then on, Ward became an offensive weapon for the Caps, playing on the power play and putting up seasons of 20, 49, and 34 points in his final three seasons in Washington (the 20 was in the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13, in which Ward played 39 games).

After turning in another clutch playoff performance, Ward’s contract demands were not met by the Caps and he signed a three-year deal with the San Jose Sharks, with whom he helped reach the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals thanks to another productive playoff performance.

Ward is the best free agent signing in team history because he went from a relatively unknown player to one of the NHL’s best playoff performers and a beloved fan favorite and an integral part of the Capitals.

Check out the other Top Free Agent Signings here:
Top 5 Free Agent Signings in Franchise History: No. 5
Top 5 Free Agent Signings in Franchise History: No. 4
Top 5 Free Agent Signings in Franchise History: No. 3
Top 5 Free Agent Signings in Franchise History: No.2

By Michael Fleetwood

Related articles:
MacLellan Press Conference: “We Missed Joel Ward”; “We Were Exposed”
Joel Ward: Thanking the “Big Cheese”.
Trotz Reveals Joel Ward’s “No-Goal” call in Game 5 was Reviewed at Recent NHL Meetings


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About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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