When the Capitals signed right wing Justin Williams in free agency nearly two years ago, they did so with the expectation that he could be a key piece in a Stanley Cup run. And while the Caps failed to accomplish their ultimate goal in that span, the pending unrestricted free agent has made an impact on the team, even without winning it all.
The man known as, “Mr. Game 7”, only played in one such game with the Caps, and even he could not help push the team past the second round. But Williams’ tenure in Washington, one that, given the team’s salary cap situation and amount of free agents to resign, is likely over, has not been a disappointing one by any means. In his 162 games played in a Capitals sweater, Williams scored 46 goals and added 54 assists for 100 points, with a plus/minus rating of plus-29. He also averaged 16:04 of ice time in those 162 games.
But, Williams was not signed simply for his offense. Perhaps the biggest reason the Capitals brought the three-time Stanley Cup champion to the Nation’s capital was due to his playoff experience. Having won the aforementioned three Stanley Cups, Williams seemed like a natural fit for a Capitals team that had consistently failed to get over the playoff hump. But despite the veteran winger’s productivity with the Capitals in the postseason (16 points in 25 games), the Caps disappointed yet again with a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With his contract expiring, and the Capitals in a bind financially, with a number of free agents to resign, the 35-year old could be looking for a new home for next season. And if this was his last season in Red, White, and Blue, Williams left the Caps having helped instill a sense of confidence and resiliency that past teams never showed before, despite not reaching the Stanley Cup. If the Capitals are able to bring him back, they would be bringing back a great leader, power, and person.
By Michael Fleetwood