Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Throughout the Capitals’ 42 years in existence, they’ve issued a total of 87 different jersey numbers to the hundreds of players that have suited up in the District. In NoVa Caps’ feature, History Behind A Number, NoVa Caps’ writer Michael Fleetwood looks at a few notable players that have worn a given number. Today’s number: 20.
In the history of the franchise, a total of 21 players have been issued the number. Here are a few notable players that have donned No. 20 for the Capitals.
Capitals Career: 1987-1999
Background: Drafted by the Capitals in the third-round (59th overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, Pivonka is considered by many to be one of the best playmakers in franchise history, as he ranks third in assists with 418, and ninth in offensive point shares (number of points contributed by a player due to his offense) with 30.7.
In his first season with the Caps in 1986-87, Pivonka scored 18 goals and added 25 assists for 43 points in 73 games played, good for ninth on the team in scoring. In his second season, Pivonka regressed slightly, with 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 71 games played.
Pivonka’s best season in a Capitals sweater came in the 1995-96 season, when he scored 16 goals and a career-high 65 assists for a career-high 81 points in 73 games played, averaging 1.11 points per game. In his 13-year NHL career (all with the Caps), Pivonka had four 20-goal seasons, four 70-point seasons, and finished his career with 181 goals and 418 assists for 599 points in 825 games played.
Capitals Career: 2011-2015
Background: One of the most popular players during his four-year career in D.C., Troy Brouwer was acquired by the Capitals on June 24, 2011 from the Chicago Blackhawks for a first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (later used on Phillip Danault).
A former seventh-round pick (214th overall) by the Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Brouwer was acquired by the Caps to add some experience (he won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010) to a Capitals team that had failed to get over the playoff hump. In his first season with the Capitals (2011-12), Brouwer scored 18 goals and added 15 assists for 33 points in 82 games played.
Brouwer would see time as a second-line right wing in the final three seasons of his Capitals career and the results showed. In his second season as a Capital, Brouwer scored 19 goals and finished again with 33 points in a lockout-shortened 47 games played. His third season would be his best, as he scored a career-high 25 goals and 43 points in 82 games played.
Brouwer’s final season is best remembered for his game-winning goal in the final seconds of the 2015 NHL Winter Classic, held at Nationals Park. In 82 games played, Brouwer scored 21 goals and finished again with 43 points. On July 2, 2015, the Capitals traded Brouwer, along with goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley, and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft (later re-acquired by Washington and used to select Garrett Pilon) to the St. Louis Blues for right wing T.J. Oshie. Brouwer would spend only one season in St. Louis, recording 39 points in 82 games played before signing with the Calgary Flames in free agency. In his first season in Calgary, Brouwer finished the season with 13 goals and 25 points in 74 games played. In 293 games played in a Capitals sweater, Brouwer recorded 83 goals and 69 assists for 152 points.
Capitals Career: 2016-Present
Background: Acquired by the Capitals at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft from the Montreal Canadiens for second-round picks in 2017 and 2018, Eller is the latest player to don No. 20. A former first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues, Eller was acquired by the Capitals with the hope he could be the third-line center the team had long been lacking. And after one season, he did not disappoint.
In 82 games played in his first season in the District, Eller scored 12 goals and added 13 assists for 25 points, while finishing with a plus/minus rating of plus-15. Eller also excelled defensively, finishing with a Corsi rating of 53.8; the Caps’ goalies also recorded a .936 save percentage when Eller was on the ice.
Entering the final year of his current contract, Eller must repeat his performance from last season and improve his numbers if he hopes to land a big-money contract in free agency next summer.
Check out NoVa Caps’ Other History Behind A Number features:
History Behind A Number: No. 44
History Behind A Number: No. 9
History Behind A Number: No. 55
History Behind A Number: No. 7
History Behind A Number: No. 77
By Michael Fleetwood