After re-signing right wing T.J. Oshie, the Capitals made it clear that they were all but done negotiating with their remaining unrestricted free agents. It came as no surprise when right wing Justin Williams signed with the Carolina Hurricanes early on in free agency. While he spent only two years in Washington, Williams’ impact on the team and the city was huge.
Signed by the Capitals two years ago to this day, Williams was brought in to add some much-needed playoff experience and success to a Capitals team that had failed to get over the second round hump. Unfortunately, the Caps failed again in both of Williams’ two seasons in the District, but from the moment he first laced up the skates for the Caps, Williams’ impact was felt immediately.
One of the great things about Williams was his willingness to do whatever it took to win and the blunt honesty that came with it after a tough loss or letdown. His perseverance and hard work ethic made him an ideal leader on a Capitals team that featured many young forwards still learning what it takes to be successful. Young players such as Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov had the chance to watch and learn from the 35-year old Williams. Williams’ playoff success was what set him apart from any other member of the team.
In his 16-year NHL career, Williams has won three Stanley Cups, one Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP), and has compiled a 7-1 record in eight career Game 7’s played, to go along with 94 points (36 goals, 58 assists) in 140 career playoff games.
While Williams never lifted the Cup above his head in Washington, he certainly lived up to his reputation as a playoff performer, putting up 16 points in 25 playoff games. Williams was also a consistent offensive player in his two years as a Capital, recording 100 points in 162 games played in a Capitals sweater.
While his time as a Capital was a brief one, the Caps certainly owe a lot to the man known as Mr. Game 7. Not only did he bring solid offensive production and consistent production at that, he also brought many intangibles that are sometimes hard to find – an extremely hard work ethic, no-quit attitude, outstanding success and experience, and an ever-burning desire to win and passion for the game of hockey. Washington will miss Williams and, from everyone at NoVa Caps, we thank you for your contributions to the success of the team over the last two years.
By Michael Fleetwood