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After the departure of longtime fourth-line center Jay Beagle in free agency, the Capitals were seemingly left with a hole at the fourth-line pivot position for the first time in several seasons. In order to help shore up the hole in Head Coach Todd Reirden’s lineup, General Manager Brian MacLellan signed free agent center Nic Dowd to a one-year, $650,000 deal. In this piece, NoVa Caps takes a closer look at one of the Caps’ newest additions.
Dowd, who recently turned 28-years old, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the seventh-round (198th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, after spending time in the North American Hockey League. The season following the draft, he played in the United States Hockey League with the Indiana Ice, recordinfg 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists) in 46 games played. He then played four seasons at St. Cloud State University (NCAA), recording 121 points (52 goals, 69 assists) in 154 games played, with a plus-26 rating. Dowd then began his professional career during the 2013-14 season, playing seven games with the Kings’ AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs, recording three assists in the process. He would play just two more season in the Kings organization, recording 32 points in 75 games played in 2014-15 with the Monarchs and 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) in 52 games played in 2015-16 with the Ontario Reign (the Monarchs’ new name after relocating from Manchester).
During the 2015-16 season, he played in five, scoreless games with the Kings, before being re-assigned to Ontario. He would see substantial NHL time the following season (2016-17), playing in 70 games with the Kings, scoring six goals and adding 16 assists for 22 points, with a minus-15 rating. Dowd began this past season with the Kings, playing 16 games (recording just one assist) before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks on December 7, 2017 in exchange for defenseman Jordan Subban. Dowd would play 40 games in a Canucks sweater, scoring just three goals, with a minus-7 rating. In a combined 56 games played with Los Angeles and Vancouver, Dowd scored three goals, and one assist for a total of four points, with a minus-10 rating, a far cry from the previous season.
During his time with the Capitals, Beagle was one of the NHL’s best faceoff men, finishing in the Top 5 in the last few seasons. In his 131 games of NHL experience, Dowd has won 49.1% of draws taken, including a 50.1% with Vancouver. While it may pale in comparison to Beagle’s 56.4%, it is still a respectable number given his relative inexperience. In the aforementioned 131 games played in the NHL, Dowd has scored nine goals and added 17 assists for 26 points, with a minus-24 rating.
While his contract is inexpensive, it is also worth pointing out that right wing Devante Smith-Pelly (a key component in the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run) entered this past season on an identical contract and re-signed with the Caps on a one-year, $1 million deal earlier this summer. Given the team’s ability to resurrect the careers of journeymen forwards (see Smith-Pelly and Brett Connolly), Dowd’s signing could turn out to be another bargain for the team. That said, Dowd will have some competition in training camp with a number of younger prospects, notably Chandler Stephenson. It will be interesting to see how things play out come October.
By Michael Fleetwood