On July 1st, 2018, the Washington Capitals signed forward Nic Dowd to a one year, league minimum contract. However, since his signing, the trail has gone quiet for our newest center forward. The twenty-eight year old from Huntsville, Alabama comes to us with a rocky start in the NHL, having been drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 7th round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and having been picked up by Washington coming off of free agency from the Vancouver Canucks.
Despite some less than exceptional stats, including an underwhelming total of 9 goals and 17 assists in three seasons, there is a silver lining in Dowd’s numbers. Like Jay Beagle before him, Dowd does considerably well at the face off dot. Beagle, who ironically enough, was signed with the Canucks the same day the Capitals signed Dowd from them, was successful on the face off roughly 58% of the time; a very impressive success rate. Dowd, with only 3 seasons under his belt, has a 49% success rate when the puck drops in front of him. Compare this to Washington Capitals superstar Evgeny Kuznetsov who only averages about a 44% success rate, and those extra 5% could make the difference when the clock is bleeding down in a close game.
In fact, Dowd currently has the second highest success rate of any Center Forward signed by Washington, only trailing by 2% to Nicklas Backstrom. That said, Dowd’s role in the line-up is hardly set in stone just yet. Fellow forward, Chandler Stephenson could be looking to come back to the center after having played on the wing in most of the latter half of the 2017-18 season.
The rookie had a 53% success rate on face offs last year, but again, was kept on the wing of the fourth line. Hershey Bears skater Travis Boyd could also be looking to earn himself a spot in the Caps lineup this year. The 24-year-old from Hopkins, Minnesota had an even 50/50 split in face offs for the Caps this past season, and could continue looking to solidify himself as a key player for Washington.
Preseason is just a few weeks away, and with so many players looking to make a name for themselves, it will be hard for head coach Todd Reirden to select the right man for the job. One thing is for sure though, be it Nic Dowd or someone else, they’re going to have to put in a lot of work to come out from Jay Beagle’s shadow.
By: Chris Laroche