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After the departure of longtime Capitals center Jay Beagle in free agency last summer, the team had a void on the fourth-line that needed to be filled, and had a few in-house solutions to solve the absence. In addition to free agent signing Nic Dowd, the Capitals had forward Travis Boyd in the American Hockey League that was the internal favorite to make the big club out of training camp.
Drafted by the Capitals in the sixth-round (177th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Boyd made his NHL debut during the 2017-18 season, recording one assist and played in one playoff game during the Caps’ Stanley Cup run. This season, however, Boyd has seen limited time due to an early-season injury, but has made the most of the ice time he has received from Head Coach Todd Reirden.
In 30 games played (of the team’s 50 games), Boyd has four goals and 11 assists for 15 points, putting him on pace for eight goals, 23 assists, and a career-high 31 points if he were to play in all of the remaining games of the season. Boyd’s time on ice per game has risen steadily throughout the season; in his first five games of the season, Boyd’s respective ice times per game were 09:14, 07:31, 07:10, 08:10, 09:20. In those five games, Boyd recorded two assists and was a plus-1 and combined for three shots. In his last 10 games played, his respective ice times were (in descending order) 12:55, 10:22, 11:02, 12:51, 12:31, 10:41, 11:28, 10:56, 09:15, and 09:55, and in those 10 games, he recorded five points (one goal, four assists), with a combined minus-3 rating and five shots. While the plus/minus rating might not scream impressive, the Capitals have lost seven of their last 10 games.
Overall, Boyd’s effectiveness at the faceoff dot hasn’t exactly been up to the standards Beagle set during his time in Washington, with the 25-year old forward winning just 37.9% of his draws this season. This lack of success at the dot is something the team has struggled at as a team this season, but it could indicate the versatile Boyd could be better suited for the wing. Boyd has averaged .048 points per minute, which ranks fifth amongst all Capitals skaters this season (behind only Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Tyler Lewington). Additionally his 0.5 points per game ranks ninth on the team.
In his first full season in the league, Boyd has shown impressive improvements and strides in his offensive game. Like all young players, his defensive game could use some fine-tuning, but the growth of Boyd is certainly one of the bright spots through the first 50 games of the season. Boyd is locked up through next season with a cap hit and salary of $800,000, and should he continue to grow his offensive game and improve his defensive play, the Capitals could have yet another valuable bottom-six cornerstone as they had in Beagle.
By Michael Fleetwood