After the departure of longtime fourth-line center Jay Beagle in free agency, the Capitals were left with what was, in terms of value and production, a massive hole on their fourth-line. One of the ways in which General Manager Brian MacLellan addressed (or in the very least attempted to) the departure of Beagle was by signing center Nic Dowd in free agency. And while he isn’t an exact replica of the player Beagle is, he has been a welcome addition to the team’s bottom line.
Coming into the 2018-19 season with just 26 point in 131 games of NHL experience, Dowd has been relatively productive this season for the role he plays for Capitals Head Coach Todd Reirden. In 50 games played this season, Dowd has matched a career-high in goals with six, and is seven points shy of setting a career-best in points (currently 22). One of Beagle’s biggest strengths was his ability to win faceoffs, something the entire Capitals team has struggled with collectively as a unit this season (they currently rank last in the league having won just 45.9% of their draws. Dowd, by contrast, ranks second on the team in faceoff win percentage, having won 51.8% of his 671 draws on the season.
Dowd has also proven to be a valuable penalty killer for the Caps, another strong-point of Beagle’s that was lost upon his departure. Dowd ranks 10th among all skaters who have played for the Caps this season, and if one subtracts Devante Smith-Pelly, who is currently in the American Hockey League, Dowd is ninth among players currently on the team’s NHL roster having played a total of 86:40 on the penalty kill this season. Dowd also ranks third on the team in overall penalty kill faceoff win percentage this season, having won 53.42% of his draws on the penalty kill.
Defensively, Dowd has been relatively impressive, as the Capitals’ netminders have a save percentage of .921 when he’s on the ice and he has blocked 27 shots, which is second only to Lars Eller’s 40 among centers.
Overall, Dowd’s performance this season has been one that has been welcome for a Capitals team that lost a staple on the fourth-line. And while Beagle’s total value may never be fully replaced by another player, Dowd’s production and overall game has been sufficient enough to provide the Caps with a reliable pivot on the fourth-line.
By Michael Fleetwood