Report: Capitals Could Go After Justin Williams If He Doesn’t Sign With Hurricanes

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Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported on Monday night that the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins “will try to sign” unrestricted free agent forward Justin Williams if the Carolina Hurricanes fail to sign him by February 24, the final day he could sign a contract to be eligible to play in the NHL this season.

In his first season as the Hurricanes’ captain last season, the 38-year old posted 23 goals, 53 points, and a -4 rating in 82 games. He added four goals, seven points, and a +1 rating in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including the primary assist on forward Brock McGinn’s double-overtime winner in Game 7 that knocked the Capitals out of the first round. He posted a goal and four points in the series against the Capitals last Spring.

Before Williams signed a two-year contract with the Hurricanes in 2017, he spent the previous two years in Washington, where he tallied 46 goals, 100 points, and a +29 rating in 162 games. The Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best team during the regular season in both years of Williams’ tenure in Washington but were unable to get out of the second round both times. Though, he scored six goals and 16 points in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Capitals.

The Capitals looked up to Williams for leadership. When the Capitals trailed 2-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of the 2017 First Round series, it was Williams who tried to steady the ship. He also scored two goals in that game to tie it. The Capitals would win the game 3-2 in overtime and the series in six games.

Williams played his 1000th career NHL game as a Capital on April 10, 2016.

In 1244 career NHL regular-season games with the Capitals, Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, and Los Angeles Kings, the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP posted 312 goals, 786 points, and a +108 rating. In 155 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Williams recorded 40 goals, 101 points, and a +36 rating.

Williams is known as “Mr. Game 7” as his teams are 8-1 in Game 7s and tied with Glen Anderson for the most career Game 7 goals (seven) in NHL history. His 15 points in Game 7s are also the most in the league record book. The Capitals lost the lone Game 7 Williams was with the team for, a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017.

If the Capitals were to sign Williams, that would almost certainly mean forward Richard Panik would be moved in exchange for draft picks. The Capitals currently have $352,437 in cap space. Panik, who signed a four-year contract that carries a cap hit of $2.75 million on July 1, has not lived up to expectations in his first season with the Capitals. While he missed 10 games with an upper-body injury, the 28-year old has just five goals, seven points, and a +9 rating in 33 games. Though, he has improved lately with three goals in his last eight.

Williams would likely slot in on the third line if he were to come to the Capitals.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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10 Responses to Report: Capitals Could Go After Justin Williams If He Doesn’t Sign With Hurricanes

  1. Sarah Bennett says:

    I have great respect for Williams – loved him when he was with the Caps. Brian MaLelland will have to tell us if he would be a fit now. Eventually he would be a great front office person!

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Anonymous says:

      Good call. He has “front office” written all over him. Would be a huge asset for any teams management.

  2. hockeydruid says:

    Justin in and Panik out sounds like a win-win. Then justin moves into the front office another win-win.

  3. Anonymous says:

    even if they dont resign him, Panik for pcisk is a good deal

  4. Day One Caps Fan says:

    I will accept the inevitable beatings I’ll get for this … but Day One is an opponent of Bring Back Justin Williams. Definitely NO NO and NO.

    He is old and declining, and would be a disruption to the Caps locker room chemistry. This would be another Mike Richards fiasco, only (hopefully) without an immensely long disastrous contract

    Instead, give me M. Fehervary as a February call-up. That would be reminiscent of Tom Wilson’s rookie year call up some years back, where Wilson was a positive force in a playoff series

    • Anonymous says:

      You are not alone in your opinion. I think Panik and the 3rd line are playing much better now and don’t think it’s an issue anymore. If anything, I agree that we need an upgrade on defense if Bmac can pull that off.

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  7. Esteban says:

    In defense of Panik he has played much better in the past month and leads the Caps in ringing the post. He could have 10-11 goals already this season. His no look pass last week was a thing of beauty. I would not trade him unless we improved. Getting a 38 year old semi-retired player for a 28 year old does not sound better. If we wanted a better player Ovie could have convinced Kovalchuk to sign for the Caps instead of Williams. Imagine him on the 3rd line for $700K instead.

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