Capitals Thin In The “Grit” Department Without Tom Wilson

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

The Capitals lost the services of Tom Wilson for at least the first half of the season after he underwent knee surgery in June. As a result, the Capitals brought in right winger Connor brown in a trade with the Ottawa Senators, ending any concerns related to a right wing deficiency. But Brown doesn’t drop the gloves.

Many surmised last season that the Capitals were thin in the grit department following the departure of Brenden Dillon. That left just Tom Wilson and Garnet Hathaway to provide a bulk of the true nasty for the 2021-22 season. T.J. Oshie has occasionally dropped the gloves, but at this point in his career, it’s likely those days are rapidly dwindling.

So, will the Capitals have enough sandpaper or grit with Tom Wilson out? Likely not. At least how the current roster sits. The Capitals acquired and signed six players this off-season, with none of them really considered “gritty”. It partly reflects the change in the game, away from fighting, but there is still that element.

It will be interesting to see if the Capitals make any kind of tweak to the roster to find additional sandpaper, but it’s likely that won’t happen. They will likely “make do” while Wilson is out.

Anyway, something to keep an eye on.

And with that, I leave you with a flashback to the “good old days” and one of my favorite twin-billed tussles. Tom Wilson got it started and John Erskine immediately followed to lay a fierce 1-2 pummeling of the Toronto Maple Leafs back in January of 2014.

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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17 Responses to Capitals Thin In The “Grit” Department Without Tom Wilson

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love me some John Erskine. 👊👊

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can Mantha fight?

    • Anonymous says:

      He can take care of himself, but he’s not really a fighter. If only John Kordic were still alive…

  3. Christopher Stephans says:

    Second round elimination or bust!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The current lineup looks extremely soft.

  5. Lance says:

    We definitely do need another Sheriff. I’d like to see a tough right D man brought in. A 4th liner would be ok, too.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      With ya, Lance. And agree we need an upgrade/addition on D still. Malenstyn has the grit we need, but tough seeing him earn a spot over Snively.

      • Lance says:

        Yeah Jon, we know that having a few tough guys on the ice makes teams play differently. The Caps have been almost always been hard to play against: Scott Stevens, Kevin Hatcher, Alan May, Kypreos, Kordic briefly, Berube, Hunter, Chris Simon, Peat, Erskine, Brashear, Tom Wilson, Dillon, Chara. Apologies to the guys I’m forgetting. I hate seeing Caps players getting pushed around.

        • DC Scappeli says:

          +1 I always liked Witt on the back end too. But yeah, those guys were tough to play against and wish we had more physicality on the D. Really appreciated Orpik and Nisky ramping up the hits on that Cup run!

  6. DC Scappeli says:

    Can we bring up Dylan McIrath for a few games or on an as needed basis? Wish we had more toughness, though.

  7. DWGie26 says:

    One of the reasons why i prefer Beck over AJF. We need that dimension. But the gritty fighter types need to be able to play a productive 10-12 minutes. McIlrath isn’t that.

    • DC Scappeli says:

      I suppose you’re right—the days of a stay at home D man are kind of over. It’s more about puck moving, speedy D men now. Ty Lewington was a physical type, but he didn’t have the speed and neither Trotz or Mac thought enough of him to bring him up and play him more than a game or two

      • DWGie26 says:

        I always rooted for Tyler Lewington. Thought he made for a nice physical dee. Good pull. Jared Tinordi also sits in the McIlrath category (30 years old) physical dee but can’t stay in the NHL. Also left handed. Need that on the right side.

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