CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Casey Wellman
Age: 26 [turns 27 Oct. 18]
Ht/Wt: 6-0, 173
Penalty minutes: 0
Average Ice Time: 9:22
Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 2-year, $1.1 million contract [$550,000 cap hit]
Strengths: Acquired from the Florida Panthers on Jan 31, 2013 in exchange for center Zach Hamill, Wellman proved to be a reliable callup this season after spending the entire 2012-13 season in the AHL. He saw his first game with the Caps on Dec. 17 after Michal Latta was injured, then got an extended when Mikhail Grabovski suffered an ankle injury in late January, playing seven straight games leading up to the Sochi Olympics. In 13 games Wellman won a solid 51.6 percent of his faceoffs while mostly anchoring a fourth line. Lacking a great deal of size and strength, Wellman relies heavily on his quickness and smarts to play a 200-foot game capable of complementing second-line talent.
Weaknesses: With 54 games of NHL experience over four seasons with the Minnesota Wild and the Capitals, Wellman has lacked the consistency to stay in the NHL for more than 15 games in a single season. A steady contributor at the AHL level, where he produced 18 goals and 19 assists in 58 games for the Hershey Bears, Wellman needs to work better in the corners to measure up against the NHL’s bigger and stronger forwards and defensemen.
Memorable Moment: On Jan. 25, in just his second game with the Capitals, Wellman finished off a 2-on-1 with Alex Ovechkin to complete a 5-0 win in Montreal. Ovechkin froze Canadiens defenseman Douglas Murray by opening the blade of his stick as if to shoot, then threaded a perfect pass to Wellman for a one-timer and his first NHL goal since 2012. Wellman had played for the Hershey Bears the night before in Syracuse and did not arrive in Montreal until four hours before the game.
Quotable: “For him to pass it over to me was something special, and to put it away and to celebrate with him was a really good feeling.” – Wellman on scoring his first goal as a Capital on a pass from Alex Ovechkin
2014-15 Expectations: With one year remaining on his two-way contract Wellman will have a new coach to impress at training camp next season. Whether that is Barry Trotz or the yet to be named head coach of the Hershey Bears will depend on how well Wellman plays at camp. For now he’s clearly behind Jay Beagle and Michael Latta, along with center/right wing Chris Brown on the Caps’ depth chart at center.