Capitals' final report cards: Joel Ward

Capitals' final report cards: Joel Ward
May 30, 2014, 8:15 am
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

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: Joel Ward

Position: Right wing

Shoots: Right

Age: 33 [turns 34 Dec. 2]

Ht/Wt: 6-1, 226

Games: 82

Goals: 24

Assists: 25

Points: 49

Penalty minutes: 32

Plus-Minus: Plus-7

Average Ice Time: 16:04

Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 4-year, $12 million contract [$3 million cap hit]

Strengths: At 33, Ward reinvented himself as a reliable offensive threat, becoming the eighth-oldest player in NHL history to record 20 or more goals for the first time in his NHL career. He finished with career highs in goals [24], assists [25], points [49], power-play goals [6] and shooting percentage [18 percent]. For his efforts on the ice and his volunteerism off the ice Ward is the Capitals’ Masterton Trophy nominee for dedication and perseverance to the sport of hockey. Was his breakout season because of the shorter stick recommended by former coach Adam Oates? Was it because of his chemistry with linemate Jason Chimera? Whatever the reasons, Ward continued his dominance for Canada in the World Championships earlier this month, when he was selected one of Canada’s top three players.

[MORE: MacLellan means business]

Weaknesses: It’s hard to find many. Yes, Ward may lack the foot speed of some of his NHL counterparts and he may not bury all of his chances around the net, but he plays a simple dump-and-chase game and is one of the most well-liked players in the Caps’ dressing room.

Memorable Moment: On Nov. 1 against the Flyers, while playing on a third line with Chimera and Mikhail Grabovski, Ward cranked out his first career hat trick in a 7-0 rout.

Quotable: “As a kid I’ve always dreamed about scoring big goals and scoring a hat trick and winning a Stanley Cup. It feels really good.”

2014-15 Expectations: Under his old coach Barry Trotz, could Ward begin next season on the Capitals’ top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom? It may be something Trotz is considering and if that happens Ward would have a chance of putting up even better numbers than last season while setting himself up for a nice little contract extension. The question is whether the Caps really want to mess with a good thing. Ward and Chimera could finish each other’s sentences by the end of the season and complemented each other’s game as well as any Caps linemates.