August 8, 2020

Washington Capitals 2015-16 Season Preview: Right Wing

Whereas there was very little turnover on the left wing, not the same can be said for the right wingers. Last season, the team seriously upgraded its defense; now it’s the right wings that get the facelift. Out are two of the longer-tenured players on the team; in are an Olympic hero and Mr. Game 7. And this season sets up a key one in the development of one of the team’s biggest hitters and tough guys. Can Tom Wilson transition into a complete player, or is this his role going forward? Also: Jay Beagle.

Who’s In/Who’s Out

In: T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams
Out: Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer
Depth Chart: T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Tom Wilson, Jay Beagle
On the farm: Chris Conner, Stanislav Galiev

T.J. Oshie (28, 5′ 11”, 189, shoots right. 72 games, 19-36-55, +17, 51 PIMs, 3 PPP)

T.J. Oshie was the biggest acquisition for the Capitals over the offseason.  He would be great on any line but he’s got the potential to shine the most on the top line.  Coming off a season where he scored 19 goals, if he plays on a line with Ovechkin and Backstrom, expect Oshie to have more scoring opportunities than ever before.  Head coach Barry Trotz has said in multiple interviews that he thinks his goal number is going to go up this season.

Oshie could also get some significant power play minutes on a team that is the best in the league with the man advantage.  Washington scored 128 goals on the power play while St. Louis scored 112.  When the shootout comes around, Oshie is one of the best in that department.  He caught the sports world by storm in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi when he helped Team USA defeat Russia 3-2 with an incredible performance in the shootout that helped him rise to stardom.

Justin Williams (186, 6′ 1”, 186, shoots right. 81 games, 18-23-41, +8, 29 PIMs, 4 PPP)

Justin Williams is a seasoned veteran entering his 15th season with valuable experience in games that count.  By games that count, I mean the ones that really do — the ones in April, May and June.  Game 7’s were always a dark and scary time for Capitals fans, but with a veteran like Williams one should feel a little bit better heading into those big pressure-filled games. After all, his nickname is Mr. Game 7.

The Caps signed Williams in the summer for on a two-year, $6.5 million contract.  He has won three Stanley Cups. His first came when he was on the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and then he won two with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.  In the 2014 Stanley Cup run, Williams won the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoffs MVP after he scored nine goals and 15 assists during the postseason.  He has won more Game 7s than the Capitals have in their entire franchise history, 7-4.  Not sure which line he is going to be on but regardless, the Caps should be feeling good having Mr. Game 7 on the team.

Tom Wilson (21, 6′ 4”, 215, shoots right. 67 games, 4-13-17, -1, 172 PIMs, 0 PPP)

Tom Wilson Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

(Photo: Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Tom Wilson enters his third pro season in the NHL.  He can be one of the most intimidating and effective players in the game.  While sharing the top line with the likes of Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, he was a true power forward by freeing the puck and distracting opponents from his linemates.  Wilson is one of the hardest hitters in the game.  His biggest highlight last season was when he knocked the wind out of Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky in Game 4 of the opening round of the playoffs.

He finished fourth on the Capitals and 24th among NHL forwards with 205 hits and he is only going to get better in that department.  Wilson led the Caps in penalty minutes with 172 and fighting majors with 12.  He also led the NHL in penalties drawn per game with 1.9. After working out in the summer both in the weight room and on the ice, Wilson has a chance to have a breakout year in his third season.  He’s also heading into restricted free agency this summer and this season could determine if he’s a top-six forward for the future of this team.

Jay Beagle (29, 6′ 3”, 210, shoots right. 62 games, 10-10-20, +6, 20 PIMs, 0 PPP)

Capitals Jay Beagle during warmups, (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

(Photo: Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Jay Beagle is coming off a career high in goals, assists, points and average ice time.  He was also great in the face-off circle, winning 56.5 percent of his draws in the regular season and 63.8 in the postseason.  Beagle is also great on the PK, ranking third among Caps in shorthanded ice time with 1:51 per game.  After resigning with Washington, he is expected to have a big year.

 

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