CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2012-13 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Joel Ward
Position: Right Wing
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 220
Penalty Minutes: 12
Average Ice Time: 15:07
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 4-year, $12 million contract [$3 million cap hit in 2013-14]
Strengths: After a difficult first season in Washington [6-12-18] Ward had a solid regular season [8-12-20] that over an 82-game season would have translated to 16 goals and 25 assists – exactly what the Caps expected when they signed him two summers ago. Ward was even better in the playoffs, with one goal and three assists on a relentless third line with Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault, further emphasizing the value of power forwards unafraid of going to the net in the post-season.
Weaknesses: It’s hard to fault a guy for leaving the lineup because he blocks shots, but Ward missed the final nine games of the season after absorbing a slapper off his left knee. By injury or coach’s decision he’s missed 18 games over the past two seasons after missing 16 the previous three years in Nashville. Ward has a tendency of going cold for long stretches but it’s hard to fault his work ethic and the positive influence he has in the locker room, where he’s one of the team’s most popular players.
Memorable Moment: Ward started the season off with a bang, scoring two goals in a season-opening 6-3 loss in Tampa. He had six goals after 19 games but netted just two in his final 20. One of his most poignant moments came a few days before Mother’s Day when he said this about his single mother, Cecilia: “My mother wasn’t really a lovey-dovey type of lady. She showed her love through her work, by providing for us. As a kid growing up you don’t realize that, but you do now. It was a long emotional ride, for sure, but some days you look back and you see the road she had to take. It’s pretty inspirational.”
2013-14 Expectations: Although he is sometimes mentioned as a compliance buyout candidate, Ward is likely to remain in D.C., where he’d like to build off a solid season. Adam Oates says he thinks the team found a reliable third line in the playoffs and would like to open training camp with it intact. In that role Ward and the Caps would be happy with 12 to 15 goals and 20 to 25 assists. Next season.