With the flurry of changes to the Capitals’ lineup this offseason, Matt Hendricks is one forward who already knows he’ll have to adjust to new linemates when the 2011-12 regular season kicks off.
Last year, Hendricks played primarily alongside Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon, who have since moved on to Florida and Phoenix, respectively.
“I hate to see some of the guys go, my linemates in particular,” Hendricks said. “I got to be real close with them. But you look at the additions and I think our team’s moved forward.”
One of the new additions Hendricks will likely get plenty of time playing with is Jeff Halpern, who is penciled in as the fourth-line center.
“He’s a leader, which is gonna help us,” Hendricks said. “He’s very responsible defensively, and he can put points up. I think maybe our fourth line lacked that a little bit the last season. I think we could’ve had a little bit more production, and I think we’re leaning toward that for this season.”
Hendricks visited KCI this past weekend to appear at fan fest on the final day of development camp. Even though he’s in a different situation this offseason – now with a two-year contract under his belt, as compared to last summer, when he was searching as a free agent for a team to join – Hendricks said he appreciated the competition by the prospects.
“This is the age where kids start developing themselves and finding their niche in the game of hockey,” Hendricks said. “This is kind of where I started to find my niche and find out the type of player I was going to be at this level and just try to do all the little things that the coaches want to see.”