Capitals preview 2013: Forwards

October 1, 2013

Breaking down the Capitals’ forwards and projected lines heading into the 2013-14 campaign. (Click here for defensemen and goalies.) All stats are from last season.

FIRST LINE

LW Marcus Johannson

AGE: 22 | HT: 6-1 | WT: 205 | YEARS: 3 | G: 6 | A: 16 | P: 22 | +/-: 3

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The smooth skater will start as the complementary piece on the top line once again. How long he stays there depends on his ability to keep making developmental strides and his confidence with the puck.

 

C Nicklas Backstrom

AGE: 25 | HT: 6-1 | WT: 208 | YEARS: 6 | G: 8 | A: 40 | P: 48 | +/-: 8

(Greg Fiume/Getty)

Expected to spend bulk of the season skating with Alex Ovechkin, the franchise center is in search of a more consistent season. While he’s not known as a goal scorer, even a slight uptick would keep opponents honest.

 

RW Alex Ovechkin

AGE: 28 | HT: 6-3 | WT: 230 | YEARS: 8 | G: 32 | A: 24 | P: 56 | +/-: 2

(Adam Hunger/Reuters)

A switch to right wing brought the dynamic exuberance back to his game and led to a third Hart Trophy. A second year with Coach Adam Oates should help keep the franchise pillar a step ahead of opponents.

 

SECOND LINE

LW/C Brooks Laich

AGE: 30 | HT: 6-2 | WT: 210 | YEARS: 9 | G: 1 | A: 3 | P: 4 | +/-: 2

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Limited to only nine games last season because of a lingering groin injury that required surgery, whether the versatile forward can stay healthy and remain in the lineup is key for the Capitals’ depth.

 

C Mikhail Grabovski

AGE: 29 | HT: 5-11 | WT: 183 | YEARS: 7 | G: 9 | A: 7 | P: 16 | +/-: -10

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The skilled free agent center landed in Washington in search of a fresh start and the chance to show his top-six chops. He’ll get that, along with plenty of important minutes and a significant role on the top power-play unit.

 

RW Troy Brouwer

AGE: 28 | HT: 6-3 | WT: 213 | YEARS: 7 | G: 19 | A: 14 | P: 33 | +/-: -5

(Bruce Bennett/Getty)

Oates’s pick to set new career highs this year, the Caps will rely on the big winger for offensive production. He needs to develop chemistry with Grabovski, his third center in three seasons.

 

THIRD LINE

LW/C Martin Erat

AGE: 32 | HT: 6-0 | WT: 196 | YEARS: 11 | G: 5 | A: 19 | P: 24 | +/-: -7

(Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Healthy after suffering a sprained MCL and dislocated elbow last year, the veteran wants to finally show why the Capitals traded for him. His success is key for the ability to create a third line with scoring potential.

 

F Eric Fehr

AGE: 28 | HT: 6-4 | WT: 212 | YEARS: 8 | G: 9 | A: 8 | P: 17 | +/-: 14

(AP)

The player Oates dubbed Washington’s most versatile forward wants to add more skills to his repertoire and could see occasional time at center. Fehr adds valuable size and speed on the wing.

 

RW Joel Ward

AGE: 32 | HT: 6-1 | WT: 226 | YEARS: 6 | G: 8 | A: 12 | P: 20 | +/-: 17

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

A special-teams workhorse, he averaged nearly two minutes on the power play and more than a minute on the penalty kill last season. He’ll need to produce at even strength, too, to help balance the forward units.

 

FOURTH LINE

LW Jason Chimera

AGE: 34 | HT: 6-3 | WT: 213 | YEARS: 12 | G: 3 | A: 11 | P: 14 | +/-: -5

(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

After recording only three goals and 14 points, the speedster is in search of a bounce-back year. Washington needs him to bring the physical play and strong forechecking game that allowed him to excel in the playoffs.

 

C Jay Beagle

AGE: 27 | HT: 6-3 | WT: 215 | YEARS: 5 | G: 2 | A: 6 | P: 8 | +/-: -1

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The only right-handed center on the roster and penalty-kill specialist wants to anchor a trustworthy fourth line. He spent the summer working on his puck-handling skills in hopes of earning more responsibility.

 

RW Tom Wilson

AGE: 19 | HT: 6-4 | WT: 210 | YEARS: Rookie | G: N/A | A: N/A | P: N/A | +/-: N/A

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

His sandpaper brand of skill could be a key addition to Washington’s mix. While Wilson can hold his own physically against NHLers, how he will fare over the grind of a full 82-game season is uncertain.

 

OTHERS

LW Aaron Volpatti

AGE: 28 | HT: 6-0 | WT: 215 | YEARS: 3 | G: 1 | A: 1 | P: 2 | +/-: -2

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Last year’s waiver-wire pickup brings grit and depth to the forward corps. He may receive the opportunity to be a fourth-line regular and penalty-kill contributor following Matt Hendricks’s departure.

 

F Michael Latta

AGE: 22 | HT: 6-0 | WT: 209 | YEARS: Rookie | G: N/A | A: N/A | P: N/A | +/-: N/A

(Katie Carrera/The Washington Post)

A gritty center who was acquired with Erat in last season’s trade, he showed an ability to kill penalties and get under the skin of an opponent during the preseason. Latta had 198 penalty minutes last season in 76 AHL games.

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Katie Carrera | September 30, 2013