The Capitals had a big off-season after another disappointing postseason. They went out and signed former Nashville playoff hero Joel Ward, tough defenseman Roman Hamrlik, solid forward Jeff Halpern, and underrated goalie Tomas Vokoun. Lost in all the shuffle, though, is the man the Capitals traded on Draft Day.
A lot of people criticized the trade for Troy Brouwer when GM George McPhee traded away their 1st round pick (26th overall) for a guy whose career high in points is 40. Is that what 1st round picks are worth these days? 40 points? Well, no. Brouwer’s impact comes more without the puck. Troy Brouwer is a big man, weighing in at 214lbs and standing 6’2. That’s bigger than defenseman Karl Alzner and a few pounds less than Alex Ovechkin.
Brouwer has shown flashes of scoring brilliance. In 72 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors Brouwer had 102 points in 2005-2006. He led the WHL in both goals and points that year. He still needs to prove that it wasn’t a fluke, and I believe he’ll be able to show what he can do this year. I don’t think that coach Bruce Boudreau will use his defensive system again this year (that’s another story for another time) so Brouwer should have more chances to score, I expect him to at least start off the year on the 2nd line playing with Brooks Laich and Alex Semin. But he could move up to the big line with Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin. He may even start off the year on the top powerplay unit. Even if he doesn’t, the 2nd unit looks pretty scary potentially having Brouwer, Laich, Ward, and Marcus Johansson at forward with Dennis Wideman, John Carlson, Hamrlik and Jeff Schultz potentially on defense. That looks pretty good.
They could also put Brouwer on the penalty kill. It would look something like this: Laich-Chimera and Halpern-Brouwer/Ward at forward. If they want Brouwer to focus on offense since he’d be in the top 6 then he may not be on the PK but it is always a possibility.
Troy Brouwer is definitely my favorite off-season addition and I think he’ll end up being the best off-season addition by the end of the year. My projection for Brouwer’s points: 25G 35A 60P. We shall see what happens.