Destined to be the NHL’s all-time leading outdoor scorer.
Ever since Mike Knuble left the Caps– and possibly even before– hockey geeks have wanted one name above all others on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom. Eric Fehr, the 29-year-old country music fan from Winkler, Manitoba, seems to have finally gotten the nod.
Fehr is expected to play right wing on the Capitals’ top line to start the season. Your boy Chuck Gormley reported it first.
Trotz has Eric Fehr penciled in as his top-line RW. Says he can use Laich there as well. #CapitalsTalk
— Chuck Gormley (@CharlesAGormley) October 1, 2014
This is excellent news.
Fehr began his pro career as a blue-chip draft pick, selected 18th overall in 2003. A prolific scorer for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL, Fehr never really materialized at the NHL level. He cracked 20-plus goals in 2010, but a pesky shoulder injury kept Fehr from becoming the player many expected him to be.
After spending a year back home with the relocated Winnipeg Jets, Fehr returned to the Capitals, where he established himself as the single best possession forward under the Oates regime. Fehr’s strong underlying numbers made him a regular stud in the Sunday snapshot series here on RMNB, despite playing deep in the lineup for most of the year.
Plus he scores goals like this:
Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post says Trotz’s discussion of Fehr as 1RW was peppered with equivocations, but all signs seems to point to Eric Fehr finally getting his chance on the top line.
As the missing piece on Ovechkin’s opposite wing, Fehr is poised to do what hockey geeks and Fehr fans have been expecting for years: crash the net. Adam Stringham made the case concisely on Japers Rink earlier this week. In limited time with Ovechkin over the last two seasons (just 112 minutes), Fehr managed to see the Caps win 54.2 percent of the shot attempts and 66.7 of the goals. On the individual level, no forward saw a bigger increase in shooting percentage and individual shot attempts when playing with Ovechkin— a stark contrast to Marcus Johansson, who was notoriously shy to shoot and unlucky while skating with Ovi during 5v5.
(For his part, Johansson is now expected to play at wing on one of the bottom three lines, though his precise destination is not clear yet.)
Fehr’s biggest challenge may be the adjustment. Fehr has rarely skated more than 18 minutes a night over the past few years while serving depth roles. Now on the top line, he’ll likely average over 20 minutes per game. Fehr’s fitness and resilience will be challenged, particularly when going to the places on the ice Backstrom and Ovechkin will need him (i.e. the net).
But Fehr’s eagerness to shoot, his accuracy as a shooter (10% over his career), and his acumen for getting the puck to Ovechkin should make the Capitals’ top line positively lethal.
In my geeky corner of the hockey internet, this is very welcome news.
@Stringhama @FedFedRMNB Ovi Backstrom Fehr seems to be blogger consensus
— Good Tweet Pete 🌮 (@peterhassett) September 26, 2014
BTW I like the Ovechkin – Backstrom – Fehr top line.
— Netty (@netty_) December 20, 2010
Fehr on the top line is something I've wanted to see for awhile, so glad to see it continue. – pv
— Capitals Outsider (@CapsOutsider) December 20, 2010
Eric fehr should be on the top line. Get mojo outa there
— Kathryn Barry (@kbarry8) October 25, 2013
Eric Fehr is already crashing the net. Would much rather see him on top line than Jason Chimera. #Caps
— Homer McFanboy (@HomerMcFanboy) April 20, 2011
— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) July 8, 2011
P.S. I recommend browsing our Eric Fehr tag. So much good stuff in there.
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