When George McPhee signed Joel Ward to a four-year, $12-million deal, many thought it was an exorbitant contract based on a playoff performance he’d never live up to. But then, he sorta did.
|16:52||Average time on ice per game|
|50.8%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|57.9%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
Ward’s on-ice shot-attempt percentage in 10-game running segments, according to War on Ice:
Joel Ward is Washington’s secondary scoring. Like: he’s it. With the second line too unstable to produce, it fell to Ward– mainstay right wing of the third line– to give the Caps more bite. Ward did just that with 19 goals and 15 assists– 25 points during 5v5 alone.
I think that speaks to Ward’s adeptness as a finisher. He’s a sturdy guy, and he reliably drives to the net. When paired with strong possession players (which Ward is not), he can be a terrific force. He went from a 49-percent player to a 58-percent player with Backstrom and Ovechkin during the regular season (just 85 shot attempts total and 0 goals for the Caps), signaling the potential for some genuine chemistry for the late season and playoffs once given the right teammates and opportunity. (For the record, Ward spent most of the season on the third line with Eric Fehr, who did noticeably better apart from Ward.)
With a decently sized but almost certainly short term (Ward turns 35 in December) contract looming, there’s a chance that Ward could continue to put up big points– and even some super-precious clutch points– in his next posting, but I doubt that will be in Washington. With an impressive crop of young forwards on the farm and in the lineup, I doubt Brian and Barry will allocate 3 million dollars and 16 minutes of ice to Wardo. It’s a sadness, but maybe a necessary one.
You wanna see more Joel Ward? I’ll be honest– I wouldn’t mind a one-year deal for two mil, if he’d take it, which he wouldn’t. Flip side of the coin: what happens when he signs somewhere else in the conference and then you run into his big clutch ass in late May?
Read more: Japers Rink
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