2011-2012 Washington Capitals Player Profile: Joel Ward
Back in September, I remember saying that Tomas Vokoun was not the most important off-season acquisition by the Washington Capitals, but rather it was underrated two-way power forward Joel Ward. I expected him to have an impact on the Capitals, but I could not have predicted that he would be doing so well.
Joel Ward signed a four year deal worth $12 million with the Capitals this off-season after spending the past three seasons with the Nashville Predators. Ward was well-liked in Nashville because of his versatility. The Predators are known to be a defense-first team and when you watch Joel play, it’s pretty obvious to see why he was so popular in Nashville.
Most people see Joel Ward as a grinder, but I see him as a power forward. He fights for every single puck and is not afraid to use his 6’1″ 226 pound frame to his advantage. He wins a lot of pucks against the boards, and he is an extremely underrated presence on this team. Yes, his 7 points through 12 games shows that he has been fairly productive, but that does not begin to explain Joel Ward’s production.
The reason Joel Ward is so important to the Capitals is because he does all the little things that you don’t see on the stat sheet. He’ll fight for that puck on the boards. He uses the boards to his advantage, even when passing. He hustles back on defense and is arguably the Capitals’ best forward on defense. He’s not afraid to park himself in front of the net and screen the goalie. All those things are necessary to win games, and Joel Ward is not afraid to do those things even if he doesn’t get recognition for doing so.
Ward is a member of my favorite forward line: The third line, which features Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera. They have incredible chemistry and they are one of the best checking lines that I’ve ever seen. Their job is a tough one: shut down your opponent’s top forward line. They do exactly that, and Joel Ward is a big reason why they are able to do so.
Mark my words, Joel “Soul Brother” Ward is going to have a huge say in whether or not this Capitals team can make a deep playoff run. If it’s up to him though, I like our chances.
To look at Joel Ward’s career stats, click here.