Every player on an NHL team plays a role.Some, of course, play bigger roles than others.
In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.
Today's player: No. 16 Madison Bowey
The Caps have openings on defense and the two most likely candidates to fill those roles are Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey. That’s why they came in at Nos. 17 and 16 respectively on our list of the 25 most important Capitals this season.
While both Djoos and Bowey are tremendous players brimming with potential, Bowey comes in slightly above Djoos based on the eye test. While there are questions over whether Djoos can be successful given his size, there are no such questions when it comes to the 6-foot-2, 206-pound Bowey. When he takes the ice, he will certainly look the part of an NHL player.
But can he play like one?
For the first few months of the 2016-17 season, the answer was an emphatic yes. Bowey was playing the best hockey of his professional career with the Hershey Bears until a lacerated tendon in December derailed his season. When he returned from injury, he never seemed to regain his earlier form. Bowey’s regular season was ultimately limited to only 34 games.
Had Bowey maintained the level of play in which he began the season, there would not be two spots open on defense, there would likely only be one with Bowey cemented into the team's lineup.
Given how he started last season and how he finished, training camp will be absolutely critical for Bowey. Bowey, unlike Djoos, remains waiver exempt. If he continues to struggle to return to top form, he may end up starting the season in Hershey until he can work his game back up to the level the Caps need it to be. Even if he does start in the AHL, however, Bowey is likely to spend more time in Washington this season than he is in Hershey.
Bowey, 22, ultimately projects as a top-four defenseman. His style is a puck-mover and he is more known for his offensive skill. He has great offensive instincts and always knows the best time to step into the offensive play. Mistakes in the defensive end are a minor concern, but as a defenseman who has the puck on his stick as often as he does, his mistakes tend to be more pronounced making it seem like it is more of an issue than it actually is. Bowey is often tasked with starting the breakout from the defensive zone and is very good on the first pass. In the NHL, he will have to be quick with those breakout passes to ensure he is not caught in his own end as he has been at times in the AHL.
As a puck-moving, right-shot defenseman, he is a tailor-made fit for the third pair alongside Brooks Orpik. While many prospects will vie for time with the Capitals this season, Bowey’s skill and size make him the most likely of those prospects to cement a spot with the NHL squad and play a significant role this season.
Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.
— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
— No. 22 Pheonix Copley
— No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly
— No. 20 Taylor Chorney
— No. 19 Nathan Walker
— No. 18 Philipp Grubauer
— No. 17 Christian Djoos