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The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 16 Madison Bowey

The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 16 Madison Bowey

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?

RELATED: Marcus Johansson eager for fresh start with Devils

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

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JJ vs. the fans bold predictions: A big night for Tom Wilson?

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JJ vs. the fans bold predictions: A big night for Tom Wilson?

In the very first edition of JJ vs. the fans bold predictions, no one got a single prediction right. Well, there’s nowhere to go but up!

The Caps hit the road on Friday to take on the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington Plus). Let’s check out our predictions.

RELATED: MADISON BOWEY IS ALREADY LOOKING MUCH IMPROVED

Fan predictions:

For those who don't know, a Gordie Howe hat trick is a goal, an assist and a fight all in one game. Tom Wilson gets the promotion to the top line tonight and Wade is expecting big things. I am not so bullish on it. I think adjusting to a new line and a new side, Wilson has moved from right wing to left, will take Wilson some time.

The Caps face former defenseman Mike Green and Garrett thinks he is going to get one past Braden Holtby. This is pretty bold considering Green has yet to record a single point in five games against his former squad.

The Capitals’ defense has had its problems of late and it has certainly dragged down the penalty kill. Remember how hot the penalty kill was to start the season? Now the Caps rank 19th in the league at 78.6-percent. Still, two power play goals is a lot considering Detroit ranks 24th in the NHL with a success rate of only 14.8-percent.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-RED WINGS

JJ’s predictions:

The Caps will allow more than two goals

Washington’s defense is not as bad as they looked against Philadelphia, but it isn't as good as they looked against Toronto either. One thing that helped against the Maple Leafs was that the game was at home. Barry Trotz could get the favorable matchups for his rookie defensemen as his team had the second change. That won’t be true on Friday in Detroit. The defense will struggle as a result.

John Carlson will play more than he did against Toronto

See above. Carlson logged a hefty 27:33 on Tuesday and that was with the Caps getting the second change. The Caps will rely even more on him on the road.

Washington will get at least two goals form players not named Ovechkin, Oshie and Backstrom

Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom have 17 of the Caps’ 22 goals this season. Perhaps the big three will have another big night, but eventually the team will need someone else to step up and score. Whether because the team emphasizes it or through just dumb luck, the Caps are going to record a few points from a few of their other players on Friday.

Want to see your tweet among the fan predictions for the next game? Tweet your prediction to @JJReganNBCS every game day! Remember, we don’t just want to know who will win or the score, we want to see specifics. Be bold!

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

Madison Bowey’s second game went a lot better than his first and it’s not just because the Caps allowed only two goals as opposed to eight.

Despite being thrust into a significant role in his first taste of NHL experience, Bowey seemed to settle in a bit in his second contest even as it came against the NHL’s best offense in the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Just everything in the first game felt like it happened so quick, I think,” Bowey said Thursday after the team’s practice. “It was obviously nice to come back in Washington and play in the home in front of the home crowd, get a practice in on Monday before the game Tuesday with the team. Just all the little factors that went into it definitely helped and I think it definitely felt a lot smoother out there on the ice.”

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Playing at home definitely has its benefits for the coaching staff as they try to protect the rookie defensemen. Home teams get the chance to change after the visiting team allowing the coaches to pick the matchups they want for Bowey.

More favorable matchups certainly helped him, but Bowey also seemed to play with more confidence and a level of calm that was not there against Philadelphia. For Bowey, the difference was having time to settle in and practice with the team.

“Obviously this team is one of the veteran teams in the league so to be able to practice against top players in the league, it goes a long way,” Bowey said.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS SHOULD NOT TRADE PROSPECT IIYA SAMSONOV

Bowey was called up for a Saturday game in Philadelphia after Matt Niskanen suffered a hand injury Friday in New Jersey. That means he quickly had to join the team and jump into the lineup for his first ever NHL game without any practice with the Caps at all.

Bowey now has two practices and two games under his belt and even a team-building day at FBI training. The effect that has had on his game was noticeable on Tuesday. It should be even more clear on Friday as the team travels to face the Detroit Red Wings.

“I feel myself improving every day,” Bowey said. “It forces you to really work hard and be on your top every day you come to the rink so for me, just having those two practices already have been huge. I feel the development's getting a lot better early.”