ARLINGTON — Nic Dowd did not let on that anything big had happened to him today.
Sitting at his locker, hours before his first Stanley Cup playoff game, Dowd patiently answered questions about his role with the Capitals this season, about the ups and downs of trying to establish himself with a new team that had won a title last spring and came back almost intact.
Dowd’s day got better. The Capitals signed him to a three-year, $2.25 million contract extension on Thursday. A player drafted in the seventh round in 2009, Dowd had a long road to get to the NHL and finally has some stability .
He grew up Huntsville, Ala., where his dad, Alan, practiced medicine. That’s not exactly a hockey hotbed. The nearest NHL rink is a few hours up the highway in Nashville. But Dowd spent a year playing junior hockey in Indiana and then four years at St. Cloud State, where he went to a Frozen Four with current Capitals teammate Nick Jensen.
After that came two full years in the American Hockey League playing in a loaded Los Angeles Kings organization. Dowd helped the Manchester Monarchs win an AHL title, but all that got him was five NHL games the next season in Los Angeles.
After he broke in with the Kings in 2016-17 for a full season, Dowd was traded last year to the Vancouver Canucks and not re-signed after the season.
The Capitals had a hole at fourth-line center when Jay Beagle left for a big-money contract with the Canucks. They liked Dowd and gave him a shot on a one-year deal worth $650,000. He has eight goals and 14 assists in 64 games. He had a nice streak in November with three goals in four games, including one in consecutive games in New York with Alan watching from suites on the team’s annual dads and mentors trip to games against the Rangers and Islanders.
Dowd appeared in 21 of 23 games down the stretch as he solidified his hold on the fourth-line center role. He is second on the Capitals in faceoff winning percentage (51.9 percent). Ironically, his good friend Jensen, a college teammate and member of his wedding party, signed a four-year contract after being acquired by the Capitals just before the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline.
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