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Crabb's work ethic lands him in D.C.

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Crabb's work ethic lands him in D.C.

When Joey Crabb had to wait until the seventh round to be taken 226th overall in the 2002 NHL draft he had a pretty good idea his road to the NHL would be a rocky one.

In fact, only three other players taken below Crabb in that draft are currently in the NHL Max Talbot 234th overall, Dennis Wideman 241st and Adam Burish 282nd.

But as Crabb, 29, has learned during a six-year professional career for the Chicago Wolves and Toronto Marlies of the AHL 299 games and the Atlanta Thrashers and Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL 144 games, persistence has its merits.

You always just gotta keep a strong work ethic, Crabb told reporters in a conference call on Monday after signing a one-year, one-way contract with the Capitals worth 950,000.

I was always confident in my game and confident I could play in the NHL. Obviously, I would have liked to get there earlier. I think with a couple different turns I might have been. I think its made me a bit of a stronger person and it helps me mentally.

In Crabb, the Capitals acquired a hard-hitting, penalty-killing, 6-foot-1, 190-pound right wing who last season scored 11 goals and added 15 assists and 33 penalty minutes in 67 games with the Maple Leafs.

For Caps fans looking for comparisons, think Matt Hendricks.

Im more of an energy guy, Crabb said. I play a two-way game. I like to take the body and create energy and get in on the forecheck. I have some offensive skills a little bit, too. I can chip in a goal here and there.

Crabb has played his last five pro seasons under one-year, two-way contracts. His most recent with the Maple Leafs was for 750,000 at the NHL level and 105,00 at the AHL level. The contract he signed on Monday represents his first one-way contract.

I talked to a handful of teams trying to work out a deal and the Capitals came up with one, Crabb said. One of the important factors for me was that theyre obviously a contender and theyre a good team. It seems like a good fit. Im just excited for a chance to win some games.

Crabb got a late start to his pro career because he spent four years at Colorado College, where he totaled 18 goals and 25 assists in 42 games as a senior. Crabbs most productive season in the AHL came in 2009-10 when he had 24 goals and 29 assists in 79 games with the Chicago Wolves.

If the Caps can get about half of that production from Crabb next season, along with some solid play on the penalty kill, theyll consider Mondays signing a steal.

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D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

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@tkopaintings on Twitter

D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

Local artist Taylor Kampa has taken her love for the Washington Capitals and turned it into works of art. 

You can find paintings done by Kampa of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby on display at Circa Chinatown – a restaurant neighboring Capital One Arena – along with other D.C. celebrities.

A professional artist for the last decade, Kampa told NHL.com that the pictures were "passion projects," and took about eight hours to finish. She became a fan of the Caps after she began dating her now-husband back in 2009.

Her work has even caught the eye of The Great Eight. After posting a video to Instagram of her painting Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner liked and commented on it. 

"I almost died," Kampa said.

"It has been amazing sharing something that I am excited about that resonates with the people in my city," Kampa said. "I've been painting these portraits for a long time, so it's awesome to have them seen by so many people."

Kampa will also create paintings for the Capitals foundation's annual Casino Night fundraiser next year. 

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Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Who will be the team's primary fourth line center?

With the departure of Jay Beagle, there is a spot open at center on the fourth line. There appears on the roster to be three clear candidates to fill that position: Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd.

To find out why you should cross Stephenson’s name off the list, you should read yesterday's Key Caps Question about whether or not Stephenson is a wing or a center. To summarize, Washington sees Stephenson as more of a wing which explains why they both re-signed Boyd and brought in Dowd.

So who will it be between those two?

Both players seem to fit the mold as effective centers in the AHL where they were both productive. Dowd has an edge in NHL experience with 131 NHL games as compared to Boyd’s eight.

But Barry Trotz clearly had faith in Boyd at center which is why we saw him fill in on the top line on March 18 in Philadelphia. Boyd rewarded that faith with a spin pass to Alex Ovechkin for an assist, his first career point.

Trotz is now gone and Todd Reirden is in charge, but there is at least a level of familiarity there with the coaching staff and Boyd, more so than with Dowd who is new to the organization.

Second, the Caps may have tipped their hand a bit when you compare the two contracts. Center is an important position and Brian MacLellan has frequently referenced the team’s strength in center depth as a major reason for their Cup run.

Both Boyd and Dowd were signed over the offseason. Both contracts are one-way, suggesting both will be in the NHL, but Boyd’s cap hit is $800,000 while Dowd’s is $650,000. Of course, that will not matter when the players get on the ice. If Dowd outplays Boyd, he will start over him. Plus, the market ultimately dictates price. Even if the Caps wanted Dowd for their top line, if you can get him for $650k, you sign him for $650k.

Considering how important a position center is, however, even on the fourth line, it seems telling that the team was willing to give Boyd, a player with eight games of experience to his name, $800k while Dowd was signed for the minimum. That seems to suggest the Caps at least foresee Boyd having a bigger role which, for two players penciled in for the fourth line, would mean playing him at center.

Other key Caps questions: