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Season in review: Troy Brouwer


Season in review: Troy Brouwer

Throughout the coming weeks, Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Troy Brouwer

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

Age: 29 [turns 30 Aug. 17]

Ht/Wt: 6-3, 220

Games: 82

Goals: 21

Assists: 22

Points: 43

Penalty minutes: 53

Plus-Minus: Plus-11

Average Ice Time: 17:31

Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 3-year, $11 million contract [2015-16 salary: $3.75 million; cap hit: $3.6 million]

Strengths: As a second-line right wing, Brouwer did just about everything for the Capitals this season, from playing the diamond on the power play and playing on the top penalty-killing unit with Brooks Laich to taking key faceoffs and providing a net-front presence on a nightly basis. Despite a slow start, Brouwer finished the regular season second on the Caps with 21 goals, eight of them coming on the power play and two while shorthanded. He also averaged 2:06 of penalty kill time, second among forwards behind Laich [2:10]. Despite playing on the right side, Brouwer took 441 faceoffs, fourth on the club behind centers Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Fehr and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and won a team-high 56.9 percent of them. Brouwer also performed well in real-time stats, finishing second behind Alex Ovechkin in hits with 206 and fourth in blocked shots with 39. He was also tied with Marcus Johansson for first among Caps regulars in shooting percentage [14.5].

Room for improvement: Playoff performance. It is difficult to go deep in the playoffs when your second leading scorer does not score a goal in the playoffs. In 14 playoff games Brouwer had just three assists, was a minus-3 and took five minor penalties. In his playoff career with the Capitals, Brouwer has played in 35 playoff games and has just three goals, six assists and is a minus-5. That’s not enough from a player who was brought to Washington to help get them over the hump in the post-season. If the Caps continue to use Brouwer in the diamond on the power play, he'll need to produce more from that spot to keep teams from shadowing Alex Ovechkin in the left circle.

Memorable Moment: The setting could not have been more perfect. A sun-splashed 2015 Winter Classic at Nats Park. The Caps on the power play in the closing minute of a tied game. A sellout crowd on its feet. His father, Don, who watched him win a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010 from a hospital bed after suffering a stroke, in the stands. That was the backdrop when Brouwer scored the game-winning goal with 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation on Jan. 1, 2015, giving the Caps a thrilling 3-2 win.

Quotable: “I’ve had some good moments in my hockey career, but this one, with all the intangibles, that played a part in it.  My parents being able to come into town, playing against my former team, this being the first goal that I scored against my former team and the dramatic fashion at the end of the game of how everything played out is definitely going to, you know, it’s going to be a memorable day.” – Brouwer after scoring the winning goal in the 2015 Winter Classic

2015-16 Expectations: Brouwer is getting paid second-line money, but he’s probably best suited to be a third-line right wing. The Caps could create some cap space by moving Brouwer at the draft, but they’d probably be better off promoting Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson or a proven goal-scorer to that spot and slotting Brouwer on the third line, where his 20 goals and 20 assists would be far more impactful.

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Key Caps questions: How will Samsonov look in his first season in North America?

Scout Pruski

Key Caps questions: How will Samsonov look in his first season in North America?

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: How will Ilya Samsonov play in his first season in North America?

What else is there to say about Samsonov's time in the KHL? In the limited action he saw playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, he looked every bit the starting goalie the Caps hoped he would one day be when they drafted him in the first round of the 2015 draft. Now, finally, he is ready to start his North America career.

What makes the transition from Europe to North America difficult?

First, Samsonov is adjusting to a new country and a new language. Second, the workload in North America is much larger, even in practice.

"He probably saw more shots today than he saw in a month of practice in Russia and this was nothing," director of player development Steve Richmond said during development camp. "For me, that's the biggest thing for him is to learn how to practice in North America."

And then there's the rink size. The game is faster for goalies in North America because of the smaller rink. Scoring chances develop much more quickly and Samsonov will also be dealing with different angles. It also means dealing with a lot more traffic in front of the net. He is going to have to learn more how to track the puck through a screen and to react much more quickly.

I tried to watch Samsonov closely in development camp. His size definitely stood out. He takes up a lot of the net, but is still very athletic and very quick in and out of the butterfly. As big as he is, however, he seems to play very low to compensate for his size which leaves him vulnerable up high at times. He would make a handful of very good saves, then let in a soft one glove side or in the corners because he was playing too low.

Those areas of his game can be improved on with practice so long as you have the skill and Samsonov certainly has that.

Samsonov has been elite at every level he has played and there is no reason to think that won't continue in the AHL. Having said that, there is just too much he needs to adjust to expect him to be ready for the NHL at this point. He needs as much playing time as possible at the AHL level before he is ready. As long as that's where he spends the season, I expect him to put up similar numbers to the 2.31 GAA, .926 save percentage he managed last season in the KHL.

Other key Caps questions:

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Oddsmakers give three Capitals the chance to win MVP in 2018-19

Oddsmakers give three Capitals the chance to win MVP in 2018-19

There are no signs of Alex Ovechkin slowing down heading into his first season after winning a Stanley Cup. Bovada just released their latest odds for the Hart Memorial Trophy (the NHL’s Most Valuable Player Award) and Ovechkin was tied with the third-best odds to win in all of the NHL at 10/1.

He was joined by two other Washington Capitals, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov both at 50/1 odds. 

Here are all the odds for the top 11 players:

Connor McDavid          10/3
Sidney Crosby              13/2
Auston Matthews        10/1
Alex Ovechkin               10/1
Jon Tavares                   10/1
Taylor Hall                     15/1
Nikita Kucherov            15/1
Nathan MacKinnon      15/1
Mark Scheifele              15/1
Anze Kopitar                  18/1
Evgeni Malkin                18/1

The only two players ahead of ‘The Great 8’ are the 21-year-old McDavid and dreaded rival Crosby.

Even with the immense amount of alcohol that has been consumed in the past two months, Ovechkin is still commanding respect in Vegas. It is hard not to when he turns around these intense offseason workouts. At 32, Ovechkin led the NHL in scoring with 49 goals a year ago, the seventh such time he has done so. 

Already the 2018 Conn Smythe winner has three MVP trophies to his name (one more than Crosby) and there is no telling what to expect now that the 11-time All-Star has a Stanley Cup title. 

In his 11 years in the league, Backstrom has never received any votes for the Hart Memorial Trophy. Kuznetsov only has done so once and that was in the 2015-16 season.