The Washington Capitals have an interesting dilemma at right wing. They have a surplus of right wings. It should be interesting to see how they utilize all of them. They have three who could play on the second line: Tom Wilson, Troy Brouwer, and Joel Ward. In a pinch, Eric Fehr could easily fit in on the second line, but I have him on the first line with Alex Ovechkin.
There’s a good argument to be had for each of Wilson, Brouwer, and Ward to be the primary second line right wing for the Washington Capitals. Wilson has his upside and physicality. Brouwer has the most experience of all of the options and is the only one of the options who has proven to be able to handle top six minutes. Ward was arguably the best Washington Capitals forward not named Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom last season. Let’s examine each option.
Troy Brouwer would be a very good pick to be the second line right wing. He has experience in that role and I think Brouwer could have lots of success in Barry Trotz’s system. Is he keeping the seat warm for Wilson? Probably. But until Wilson earns that top six forward spot, the Capitals could do far worse than Brouwer at second line right wing.
I think Brouwer would play well with Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who would be my second line center and left wing, respectively. If Brooks Laich is going to be on the second line, Brouwer better not be on the second line because Brouwer and Laich both have better possession stats apart from each other than they do while playing together.
Another reason why Brouwer would be a good fit for the Washington Capitals on their second line: he’s good at winning faceoffs. Johansson isn’t very good in the face-off circle, so Brouwer could take faceoffs instead of Johansson.
Barry Trotz has not kept his adoration of Tom Wilson a secret. This makes me think that Wilson is due to get an increase in playing time. While that could be a very good thing, I don’t believe that Wilson is ready to make the jump to a second line role. I think at some point during this season, he will be ready, but now is not that time. Especially not when the Washington Capitals have a perfectly capable and proven top six right wing in Brouwer.
As I said earlier, Joel Ward was arguably the Washington Capitals’ third best forward last season. That doesn’t mean that he should be a top six forward. He plays extremely well with his bald chum Jason Chimera. Those two should not be separated because they play so much better together than they do when they are apart. In a pinch, Ward could fill in on the second line and do a pretty good job. At the same time, you definitely do not want to break up Ward and Chimera.
For now, Brouwer is probably the best choice. Wilson is a pretty good option, but I’d prefer him to earn that second line role by producing on the third line. Ward is a decent fill-in, as is Fehr. They certainly have options at right wing, and that’s a good “problem” to have.
So far, these are my ideal forward lines:
Tomorrow, I’ll look into the Capitals third line options.
As always, let me know what you think in the poll and in the comments!