Joel Ward: 2013-14 Season Review

Deep breaths, everybody. Just let the puns wash over you.

For a man who once got stuck in a bathroom, Joel Ward‘s season was anything but poop. Ward somehow managed to wash away the crap that made other Caps stink this season. What we got from Wardo instead was an unlikely career-best season, and I’m not just polishing a you-kn0w-what here.

(Okay, I’m done. That was awful. I am sorry.)

By the Numbers

82 Games played
15.7 Average time on ice per game
24 Goals
25 Assists
47.4% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
54.5% Goal percentage during 5v5
10.3% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
92.4% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

Peter’s Take

I was skeptical when Joel Ward got paired up with Jason Chimera at the beginning of the season. They seemed to me to be too similar to be complementary. I was wrong. While they didn’t drive possession, Chimera, Ward, and whichever Spinal Tap drummer took their faceoffs were by far the best thing the Caps had going during 5v5 this year. Looking back, I guess it makes sense. Ward is an excellent player in the corners, and Chimera’s got wheels, so as a pair they made a lot of sense playing a dump-and-chase style. It worked, and that’s all that matters.

Or maybe mattered is the better word choice. There’s reason to suspect Ward wouldn’t be able to match that level of output next season. The 7 percent gap between possession and production is the first and biggest hint of that. While those 35 points during 5v5 are laudable, without steadily outshooting opponents Ward won’t be able to fend off regression. Ward’s shooting percentage was 18 percent this season (14.7 during 5v5), but he’s spent as many seasons under 10 percent as over, so it might be unwise to think he’ll keep the hot stick individually as well.

I don’t wanna take anything away from Ward, who’s a likable and steady player (and underrated on the PP if you ask me), but I think it’s important to frame his success this season soberly. The Chimera-Ward line worked their asses off to make 5v5 play bearable for Caps fans, and they managed to generate dangerous shots at an unlikely rate. But a player coming off a career year with one year at three million left on his contract is an attractive bargaining chip, and if the Caps are truly “refreshing,” they should consider moving Joel Ward.

Wardo on RMNB

In Pictures

Having the black guy who isn’t bald play the white guy who is bald is a continuing source of amusement for me.

Evidence of why everyone loves Joel.

Here’s some of that underrated PP action I was talking about, although I’m pretty sure your grandma coulda scored here too.

Stealing Chimmer’s goal.

Your Turn

What was it about Wardo’s play that gave him his best season ever? Can he do it again? Am I a total sad sack for saying he’s an attractive trade chip? It’s not like I don’t love him. I love him. You do too, right?

Read more: Japers Rink, Peerless

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  • Lawrence

    You are right about his trade value. It will be no higher than it is right now. That said, I hope they keep him. Our third line has been one of the positive things about the caps the last couple years and if they can get the rest of the team going, that third line could give us a big advantage over some of the better teams out there. I would much rather see Brouwer and Laich traded before Ward is touched.

  • Boush

    Everything just “clicked” for Ward this year. He developed great chemistry with his opposite wing, the bounces went his way, and they didn’t go the other team’s way all too often. It’s great to see that happen, and I highly doubt it will again.

    He was one of my prime “tradetradetrade” candidates, but with Trotz in town now… I don’t know, maybe he should stay at least until the deadline. I don’t think he has a future in DC after this season, though. I like him, but with the team’s depth at RW, he is expendable, has a relatively high cap hit, and his trade value will never be higher than it is today.

  • Graham Dumas

    “…at [three] million”?

  • thanks!

  • Graham Dumas

    Even if Wardo does regress, doesn’t he only regress to the status he occupies now: that of third-line wing? We spent all season talking about how he and Chimmer were outplaying their third-linedness, so if they slide back down to be solid third-liners who play that way, dumping, chasing, and grinding it out, I don’t see that as much of a loss.

    Sure, it’ll be an expensive line, but since he’s on-contract anyway and that we’re not super likely to trade him (or so I infer), I don’t think that’s the worst outcome out there.

  • Owen Johnson

    Joel Randal Ward story.
    During preseason, I went to Kettler with my brother and my (then 4 year old, now 5 year old) nephew. He was having an absolute blast, so I took him up to the glass. This made him even more excited, and he started jumping up and down shrieking with joy. Joel Ward noticed this as he skated by, so he turned around, smiled at us, and banged the glass in front of us.
    Joel Ward is good people.

  • DashingDave314

    Ward crashes the net and skates hard. Fights for every single loose puck. Maybe the spirit of Mike Knuble has possessed Joel Ward?

  • tpr04

    The RW they need to trade is Brouwer, not Ward. You could probably get more for Brouwer, who is younger and on a longer contract. Also, I think Brouwer has become far too reliant on the PP for his numbers.

    If the team is out of it, and not just statistically, at the trade deadline, that’s where, if you haven’t extended him, you trade Ward. He’s exactly the type of players teams look for as they’re trying to load up for a playoff run. A physical guy with an expiring contract whose play elevates in the playoffs, one high sticking penalty aside.

    Basically, I think you get more for Ward at the trade deadline than you do in the offseason. And if you happen to be good, you keep him for the playoffs.

  • CJ

    Something worth noting is our new coach. Not only will GMBM and Trotz be actively communicating this off season and figuring out what the team should look like going forward but Trotz knows Ward rather well. It would be a big decision and not just by GMBM. Trotz would have to feel like he could let a player he knows really well leave before having the chance to work with him again and it ‘could’ hurt is trade value if it is seen as a former coach didn’t want him.

  • CJ

    I dunno, I think Ward raised his play plenty to reach that high stick.
    Anyone? Anyone?

  • Shaun Phillips

    I think you give him 2nd line PP minutes, stick his butt in the goalie’s face, and you see his production stay steady from this year. Suddenly that 3 million isn’t too bad.

  • Sarah

    You can say he’s a trade target, Peter. You can doubt his abilities to match last season’s numbers. You can (dramatic pause) very nearly doubt his awesomeness.
    But… what are you wearing to the game when he proves you wrong??? #PeterInSpandex #VictoryLoafForWardo

  • Cthulu’s Alarm Clock

    “Spinal tap drummer” LOLOLOL

  • yv

    I think J. Ward is one of the very few players who has really benefited playing under A. Oates. Hockey like golf or tennis is a game of angles. The important things AO did to Wardo’ game was that he insisted that Ward played with shorter stick and different blade angle and curve. That allowed Wardo to shoot pucks in tight spaces with more force and precision and this immediately showed up on his scoring stats. Ward’ sticks was in VC for sale for couple years and really amazed with its length, only Semin’s was close to Wardo’s. Maybe Sasha-minor should also follow AO’ technical advises and he would be again 40-50 goal scorer and will take less stick penalties.

  • Myan

    Ward’s trade value has never been higher than it is now and we could get a very good young player if we move him..especially if we package him up with a pick. The way I see it, our system is full of prospects who are dying for a chance. If we moved Wardo, we could make room for our young guys to grow into and net an investment for the future.

  • John M

    The Capitals shouldn’t be looking to get rid of anyone, shopping them to see what they can get, especially if it’s a fourth round pick (!). What they should be doing is looking to “trade for” players that fill holes, and by holes, I mean defense.
    In the course of “trading for”, the question is not who would you trade, but who wouldn’t you if the other team asks. I’m gonna say you don’t trade Ovi, Backstrom, Kuzya, Holtby, Grabovski (sign him!), Carlson, and probably Orlov (unless it’s a blockbuster). Some people would say Wilson, because youth.
    Still, I think you look for teams looking for RW, because that’s the only position of strength the Capitals have, and we know (Ward and Brouwer) that it’s not as strong as it might appear.
    So you don’t worry about “former coach doesn’t want him,” because you trade Ward if another team asks for him.

  • Matt McNeely

    I love Joel Ward’s game. Joel Ward is a Top 5 most valuable Capital. And he will prove it in 2014-2015. He’s the single biggest reason for the 3rd line’s success in ’13-’14. I don’t expect any drop in his numbers next season. We will see him continue to pull up his linemates’ numbers no matter who he’s paired with. In fact, if I had my way Wardo would produce even more points in the form of assists on Ovi’s 5v5 goals. I declare myself the biggest Joel Ward fan in Washington!

  • Matt McNeely

    Brouwer is expendable at RW. Wardo absolutely is not. Value is value. His high trade value is the same value that makes him more valuable to the Caps than ever.

  • Graham Dumas

    That’s definitely one way to get good production out of him. Not sure if I like him on the crease, though, since he’s so good at corner battles. But that’s trifling stuff, really nitpicking.

  • Matt McNeely

    Joel Ward is in his prime. Get what you can out of Ward now, because his next deal is going to be out of our price range.

  • Graham Dumas

    Spandex has been done. Up your game, Sarah!

  • Sarah

    Up yours. 😉 Maybe Peter can do something Game of Thrones themed? I think he’d look pretty good in a tunic. With some elf ears.

  • Matt McNeely

    I’m so high on Wardo, I will take any bet from anyone and do anything if Joel Ward does NOT score 20G next season as a Washington Capital.

  • Sarah

    You and me both! I’m so totally serious about the Canadian Victory Loaf. Since I’m not from Canada or Russia I’m going to have to do some thinking about what the heck that would be, but I’m pretty sure I could get it done.

  • mucha563

    I knew Ward was having a great season, but I didn’t realize that fans of other teams were starting to fear his presence until I was at a Duck’s game and a Duck fan kept saying, “Joel Ward go away”, every time he was near the goal.

  • Graham Dumas

    He comes as Mario and/ or Luigi, those magical plumbers who, having rescued the princess, were clearly the only guys up for the job of getting Ward out of his bathroom brouhaha.

  • Sarah

    Oh God. That is brilliant. Now we just need to find Peter a princess and we’re all set. I’m glad we’re getting this all worked out with no input from the man himself. It’ll be settled in no time!

  • JenniferH

    I know everyone says he will make a great trade and I can totally see that, but I do not want to lose Wardo, I LUFF him! and I’m banking on the fact that he and Trotz have a relationship already in the hopes that we keep him.

  • JenniferH

    Oh, Sarah, you’ve got your Tolkien and GRRM mixed up. Elf ears (and Orks and Ents and what-not) is Lord of the Rings. Game of the Thrones is knights, and incest and dragons and stuff.

  • Sarah

    Sorry, the only TV I watch is hockey (or basketball). I still want to see Peter with elf ears, though, especially after the elf discussion we had the other day.

  • Shaun Phillips

    In most PP setups I’ve seen that use a crease crasher, the guy that sets up shop in front is usually responsible for behind the net and helping in the corners to get the puck back to the point/edges. Once the puck is recovered, he heads to his office and parks his arse in front while the guys play catch out top waiting for him to get in place and a shooting lane to open. This can easily morph into the 1-3-1 OviSpot Special too.

  • Graham Dumas

    Oh, yeah, that’ll work. I was going off of what we seemed to be doing this year, with MJ90 on the low side. But there’s no disputing that Wardo would be great on the crease, given size and strength.

  • JenniferH

    Legolas he can be then! And with a long, flowing blond wig! 🙂

  • Sarah

    No, no, I said we need to *find* him a girl, not make him look like one. Just kidding, I totally <3 Orlando Bloom as Legolas (and have always been a huge Rings fan). Peter could rock that.

  • JenniferH

    Sigh. Legolas. I ♥ him so!

  • Red

    Trade bait? More like soul mate (for Chim-dog). How can you bust this up?

  • Pavel Fomenko

    You’d be a complete GMGM to let that happen!

  • The Children of the Forest might be a little elf like.

    Except tinier.

  • Sarah

    Peter, what do the upvotes signify? An aversion to wigs? Your aforementioned interest in elves? That, dare I hope, this Game of Thrones Peter thing could actually happen when Wardo scores 20+ goals again???
    Because he will, you know. #thebank

  • DashingDave314

    I just realized how hilarious it is that Ward is the bald white guy when Chimera is already bald.

  • Rob Reichhelm

    These guys obviously have good chemistry and have fun together on the same line. I think if you find a good center for that line, you have to put these guys on a line together again next season.

  • Rob Reichhelm

    Hopefully not a BMGM, oh sorry I meant GMBM.

  • Bhulinwall

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Peter you must be Mcphee’s brother!! How many dumb comments are you gonna make about Wardo!! You really have no clue! Can we trade you off this site..or it’s time to get a new one! You really SUCK!!!

  • Mike Johnson

    Wardo made a fan for life!

  • Guest

    Luke’s (the nephew) fandom was cemented that morning.

  • Adam Johnson

    I’m be truly truly upset if he leaves the Caps at any point. Just a super rad guy and he has such a good season.

  • Taylor

    I really think you guys are overvaluing shooting attempt percentage, especially when there’s such a big disparity between shooting attempt percentage and 5 on 5 goals for percentage.

    I agree, he’s got ammo to ask for a raise, but him and Chimmer really forced play into the offensive zone. A full shift of hard cycling that doesn’t generate any shots still adds value, especially if you can sneak fresh legs on while they’re tying up the puck in the corner furthest from the benches.

    He’s also an incredible dude, and I would hate to see him go 🙁