For the most part, the Caps returned many of the cast of characters from the run to the Stanley Cup last season, however, on the forward front there is a big hole in the bottom-six forward corps. Specifically, there is a void on the fourth line after the Capitals lost blue-collar center Jay Beagle to free agency. It is a role that Nic Dowd looks to fill this season and so far, he’s done a good job.
The 28-year old Huntsville, Alabama native was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the seventh round (198th overall) in 2009. Even though he was drafted by the NHL he opted to continue his education first. He starred on St. Cloud State University in Minnesota and was even named team captain his senior year. During his four year college career, Dowd posted 121 points (51 goals and 69 assists).
Shortly after he played his last NCAA game, he was called up to the Kings AHL affiliate: the Manchester Monarchs. Dowd played in just seven games during that short stint but did have three assists. The next season he played in 75 games and notched 41 points (nine goals and 32 assists).
Dowd made his NHL debut at age 25 during the 2015-16 season for five games. He was a +1 and laid out three hits. He started to light up the score sheet in his second season. His first NHL goal came on October 20 against the Stars.
Dowd played in 72 games and posted 22 points (six goals and 16 assists).
Last season was a year of transition for Dowd. After 16 games with the Kings, the team traded him to the Vancouver Canucks for Jordan Subban. Dowd scored three goals in 40 games in Vancouver. He then was acquired via free agency while Beagle signed with the Canucks.
The Capitals opened the season on Wednesday night. While the emotional occasion celebrated last year’s unprecedented run to the Stanley Cup, Dowd hopes to be a part of that excitement this year. He has big shoes to fill with Jay Beagle being absent but as the season progresses he should adapt just fine.
Dowd will be looking to develop instant chemistry with Devante Smith-Pelly and Nathan Walker. After an emotionally charged intro where they raised the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters, the Caps poured on two goals in the first period by T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Then Alex Ovechkin joined the party in the beginning of the second. Not to be outdone by the top line and power play unit, the fourth line made their presence felt just under two minutes later.
What resulted was a spin-o-rama goal that makes #1 on Sportscenter in my book.
The fact that Dowd grew up in a football state where the residents either live by “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle”, played hockey and made it to the NHL is an inspiring story. No matter where you grew up, if you work hard and believe in yourself, you can achieve anyting you set your mind to.
BTW Caps fans, he’s had past success against the Penguins!