Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Joel Ward, RW
2015-16 cap hit/contract: $3.275 million, signed through 2017-18
2014-15 year in review: Ward played in every game for the Capitals last season, scoring 19 goals and 34 points in the regular season, and adding nine points (3g, 6a) in 14 playoff games. He tied for the team lead in playoff scoring with Alex Ovechkin as Washington fell in the second round. Ward spent most of the season on a third line with Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr.
Ward became expendable after the Capitals acquired forwards T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams. The Sharks quickly added him as a free agent on July 3.
[REWIND: Sharks sign veteran right wing Joel Ward]
2015-16 outlook: Ward may be 34 years old, but the Sharks are banking on him still having plenty of gas in the tank for the immediate future, as he has played just 517 career NHL games with the Wild, Predators and Caps.
He will likely assume the same role he played in Washington, skating on the right side on the second or third line. Since Joe Pavelski will probably remain on the right of Joe Thornton, Ward could slot in on the Logan Couture line or on a third line with Chris Tierney. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder should also see action on the power play, as he scored six goals there last season. Depth scoring has been an issue for the Sharks for the past few seasons, especially in 2014-15, and Ward will need to contribute on the scoreboard.
Ward is also known as a great teammate, and the Sharks factored that into their decision to bring him into a dressing room that could still have some fissures remaining from the playoff collapse in 2014, and subsequent offseason comments by management. His enthusiasm for the game was evident on a conference call shortly after he signed.
“I love playing the game. I love going to the rink,” Ward said. “I’m sure any of my former teammates can tell you I enjoy hanging out with the guys. Just come with a good attitude every day. I just want to win like everybody else does. It makes it a lot easier when you’re in a group that is trying to achieve the same goal as you.”
Should the Sharks find their way back to the postseason, Ward could be a factor. He has a knack for scoring timely playoff goals, and has a .66 points-per-game average -- up from .43 in the regular season.