#14 / Right Winger
Height: 6’1” | Weight: 188 | Born: October 4, 1981
Birthplace: Cobourg, ON, CAN | Acquired: Signed as a free agent in 2017
Assets: Always shows up in big games and moments. Owns an accurate shot. Has good quickness in small areas. Gritty and elusive, he’s quite efficient at maneuvering in traffic areas. He also possesses sound defensive skills.
Flaws: Lacks strength and is significantly prone to injury, though his luck has improved over the years on the injury front. Not an especially fast skater, he must avoid taking lazy stick penalties by constantly moving his feet.
Career Potential: Clutch, veteran scoring winger.
Why You Should Know Who He Is: Caps fans already know who Justin Williams, Hockey Player™ is, but for this impending playoff series, it’s important to focus on Justin Williams, Carolina Hurricanes Player. Williams is incredibly important to this Carolina team, both on and off the ice. The Hurricanes have a relatively young roster, and Williams has emerged as an amazing leader for the team. The Canes love and respect him like Caps players love and respect Brooks Orpik; they see him as a mentor, look to him to set an example, and value what he has to say. And that’s just off the ice.
Justin Williams is the oldest player on the Hurricanes’ roster at 37, and he has the next-oldest skater (Jordan Staal) beat by seven years. However, that didn’t stop him from finishing in the top three of each scoring category for the Canes. He was second on the team in goals (23), third in assists (30), and third in points (53). His pre and post All-Star Break splits are something to note, because the second half of his season is particularly impressive:
After the Canes acquired Nino Niederreiter in mid-January, they had a new top line: Nino Niederreiter - Sebastian Aho - Justin Williams. They compliment each other spectacularly well, and that line thrived. The Canes’ push for the playoffs was successful largely because this top trio produced so consistently in the last 30 or so games of the season, and Williams was a big part of that.
How the Caps Can Stop Him: Speed. Justin Williams still has a pretty impressive arsenal of skills, but speed is not one of them. The Capitals have several speedy guys on their roster who could be incredibly effective against him. Jakub Vrana, Carl Hagelin, and Nick Jensen in particular have the potential to really pose a challenge. The Caps are also going to need to throw some big bodies at Williams, because while he isn’t the fastest on the ice, he isn’t afraid to grind through traffic to get exactly where he wants to go. It’s no secret that Williams likes to make a statement in big moments, but if the Caps can stay ahead of him, they should be able to keep him from being too effective.