WASHINGTON - Maybe Troy Brouwer will be that elusive locker-room leader who finally pushes the Washington Capitals deep into the post-season.
The rugged forward sounded eager to help Monday as he spoke about the draft-day trade that moved him to Washington from the Chicago Blackhawks. If nothing else, his assessment of his new team hit the bull's-eye on the first attempt.
"They've got a lot of good players," he said, "and I think their only weakness is they need to just get over that hump in the playoffs."
General manager George McPhee said he traded for Brouwer because he felt the draft was thin this year and that he wasn't going to get the kind of player he wanted with the 26th pick overall. He traded the selection for a 25-year-old physical winger who won a Stanley Cup a year ago and is "supposed to be a real good leader."
Brouwer is keenly aware of how the Capitals have built a tight-knit core of players that routinely produce regular season titles, but he also knows from his Blackhawks experience the difference a new voice can make at playoff time.
Jason Arnott was the latest to try to fill that void in Washington when he was acquired in February near the trade deadline, but the Capitals were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
"Sometimes you need a little bit of outside views, just to come in and make sure that guys are doing what they need to do in important games," Brouwer said. "There's no boundary on leadership age. Whether you're wearing a letter on a team, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're not a leader. I want to come in and help out with all the experience that I've had."
Brouwer had 17 goals and 19 assists last season. He is a restricted free agent, but he anticipates getting a new contract soon.
"From what I've been told, they're interested in signing me—or else they wouldn't be trading a first-round pick for me," he said.