Following the 2018-19 season, the Washington Capitals decided to invest more in their bottom-6, bringing in Garnet Hathaway on a four-year deal. Since then, the winger has not only found a home in Washington but remains a fundamental piece of the roster.
The 29-year-old has formed tremendous chemistry with Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin on the fourth line, which has proven to be one of Washington’s best combinations. They’re able to effectively move the puck up ice and generate pressure in the offensive zone while bringing speed and grit to the table to boot.
Hathaway proved to be a versatile, key piece of the puzzle last season, as his play at both ends proved vital for Washington. In 56 games, he registered six goals and a career-high 12 assists, and also rode a couple of impressive point streaks over the course of the campaign. Also, his high-danger goals-for percentage of 54.84 ranked seventh among all Capitals skaters with at least 11GP, and he picked up his first career playoff goals this past postseason.
At the other end of the ice, Hathaway adds toughness and physicality to the mix. He was fundamental in winning puck battles and a solid defensive forward. He led Washington with 179 hits last season, didn’t shy away from sticking up for his teammates and had the second-least giveaways (10) on the team.
His play also earned him more responsibility and trust from first-year coach Peter Laviolette. He averaged a career-high of 12:19 minutes per game (1:19 shorthanded ATOI), as well as 209 defensive zone starts, which ranked second among all Washington forwards.
Overall, Hathaway was able to capitalize on a bigger role. He made the most of his opportunity and played a fast-paced, high-energy game. He didn’t shy away from shooting the puck, and also worked with his line to bring more to the table.
“I think it’s huge for us to contribute offensively. I know we’re capable of it,” Hathaway said this past season. “You can go back to the regular season and see how we played. We take a lot of d-zone starts, but I think we contribute.”
Going forward, Washington will need Hathaway to keep the momentum going, especially if they want to make a deep run and remain a top contender. Hagelin-Dowd-Hathaway has made its case as one of the NHL’s top identity lines, and a lot of that is due in part to No. 21’s versatility, rough-and-tumble playing style and increased confidence. Expect that to continue in 2021-22.