As part of the build-up to the first-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Panthers, Japers’ Rink will be looking at some of the important Florida men and how they might impact the series.
#52 / Defense
Height: 6’0” | Weight: 200 | Born: January 7, 1994
Birthplace: Ottawa, ONT | Acquired: Drafted 7th Round, 206th overall in 2013
Assets: Has decent offensive ability and moves the puck with aplomb (at lower levels). Owns a solid base, so he is adept at maintaining puck possession and battling down low.
Flaws: Needs to continue to work on his defensive skills when he does not have the puck, especially in terms of defensive-zone coverage. Lacks ideal height for the NHL.
Career Potential: Quality, complementary defenseman.
Why you should know who he is: MacKenzie Weegar is among the most underrated players in hockey. Granted, being a late-round pick and playing for the Florida Panthers has, up until very recently, given a player a pretty good head start in that respect. But Weegar is a top-pair, all-situation defender for the Presidents’ Trophy winner and one of the big reasons the Panthers didn’t miss a beat when his partner Aaron Ekblad went down in mid-March. Weeger and Ben Chariot are a good top pair; Weegar and Aaron Ekblad is an exceptional top pair.
How the Caps can stop him: The Caps need to get to the Panthers’ top pair before Ekblad returns, likely at some point during the series (should he be needed), and that means sustained pressure on the forecheck and cycle in the hopes that “heavy hockey” pays dividends over time – lots of dump-and-chase (against a terrific entry-denier) and hope for the best.