Danick Paquette is bruiser whom the Capitals received from the Winnipeg Jets along with a fourth-round pick in exchange for right-winger Eric Fehr.
Paquette had recently cracked Winnipeg's AHL roster and performed well in his short time there.
To be brutally honest, Paquette is actually the player I am most excited about right now. After seeing him play all week, I really like what GMGM got in return for Fehr.
Washington is lacking in pests and bruisers. Sure, Matt Hendricks and Troy Brouwer love to throw their weight around and are two of the highest-hitting players in the league, but the Caps don't have any forwards who really have a mean-streak.
Danick models his game after Chris Neil and Sean Avery. Sean Avery is an idiot. Most of the time. But he still can be effective for his team when he's not being a head-case.
Chris Neil isn't known for being a nice-guy—he's actually known for his dirty play—but by my observation, Paquette has taken the good parts of these guys' games and made it his style.
I don't think Paquette likes going to handbag conventions like Avery and hopefully he won't be fond of throwing high-hits and elbows like Neil is. By my observation, Paquette seems to be a bit classier than those guys, but to be sure, he does love to throw the body.
He's great at it, too.
Paquette is like Neil in that he lays extremely heavy hits without seeming to put out any effort.
I know of Washington fans watch guys like Ovie—or especially Semin—rip shots on net and wonder how they make it look so effortless. Paquette does that with his hits.
During the scrimmage on Saturday, he laid a hit on the boards that gave off a huge, thunderous, rumble and I wondered how the other guy didn't crumble upon impact.
Paquette only weighs in at 210-pounds but is very strong and great at using his body. This guy will lay a hit every chance he gets.
He doesn't hit just to be a goon, though. His hits were very effective on the forecheck and one of his hits led directly to a goal for his team—he hit the winger playing on the half-boards trying to clear the zone, got possession of the puck and sent it in front to a teammate who potted the disc quickly.
What was most impressive about Paquette is that he does a lot more than hit. He's what McPhee had hoped DJ King would be a much more. King was supposed to be a guy who could fight but also contribute on the forecheck and be a player.
Paquette actually has a really soft pair of hands. He reminds me a lot of Matt Hendricks; he's definitely more of a brute but he lays hard hits, has good heavy hands for the fistacuffs but also a nice pair of soft hands for good passing and shooting.
Throughout the week, the Montreal native showed that he is quite an effective playmaker. His passes were always crisp and hard. He also has really quick hands for getting passes away quickly, handling the puck well and putting shots on net quickly.
He's also a really smart player. When you watch him play, you can tell that he's focused and he's always right where he should be.
This guy also hustles. On one occasion, he busted his tail to get back to even out a three-on-two for the other squad. He consistently hustles to loose pucks as well. It seemed like every time there was a loose puck when he was out on the ice, he was the first one to it.
And, as a big-bodied guy, he loves going to the net. Actually, he prefers going just to the side of the net rather than right in front of the goalie, looking for slap-passes wide of the net and rebounds and tip-ins whenever he can get them.
Maybe you all can understand why I am excited about this guy. This was a brilliant pick-up by McPhee.
When asked about if Paquette's physical presence was what he was expecting to get, McPhee responded, "Yeah, that's what we were expecting to get...ya gotta keep your head up." I thought it was a rather hilarious comment. True, too though.
Guys like Paquette force players on opposing teams to constantly keep their heads up and often end up forcing errors. When you're playing against sometime like Paquette, sometimes you hear footsteps and just get scared and give up the puck.
Guys like Danick are really valuable.
Boudreau also commented on Paquette's play: "Yeah that's, well, you know what, it's the good and the bad. It's the way he's gotta play to be effective, getting under people's skin, and I think there's a lot of guys that hate him, probably every game, and it's a tough way to make a living but it's what you gotta do if you wanna play.
"He's noticeable. Every game he's noticeable whether he does good or bad stuff, he's noticeable. So that's what he needs to be doin'."
Paquette is definitely effective at what he does and if he continues to be a pest as well as a contributor at both ends of the ice, he is sure to enjoy a successful NHL career.
Time Needed Until Seeing the NHL: I think we'll see Paquette within the year. The right-winger is only 21 and so has plenty of playing time ahead of him. But, Paquette should see regular play in Hershey this year and will be a quality option for a call-up in the case of injury.
What He Means to the Franchise: McPhee really reshaped the roster this offseason to be more gritty but there is a clear difference between guys who can get in on the forecheck, lay the body and get to the front of the net and the guys who really can be mean.
Now, I'm not one for supporting straight-up goons, but Paquette is much more than that. Paquette adds quality grit to the depth charts for the Caps' bottom-six forward roster spots.