When the Washington Capitals awarded Joel Ward a four-year, $12-million contract in 2011, it seemed like an outrageous sum at the time.
Ward was coming off a regular season in which he scored 10 goals in 80 games. However, significantly, he also was the Nashville Predators' leading playoff scorer (both in goals with seven and points with 13 in 12 games) in what was, at the time, the franchise's most successful season in its history, as the Predators advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
In terms of annual salary, the deal represented a 100-percent increase over Ward's previous salary. The length of the contract also was twice as many years as Ward's last contract in Nashville.
Washington, in large part, gave Ward the contract because he represented everything that the Predators' organization wants in a player and the Capitals wanted those traits, as well: character (on and off the ice), determination, two-way play. While in Nashville, Ward mentored a young man whom the Preda...