|What can the Caps expect from one of their shiny new toys?|
First off, Brouwer is just one physical hombre. Standing in at 6'2", 214, he's not afraid to use his size to his advantage, and the numbers prove it. Last season, Brouwer laid out 262 hits in 79 games, which was fifth in the NHL among all skaters and led the Blackhawks by 35. He would have led the Caps in that category last year, too; he had Alex Ovechkin beat by 21. That's the brunt of what Brouwer is going to bring every night - contact. No matter where he ends up in the lineup, his size and willingness to hit anything that moves will serve his linemates well by increasing space for them to work in, and you can never have enough grinders in a lineup when you have skill to complement it.
As a budding power forward with that level of physicality, some may expect Brouwer to take off in his first season as a Cap, especially on the power play. While that could happen based on a change of scenery or a fresh start, it's not very likely that he tops more than 50 points this year. Last season in Chicago, Brouwer averaged a little over two minutes per game on the man advantage, sixth among Blackhawks forwards. You'd think that, pending no other moves, his power play time would stay in that range with Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Knuble, and Laich all in front of him on the assumptive depth chart. For a guy who scored over half his goals and points on the power play last year, it would be hard to count on a breakthrough without a significant increase in ice time. It's possible, but I'm not banking on it.
In terms of two-way ability, Brouwer does have significant shortcomings. Among 12 Chicago forwards who played in 30 or more games last year, Brouwer was eighth on that list in shorthanded ice time at 36 seconds per game. That number would place him ninth out of 12 players with 30 or more games played last year on the Caps, and eighth out of nine who will be on the roster next year (Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr are gone; Mathieu Perreault should start the year in Hershey). As you can tell, he's not particularly good shorthanded and likely won't see much time a man down as Joel Ward should eat most of Boyd Gordon's minutes on that front.
So who will he play with? At even strength, I think he is a prime candidate to fill out the second line with Marcus Johansson and Alexander Semin, providing the latter is not traded. As I wrote above, Brouwer is a physical presence and him on that second line would definitely add some oomph to a line otherwise seriously lacking it. All of Semin's shots will generate a ton of rebounds, and if Johansson develops like he can, his playmaking ability will open up more space for everyone, including Brouwer. But we'll see during training camp. Provided, of course, that his surgically repaired shoulder holds up.