For the past three years, Capitals’ fans have been asking themselves: So is this the year Eric Fehr breaks out? Fans and players alike know that the skill and potential is there. But it just has not clicked at the NHL level for the injury-riddled winger…yet.
Following last season’s playoffs, Fehr opted to have surgery on his bum shoulder. But wait, he injured the other shoulder in the playoffs as well. So Fehr spent the summer recovering from double shoulder surgery and paints a pretty clear picture on what it was like, “Try tying your arms to your chest and walking around doing everyday things; you can’t. That’s how it was for a while.”
The shoulders just add to the laundry list of injuries the former 1st round pick (2003) has had to deal with throughout his career. Two years ago, a back/hip ailment caused him to miss a large chunk of time. Fehr would go on to play in just 98 games in the next two seasons (06-08). To put that in perspective, last year alone, Brooks Laich played 96 games. (Brooks is also just five games shy from playing in his 200th consecutive game).
What’s great about Eric Fehr is that when he does play, you see glimpses of the top six forward that he very well may end up being. The problem is, those impressions are few and far between. Yet six games into the season, Fehr is getting his bearings straight and giving Caps’ fans something to be hopeful about.
During last Thursday’s 5-4 victory over Atlanta, Fehr got his first goal of the season on a nifty breakaway. Jeff Schultz sent tape-to-tape lead pass to Fehr that caught the Thrashers on a bad line change. Breaking in alone on net, Eric kept it simple with a quick snap shot that flew by the shoulder of Ondrej Pavelec and into the back of the net.
It’s opportunities like these that Fehr needs to continue to convert on if he wants to stay with the Washington Capitals in the NHL. Fehr becomes a Restricted Free Agent after this year and the next wave of prospects are knocking on the door. The injuries have caused quite a setback in Fehr’s development, but is that a legitimate excuse?
Some players are injury-prone, while others catch bad breaks. But this season, Eric Fehr is healthy (or whatever ‘healthy’ means to Eric Fehr). So for a guy who was taken 18th overall, before the likes of Ryan Getzlaf (19th), Mike Richards (24th), and Corey Perry (28th), it’s now or never to prove to his critics that he is more than just an AHL star.