Capitals Player Report Card: Mike Knuble

Mike Knuble

Stats: 79 GP, 24 goals, 16 assists, 44 points, +10, 36 PIM
Contract Info: $2,000,000 cap hit, signed through 2011-12 season
Player Card

Scoring Chance Percentage Rank: 10/29
Forwards: 7/19
Balanced Corsi Ranking: 18/29
Forwards: 13/19

As the Caps first line goes, so does Mike Knuble. He is a passenger on the first line who is depended on for creating space for Ovechkin and Backstrom along with clearing out garbage in front of the net (which is how most of his goals are scored). As many already know, Ovechkin and Backstrom both had disappointing seasons and as a result, Knuble had his lowest point total since 2001-02. Despite that, Knuble still put home 24 goals and was a key player in the team’s top 6 and penalty kill and he emerged as one of the team’s leaders which was why he was rewarded with a one-year contract extension. Was that the right call? For that cost and what he brings to the table, I think so.

Many were thinking that Knuble’s age was catching up to him after his slow start to the season where he only scored 3 goals in the first two months. He slowly improved in the next few months but didn’t seem to hit his stride until late February/early March when he scored 10 goals in the last two months of the season. Many thought that his streak of scoring 20 or more of goals in a season would be broken this year but that strong surge at the end of the season really helped. Still, definitely a down year for him offensively compared to last season where he was scoring at a 1.48 G/60 pace. He also his lowest shooting percentage since 2003 despite shooting the puck considerably more than he did in recent years. His point production was definitely lower than most expected but he still finished above the team’s average in scoring chance percentage (which is expected when you play on the first line) and was a plus player in terms of corsi (something he wasn’t in last couple years with the Flyers).

One thing that’s gone down from his Flyers days is his ability to keep the puck out of his own zone or keep it in the offensive zone. Look at his Zone Start% column in his player card and you’ll see that he finished less of his zones in the offensive zone than he started in both of his years in Washington. That could be due to his age catching up to him and not being as fast as he used to be. However, he still has been good at preventing chances as his goals and shots allowed per 60 minutes has continued to decrease ever since he joined the Caps. It shows that with the right linemates, Knuble is still a very effective goal-scorer…but he is only as good as his linemates are.

We know that we can only expect a certain amount of production from Knuble and while I do think he had a solid season, he still didn’t live up to my expectations so I’m giving him a C+. It would have been a B- but he was not good in the playoffs (2 goals in 6 games, but he was playing through an injury) and he got bumped from the first line numerous times this year. Remember that failed experiment with him and Laich on the wings or with Chimera on the first line? That was due a combination of him (and Ovie and Backstrom) not producing the way he should have been. However, he played a pretty big role on the PK (1:23 SH TOI/G) and had a pretty big off-ice role as one of the team’s leaders which was shown in the 24/7 series as well as from players on the team who look up to him. I thought it was smart for the Caps to sign him for another year for exactly that purpose now let’s hope he can get off to a stronger start next season.

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