Capitals Player Report Card: Brooks Laich

Brooks Laich

Stats: GP 82, Goals 16, Assists 32, Points 48, +/- 14, PIM 46
Player Card 

2010-11 contract: $2,066,667 (Pending UFA next season)
Scoring Chance% Rank: 9/29
Forwards: 6/19
Balanced Corsi Ranking Among Forwards:  5/19

Looking at the basic stats, it appears that Laich had a down year compared to recent seasons. He didn’t break 20 goals for the first time since the 2006-07 year and had his lowest point total since then. Laich played in all 82 games and got top-six minutes on almost every nights as well as time on the powerplay, so it’s not like he wasn’t getting his chances. With the kind of year that this team had offensively compared to last season, it’s becoming a trend that just about every top-six forward had a “down season” in terms of production. Still, many fans would think that Laich would have a better year offensively considering he is a pending unrestricted free agent. Those who are disappointed with his point production often overlook Laich’s defensive game which makes him a lot more valuable to the Caps than some would think.

Laich’s points per sixty minutes may have dropped from 2.12 to 1.86 but his goals allowed per 60 minutes also dropped, and pretty dramatically when you look at it. 2.43 GA/60 last year and only 1.69 this season. He also had a much higher corsi rating than last season and his relative corsi was especially higher which showed how good he is at preventing chances in his own zone. Although part of that might be because he got more offensive zone starts this year compared to past seasons, but he still did well with the ice time he was given. He also faced tougher competition this season when compared to previous years.

Laich was also the most used forward on the penalty kill and was on ice for four shorthanded goals for the Caps this season (and even scored one himself), while being on ice for 11 powerplay goals against. His production on the powerplay was disappointing considering he scored 12 goals with the man advantage last season and only four this year. He was switched around a lot on the powerplay unit, though. Sometimes he was down low and other nights he was playing the point, and he did a pretty good job at it as he had 9 assists on the powerplay.

That brings me to my next point about Laich, he’s proven to be a very versatile player for the Caps. He was drafted as a natural center but spend most of the last few years as a left winger since he has seemed to be more of a goal scorer who drives the net than a playmaker. This year, he played a lot at center and on the wing, mostly after Tomas Fleischmann was traded. Laich was 51.3% effective on faceoffs this year, too and did well at winning battles along the boards to help the team out a lot possession wise. He also had the fourth most hits on the team with 113.

My grade for Laich on the year is a B- because he proved himself to be helpful and valuable to this team in a lot of ways that didn’t show up on the scoresheet.  He was a huge part in the penalty kill and the team’s morale and I wont overlook that. Even if he isn’t scoring, he is showing how good he is in a lot of other ways and it is a reason why he is one of the most sought after free agents this summer. Laich’s established himself as a great two-way player who can definitely get back to 20 goals in next season so the Caps will have to re-sign him sometime before July if they want him to stick around. His leadership qualities are also something that will make Washington want to re-sign him, but how much do they feel he’s worth. I could see him easily get $3.5 mil from a team willing to overpay considering how thin the free agent pool is this year. Personally, I feel that he’s worth about $2.5-3 mil and we might see how much of a “team guy” he is by what kind of offer he accepts this summer. The biggest complaint I have is that his playoff performance was pretty underwhelming.

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