From Backstrom to Steckel, we're taking a quick look at and grading the 2007-08 season for every* player who laced 'em up for the Caps during the campaign (and is still with the team) with an eye towards 2008-09. Next up, Matt Cooke.
Contract Status: UFA; 2007-08 salary of $1.525M
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 30
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 8+
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 78 games played, 10 goals, 13 assists, +1, 91 PIMs (17gp, 3g, 4a, +5, 27 PIMs for Washington)
Key Stat: Cooke's 198 hits were ninth in the League among forwards.
Surprising Stat: Cooke's 16.7 shooting percentage as a Cap is 4% higher than his single-season best.
The Good: Cooke seemed energized by the trade that brought him to D.C. Skating mostly on the second or third line, played at just under a 15-goal/34-point pace, which would pro-rate to the second-best year of his career for those stats, while his pro-rated plus-24 rating would be a career best. He had two multi-point games as a Cap, which is as many as he had had in his previous 65 games as a Canuck. Cooke protects the puck well, finishing with the second-fewest giveaways-per-minute-of-ice-time of any Cap (Boyd Gordon was first) and drew more penalties than he took - always important for the type of "energy" guy he is, especially given how strong a penalty killer he is. [Note: those last two stats are based on Cooke's full season stats]
The Bad: Despite all the hitting (I still maintain that every one of his shifts is a checking from behind penalty waiting to happen), yapping and agitating, Cooke got in only two fights all season (and only has ten in 583 career games), which won't earn him much respect in certain circles. He had a 20-game goal-less stretch as a Canuck and was pointless in seven playoff games for the Caps, despite numerous glorious scoring chances (including a pair in the 2-0 Game 2 loss... and I thought this guy had a flair for the dramatic).
The Vote: Rate Cooke on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential for the season after he was traded to the Caps - if he had the best 17 games you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst 17 games you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Question(s): Potentially an unrestricted free agent come July 1, should Cooke be in the Caps' plans for 2008-09? If it comes down to a choice between Cooke and Matt Bradley, who would you re-sign? If Cooke is back, what will it take for him to earn a 10 next year?
If you've missed any of the previous 2007-08 Rink Wraps, click here, get caught up, and vote - polls will stay open for a while.
* And by "every," we mean every one who played more than just a handful of games.