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, Brooks Laich.
Contract Status: RFA; 2007-08 salary of $725,000
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 25
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 3+
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 82 games played, 21 goals, 16 assists, -3, 35 PIMs
Key Stat: Laich was one of three Cap 20-goal scorers.
Interesting Fact: Superman wears Brooks Laich pajamas. So does Gary Roberts.
Where to Find More Brooks Laich Facts: Here.
The Good: Laich's breakout 2007-08 featured his highest single-season goal total since juniors, tied his single-season high in points as a pro and set a personal best in assists in an NHL season, but didn't really kick into high gear until February, as he had 13 goals and nine assists in the season's final two-plus months (including a span of ten goals in 12 games from February 20 through March 14). He was one of four Caps to play all 82 games, was third on the team in goals and power play goals (with 8), led the squad in shorties (with 2) and was tied for second in game-winners (with 4), all thanks in no small part to a team-best 17.2 shooting percentage and despite taking the fewest shots per game of any season in his NHL career. Laich protected the puck well, posting the fourth best giveaway-per-minute ratio on the team, was 17th among all NHL forwards in blocked shots, and was the only forward on the team other than Sergei Fedorov to average a combination of more than ten even strength minutes, two-and-a-half shorthanded minutes and one power play minute per game. He finished strong, too, with a goal and five assists in seven playoff games. Oh, and Laich doesn't read books - he stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
The Bad: Laich had the third-worst plus/minus per sixty minutes of ice time of any forward on the team (fourth worst overall) and won just 47.1% of his 596 faceoffs. Opposing teams had more shots on goal per sixty when Laich was on the ice than when any other forward other than Chris Clark or Matt Cooke was (and you question how much those guys' numbers should even count here), and he's such an intimidating force that it took thousands of fans more than half the season to summon up the courage to go see him play live (a fact reflected in the team's game-by-game attendance numbers).
The Vote: Rate Laich on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential for the season - if he had the best year 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 year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Questions: How much (dollars and years) would you be willing to give Laich to keep him in D.C.? What role do you see Laich playing on the 2008-09 Caps? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating 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.