From Alzner to Varlamov, we're taking a look at and grading the 2008-09 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2009-10. Next up, Eric Fehr.
#16 / Right Wing / Washington Capitals
Sep 07, 1985
Arbitration eligible RFA; qualifying offer of $771,750 needed to retain rights. Contract of $735,000 in '08-'09
Key Stat: Fehr scored
2.93 1.04 goals for every sixty minutes of five-on-five ice time he played, more than any Capital with a first name other than 'Alex'.
Interesting Stat: Fehr averaged 11:14 of ice time in regular season games, 12th among Capitals forwards.
The Good: By the numbers Fehr was surprisingly effective, especially given him limited ice team and mediocre teammates. In five-on-five situations Fehr scored more often than anyone other than Alexander Ovechkin or Alexander Semin and registered points more often than anyone other than Ovechkin, Semin, or Nicklas Backstrom. Fehr's also an effective forechecker and helps create opportunities for his teammates, something his 2.98 five-on-five GFON/60 (sixth among Capitals forwards) attests to.
Fehr also had a solid year in some of the more under-appreciated facets of the game: he drew penalties more often than anyone else on the Capitals, and his 3.17 penalties drawn to penalties taken ratio was second best on the team, behind Brooks Laich. Fehr also had a solid year in his own end, finishing tied for third in plus-minus, ending the season with the fourth-best five-on-five GAON/60 despite playing against some of the toughest competition of anyone on the team, and recording the second-highest Corsi rating among forwards.
The Bad: During the regular season Fehr's biggest issue was consistency. Fehr started the season by posting eight points in 17 games, then registered just two in 12 games before a monster February that saw him notch 11 points (including seven goals) in 13 games to go along with a plus-six rating. Fehr dropped off in March, though, scoring just once in thirteen games before rebounding to post three points in six games in April. Some of that can be explained away or excused by Fehr's lack of ice time, but at least some of the blame has to fall on Fehr.
For all he does well in the "under-appreciated parts of the game" department, Fehr could still do better, especially when it comes to utilizing his big frame (he's listed by the Capitals at 6'4'', 212) - Fehr only threw 24 hits and only blocked ten shots in his 63 games, both numbers that are simply unacceptably low. In addition, although the idea of Fehr being a guy who only takes low percentage shots from the outside is largely a meme (among qualifying forwards only 14.6% had shorter average shot distances, only 18.4% had shorter average wrist shot distances, and only one Capitals player had a shorter average wrist shot distance), he still needs to a better job when it comes to shot selection.
Fehr's biggest failure on the season had to be the postseason, where he was simply abysmal. In addition to failing to register a point and posting a team forward worst minus-three rating, Fehr's 2.90 five-on-five GAON/60 bettered only Hershey call-up Jay Beagle.
The Vote: Rate Fehr below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations 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 Discussion: Given all Fehr did well in '08-'09, does he deserve a bigger role next season? Or does his inconsistency and lack of physical play negate his production to the extent that fourth line minutes are appropriate? Finally, if Fehr is deserving of more ice time, what are the odds that Bruce Boudreau gives it to him?