Where The New Guys Fit In, Part I

NHLI via The Hockey News

It's impossible to guess at exactly what sort of contributions Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison will provide the 2009-10 Capitals - "veteran leadership" and "grit" are impossible to quantify, and goals and assists are unpredictable.

But it's not difficult to look back on what these two have brought to their respective teams in the past, and HockeyAnalysis.com does exactly that, by computing individual players' offensive and defensive ratings and an "overall contribution" for each player. For this exercise it's not critically important to go into detail as to how those metrics are defined, but as points of reference, Alex Ovechkin was second in overall contribution (Nicklas Backstrom was third), Mike Green was fourth among defensemen in contribution (but the top blueliner in overall rating), and Alexander Semin was first among all skaters in offensive rating (and third in overall rating). In other words, "rating" here doesn't factor in total ice time, while "contribution" does... and all of these measures recognize the dominance of the Caps' Young guns.

With that in mind, we'll take a look at the offensive ratings of the Caps' top 14 forwards from a season ago, but we'll throw in Knuble's and Morrison's ratings in each of the past three years as well:

ALEXANDER SEMIN  1.70
ALEXANDER OVECHKIN   1.54
NICKLAS BACKSTROM  1.47
SERGEI FEDOROV  1.37
BROOKS LAICH  1.35
MIKE KNUBLE (2006-07) 1.30
VIKTOR KOZLOV  1.25
ERIC FEHR  1.17
MIKE KNUBLE (2007-08) 1.15
TOMAS FLEISCHMANN  1.14
MIKE KNUBLE (2008-09) 1.13
MICHAEL NYLANDER  1.09
BRENDAN MORRISON (2006-07)
1.09
BRENDAN MORRISON (2007-08) 1.08
BRENDAN MORRISON (2008-09) 0.88
DAVID STECKEL  0.80
BOYD GORDON  0.74
MATT BRADLEY  0.71
CHRIS CLARK  0.65
DONALD BRASHEAR  0.43

Now, there's a big difference between the 2008-09 Washington Capitals and the 2008-09 Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks, the 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers, and so on. But raise your hand if you like seeing even a healthy Brendan Morrison rated below last year's Michael Nylander, or Mike Knuble's last two seasons closely resembling Tomas Fleischmann's offensive production rate. Yeah, me neither.

Moving on to the defensive side of things, here's how last year's Caps forwards stand, again with Knuble and Morrison thrown in:
MATT BRADLEY  1.35
DONALD BRASHEAR  1.35
BRENDAN MORRISON (2008-09) 
1.28
CHRIS CLARK  1.16
ALEXANDER SEMIN  1.15
DAVID STECKEL  1.15
BRENDAN MORRISON (2007-08) 1.15
NICKLAS BACKSTROM  1.11
ERIC FEHR  1.10
MIKE KNUBLE (2008-09) 1.08
MIKE KNUBLE (2007-08) 1.03
SERGEI FEDOROV  1.01
BOYD GORDON  0.99
MIKE KNUBLE (2006-07) 0.99
BRENDAN MORRISON (2006-07) 0.94
ALEXANDER OVECHKIN   0.90
BROOKS LAICH  0.90
TOMAS FLEISCHMANN  0.90
MICHAEL NYLANDER  0.87
VIKTOR KOZLOV  0.79

While it's odd to see Donald Brashear near the top of any list that ostensibly measures how well a player performed in a given area, he did have the lowest GAON/60 at five-on-five of any regular Caps forward this past season, so it makes at least some sense. What jumps out here, of course, is how high Morrison's 2008-09 season appears on the list (and before you claim Anaheim or Dallas played solid defense, neither of those teams finished in the top half of the NHL in goals allowed, and both might have finished behind the Caps, had the Caps not laid that monster egg in Game 82). That Mike Knuble was a higher-rated player defensively than Boyd Gordon last season raises an eyebrow (granted, Gordon's , but overall what we see in Knuble and Morrison are two very sound defensive forwards.

Combining the offensive and defensive ratings we get an overall rating that looks like this:

ALEXANDER SEMIN  1.45
NICKLAS BACKSTROM  1.30
ALEXANDER OVECHKIN   1.26
SERGEI FEDOROV  1.20
MIKE KNUBLE (2006-07)
1.20
ERIC FEHR  1.14
BROOKS LAICH  1.12
BRENDAN MORRISON (2007-08) 1.11
MIKE KNUBLE (2008-09) 1.10
BRENDAN MORRISON (2008-09) 1.07
MATT BRADLEY  1.04
VIKTOR KOZLOV  1.04
TOMAS FLEISCHMANN  1.03
MIKE KNUBLE (2007-08) 1.03
BRENDAN MORRISON (2006-07) 1.02
DAVID STECKEL  1.00
MICHAEL NYLANDER  0.99
DONALD BRASHEAR  0.89
CHRIS CLARK  0.89
BOYD GORDON  0.88

Frankly, I'd have expected a bigger gap between Knuble's and Morrison's 2008-09 seasons, but Morrison's showing here is a testament to his defensive reliability as much as anything (the question now, of course, is can he maintain some semblance of that and have a rebirth in his offensive game). That Knuble's rating is so similar to Brooks Laich's and Eric Fehr's is interesting, given the stylistic comparisons we've seen and hoped for, respectively.

Finally, pulling it all together and accounting for total ice time, here's the contribution last year's Caps got from its regulars up front, with the Knuble's and Morrison's past three seasons' contributions thrown in:

ALEXANDER OVECHKIN   4190.93
NICKLAS BACKSTROM  3975.28
ALEXANDER SEMIN  3079.64
MIKE KNUBLE (2008-09)
2886.26
MIKE KNUBLE (2007-08) 2834.93
MIKE KNUBLE (2006-07) 2691.81
BRENDAN MORRISON (2006-07) 2607.86
BROOKS LAICH  2607.64
BRENDAN MORRISON (2008-09) 2394.33
VIKTOR KOZLOV  2094.49
TOMAS FLEISCHMANN  1995.88
MICHAEL NYLANDER  1942.16
SERGEI FEDOROV  1906.78
MATT BRADLEY  1606.95
ERIC FEHR  1531.35
DAVID STECKEL  1462.36
BRENDAN MORRISON (2007-08) 1250.21
BOYD GORDON  1061.65
DONALD BRASHEAR  905.84
CHRIS CLARK  666.12

There's not a single Cap forward outside of the Young Guns who contributed more in 2008-09 than Mike Knuble has in any of his past three campaigns or than Brendan Morrison did in his last full, healthy season. Think about that for a second.

Over the past three seasons, Mike Knuble has missed just 18 regular season games, all coming in 2006-07; prior to his injury-shortened 2007-08 season, Brendan Morrison had played in every single game for the previous six seasons. The two newest Caps have been consistent contributors in the NHL because they're good players who have stayed healthy (with the obvious exception being Morrison's 2006-07 season and it's after-effects).

Maybe it's not so hard to guess what Knuble and Morrison will contribute after all.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Japers' Rink

You must be a member of Japers' Rink to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Japers' Rink. You should read them.

Join Japers' Rink

You must be a member of Japers' Rink to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Japers' Rink. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker