From Alzner to Varlamov, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2009-10 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2010-11. Next up, Shaone Morrisonn.
#26 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Key Stat: Increased his Hits/G from 1.54 in 2008-09 to 2.4 last season.
Interesting Stat: Morrisonn's goal totals for each regular season since the lockout, in order: one; three; one; three; and one. Looks like ShaMo's good for three goals next season.
The Good: While Morrisonn used to be seen as the perfect foil for the more freewheeling Mike Green, he spent time paired with a number of other D during last season, including Brian Pothier, Tom Poti, and John Carlson. Finally, he settled in with Joe Corvo after the trade deadline, and managed to effectively mop up some of the latter's deficiencies in his own end. (Meaning, ShaMo often took the body of the opposing puck carrier -- freeing the biscuit for a teammate to carry it out of the zone -- when Corvo was unable to do so.)
He was an effective penalty killer, roughly as much so as Jeff Schultz, and lowered his 4-on-5 GAON/60 from 7.01 in 2008-09 to 6.19 last season. His TOI/G shorthanded in 2009-10 came down a bit from the prior season, but he was still solidly the third D option on the PK, right behind the customary pair of Poti and Schultz.
Finally, there's an edge to Morrisonn's game that sometimes goes overlooked amongst fans. First, and most obvious, are the hit totals. But just as important, Mo was always one of first guys in a scrum when a teammate was roughed up. And with gloves off, even when he was overmatched.
And he "definitely dislike[s] the Penguins."
The Bad: Morrisonn provides valuable depth at his position, but simply has not shown a varied enough skill set to justify his salary. And even as a stay-at-home rearguard, he still logged the worst even-strength GAON/60 of all Caps' D save for Karl Alzner (in a difficult, up-and-down year for Karl). In fact, his GAON/60 was the 15th-highest ratio of all defensemen in the league who played at least 60 games in 2009-10.
A complete lack of offense, or even getting shots to the net, this past season, unfortunately, revealed Morrisonn's game to be quite like the "one-dimensional" game described in his 2008 summer arbitration hearing. You know, the one that awarded him a 130% raise, and the $1.975 million per season salary that he's enjoyed for two straight campaigns.
The Vote: Rate Morrisonn 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: Now that he's a UFA, will another team look to sign him for an amount close, or more than, his arbitration-awarded salary? Valuable though he is in what he does bring to the Caps, how much is ShaMo really worth, and can comparable services be found within, or without of, the organization for a smaller cap hit?