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. First up, Karl Alzner.
#27 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Sep 24, 1988
$1,675,000 cap hit in 2010-11; RFA after 2010-11 season
|Regular Season (NHL)
|Regular Season (AHL)
Key Stat: Alzner was recalled to Washington seven times this season.
Interesting Stat: All five of his points came in Caps wins, with the team going 5-0-0 when Alzner appeared on the score sheet.
The Good: Alzner had four points in his first ten NHL games of the season and was plus-two in that span (the team was also 9-1-0 during that stretch). More importantly, on a team that was penalty-kill challenged, Alzner had the best goals against on ice per sixty minutes at 4-on-5 of any Caps blueliner who averaged 30 seconds or more of PK time per game (albeit Alzner's QualComp and QualTeam in those situations made those minutes - which weren't a ton - relatively easy). He also protected the puck well, having the second-best minutes-per-giveaway rate of any Caps rearguard (Joe Corvo was first). Finally, the Caps were generally a better team with Alzner in the lineup - they went 15-6-1 when King Karl dressed (and take out those first three games after Chris Clark was traded and the last two games before the Olympic break - two times this season when the team was a bit of a mess - and that record goes to 15-2-0). They can't speak highly enough of Alzner in Hershey, and these last few weeks of Calder Cup playoffs should be his AHL swan song.
The Bad: Back in February, we opined that Alzner's NHL game had seemed to regress a bit from his brief rookie campaign, and most of the numbers that bear that out came at five aside. To wit, Alzner had the worst +/-ON/60, GAON/60 and Corsi Rating (thanks to the Caps having the fewest shots for and most against when Alzner was on the ice) of any Cap defenseman while playing against relatively weak opponents. Chalk it up to not exactly playing with the highest-quality partners and move on?
The Vote: Rate Alzner 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: George McPhee has said that Alzner will "certainly be on this team next year," but what role do you see Alzner playing on the 2010-11 Caps? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?