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, Mathieu Perreault.
#85 / Center / Washington Capitals
January 5, 1988
$716,667 cap hit; RFA after 2010-11 season
|Regular Season (AHL)
Key Stat: Tallied six points (two goals, four assists) in his first eight NHL games, and zero points in his next eight.
Interesting Stat: His average 5-on-5 shooting distance was the shortest of all Capitals skaters.
The Good: Whether you call him Matty or Perry, Mathieu Perreault's exuberance, his soft hands in traffic, and his electric goal celebrations instantly captured the imagination of the Capitals faithful. In fact, a call to MeiGray revealed that his game-worn Capitals jerseys were pre-ordered seemingly moments after he scored his first NHL goal, at home on November 7th vs. Florida.
Perreault skated most often with Eric Fehr on the third line and, during his second recall in late March, centered a dynamic third group with Fehr and Jason Chimera, adding the perfect shiftiness and playmaking compliment to Chimmer's rugged style and Fehr's aggressive, north-south game. With the addition of Eric Belanger at the trade deadline and an otherwise healthy roster of centers, there was simply no room at the NHL level for Perreault to develop further with those two. And that left a lot of fans wanting.
Though it's a short sample size, it's worth noting that six of Perreault's nine points were tallied in the third period (and four of his five assists were of the primary variety).
Perreault showed good discipline during his time with the big club as well, committing just two hooks and and interference penalty while drawing nine penalties at 5-on-5.
The Bad: His 45.2 FO% won't cut it with the big club. (Though, as a point of reference, fellow pivot Nicklas Backstrom finished his first season in the NHL with a 46.3 FO%, and has improved steadily each season since under assistant coach Dean Evason's guidance.)
Perreault also finished with the lowest Corsi rating of all Caps centers with at least 20 GP, suggesting that his defensive game, at the NHL level, also needs some work.
His initial recall from Hershey energized the team and opened wide a lot of eyes of fans and the organization alike. However, as with many rookies, once the adrenaline rush of playing in the show wore off, consistent offensive production became difficult. Jose Theodore, acting as mentor for the young forward, said it best:
"I'm helping him a little bit with learning to be consistent, [which] is what you need to play in the NHL. When you get called up, you're so excited, you play like it's the Stanley Cup finals. But you have to make sure that you stay consistent in how you practice and how you play so that doesn't fade away."
We think he'll learn for next season.
The Vote: Rate Perreault 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: Is Perreault a viable option for centering a scoring line on this Caps team in 2010-11? Do you see him breaking camp with the team in October, or starting the season again in Hershey and being just a phone call away? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?