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,Tyler Sloan.
#89 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Mar 15, 1981
$700,000 cap hit in '10-'11; UFA in 2012-13.
'08-'09 Rink Wrap: 7.03
Key Stat: Sloan's ice time varied across the board, with half of his forty games clocking in at over fifteen minutes and ten games under ten minutes. He crossed the twenty minute plateau only three times during the season.
Interesting Stat: Half of Sloan's points came in the first eight games he played; two of the last three came in his last six games of the season.
The Good: The job requirements for a third-pairing defenseman who dresses for less than half the regular season aren’t too complicated: keep the puck out of your own net, fill in where you can and don’t get hurt. And while Sloan’s role gradually diminished as the season went on, he did manage to chip in where he could and remained a decent depth player when called upon.
Sloan continued his role as "swingman" this season, playing as both a defenseman and a forward when needed. He set a new career high in points with six, and scored goals in back-to-back games for the first time in early November. His 52 blocked shots were the 8th highest on the team, and he ranked 11th on the team with 56 hits despite playing in less than half the games of most of the guys ahead of him. His 1.40 hits per game and 1.30 blocked shots per game were both 7th best among anyone playing at least 40 games.
He also was something of a road warrior, with five of his six points coming away from Verizon Center and a +6 rating on the road.
The Bad: Unfortunately for Sloan – and the Caps – his days of being an adequate fill-in at the NHL level seem to be diminishing; Sloan appeared in just 40 of the 82 regular season games and just eleven in the last three months of the season. While his road numbers were decent, his numbers at Verizon were abysmal, with just one assist and a team-worst -7 in the friendly confines of the Phone Booth.
Averaging just over a minute on the penalty kill, he had the fifth worst shorthanded GAON/60 on the team (third worst among players appearing in at least 40 games). He also had the fourth highest GA/ON60 at even strength among players appearing in at least 40 games.
Beyond that was just the simple decline of someone whose abilities seemed limited compared to those coming up behind him. While his goals per game production experienced a slight increase (thanks to his goal output doubling from one to two), his assists per game, points per game and plus/minus per game all dropped. Despite playing in just forty games he was on the ice for twenty-eight goals against, twenty-one of them at even strength.
The Vote: Rate Sloan 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: With John Carlson and Karl Alzner poised to make the leap to the NHL next year, are Tyler Sloan's days as the seventh/eighth defenseman coming to an end? Does his versatility and ability to jump into a forward role when needed make him more valuable than John Erskine or can/should he be moved? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?