From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2010-11 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2011-12. Next up, Tom Poti.
#3 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Mar 22, 1977
NHL Seasons: 12
Contract Status: $3,500,000 cap hit in 2010-11; $2,875,000 cap hit in 2011-12
'09-'10 Rink Wrap: 6.68 rating
Key Stat: Although Poti has never played a full 82-game slate, the 21 games for which he dressed was the lowest in his NHL career by more than half (52 games in 2008-09 was his previous low).
Interesting Stat: Six of his seven points were earned at Verizon Center, his lone road point coming in St. Louis on December 1.
The Good: Despite the injury-shortened season, Poti picked up a point in one out of every three games he played this season, and was on pace to tie his previous high in points as a Cap (he had 27 in his inaugural season in DC). He also led all Caps' defensemen in P/60 at even strength, and with two goals on twenty shots he had a career high shooting percentage of 10% for the season.
Often maligned in the past for his work on the penalty kill, Poti actually improved in this area during his brief 2010-11 season. He averaged the second-highest shorthanded TOI per game, with about a quarter of his total ice time coming on the penalty-kill, and was on for just three 4-on-5 goals - good for the second-lowest shorthanded GAON/60 among the regular penalty-killers.
The Bad: He may have been on pace for a good offensive season, but six of his seven points came in his first ten games played (three of which came in the 4-3 shootout loss to Toronto on December 6). And while his penalty-killing work improved, his numbers suffered a bit at even strength (although they were also admittedly not helped by Poti getting a third of his ice time alongside the team's 7th defenseman). He had the second-highest GA/ON60 at even strength among players who dressed for at least 20 games while averaging the seventh-lowest even strength TOI among all Caps defensemen.
Above all else, however, the biggest negative - and the most defining factor - of Poti's 2010-11 campaign was without a doubt the injuries. Every stat he put up relative to his teammates has to come with a "small sample size" asterisk because he appeared in just a quarter of the regular season and didn't set foot on the ice for a single playoff game.
The impact on his season was almost immediate, as Poti played in just five of the team's first 22 games; his two longest stretches were a four-game run at the end of November and a relatively ironman-esque nine straight games from December 6 to December 23 (the last of which saw him skate just 3:34 before leaving with an injury). Twice in his 21 games he was forced to leave a game early on because of either a new injury or complications from an old one, and he played in just two games in calendar year 2011. In fact, if you add up his total games played from the last two seasons you still wouldn't hit a full season's worth.
Obviously the fact that he only played in 21 games (and not even complete games, at that) is troubling; far more troubling and sobering, however, was a comment made by George McPhee at the end of the season: "I think his career is on the line..."
The Vote: Rate Poti 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: While health is always a factor for Poti, this season was something of an outlier even for him - did his performance in the games for which he was healthy meet, fall short of or exceed your expectations for the season, and how much is that tempered by his perceived durability? If he is able to resume his NHL career, where do you see him fitting into the Caps' lineup next year? Does his role depend on who is brought back or do you think the team will base who is brought back on him and his health? Finally, what would it take for you to rate Poti a '10' next season?