From Alzner to Varlamov, we're taking a look at and grading the 2008-09 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2009-10. Next up, Shaone Morrisonn.
#26 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Dec 23, 1982
Arbitration eligible RFA; qualifying offer of $1,975,000 needed to retain rights. Contract of $1,975,000 in '08-'09.
Key Stat: Morrisonn's value last season was largely based on his role as the second half of the defensive pairing that sported Mike Green, the logic being that it was Mo's defensive steady presence that allowed Green to freewheel and create havoc in the offensive zone. Yet in the 2008-09 season the Capitals both scored more and were scored upon less when Green was paired with defensemen other than Morrisonn.
Interesting Stat: Green and Morrisonn skated 2,387 even strength shifts together in '08-'09, nearly 1,400 fewer than in '07-'08 (though part of this is undoubtedly due to each playing fewer games than they did last season).
The Good: In a very simple sense the good part of Morrisonn's season was the final third. After being ejected for checking from behind in the Capitals 3-1 February 7th win over the Florida Panthers Morissonn registered seven points (two goals) and a plus-eight rating in 28 games, after registering six points (zero goals) and a minus-four rating in 44 games to that point in the season.
On the season as a whole, Morrisonn was a basically unspectacular (yet solid) defenseman: he was fourth among Capitals defensemen in regulart season five-on-five GAON/60, third in plus-minus, and fourth in regular season 4-on-5 GAON/60. These trends carried over into the playoffs, where Morrisonn was fourth in five-on-five GAON/60 and third in four-on-five GAON/60.
Morrisonn did excel in some areas, ones that often go unnoticed or under-appreciated: he gave the puck away less than any other defenseman on the Capitals and was second among team defensemen in blocked shots.
The Bad: For most of the season Morrisonn looked at worst like a bottom pairing defenseman and at best inconsistent, making bad decision, taking bad penalties, and getting beaten in his own zone too often. Mo eventually came out of his funk, but even then he didn't appear much, if any, better than he was last season, and as his price continues to rise going forward, that's simply not going to be good enough for a Capitals team that has solid defensive prospects and less money to spend that they would in an ideal situation. Worst of all (for Morrisonn) it was shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mike Green alone was the primary reason for Mike Green success, rather than the chemistry created by the Mo-Green pairing.
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: How much of Morrisonn's value to the organization was tied to his being the second half of the defense pairing that feature Mike Green? Given Morrisonn's peformance in '08-'09, at what price, if any, should the Capitals be willing to bring Mo back?