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,n.
#15 / Center / Washington Capitals
Oct 18, 1983
$761,250 cap hit in 2009-10; arbitration-eligible RFA after 2009-10 season
Key Stat: Gordon's 10:17 of ice time per game was the lowest number of his career - by almost ninety seconds.
Interesting Stat: For the third consecutive season, Gordon played fewer games than he did the previous year.
The Good: Gordon was as advertised on the defensive side of things this year: he won 61% of his faceoffs, only gave the puck away three times in the regular season, saw more penalty killing time than any forward other than David Steckel, and blocked shots far more often (at 5-on-5, at least), than any other Capitals forward. The result? A solid 2.01 GAON/60 at 5-on-5 and, for what it's worth, the distinction of being one of Washington's better penalty killing forwards.
While Gordon's never going to be a guy who produces more than a marginal amount of offense, his per-minute point production was actually the highest it has been in his career, and he scored goals at full and even strength more often than Brendan Morrison, Brooks Laich, or Matt Bradley (who, remember, had one of his best seasons) and points more often than Morrison, Laich, Bradley, or Tomas Fleischmann.
Finally, we'd like to note that in a postseason where so many player underperformed, Gordon stepped up his game, playing actively in the defense end and recording two shorthanded points on what proved to be key goals.
The Bad: At the most basic level, Boyd Gordon is a grinder - a third or fourth line player who's solid defensively, wins faceoffs, and helps the team on the penalty kill - and a major part of being a grinder is being ready to go, night in and night out, something Gordon couldn't do this year, missing significant time because of a wonky back. We're not saying Gordon did anything wrong, per se, but it's something that has to be considered if we're evaluating his year as a whole.
Other than the time missed, the bad in Gordon's 2009-10 season comes in the form of footnotes that qualify the good. Sure, Gordon had arguably the best offensive season of his career, but that's still a pretty low hurdle; the good 5-on-5 numbers came with the weakest quality of competition rating of any Capitals forward, and while Gordon was the one of the team's best penalty killers, the Capitals penalty killing was simply bad all season long, and being among the best of a bad bunch doesn't really mean all that much.
The Vote: Rate Gordon 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: Gordon does some good things for his team, and he does things that the Capitals are otherwise lacking, but are they enough to get him in the lineup every night, especially with David Steckel still on the roster? Is Gordon a legitimate fourth liner, or is he more of a 13th forward? What should the Capitals be willing to offer to retain Gordon's services for the 2010-2011 season?