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, Matt Bradley.
#10 / Right Wing / Washington Capitals
Jun 13, 1978
$1,000,000 cap hit in 20010-11; UFA after 2010-11 season
Key Stat: Led the team in Hits/60 at 15.6 and finished second on the team in Hits/Game with 2.77.
Interesting Stat: Garnered a 6-4 record (via hockeyfights.com) in ten fights this year.
The Good: Matt Bradley continued to be a fan favorite, throwing his weight around and being a physical force on the fourth line. He was a hitting machine during the regular season - second on the club only to Alex Ovechkin in Hits/Game - and the intensity carried over into the playoffs. Better yet, his physicality wasn't just limited to hitting. Bradley had a career-best year dropping the gloves, winning an unprecedented six bouts and doing his part to keep opposing players honest.
Offensively, he started the season off strong, putting up nine points in his first 29 games. And despite playing with weaker linemates and facing excellent competition, Bradley led the Caps in even strength shots allowed over 60 minutes, giving up a stingy 23.5 (minimum 20 GP). Not bad for a fourth liner.
The Bad: While fighting, hitting and providing a "spark" are key attributes of an ideal fourth liner, killing penalties, drawing penalties and chipping in with timely goals are also important. The latter three aspects were missing from Bradley's game this season, an unfortunate occurence for a player who is set to become a free agent this summer.
The arrivals of Marcus Johansson and Matt Hendricks bumped him off the penalty killing unit, helping to drive down his total TOI 1:41 from the previous season. Last year, Bradley averaged 1:18 of shorthanded time per game; this year, it dropped to a paltry 0:03. He also digressed in the penalty department. Last year, Bradley's rate of drawing penalties across 60 minutes exceeded his rate of taking them by 0.5; this year, he found himself on the wrong side of the divide, taking 0.4 more penalites per 60 minutes than what he drew. Most importantly, his offense disappeared after returning from a broken finger in late January, as he only notched one goal and one assist in his last 32 regular season games.
His struggles in the offensive zone did not improve in the playoffs as he failed to register a point, finished -3 and watched his ice time plummet as the playoffs went on. Unlike two springs ago, there was no series-saving moment from the veteran (or any of his fourth line teammates) as the team faded quietly against Tampa.
The Vote: Rate Bradley 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: Do Bradley's heart, guts and fists justify re-signing him at his current $1.0M salary? Or are there less expensive options who can be just as effective on the fourth line? If re-signed, what will it take for Brads to earn a 10 rating next year?