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 Hendricks.
#26 / Center/Wing / Washington Capitals
Jun 17, 1981
2 (and part of one additional one)
$575,000 cap hit in '10-'11; signed through 2012-13 at a cap hit of $825,000
Key Stat: Hendricks' 169 hits were second among Capitals this season, bested by only Alex Ovechkin.
The Good: The statistics above do a good job of summarizing what Hendricks meant to the Capitals this season, doing what a grizzled pundit might call "the little things" or "the dirty work" and the cynic would call "the stuff he needs to do to keep his job." Either way, Hendricks did it frequently, generally did it pretty well, and, just as importantly, did it consistently. As is the case with depth forwards, not much of what Hendricks did for the team on a nightly basis was all that sexy, but it was effective, from forechecking aggressively yet intelligently to being solid on draws when asked to play center.
Of course, that doesn't mean Hendricks wasn't effective in the more skilled parts of the game. Twenty-five points is nothing to sneeze at for a player who sees fewer than twelve minutes a night, especially without much powerplay time; in fact, in five-on-five situations only Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom had more points per minute than Hendricks, who also managed to put 113 shots on goal despite his limited playing time.
The Bad: Hendricks may have done well in some of the less-heralded parts of the game, but he wasn't a dominant force in them. He hit often, and generally solidly, but laid few bone-rattling hits, his 53% faceoff percentage was good-but-not-great, and while he fought reasonably well, he's not enough of a heavyweight to serve as significant deterrent.
Hendricks also performed worse than what you might look for out of a grind-line winger defensively. Though his overall Corsi rating was positive, his on-ice Corsi was significantly lower than his off-ice Corsi, his goals against per minute was amongst the worst on the team, and he ended only 45% of his shifts in the other team's offensive zone, despite starting there 52% of the time. No one of those numbers is in and of itself damning, but taken together they paint a pretty clear picture: when Hendricks was on the ice, the Capitals were more likely that outshot than when other forwards were on the ice, they were more likely to give up a goal, and play was more likely to be in their end. A guy can hit and fight all he wants. The best fourth liners are the guys who can keep the puck in the other team's end and away from their own netminder.
Finally, Hendricks took 1.1 penalties per sixty minutes, second only behind Semin, putting his team shorthanded more often than a guy who plays limited minutes against mediocre competition should. That 1.1 was high enough to more than mitigate his solid 0.9 penalties drawn per sixty minutes and put him in the negative, not a place you want to be if you're a wing, especially a bottom-six one.
The Vote: Rate Hendricks 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: In what role is Hendricks best utilized? Center or wing? As twelfth forward? A thirteenth forward? Or does he deserve more ice time? Finally, what do you expect from Hendricks in 2011-12, and what would it take for you to rate him a '10'?