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, Tyler Sloan.
#89 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Key Stat: Sloan skated 14 minutes or more in only nine of his 33 games played in 2010-11.
Interesting Stat: He earned five of his six points on the season at home (14 GP) and was a +1 in friendly confines.
The Good: Though decidedly hidden from top line competition, Tyler Sloan nevertheless provided a steady, if unremarkable, defensive effort, allowing virtually the same goals against per 60 minutes of play (2.49) as he did in the 2009-10 season (2.44).
It's worth noting that, in those nine games in which Sloan playing 14 minutes or more, the Caps were 6-3.
Only John Erskine and Mike Green registered more hits per 60 minutes on the Caps' defense than Sloan.
The Bad: His goals-for vs. goals-against per 60 dropped considerably from a decent 0.12 in the 2009-10 season to a ragged -1.02 last season, suggesting that his play in 2010-11 quite demonstrably hindered the offense. And his season on-ice Corsi number, a shockingly negative outlier, bears that out as well. For sure, Sloan benefited from playing nearly a quarter of his shifts in 2009-10 with a healthier Tom Poti. And this past season, majority pair mate with Sloan, John Erskine (who also in turn played more often with #89 than with any other D-man), managed to stay in the black when the regular slate concluded. So draw your own conclusions there.
Last season, Sloan was lauded for his versatility at being a swingman, holding down a checking line forward position when necessary. Not so in the 2010-11 campaign, where Sloan saw no time at forward and got a sweater for fewer games, and less ice time in those games, than a season ago (and declining in TOI/G for the second consecutive season).
And speaking of "hidden" in the Good above, Sloan was largely kept off of the PK, averaging barely 20 seconds of ice per 60 minutes for all Caps D (20 GP minimum).
Finally, when injuries to the blue line in elimination game four of the second round of the playoffs called for desperate measures to ice three defense pairs for the Caps, it was Sean Collins, who spent most of the season in Hershey, that got the nod, and not #89, who was part of the big club all season long. Good thing for Sloan that he's the one signed for one more NHL season. But maybe not so good for the Caps.
The Vote: Rate Sloan 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: As was a question for the past two seasons, will Sloan break training camp with the Caps? If so, where does his name now slot on the depth chart when the injury bug smites multiple blueliners? Would the organization risk exposing him to waivers, as it had not done in 2010-11? Will we ever see #89 play a forward position again?