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, Mathieu Perreault.
#85 / Center / Washington Capitals
|Regular Season (AHL)
Key Stat: Perreault earned all fourteen of his NHL points in just nine games (five of those being multi-point affairs).
Interesting Stat: His last point of his Capitals season was a primary assist on a power play goal by Marcus Johansson.
The Good: A long time from now, when Mathieu Perreault looks back on his professional career, he'll remember with particular fondness a certain game in Canada's capital in late December. His exploits captured by the cameras of the HBO 24/7 crew, Perreault provided, seconds into the second period, both the tourniquet to halt the Capitals' eight-game losing spill of blood in the form of a close-in wrister, and then, a few minutes later in the period, a similar, game-winning strike that inflated a flattened Caps squad with a renewed confidence. "We felt like we won a championship," he said at the time.
Overall, MP85 finished with the fourth-best best relative Corsi among all Caps' skaters, behind only the "big three" forwards. Better still, he bested all Caps centers in percentage of shifts ended in the offensive end (0.9% fewer shifts than he started there) and, perhaps surprisingly, that rate was good for 18th best amongst centers League-wide, for all pivots having played at least 30 games. (As context, only eight of those centers ahead of him started their shifts less often in the O-zone than did Perreault.)
His points per 60 minutes rate at even strength was the best amongst Caps centers not wearing #19 and, on the power play, his point production rate outshone Brooks Laich and Jason Arnott, suggesting that he again made decent work out of his somewhat limited opportunities with the big club.
The Bad: Except, the knock on Matty has typically been his streakiness, providing a spark immediately following a call-up and thereafter fizzling out. Sure enough, in 2010-11, he scored five of his seven goals on the season during the first nine games of his December 6th recall. And then, following the injury to Alexander Semin in the January 8th game vs. Florida which shelved the winger for a month, Perreault went pointless in nine straight. Semin's return did not, disappointingly, coincide with an uptick in offensive production, as Perreault gained just two points in the eight contests after the Russian sniper's return (and those two in the same game; see the Interesting Stat above).
Perreault committed the most penalties per 60 minutes of all Caps' centers (1.4), which landed him 16th worst on a league-wide center list in that stat (minimum 10GP). (And only 5 of those worse than him skated for playoff-bound teams.)
Mathieu Perreault was given a real shot in 2010-11 to prove himself a capable scoring line center for this Caps club, and earn himself a sizable raise, skating almost a third of his shifts on the second line. And while that relative Corsi rating above suggests that MP85 did his part to maintain a strong puck possession game, he failed to distinguish himself significantly from his "rival," Marcus Johansson, especially in the area of winning draws. Perreault's success in that skill showed virtually no improvement season-to-season, finishing his latest NHL slate with a 45.6% rate of success, compared to a 45.2% rate in the previous one. A second-line, or even third-line center on this team needs to be a go-to guy for more defensive face-offs. And while Johansson is certainly also lagging in that department, he's become far more sound defensively than is Perreault.
As we mentioned in January, this past Caps' campaign was likely going to be "second line or bust" for Perreault. By the trade deadline, we saw Johansson instead growing into his NHL suit and running away with the regular center job that MP declared on Japers' Rink Radio back in late August would be his for the taking. The acquisition of Jason Arnott then sealed his fate of not playing another game in a Caps sweater after February 28th and seeing playoff hockey only in Hershey for another spring.
The Vote: Rate Perreault 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: Is this is the end of the Capitals' road for Mathieu Perreault? Still just 23-years-old, is his ceiling still high enough to contain a position as a bona fide scoring line center? Should the organization issue him a qualifying offer for 2011-12, even with the continuing Swedish invasion in D.C.? Is MP85's best chance to make it in the NHL as a center or as a wing, and does he fit at either position now in D.C.? What would it take for Perreault to earn a "10" next season?