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2014-15 Rink Wrap: Brooks Laich

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From Alzner to Wilson, we're taking a look at and grading the 2014-15 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2015-16. Next up, Brooks Laich.

Clyde Caplan

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version, and a glossary of terms used in this post can be found here; data via NHL.comwar-on-ice.comGeneral Fanager and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com):

Laich card

Laich linemates

Laich usage

Laich's Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage (2007-15):

Laich rolling CF

Laich's HERO Chart (via Own The Puck):

Laich HERO

Laich's Past Eight Seasons (via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com; click to enlarge):

Laich HA

Key Stat: Laich's average ice time this season was 14:43 - his lowest since the 2007-08 season.

Interesting Stat: Laich missed 16 games this season, but only 15 of them were injury-related, as Laich sat out a game as a healthy scratch for just the second time in his career.

The Good: After suffering a couple of shortened seasons with that pesky groin injury, Laich returned to the ice in 2014-15 in much better health... relatively speaking. Although he was a long way away from his former iron man days, he did play in 66 of the 82 games this year, the most since before the lockout - and while he missed 15 games in October and November due to assorted ailments, he didn't miss a single game (at least not due to injury) for the remainder of the season.

With more games under his belt and better health in general, he also saw an improvement in other areas. His goals-for, shots-for, Fenwick and Corsi rates at even strength were all up over last season, as were his assists- and points-per-60 despite playing a reduced, more defensively-focused role. That new role saw him make up one-third of two pretty decent lines - first alongside Joel Ward and Eric Fehr on the third line, a combination that saw some pretty decent success early on, and then as one of a rotating cast of characters on a moderately successful fourth line. And along the way he joined the 300-point club, hitting the milestone in a multipoint effort against the Devils in early December.

And yet while most of his role was new, some things remained the same, namely in his work on the penalty kill; he led all Caps' forwards in average shorthanded ice time at just a shade over two minutes a night, the fifth-straight season in which he's been the Caps' leader in that department. And while he logged heavy minutes while down a man, he was on the ice for just 15 of the 50 power-play goals the Caps ceded on the season.

The Bad: There was a lot about Laich's 2014-15 season that was an improvement over the previous year... but considering how disappointing 2013-14 was for him, that's a bar so low you could step over it with minimal effort. Essentially while a lot of what he did this year is better than last, it was still well off from what we've come to expect from the self-proclaimed "jack of all trades".

For starters, he played 15 more games than last season and yet finished with one fewer goal, marking the second-straight season in which he's failed to crack double digits in goals - and the first time he's done so in consecutive seasons since 2005-07 (discounting his nine-game campaign of 2012-13). His 20 points also marked the third-lowest total he's put up in any season in which he's appeared in at least half the games, and his third-lowest points-per-60 rate (1.20) of his career (and it's worth noting that #1 and 2 on that list all occurred within the last four seasons).

Part of that could probably be traced back to him simply not shooting enough, with just 106 shots total on the year... and when he did shoot the puck, it wasn't getting past netminders, with a well below-average (for him, and hopefully unsustainably so) shooting percentage of just 6.6%. His reduced ice time and more defensive-focused role probably contributed, as well - but that "shutdown" role saw him on the ice for 2.21 goals-against per 60, the fourth-highest on the team.

The Video:

The Vote: Rate Laich 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: With two years remaining on his contract, do you see him being part of the team for the remainder of his deal, or part of a deal that would send him elsewhere? What do you see his role being on the Caps going forward if he sticks around? After a series of injury setbacks in recent seasons, do you think he has the ability to bounce back in 2015-16? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?

Laich