CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Brooks Laich
HtWt: 6-2, 210
Penalty Minutes: 34
Average Ice Time: 18:29
Contract Status: 5 years remaining on six-year, 27 million contract 4.5 million cap hit in 2011-12
Strengths: One of the NHLs most versatile and durable players, Laich is a reliable, shot-blocker who saw extensive time on the power play and penalty kill this season. Dale Hunter used him primarily as a top-line center and defensive safety valve for Alex Ovechkin but he is probably better suited as a third-line center or second-line wing who can chip in between 20 and 25 goals. Hes also a strong voice in the locker room and demands nothing less than he gives on the ice.
Weaknesses: With the amount of ice time Laich is allotted, he should produce more than the 16 goals hes scored the past two seasons. He also finished the season a minus-8, his worst plus-minus since his rookie season.
Memorable Moment on the ice: On April 5, one day after saying the Capitals would make the playoffs, Laich recorded the game-winning goal and an assist to lift the Caps to a playoff-clinching 4-2 win over the Panthers at the Verizon Center. "I wasnt trying to be like Mark Messier, Laich said. All it was was an expression of my belief in this team.
Memorable Moment off the ice: For someone who means what he says, Laich sometimes gets himself in trouble for what comes out of his mouth. Thats why his comments after Jay Beagle suffered a concussion in a fight with Arron Asham seemed rather insensitive. I really don't care about that awareness crap, to be honest, Laich told CSNwashington.com back in October. Im sick of hearing all this talk about concussions and the quiet room. This is what we love to do, guys love to play, they love to compete, they want to be on the ice. How do you take that away from somebody? Beagle went on to miss the next 31 games.
2012-13 Expectations: At 4.5 million Laich needs to be more than a third-line center for the Caps who chips in with 16 goals. With the Caps desperate for a second-line center, Laich might be asked to play on the wing next season and will need to produce 25 goals and between 50 and 60 points with a respectable plus-minus total to earn his pay.