As the regular season inches closer, day by day, the time has come to predict and begin to take a look at what the Caps and their fans can expect from each player on the roster. Today's player is Big John Studd Erskine, who will begin his sixth season in the organization in the fall.
Recap of Last Season: Erskine had a great year last season, compiling career highs in goals, games, points, blocks, and hits, and serving his purpose as a very good backup defenseman who was forced into regular duty because of injuries. He filled this role admirably and often without any glaring mistakes, so he deserves props for that. For my full post-season thoughts on Erskine, click here.
Expectations for this Season: I think that Erskine will begin the season in the press box and that Jeff Schultz will begin the year in the lineup (heath permitting of all the other defensemen). That said, Erskine will no doubt be called upon due to other defensemen's injuries and probably at least once or twice because Schultz will do something boneheaded. I think last year was his career year and that he will regress, so people expecting him to be that good again will most likely be disappointed. Nevertheless, he can have value because he's big, physical, and can fight when needed.
Playing Time: B defensive pairing; C defensive pairing. I think the absolute highest you see Erskine is the second defensive unit, but its almost certain he will spend his ice on the third pairing. He hopefully won't be forced to see any special teams time all season. Again, this is all subject to the health of the Caps' other defensemen - the more they play, the less Erskine will. And that's what you want.
Projections: 55 GP, 2 G, 6 A, +2 rating, 13:13 ATOI.