As the regular season begins to draw nigh, 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 utility man Brooks Laich, who will begin his ninth season in the organization this fall.
Recap of Last Season: Laich fell of a little bit last year in terms of offensive production, but stayed just the same in terms of heart and soul play, energy, and very good penalty killing numbers. He played in all 82 games during last season, one of only three Caps to do so, tallying 16 goals and 32 assists; these are certainly not bad numbers, but they were less than what some were expecting. Nevertheless, Laich filled his role as a leader nuts and bolts guy very well. He still had a good season. For my full post-season analysis of Laich's 2010-11, click here.
Expectations for this Season: Laich will be expected to bring the same level of energy, leadership, defense, and grit to the lineup next season and into the foreseeable future now that he has been rewarded with a big contract. Brooksie is a grade-A "lunchpail" player, a guy who does the dirty work and the little things, and he needs to continue to do that in order for the Caps to be successful. One thing, though: expect his point totals to dip for the second consecutive campaign as the quality of offensive players he skates with will decrease again.
Playing Time: Third line; primary penalty killer; second line; secondary power play. I expect Laich to start the season on a line with Joel Ward and Jason Chimera; this line will be DC's "shutdown" unit and will provide forechecking and speed while being a royal pain to play against. This should be Laich's primary role, though he may see some time on the second line if Marcus Johansson falters in that #2 center role (more on that here). Laich will remain as a mainstay penalty killer and will also see some time on the power play.
Projections: 80 GP, 15 G, 26 A, +11 rating, 17:41 ATOI.
The next season preview will feature Marcus Johansson.