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 new defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who will begin his first season in the organization this fall after signing a two-year, $7 million contract on July 1.
Recap of Last Season: Hamrlik spent last season with the Montreal Canadiens, playing in 79 games while accumulating 5 goals and 29 assists. Despite being the #4 or so defenseman on the Habs last year when the season started, he was forced to play over 22 minutes per game after Montreal lost two of their top 3 defensemen. Hammer was good at the start of the year but really slowed towards the end as his 37 year old body began to wear down. He was a top pairing defenseman while seeing top power play minutes as well as some shorthanded time. In other words, Jacques Martin worked him like a dog.
Expectations for this Season: Hamrlik will not be expected to play as prominent a role on the Caps this year barring a ridiculous slew of injuries (knock on wood). Hamrlik is going to need to play on the power play, but probably won't see any penalty kill time because Boudreau will want to keep his minutes down. That being said, I do think he'll play a good amount at even strength because he was a prime acquisition in the eyes of George McPhee and his veteran presence will help the other defensemen mentally. In reality, he really doesn't need to be much better than the fourth or fifth best defenseman on the roster, and that is a very good thing. For my full analysis of what Hamrlik will bring to DC this season, click here.
Playing Time: Defensive pairing B; secondary power play. I think Hammer will play with Mike Green on the second defensive pairing to start the season, and I think it will stay that way for most if not all of the year, health permitting. I think Dennis Wideman is a better player than him, but I have Hamrlik with Green because I think he'll be a better partner for 52 at even because he's a better defender than Wides (details here). Because he is a proficient power play defenseman, I also expect him to be a regular on the second unit, again with Green (details here).
Projections: 75 GP, 8 G, 30 A, +15 rating, 19:13 ATOI.
The next season preview will feature goaltender Michal Neuvirth.