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Offseason Evaluation: Jason Chimera

As the 2011-12 season has come to a close, the time has come to evaluate what it meant for the Capitals, both as a team and as individuals.  As such, as the summer progresses, I will be writing a report card, or individual evaluation, for each player who played in 9 (~10%) of the team’s games, or 4 playoff games. Next up is winger Jason Chimera, who finished his 11th NHL season and third as a member of the Capitals on this past year’s campaign.

Season Summary: Chimera started the year very well, posting four goals in his first five games to help the Caps get out to their 7-0 start.  His production slowed down a bit, obviously, but he was rather consistent throughout the entire season and averaged 13 points for every two months.  All told, in 82 games, the 32 (and then 33) year old winger had 20 goals, a career high, and 19 assists to go along with a plus-four rating and 78 penalty minutes.  Chimera was also one of the Caps’ best puck possessors, one of only five forwards with a positive corsi rating of 0.83.  Chimera did this against the third-toughest competition of any Capitals forward, as well. Grade: A-

Role Play: Chimera entered the season with low expectations as a third line winger, and he took everyone by surprise by posting the best season of his career my almost any measure.  In a season where the Caps always struggled to get their big name players to come through, it was Chimera who often saved Washington, seemingly scoring game-tying or winning goals at will.  His size, speed, and tenacity on the forecheck were also big parts of the Caps’ success, there was no aspect of the game that Chimera continuously struggled with.  He agitated, scored, and played clean with the exception of his ill-advised hit on Adam McQuaid in Boston (though McQuaid did turn in to the hit).  Surpassing expectations the way Chimmer did this year was a big part of DC getting as far as they did. Grade: A

Playoffs: Chimera’s great season continued in the playoffs, as he was third on the team in postseason scoring with four goals and three assists in 14 games; he added a plus-five rating and six penalty minutes as well.  Just like the regular season, Chimera was the third-best puck possessor among Caps forwards, posting a 5v5 corsi of -0.96.  However, the quality of Chimera’s competition dropped, relatively speaking, as he faced the sixth-easiest of any Capitals forward.  Still, he found a way to keep the ice not totally tilted against the Caps, which was an accomplishment in the system the Caps played. Grade: A

Future Potential: Signed for two more years at a salary cap hit of $1.75 million per season, Chimera’s production and elevated play this year were a bargain both based on his old salary and at the salary of his extension, which starts this upcoming year.  Even if he doesn’t score that many points, he’s still valuable because of speed and grit, but it’s important in this instance to be aware that his value will almost certainly never be higher.  He didn’t get lucky this year, statistically at least (PDO of 994), but I still don’t think the odds of him scoring at that pace again are very high; he is not a second-line winger on a contending team.  Because of his low cap hit, he could be a player that the Caps decide to add to a package for a second center, and that would be an acceptable outcome for me.  In no way am I saying the Caps should trade him, but it is certainly an option. Grade: B

The next report card will feature center Marcus Johansson.

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