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. First up is career minor leaguer Keith Aucoin, who worked hard to earn a spot on the roster and carve out his niche under Dale Hunter.
Season Summary: Aucoin played in 27 games this year, recording three goals, eight assists, and a plus-four rating after being recalled from Hershey of the AHL for good in early February. He didn’t record a single penalty minute, and took 21 shots on net while playing a mainly fourth line role. Also of note is that he compiled an even strength corsi rating of 10.48, the second highest among all Washington forwards that played more than 25 games. This year was a great experience for Aucoin, as he played the second most games he ever had at the NHL level, and also welcomed a child in to the world; I think that’s what’s most important, the experience. Grade: C+
Role Play: Aucoin was called up by Dale Hunter in early February because of the torrid pace he was on for AHL Hershey; he had a ridiculous 70 points in 43 games when he got the call to the show. Hunter and McPhee called him up to provide an offensive spark, I presume, for the fourth line, as that’s where he played most of his minutes. The 11 points he produced were probably more than anyone expected, but at the same time, Aucoin was never a consistent presence and often made the lineup at the expense of Mike Knuble or Mathieu Perreault for some reason. Grade: B-
Playoffs: As much of a pleasant surprise as the regular season was, the playoffs were not as good. Aucoin only had two points, both assists, and really seemed to struggle with his assignments and the physicality of the Bruins and the Rangers. Aucoin was the sixth best Capitals forward in terms of even strength corsi rating in the playoffs, though he did it against the weakest competition on the team. Especially towards the end, I was disappointed to see him remain in the lineup over Mathieu Perreault, who was very good in the Boston series. Grade: C-
Future Potential: Aucoin will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and with the labor uncertainty swirling around the NHL, I would not expect many teams, if any, to aggressively pursue him. He’s 33, so his best days are almost certainly behind him, and though he had a nice run, I don’t think he has a future with this franchise as an every day player, especially with the young players coming up from Hershey, Junior, and the two first-round picks that Washington holds in the Draft. Grade: C-
The next report card will feature defenseman John Erskine.
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