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 center Mathieu Perreault, who finished his fifth season in the organization on this campaign.
Season Summary: Beginning with a surprise inclusion to the opening night lineup, Perreault won a spot on the team out of training camp but endured an up and down season. Perreault played for long stretches in October, November, December, and January, but was also sat down for long periods during that time frame. He finally stuck in the lineup in February, playing almost every game down the stretch from the first of that month onwards. Overall, the young Quebecois played in 64 games, compiling 16 goals, 14 assists, a plus-nine rating, and 24 penalty minutes. He also led the team in even strength corsi rating at 11.54, though he did do it against the second-easiest competition on the team and while getting a bit lucky. Grade: B-
Role Play: As noted earlier, Perreault basically made this team as the thirteenth forward because of his inbetween size and skill; he’s not big enough to be a bottom six player but hadn’t displayed statistics of a top six player, either. Regardless, he was on the team to fill in for struggling or injured players, and he did so admirably. No performance was more notable than his hat trick against the Bruins in late January after a suspension to Alex Ovechkin. I wasn’t expecting much from Matty this year because of what I, and many, thought was a size issue. He proved me wrong, and proved to be a valuable member of this team with some timely, if inconsistent, scoring. Grade: B+
Playoffs: After playing the first four games of the Boston series, Perreault was sat down to accomodate for Mike Knuble’s return to the lineup in game five. In those four games, I thought he played well; though he was held pointless with a -1, he was getting chances and not making poor decisions. Like Halpern, I was upset to see Keith Aucoin keep getting ice at Perreault’s expense. One thing to note, however, is that his previously team-high corsi rating plummeted to -10.30 in the playoffs — but to be fair, that was right in the middle of the pack among Capitals forwards in a postseason devoid of puck possession. Grade: C
Future Potential: A restricted free agent, the 24 year-old Perreault is eligible for arbitration this summer because he received a one-year deal this past summer. It seems a lock that George McPhee will extend a qualifying offer to Perreault considering his play this year, which would mean that Washington would retain his rights. However, according to Renaud Lavoie of RDS, the Canadiens will be interested in Perreault’s services this offseason, which would require a trade. Lavoie also noted that many teams called McPhee about Perreault in season, but each time McPhee turned those teams down. With the Caps in desperate need of a second prime center, Perreault could be part of a package, but unless that scenario comes to pass I think he will be in DC next year and continue to improve; he seems to have turned a corner this season that I look forward on watching him improve upon. Grade: B+
The next report card will feature defenseman Roman Hamrlik.
As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.