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 defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who finished his first NHL season with the Capitals, but his 21st NHL campaign overall, this past year.
Season Summary: Hamrlik got off to a simply wretched start in Capital red, recording one point, a goal, and a -7 rating in his first two months in Washington. Hamrlik continued to struggle even after that time frame, and was pulled from the lineup in late February, prompting him to ask for a trade at the deadline that obviously did not come to pass. He returned to the lineup in mid March and played pretty much all night the rest of the way. Overall, the veteran Czech played in 68 games, recording two goals, 11 assists, a plus-11 rating, and 34 penalty minutes, so after after such a terrible start, he really increased his level of play in the latter stages of the season. He also was second on the team with 149 blocked shots, only four behind team leader John Carlson in 14 fewer games. He was second on the team among defensemen in even strength corsi rating at 0.26, and he did it against the second-easiest competition among those rearguards. Grade: B-
Role Play: The following defensemen not on entry-level contracts made similar to Roman Hamrlik this season: Kris Letang, Matt Carle, Brent Burns, and Ryan Suter. Quick, which one is the outlier? Simply put, though Hamrlik was not a total disaster, particularly after his start, for a player making as much as he is, more is expected. George McPhee said that he hoped Hamrlik would help the power play, but he didn’t play with the man advantage all season. He blocked shots well and put up a handful of points, but you can get that for a lot less than a $3.5 million cap hit. Nevertheless, it isn’t totally fair to judge Hamrlik based only on his contract, because he was solid if completely unspectacular for a portion of the year. Grade: C
Playoffs: As decidedly average as his regular season was, Hamrlik’s playoffs were actually quite good. He played in all 14 games, recording a goal, three assists, and a plus-eight rating that led the postseason for a period of time. He continued to block shots, racking up 37 denials in those 14 games, and posted the best 5v5 corsi on the team among defensemen at -7.83 (who needs puck possession), doing it against the fourth hardest competition on the team among blueliners. I was impressed with his play, and I had been one of his harshest critics all season. A nice rebound from the Hammer, and just about all you could want in the postseason for a player like him. Grade: A-
Future Potential: Signed through next year at a salary cap hit of $3.5 million, Hamrlik probably isn’t going anywhere, despite the fact that he had requested a trade in February. As such, expect more of the same relatively solid, but very overpaid, defense from the now 38 year-old Hammer. However, with his increasing age, it seems unlikely that we see a big rebound, especially because his PDO, which measures luck, was 1013 – not overly high, but not indicative of a big rebound, either. Grade: C+
The next report card will feature winger Joel Ward.
Harry Hawkings is a college student credentialed to cover the Caps for RtR. Follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.