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 Troy Brouwer, who finished his sixth NHL season, but his first in Washington, on this past year’s campaign.
Season Summary: Acquired at the draft for a first-round pick, Brouwer was one of six Capitals players to suit up for all 82 regular season games. In those 82 games, Brouwer had 18 goals, 15 assists, a team-worst minus-15 rating, and 61 penalty minutes. Unfortunately, almost all of Brouwer’s point production came in the first part of the season, as he only recorded two goals and six points after January 31st. Most of this could be blamed on Dale Hunter’s offense and puck-possession killing system, however, as Brouwer was converted from a second to a third line role as a result of the new all-defense system and his numbers suffered accordingly. He was ninth among forwards with a corsi rating of -3.66. Important to note, however, is that he faced the second-toughest even strength competition of any Capitals forward. Grade: B-
Role Play: Brouwer did well no matter where he was asked to play. As an offensive, top-two line player, he produced steady offensive numbers and was a key player on the forecheck. As a grinder, Brouwer was also good, playing tough minutes, blocking shots, and being responsible in all three zones. He’s always been hailed as more of an offensive player despite his unspectacular numbers no matter where he has played, but this year, Brouwer proved he could do both. He was a tad overpaid based on his cap hit, but nothing to get tangled up about. I was impressed with him in a year in which he was asked to play two exactly opposite roles and did them both well. Grade: B+
Playoffs: Firmly entrenched in his “meat and potatoes” role by the time the postseason rolled around, Brouwer still managed to come up with two huge goals in the Boston series, in games two and five. Overall, he played in all 14 playoff contests and posted two goals, two assists, a minus-two rating, and eight penalty minutes. His corsi plummeted to the third-worst on the team at -25.08, but the trend of him seeing tough minutes continued – he played against the fourth-hardest competition among forwards at even strength. Grade: B
Future Potential: Brouwer has one more season left on his current contract at a cap hit of $2.35 million before reaching unrestricted free agency. At 27 years old when next season starts, I would expect more of the same from Brouwer, no matter what role he is asked to play. He can be a steady scorer or a good defensive player, and is a versatile player who is physical and strong on his skates. This was a good trade, and in a contract year, I’d think we could see some improvement from him, even though he was a bit lucky this year. Grade: B
The next report card will feature goaltender Braden Holtby.
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