Can Kundratek continue to develop with older, declining defensemen in front of him? (Clydeorama)
As the Washington Capitals’ 2013 season has come to a close, and many words have been written about the team as a whole, it’s now time to look at this club at an individual level. As such, we will be taking a look at each player who played a significant role on the club this season and what they could bring in the future. Next up is defenseman Tomas Kundratek.
Season Summary: Called up to the big club after an injury to Jack Hillen on opening night, Kundratek stepped in to the lineup and played just about every night for Adam Oates until succumbing to an injury of his own, believed to be a knee ailment, in the middle of March which forced him on to injured reserve. When he got healthy, there were too many defensemen playing well in Washington for him to reclaim a role, and he finished the season in Hershey. Overall, the young Czech played in 25 games, posting one goal, six assists, a -6.81 corsi rating, and a -5.7 corsi rel. It should also be noted, however, that Kundratek had a PDO of 969, among the lowest on the team, which indicates that he was unlucky and could be expected to have some better numbers in the future. Grade: B-
Role Play: Kundratek impressed me this season, as he was a player that I had not given a ton of thought to in terms of playing big minutes on this club until he actually started to play them. He saw playing time in most situations and though his stats weren’t glowing by any stretch of the imagination, I thought that he handled what he saw relatively well, especially given the expectations that most had of him. His puck possession numbers are a bit worrisome, especially with how often he started in the offensive zone (52%), but overall I think that he performed pretty well given the circumstances. Grade: B
Playoffs: Kundratek did not see any time in the postseason. Grade: N/A
Future Potential: A restricted free agent when the new League year starts in early July, Kundratek is probably due a small raise from the $816,000 that he earned at the NHL level this year. He is a player that I would like to see the Capitals hang on to if only to give them relatively cheap and capable player to fill in on the blue line if need be. I think that eventually he could turn in to a top-six defenseman, but he is unlikely to see consistent minutes next year, especially with the signings of John Erskine and Jack Hillen to multi-year contract extensions this spring. After being acquired from the Rangers seemingly on a whim late in 2011, Kundratek has become a young and intriguing defensive prospect with some potential. Grade: B
Harry Hawkings is a college student credentialed to cover the Capitals for RtR. Follow him on Twitter here for all your news needs this season.