Monday, October 27, 2014

The Almost Young Guns ... Those Who Owe Bruce Boudreau A Big Thank You At Least

The Capitals just finished a road trip to Western Canada and don't have another game until Wednesday night here at Verizon Center against the Detroit Red Wings. Anytime the Caps travel westward or have a break in the Regular Season that usually gets me musing 'bout "hockey" things.  This time I've been thinking about the first season I decided the Capitals "rebuild" was definitely over.  That was basically 2010 when the Caps won the Presidents trophy finishing the 2009-2010 regular season
with 121 points.

Both the 2009 - 2010 and 2010 - 2011 Capitals were very solid teams, but they had several players who owe then Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau and/or GM George McPhee a big thank you for providing a platform/stage that allowed them a chance to shine and ultimately reach for a "pay day" in free agency.  This week's road trip to the Canadian West and it's games against Edmonton - current "home" for Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon who are two such players has prompted me to "muse" about several of the similar players as well.  Where are they?  How is their season going so far?  Where/how would they fit on the 2014-15 Capitals in Barry Trotz's system etc.  So lets start in Edmonton with Hendricks and Gordon.

Boyd Gordon is currently 31 and has played in the NHL for 10 seasons, he has career earnings of $13.4M.  In the 2009-10 season his salary was $800K.  His salary has steadily increased with each new contract since then, but he wasn't a solid "full season" NHL'er until after his stint with the Capitals where his skills as a backchecking forward were clearly understood and well documented.  Of all the guys on this list though I'd say he owes McPhee and Boudreau the least since he was originally drafted in 2002 though he did play for Boudreau in both the AHL and the NHL with a few years in between here in Washington under Glen Hanlon.  Gordon's current contract in Edmonton is the richest of his career to date - 3 seasons $3M/year, and his stint here in DC certainly helped him earn som solid dollars and respect throughout the NHL.

Matt Hendricks is currently 33 and has played in the NHL for 6 seasons, he has career earnings according to CapGeek of $7.425M. In the 2009-10 season his NHL salary was $500K when at 26 he played his first full season (56 games) for the Avalanche, in 2010-11 he joined the Capitals and played 77 games followed by 78 games in 2011-12.  He then played all 48 games in the shortened 2012-13 season before "cashing in" and joining Barry Trotz's Nashville Predators as a UFA for the 2013-14 season. Hendricks quickly became a fan favorite here in DC after Boudreau added him to the 2010-2011 team following GMGM getting him in a trade with the Avalanche.  Hendricks toiled in the AHL the majority of his career after graduating from Saint Cloud State in 2004 until breaking through with the 2009-2010 Avs but it was his stint here in DC under Boudreau that opened the leagues eyes to his value.  Hendy's currently in the first season of a two year deal in Edmonton that pays him $1.85M/year; without the chance Boudreau gave him to be  solid role player on that 2010-11 Capitals team its unlikely he'd have had a solid chance to make an NHL roster at age 27.

Mathieu Perreault:  After a breakout year last season under Boudreau playing with a likely first ballot all star, the affable 26 year old "MattyP", cashed in with a 3 year, $3M/year deal, joining the Winnipeg Jets. owes Bruce Boudreau the least of the players on this list, it's likely the undersized Perreault owes him the most.  After the 5'10" 185# Center had a less than spectacular 2012-13 season here in Washington, Gabby brought Perreault out to Anaheim for the 2013-14 season where he played 69 regular season and 11 playoff games. In the regular season he saw occasional first line time and notched 18 Goals and 25 assists; in the 11 playoff games he had 2 goals and 3 assists.  Additionally throughout the season he played "bigger" than he had at any point of his career. It was exposure and utilization that it's likely no other NHL coach but Bruce Boudreau would have ever given him, and he rose to the occasion, now's he's in the enviable position to more than double his $7.625M career earnings to date over the next three season.

David Steckel, the 32 year old Ohio State grad is currently playing in the AHL for the Anaheim Ducks affiliate, Norfolk Admirals.  However thanks in some degree to the opportunities that Boudreau and the Capitals gave him he was able to cash in on his success as a faceoff specialist and now has career earnings of $5.6M.  So far this season in 7 GP with the Admirals though he is not putting up good statistics and his prior four NHL seasons (2011-13 with Toronto and 2013-14 with the Ducks), the former Verizon fan favorite has not had an "easy go of it" nor has he been exceptionally productive.

Jeff Schultz: The 28 year old defenseman from Calgary has $15.365M of career earnings to date, most of which he should credit a single great season playing alongside Mike Green and being the NHL's +/- leader.  To that he has to give second order credit to Boudreau for having teams in 09-10 and 10-11 that were offensive behemoths.  Then you have to directly credit what is the product of GMGM's propensity for "1 Year too long and $1M too much" - which resulted in him being a compliance buyout.  He is currently playing for the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings on their AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs after getting into 7 playoff games last spring on the Kings Cup winning run.

Well now it's time to go back to musing about the current Caps team and thinking about the upcoming game against the Red Wings...


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