Sunday, October 05, 2008

2008-2009 Previews: Boyd Gordon

Next up…

Boyd Gordon

Last Year: 7-9-16, +5, 55.8 pct. faceoff wins

Career average (per-82 games): 6-15-21, +1, 51.7 pct. faceoff wins

Feerless’ Take: If one were projecting Boyd Gordon into a player of the past, one that might come to mind is Kelly Miller. In 1,057 regular season games, Miller averaged 14-22-26, +6 per-82 games. But in his first two seasons in Washington, Miller averaged only 10-18-2, +10 (on better teams overall than did Gordon). While they play different positions – Miller being primarily a left wing, while Gordon is primarily a center – both bring a certain earnestness and hard-working attitude to their games. Gordon has played the role of being chiefly a defensive specialist who takes critical faceoffs. In his 67 games last year, he was in the minus column only 12 times, and only once as bad as a minus-two. And, in only 17 of 67 games did he find himself with a lower than 50 percent mark on faceoffs. It would be fair to say he was extremely consistent – one knew what they were getting with Gordon night-in and night-out. On a team that has such a high-powered offense, it is nice to have a player such as Gordon who can step out and shut down an opponent, to preserve those hard-earned gains made by the offense.

Cheerless’ Take: Kelly Miller? Don’t you mean “Kip?”…or “Kevin?” The fact is, Gordon regressed last year, at least statistically. He was held to the same number of goals as in 2006-2007 (seven), had fewer assists (nine versus 22), fewer points (16 versus 29), had a worse plus-minus (+5 versus +10, on a better team), had fewer shorthanded goals (one versus two), took fewer draws (904 versus 1,214)…and did this with no appreciable change in either total or even-strength ice time. It’s nice to have two defensive, face-off, penalty killing specialists like David Steckel and Boyd Gordon on one team, but one might consider that a luxury, too. If you had to take one, right now, would it be Gordon?

The Peerless’ Take: Well, Gordon also missed a dozen games last year due to a fractured right hand, Cheerless. That was time missed, not only to contribute to the club, but coming as the injury did in late November, it cost him time to become accustomed to new coach Bruce Boudreau’s game. He was forced to play catch-up upon returning. What it means is that he has a special need to prove something this year. He has the defense and penalty-killing thing down, and he has been consistent. But can he be that Kelly Miller-type who chipped in the average of 25-30 points a season on a consistent basis? The style that the Caps play suggests he’ll get opportunities to do that, and in fact, Gordon did show some promise as a more prolific scorer when he was in Canadian junior and in the AHL. This is a contract year for Gordon – he is a restricted free agent at the end of this season. While his are valuable skills to have on a roster that has lofty aspirations – you need the guys to do the simple, basic stuff well – he is being pushed from underneath by prospects who could challenge for playing time next year (Chris Bourque, for example, if he doesn’t make the cut this year) and from the side by players with similar skill sets (David Steckel). It’s hard to say that a guy not yet 25 years old (he will turn 25 on October 19th) is in a pivotal year of his career in Washington, but such is the state of the team now, where competition has grown keen for roster spots. It is an important year for Gordon.

Projected: 9-11-20, +7

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