And now, we're up to…
Last Year: 10-20-30, -7
Career average (per-82 games): 10-18-28, -14
Fearless’ Take: Fleischmann has skill. The question is whether he has “AHL skill” or “NHL skill.” In the AHL, he was 59-74-133 in 155 career regular season games. If anything, he ramped up his performance in the playoffs, going 16-37-53 in 39 career AHL playoff games (all with Hershey). But in the NHL, he’s been somewhat slow to develop. A lot of the problem is his getting pushed around the ice a lot, not having the wherewithal to deal with the more limited time and space one gets in the NHL. Last year, going to camp without a contract, he not only played himself into a deal, but played himself onto the top line to start the season. It ended up being something of an albatross around his neck for much of the season. Set that aside for a moment and ask, for a guy who went into the 2007-2008 season with only 43 games of experience, was 10-20-30 that bad of a year, especially when he wasn’t on that top line anymore?
Cheerless’ Take: Fearless, Fleischmann has a job as a "top-six" forward. That’s his calling in the NHL. If he doesn’t cut the mustard there, he doesn’t have a job. It really comes down to that. And if he gets top-six minutes, he should get 30 points by accident on this team in an 82-game season. But let’s put that aside for a second. What’s up with that -14 in his career average? Last we checked, the rink was 200 feet long, and you generally had to play in both ends of it. He wasn’t the worst on this team in that regard (his -7 was tied with Donald Brashear and ahead of both Alexander Semin and Michael Nylander), but he’s been on the bottom half of the club in each of his three years with the Caps. He looked somewhat sturdier in camp and preseason, which could improve his ability to defend, but that will be something to watch, too.
The Peerless’ take: Fleischmann is another of those guys who is being, or will be pushed for a roster spot sooner rather than later. Chris Bourque could push him now (but for the options the club has with Bourque as far as sending him down to Hershey), and guys like Francois Bouchard, Dmitri Kugryshev, or even an Oskar Osala could push him down the road. In a sense, the apprenticeship of Tomas Fleischmann is at an end. His skills aren’t a mystery – he has displayed a talent as a fine puck handler and passer, and he’s shown an ability to score in the clutch…in the AHL. He now has more than 100 NHL games of experience under his belt. He has shown improvement (30 points for a player bringing as much experience as he had into last season wasn’t a bad result). But it is time to take another step. What might influence that is – as in the case of a few others on this team – what the third line looks like. If one presumes a top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Viktor Kozlov; and a second line of Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov, and Brooks Laich (for argument’s sake), then a third line might look like Fleischmann, Michael Nylander, and Chris Clark. That was, in fact, a line that worked together for a time in training camp. It would present Fleischmann with the opportunity to demonstrate that his skill isn’t limited to an “AHL” standard. But until he demonstrates that kind of a leap in production…
Projected: 10-18-28, -3