Friday, August 06, 2010

Team Under Construction

A little while ago, we took a look at the Caps’ blueprint – how one might think of their roster and how it was built. Think of this as the companion piece to that; what it means in terms of experience and turnover. How much experience and turnover? Well, there are a number of ways to look at this. First, we might ask when the players on this roster were acquired…



Interesting to note here that of the 23 players currently on the parent roster (or who might end up there on opening night), only three (those shaded in green) were acquired by the Caps before the lockout (we assume the 2004 draft is “post-lockout” in that it was conducted after the last game was played before the hiatus). All of them are draft picks – an early sign of building via the draft.

As for when players on this roster dressed for the first time in a Caps sweater, the results are simliar…



One thing we see in these first two examples is that of what we called the Caps “core” – Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Mike Green, cnd Nicklas Backstrom – only Semin’s acquisition and appearance for the Caps predates the lockout

Which leads us to the matter of tenure. As a group, this result is interesting…



Only two Caps – Ovechkin and Matt Bradley – have as many as four full years of game experience as a Capital. In fact, Ovechkin is now the “old man” of the Caps in terms of games played in the red sweater. However, thinking of the “core” again you see that all four of that group have logged more than 300 games in a Caps jersey. That is, of course, the group around which the rest of the team is built, and it is the rest of teh team that is likely to show signs of turnover over time.

In fact, ten of the 23 players have fewer than 100 games in a Caps sweater, and of that group four of them – Mike Knuble, Tyler Sloan, Jason Chimera, and D.J. King – come to Washington from other organizations. Two of the other three who have less than 200 games in a Caps jersey – Tom Poti and John Erskine – came from elsewhere.

What can we conclude? As we noted, this is something of the companion to the “blueprint” we wrote about. There is the core that we might expect will be here for a while (certainly in the case of Ovechkin and Backstrom). There are other players here, largely in that 200-300 games played range, who are important to the Caps’ success, but who might end up somewhere else before too long as their contracts expire and their price tags become too high.

But there is something else in the overall that we should not lose sight of. Alex Ovechkin has not yet reached his 25th birthday, and he is the longest tenured Capital in games played for the club. This is first, still a young team that just hasn’t been together that long, and second, one for which you might say the ingredients are still mixing. That they have come so far, so fast, from those back-to-back 70-point seasons coming out of the lockout is testimony to the sheer talent on the top end of the roster. But they are now at the point where the rest of the roster is catching up to it in terms of gaining the game experience as a group to be successful.

5 comments:

Ilan said...

Amidst the playoff disappointments in the past few years, I have had this same feeling but lacked a way to express it. You have done a great job of that, it keeps the ever-important perspective on where our club stands.

After reading Andrew Gordons blog post today on RMNB, it makes me realize how much sweeter winning a Cup will feel knowing that everyone in the organization (players, coaches, GM's Owners, fans, etc) have put in the appropriate time and experience gained to recognize and appreciate the glory and rarity in hoisting the Cup. LETS GO!

MemphisRaines said...

Another interesting thing to me is the last column in the third chart - only 6 guys currently with the team have suited up for every playoff game the last 3 years (I believe a 7th just signed with Buffalo) and that group includes every member of the team's "core." They should be well along on the playoff learning curve at this point.

Anonymous said...

Very helpful analysis. One minor issue -- you have Erskine playing his first game for the Caps in 2006, but not being acquired until 2007. According to Caps web site, he was acquired in Sept. 2006 as a free agent.

The Peerless said...

Anonymous -- I put one of those in every table to see who is reading ;) Just kidding, thanks for picking that up.

Memphis Raines... I agree, this group should now have enough playoff experience to do a lot more damage than they have done to date.

Dougeb said...

Thanks for researching and writing this. Very interesting.