Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Washington Capitals: 2018-2019 By the Tens -- Forwards: Dmitrij Jaskin

Dmitrij Jaskin

“Let us, then, be up and doing, with a heart for any fate; still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait.”
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Once upon a time, Dmitrij Jaskin was a second round draft pick, picked by the St. Louis Blues ahead of Victor Rask, ahead of William Karlsson, ahead of Nikita Kucherov.  Yes, taken ahead of Nikita Kucherov.  Jaskin was the 41st overall pick of the 2011 draft (Kucherov was taken with the 58th pick for those of you keeping score).  It might have been the high point of his NHL career. 

Jaskin got his first NHL action with a pair of games in the 2012-2013 season with the Blues and had a 13-goal season in St. Louis two seasons later.  But that 13-goal season Jaskin had in 2014-2015 was the outlier.  In his other five seasons with the Blues he totaled 12 goals in 212 games, and by the time he wrapped up his sixth NHL season with the Blues in 2017-2018 he had yet to record a 20-point season.  The Blues ran out of patience and waived Jaskin on the eve of the 2018-2019 regular season.  The Caps claimed him on October 2nd.

Jaskin was in the lineup for 25 of the Caps’ first 31 games, going 1-6-7, plus-1, but his opportunities to skate dried up thereafter.  He was in the lineup only 11 times over the next 28 games, and after February 17th was absent from the lineup entirely until getting a sweater for the regular season finale against the New York Islanders.  He finished the season with what one might think of as a “half share.”  His 37 games played were roughly half of what he had in St. Louis in 2017-2018 (76 games), his scoring line (2-6-8) was about half of that the previous season (6-11-17), and his penalty minute total (six) was in that 50 percent neighborhood compared to last season as well (14).

Fearless’ Take… When he earned a sweater on a regular basis early in the season, over those 25 games he played in the Caps’ first 31 contests, the team was 16-7-2.

Cheerless’ Take…  Jaskin, whether by coincidence or by being a player lacking added value, did not contribute a lot to the Caps’ success overall.  Even with the successful start, the team went just 19-14-4 in the 37 games in which he played overall, although they were 9-5-1 in the 15 games in which he skated at least 11 minutes.

Odd Jaskin Fact… Of 391 forwards recording at least 45 shots on goal this season, only nine had a worse shooting percentage than Jaskin (4.2 percent on 2-for-48 shooting).

Game to Remember… December 8th at Columbus

It was a frustrating start to the season personally for Jaskin.  He did not record a goal in his first 22 games with the Caps, and in the one multi-point game he had, a two-assist effort against Anaheim on December 2nd, the Caps lost, allowing the Ducks five unanswered goals in the last 26 minutes in a 6-5 loss.  Some of that frustration melted away when the Caps visited Columbus as the last stop on a three-game road trip.  After Brett Connolly staked the Caps to an early lead less than two minutes into the game, the Blue Jackets tried to clear the puck around the wall and out of their own end.  Dmitry Orlov kept the puck inside the blue line, where it found its way to the stick of Travis Boyd.  Circling through the high slot, Boyd wrong-footed a shot at the Columbus net, but before reaching goalie Sergei Bobarovsky, it caromed off the left skate boot of Jaskin and through Bobrovsky to give the Caps a 2-0 lead and make Jaskin just about the happiest guy on the planet  The Caps went on to beat Columbus, 4-0, earning a second win on their three-game road trip. 

Game to Forget… February 17th at Anaheim

By mid-February, Jaskin’s presence in the lineup became infrequent, and when he was on the ice he was not especially effective.  In 11 games from December 14th through February 14th, he was 1-0-1, minus-3 in 11 games, averaging 10:23 in ice time per game.  With the Caps looking to go 2-for-2 on their three-game California road trip, Jaskin was in the lineup against the Anaheim Ducks.  It was forgettable in its sameness with his performance leading up to that game.  Jaskin skated 11 minutes, did not record a shot on goal (two shot attempts), and took a third period penalty that led to an insurance power play goal by Corey Perry in what would be a 5-2 Ducks win.  It was the last meaningful game in which Jaskin would play, not getting another crack at the lineup until the season finale, by which time the Caps had clinched their division title and postseason seeding, giving them the chance to rest other players.

Postseason… Jaskin did not skate in the postseason.

Looking ahead…

Dmitrij Jaskin was on a one-year/$1.1 million deal, signed by the Blues last July.  He goes into this off-season as a restricted free agent.  Unless the Caps are shut out in re-signing other forwards on expiring contracts, it is difficult to see where Jaskin fits with the club going forward.

In the end…

For a player drafted with the promise Dmitrij Jaskin had, especially when one considers who was passed over in his favor, it is frustrating to see how his career unfolded.  Of course, had it developed as hoped, this piece would not have been written, and Jaskin would still be skating for the Blues.  He will not turn 27 years old until next March, so there is always the hope that he will be a late bloomer as he enters the chronological prime of his career.  But it seems almost certain that if that is to be in the NHL, it will be with a new team.

Grade: C-

Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

Washington Capitals: 2018-2019 By the Tens -- Forwards: Carl Hagelin

Carl Hagelin

“The head learns new things, but the heart forever practices old experiences.”
-- Henry Ward Beecher

Moving services had quite a customer in forward Carl Hagelin over the past six months.  Last November, he was traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Los Angeles Kings for forward Tanner Pearson.  After a three-month stay on the left coast, Hagelin was shipped back east, traded by the Kings to the Washington Capitals for a 2019 third round draft pick and a 2020 sixth round draft pick.

In Hagelin, the Caps were getting a player with more than 500 regular season games of experience over eight seasons with four teams, having twice won Stanley Cups, both with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017.  It was good to have Hagelin in a red sweater for other reasons, most notably that he was 4-6-10 in 29 career regular season games against the Caps and was 6-9-15 in 35 postseason games against the Caps, playing on the winning side in five of six series in which he played against Washington.

His presence, whether as a contributor or merely coincidental, agreed with the Caps.  In the 20 games for which he dressed, Washington was 14-5-1, and they were 8-0-1 in those games in which he recorded a point. The three goals, eight assists, and 11 points Hagelin recorded for the Caps in 20 games was more than he recorded in each category as he did in almost twice as many games (38) in his previous two stops this season: Pittsburgh (1-2-3 in 16 games) and Los Angeles (1-4-5 in 22 games).

Fearless’ Take… Hagelin’s presence might have been most felt in penalty killing.  Before his arrival, the Caps were 162-for-206, a 78.6 percent kill rate.  After his arrival, the Caps were 44-for-55, an 80.0 percent kill rate.  However, that improved with time.  For instance, after March 1st, the Caps had an 82.6 percent penalty kill, which included an ugly 0-for-3 performance against Tampa Bay in late March.  It was perhaps no coincidence that Hegelin led the team’s forwards in shorthanded ice time after his arrival (2:21).

Cheerless’ Take…  Hagelin was not so much a problem as much as he reflected one.  Having to go out and get a player who brought more speed and better defense, particularly on the penalty kill, reflected the lack of skills among the club and that might have departed with Jay Beagle after last season (ok, not the speed part).  Chandler Stephenson was largely pushed to the press box (10 games played of the 21 the Caps played after Hagelin’s arrival), and Dmitrij Jaskin almost needed to buy a ticket to get into the arena (one game played, that being the regular season finale when many players were held out).

Odd Hagelin Fact… 2019 was the first time in eight trips to the postseason that Hagelin’s team did not advance to the second round.

Game to Remember… March 3rd at New York Rangers

Upon joining the Capitals in late February, Carl Hagelin did not record a point in four games, one of them against a former club, the New York Rangers.  Hagelin got a second bite at that apple, so to speak, when the Caps visited Madison Square Garden in early March.  Washington entered the contest on a three-game winning streak, while the Rangers were on a three-game losing streak (0-1-2).  It would be the Rangers who got out to a quick lead, though, Ryan Strome beating goalie Braden Holtby off a Caps turnover just 45 seconds into the game. 

The lead lasted barely a minute.  Lars Eller sent a pass in deep to Hagelin in the right wing corner to the left of Ranger goalie Alexander Georgiev.  Hagelin collected the puck, spun, and skated low through the faceoff circle.  He tried a pass through the crease to Brooks Orpik pinching in from the left.  The pass was blocked by defenseman Libor Hajek, but the puck found its way right back to Hagelin’s stick.  This time, Hagelin snapped the puck behind Georgiev, who could not get back to the near post in time from defending against the shot from Orpik that never came.  Hagelin had his first goal – first point – as a Capital, 2:05 into the first period to tie the game.  The teams exchanged goals once more and forced overtime in a 2-2 game.  The five minute extra frame did nothing to settle things, but the Caps would emerge with the victory on a fourth-round goal by Alex Ovechkin. Hagelin skated 16:33, including a team-leading 1:55 in penalty killing ice time (the Rangers failed on two power plays), and won the third star in the Caps’ 3-2 win.

Game to Forget… February 23rd at Buffalo

Carl Hagelin went from facing the Caps, skating for the Los Angeles Kings against Washington in a 3-2 Caps win on February 18th, to skating for them on February 23rd in Buffalo in his first game as a Capital.  His presence did not provide an immediate spark.  Buffalo scored early, a Jason Pominville goal 3:40 into the game, scored again before the first period was over (Hagelin was on the ice for that one), and then won going away with a pair of third period goals after the Caps closed the deficit to one goal.  For the second straight game, Hagelin found himself on the wrong side of the win-loss ledger in a contest involving the Caps.  In 12:33 of ice time in his Caps debut, he was on ice for a goal, finishing minus-1, took a penalty, and had two giveaways.  The silver lining here was that Hagelin and the Caps would follow up this loss with a seven-game winning streak.

Postseason… Hagelin was part of a group that, even with names changing over the years, has been something of a sore spot in the postseason for the Caps – the bottom six forwards.  He had one assist in seven games, but that point was still more than seven other forwards among the 14 who dressed for the Caps against Carolina in the first round.  He recorded no goals on 13 shots in the seven games and remains one of only 18 forwards failing to record at least one goal on at least ten shot in the postseason.  Hagelin went without a goal in the postseason for the first time since he was blanked in 17 games in his first trip to the postseason, that with the Rangers in 2012.

Looking ahead…

Carl Hagelin is at the end of a four-year/$16 million deal he signed with Anaheim (three teams ago) in August 2015.  He will be 31 years old on Opening Night of the 2019-2020 season, suggesting that this could be his last big payday in the NHL.  The club would appear to want Hagelin back, and the player would appear to want to return, but making the numbers work, both dollars and term, given the other personnel issues that the Caps have this postseason and possibly next is going to be a challenge.  

In the end…

The addition of Carl Hagelin addressed a couple of issues that the Caps struggled with over stretches this season – matching up against teams with speed and penalty killing.  While his addition did address those issues with success in the stretch run of the regular season, his presence was less influential in the first-round loss to Carolina in the postseason.  It might have been enough of a tease to wonder what Hagelin’s effects might be with the club with a full season or more under a new contract.  Whether the club and player can come to an agreement will be one of the story lines to watch in the offseason.

Grade: B

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images