“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.
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.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America
Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America