Monday, August 29, 2022

The 2021-2022 Washington Capitals Rookie Class -- Then and When: Part 1 -- "Put Me In Coach"

With the 2022-2023 NHL regular season fast approaching, we are making the transition from the old to the new, looking forward to training camp and the start of the 2022-2023 season that will dominate our attention over the next several weeks.  But there is one aspect of the 2021-2022 season for the Washington Capitals that deserves one last look for its unusual nature and as a baseline for the upcoming season.  That would be the role rookies played with the Caps last season.  We will be taking a look at “The Year of the Rookie” in several parts, starting with an overview of the season last year’s rookie class for the Capitals had as a baseline.  For instance…

-- The Caps dressed 11 rookies last season, all skaters.  No Eastern Conference playoff team dressed as many (Florida was next in the East with seven), and the Los Angeles Kings were the only other playoff team to dress as many as 11 rookie skaters.

-- Those 11 rookies combined for 273 man games, fifth most among all teams last season and most among Eastern Conference teams reaching the playoffs.

-- The 32 goals scored by the 11 rookies ranked fifth among all teams and again led all Eastern Conference teams reaching the postseason.

-- Last year’s rookie class of skaters for the Caps combined for 65 points, 11th among all teams and second among all Eastern Conference playoff teams (Toronto: 89 points).

-- The plus-26 cumulative rating for the Caps’ rookie class ranked second in the league overall (Toronto: plus-34).

-- Caps rookies played within the rules rather well.  Their combined 59 penalty minutes were tied for 15th in the league overall, with Philadelphia, in 102 more man games than the Flyers.

-- In 47 seasons, the 11 rookie skaters the Caps employed last season are tied for seventh-most of any season in team history.  The last time the Caps had more rookie skaters dress was in 2004, when 14 rookie skaters pulled on a jersey at least once.  That was at the start of the most recent rebuild, when a number of players were moved from a poor Caps club.  Before that, you would have to go all the way back to 1991 to find more rookie skaters, when 13 dressed for the Caps.

-- No rookie skater had as many as ten goals, but all nine who appeared in more than one game had at least one.

-- Two rookies – Connor McMichael and Martin Fehervary – finished with more than 15 points.  Not since 1990-1991 have the Caps had more rookies finish with more than 15 points (Mikhail Tatarinov, Dmitri Khristich, and Peter Bondra).

-- Four Caps rookies – Connor McMichael, Martin Fehervary, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, and Aliaksei Protas – averaged more than 10 minutes of ice time per game while appearing in at least 20 games, matching the most in team history (2017-2018, 2010-2011, 2003-2004).

-- Five of the 11 rookie skaters had takeaway-to-giveaway ratios of greater than 1.0:1 (Connor McMichael (1.5:1), Brett Leason (2.25:1), Hendrix Lapierre (3.0:1), Joe Snively (7.0:!), and Beck Malenstyn (2.0:1)

-- Over the last 20 seasons, the 2021-2022 rookie class of skaters ranks as follows in selected statistical categories:

  • Games Played: 3rd (273); the 2017-2018 team had the most (286)
  • Goals: 2nd (32)/2005-2006 had 61
  • Assists: 7th (33)/2005-2006 had 82
  • Points: 6th (65)/2005-2006 had 143
  • Plus-Minus: T-2nd (plus-26, with 2017-2018)/2014-2015 was plus-33
  • Penalty Minutes: 11th (59)/2013-2014 had 222
  • Even Strength Goals: 2nd (30)/2005-2006 had 36
  • Even Strength Points: 4th (61)/2005-2006 had 82
  • Power Play Goals: T-7th (1)/2005-2006 had 22
  • Power Play Points: T-12th/2005-2006 had 58
  • Shorthanded Goals: T-2nd (1)/2005-2006 had 3
  • Shorthanded Points: T-2nd (2)/2005-2006 had 3
  • Game-Winning Goals: T-6th (2)/2010-2011 had 8
  • Shots on Goal: 2nd (348)/2005-2006 had 624

 -- By month, the 2022-2003 rookie class had combined scoring lines as follows:

  • October: 20 man-games, 2-3-5, plus-4
  • November: 71 man-games, 9-11-20, plus-5
  • December: 39 man-games, 4-4-8, plus-13
  • January: 42 man-games, 3-6-9, plus-7
  • February: 33 man-games, 5-5-10, minus-1
  • March: 39 man-games, 5-2-7, even
  • April: 21 man-games, 4-2-6, minus-2

We will be taking a closer look at the individual skaters in entries that follow, both their performance last season and what might lie in store for the upcoming season, but what is striking about the 2021-2022 rookie class is how much and how many in this class were called upon to fill holes and produce (almost a third of all skaters to dress last season for the Caps – 11 of 35 – were rookies), especially for a playoff contender, not a rebuilding team as was the case in 2005-2006.  Can they take the next step?  That’s the challenge.

No comments: