Monday, June 20, 2022

Washington Capitals: 2021-2022 By the Tens -- Defensemen: Trevor van Riemsdyk

Trevor van Riemsdyk

“Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall note it… Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.”
-- Marcus Aurelius

“Modest” would be an apt description of the numbers Trevor van Riemsdyk has compiled over his career and, for that matter, the 2021-2022 season with the Washington Capitals.  But things are a bit more nuanced than just the numbers fans generally pay attention to.  His complete resume does not paint the picture of an elite defenseman, but the 2021-2022 season for “TVR” was a portrait of a player who has settled in to a role as a third-pair defenseman who tends to business in the finer details of his job.

Fearless’ Take… No, van Riemsdyk is not an offensive defenseman by an stretch of the imagination, but the Caps do have that talent elsewhere on the blue line.  He did shine in some of the more obscure statistics, though… first among defensemen in shorthanded ice time per game (2:29), first in blocked shots per 60 minutes (6.15), first in takeaways per 60 minutes (1.43), the only Capitals defenseman with a takeaway-to-giveaway ratio greater than 1.00-to-1 (1.58-to-1; compared to Dmitry Orlov, next at 0.84-to-1).  He was second among defensemen in net penalties (drawn to taken) per 60 minutes (0.24; Nick Jensen led with 0.49) and led all Caps defensemen in penalties drawn per 60 minutes (0.86).

Cheerless’ Take… Well, there were those number fans pay attention to.  He had one goal, which isn’t bad by itself (a lot of defensemen aren’t goal scorers), but of 145 defensemen recording at least 75 shots on goal, he was 134th in shooting percentage (1.3).  He had a minus-3 rating, tied for eighth among the 11 defensemen to dress for the Caps this season, fifth of six defensemen to dress for at least 20 games.  His minus-5 goal differential at even strength was next to last among those 11 defensemen.  He had a 49.4 shot attempts-for percentage at 5-on-5 despite 54.8 percent offensive zone starts.

Odd van Riemsdyk Fact… Van Riemsdyk posted 17 points this season.  That is a career high.

Odd van Riemsdyk Fact II… In 364 career games with Chicago and Carolina, van Riemsdyk posted 15 goals (0.04 per game).  A modest total, but he has only two in 92 games with the Caps (0.02 per game).

Odd van Riemsdyk Fact III… Among players born in New Jersey, only Paul Mara has played in more NHL games among defensemen (734 with six teams) than van Riemsdyk (456 with three teams)

Game to Remember… January 15th at. New York Islanders.  There are no games that stand out for van Riemsdyk statistically this season, but there was a situation that merits notice.  The Caps took the ice against the Islanders in New York after a four-day hiatus.  Before going on their break, the Caps were pasted by the Boston Bruins, 7-3.  The Caps scored in the fifth minute of the game on a Tom Wilson goal, and then they held on in a close-to-the-vest game, that being the only goal going deep into the third period.  With the Caps clinging to that 1-0 lead, van Riemsdyk got the call to take the last shift or the game in regulation.  He and the Caps were rewarded when Alex Ovechkin potted an empty net goal with 10.2 seconds left. It was a solid game for van Riemsdyk who, in 18:41 of ice time, recorded a pair of shot attempts (one on goal), three credited hits, two blocked shots, no giveaways, and finished with a plus-2 rating.

Game to Forget… November 21st at Seattle.  The Caps wrapped up an early season west coast road trip with a back-to-back set of games, shutting out the San Jose Sharks, 4-0, before making their first trip to Seattle to meet the expansion Kraken.  Things looked good early for the Caps when Tom Wilson scored the game’s first goal less than four minutes into the contest.  The good times did not last.  Seattle tied the game late in the period and then put up three goals in the second period.  The Caps got one back early in the third period on an Alex Ovechkin goal to make things interesting, but the Kraken scored an empty net goal in the last minute to win, 5-2.  Van Riemsdyk skated just 12:36, his second-lowest ice time of the season and lowest in a loss.  He recorded on shot on goal and one hit for his effort, one that like that for many Caps in this game was barely noticeable.

Postseason… In what might have been one of the strangest developments in the Caps’ postseason, van Riemsdyk and Justin Schultz were two of the Capital defensemen to record goals John Carlson was the other).  Van Riemsdyk led the Caps defense in plus-minus rating (plus-3) and was one of two Capital defensemen to record two even strength points (Schultz was the other).  He led the Caps’ defense in blocked shots (13) and was the only Capital defenseman not to be charged with a penalty.  On the other side, his 43.2 percent shot attempts-for on ice was second worst among the six defensemen to appear in the postseason.

Looking Ahead… Van Riemsdyk has one year remaining on his current contract with a $950,000 cap hit.  He will be 31 years old on Opening Night, so age should not be a factor in any team decision to re-sign him.  The Caps have prospects coming through the pipeline who could challenge van Riemsdyk for a roster spot, and there are always the free agent/trade/waiver claims that could affect the roster, especially among the 5/6/7 group of defensemen, where van Riemsdyk resides. 

In the End… Trevor van Riemsdyk won’t wow people with his scoring prowess, nor will he bring people out of their seats with a physical game. His game is more subtle, as evidenced by the statistical categories in which he fared well in 2021-2022, and it is how well he deploys those skills that will determine whether he is with the club going forward.

Grade: B