Friday, April 25, 2008

2007-08 Rink Wrap: Matt Bradley

From Backstrom to Steckel, we're taking a quick look at and grading the 2007-08 season for every* player who laced 'em up for the Caps during the campaign (and is still with the team) with an eye towards 2008-09. Next up, Matt Bradley.

Contract Status: UFA; 2007-08 salary of $700,000
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 30
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 6+
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 77 games played, 7 goals, 11 assists, +1, 74 PIMs
Key Stat: Has improved his plus/minus in each of his last four seasons
Surprising Stat: Had the most shots on goal per minute of ice time of any non-Russian on the team

The Good: Most of the good that Bradley does (aggressive forechecking with sandpaper to spare) doesn't find its way onto the stat sheet, but there are some numbers that we can throw out here. For example, he doubled his fight total from 2006-07 (from five to ten), had a career-high 111 shots on goal, a pair of game-winning goals and was third among season-long Caps forwards in hits, all while getting the second-lowest ice time of any regular. He had his best month of the season points-wise when it mattered most, notching four goals and a helper in March, and his goal in the 12th round of a scoreless shootout against Edmonton back in January gave the Caps a victory on that night. Oh, and he provided us with this fantastic picture. Finally, here's a telling stat for you - after being healthy-scratched five times in 21 games under Glen Hanlon, Bradley played every single game once Bruce Boudreau got to town and saw his minutes increase as well.

The Bad: Only seven of Bradley's 111 shots on goal found the back of the net, a 6.3 shooting percentage that was the worst of any regular forward, and he hasn't scored more than seven goals in a season since 2001 (when he potted nine for the Sharks). His job isn't to put up points, but 16- and 11-game pointless and 23- and 17-game goal-less stretches are a bit lengthy.

The Vote: Rate Bradley on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Question(s): Potentially an unrestricted free agent come July 1, should Bradley be in the Caps' plans for 2008-09? If so, what will it take for him to earn a 10 next year?

If you've missed any of the previous 2007-08 Rink Wraps, click here, get caught up, and vote - polls will stay open for a while.

* And by "every," we mean every one who played more than just a handful of games.


Rage said...

Time bias is a huge issue here. He played so well down the stretch that we can easily forget what happened earlier in the year. Not that he was bad, but he certainly wasn't late-season/playoffs Matt Bradley.

I would love to have him back next year. His early season play was a 4 or 5, his late season play was a 7. So I gave him a 6.

Chuck G. said...

I think he fits well on the 4th line, the "energy" line. I can think of numerous games where he, Brash, and Gordon/Stecks could be counted on to keep pressure on the opposing team's net by just cycling the puck for :30 or more. I believe we should bring him back for at least another year and he'd get a ten in my book if he scores 10 - 15 goals with at least a +5 rating on the year.

JP said...

I gave him a 6.5 (6 at home, 7 at work).

He was certainly solid at the end of the year, but unless your only job is to punch people repeatedly, I don't think it's unfair to think that you should be able to do better than one goal every eleven games. At 13.5 shifts per game (which is what he got), that's one goal for every 148.5 shifts. Seems low to me, even for a banger.

Then again, with his relatively high shot totals, perhaps it was fluky that he only ended up with seven tallies.

Then again, take away one Boston and one Toronto game and he had four goals, eight assists in 75 games which is real low.

Add in a bit of an injury history and I'm undecided on Brads for 2008-09.


1) Wasn't a big Bradley fan early on, but once he/the team found his niche he really seemed to excel playing with Steckel/Brashear or Laing at times
2) He NOT going to win any scoring titles, but from what is written it appears he one of those positive locker room guys who's intangibles can't be measured purely with the stats page

Tyler said...

1.) I think 10's going to win scoring titles.

2.) I think that 8 and Whiny Diver finished neck-and-neck in the voting for the Calder.

3.) Has Faux(es) considered gardening as a spring hobby?

Brunella said...

I'm sorry that this is off-topic, but I got a very unpleasant jolt this morning when I got out of bed and realized that there is no more Caps hockey. I momentarily sank back into bed, groaning. But oh well!!! I can get my Daily Dose of Denial right here. Thank you, JP!

My Spring Resolution is to totally ignore Tyler and pretend that he doesn't exist. Ahhh, yeeesssss. I feel better already.

bigonetimer said...

every team needs one or two guys like to see some more scoring out of him, but he's a good role player for us and at the right price he should be back

Kim said...

I have said it before, but there is just something about Matt Bradley that makes me love him. He is consistent in his role, accepts his role, and just strikes me as one of those players that earns his pay as much in the locker room as he does on the ice.

I really hope that we can keep Brads. How many times did I smile a little when Brads shot the puck ( a lot). But when he did score it was like the best thing ever. Kind of like when Laing would get a goal or two. He also seems to have the perfect personality to mesh with the team and the team leadership.

Tyler said...

Readers who prefer inanity to substance can go ahead and ignore this, but:

Bradley is a system guy. If you're a team that plays an aggressive forecheck, you want him. If you're going to play read-and-react or if you're going to clog up the neutral-zone with Devils-wanna-bes, then he's not going to add much but the potential for pugilism. I think the Caps are gonna forecheck like mad, so I think you welcome Brads back.

But... I'm not sure you want him on the PK next year. The Caps PK was ranked 25th. It has to improve.

~Mark said...

I'm really torn about Brads. On the one hand, he does exactly what we need on that 4th line: hit, cycle, fight, the odd goal/assist. But that is the stuff of the vast majority of players in the NHL. Could Laing be a cheap alternative to what Brads will be looking for (1 million)? OR is he one of those role players who is invaluable to a team with Cup aspirations? I'd say, offer him a modest raise (850) and see what happens.

Shaggy said...

Coaches LOVE Bradley. He's a character guy, and willing to get dirty, with a modicum of talent.

Bradley rules - I gave him an 8.

Tyler said...

If someone is willing to pay Matt Bradley $1M a year: S'long.

Rage said...

Mark, I don't think you can get much cheaper than what Bradley will seek. I don't think you would save any more than $500k or so.

Then again, that sequence where Laing had two or three blocked shots during that PK against Pitt was a top 3 highlight of the season.

billy said...

I gave him an 8, so you can count me as a fan. He's a great 4th line player - he plays with energy and grit, and by all accounts, he's a great dude in the room.

I'd like to see the Caps re-sign him. The Caps can definitely use more sandpaper in the lineup. The Caps do have some wingers in Hershey that might be ready to make a case in the NHL (Bourque? A. Gordon?), but I don't think they fill the same role.

breed16 said...

7 and 11 from a fourth liner is solid.

His value increases substantially considering his contribution in the play-offs. When our skill lines were flat, it was Bradley & co. who fought hard to win back momentum. I can't count on my fingers how many times he had a shift that rejuvenated the forecheck and set up more productive offensive possessions for our top lines. He was our best player in game 4.

Are there dozens of guys in the league who could do that? Probably. Are they as cool as Matt Bradley? Nope.

Melon said...

He was always one of the hardest workers on the team. I think the best payoff(and example of his hardwork) was the Steckel goal in Game 1. He's been doing that all year.

jh said...

There is a way to say "job well done" at the same time as "good luck on your next team". The Caps need to make some upgrades to their top 9. By doing that, it'll push some guys down the depth chart. Bradley is still fairly young, and I don't think he'll play for less than he did this year. I wouldn't want to see the Caps paying $750K or more to a guy who could be sent to the minors at some point. I think he goes strictly because there are probably a bunch of teams that could use a guy like him and can give him better ice time and pay him what he is looking for.

Marky Narc said...

Given the glut of third and fourth liners on the roster, I had kind of figured Bradley would be an odd man out most of the season. I initially thought the Caps has made an error sending Clymer to Hershey instead of Bradley. The struggles early on kind of reinforced that as well.

But as the season went on, Brads filled his role on the team a capably as anyone else on this roster. The offensive numbers don't really mean as much to me as the hits and him being a plus player (+1).

So, as far as my personal expectations for him - which were probably lower than the average if there was a way to statistically measure that - go, he had a much better season than I expected him to have. I gave him an 8.

Brads definitely earned himself a spot on next season's roster, but I have a feeling he would want two or three years, while the Caps would probably only be wiling to give him one. Sadly, He may very well become a cap causality.

exwhaler said...

I like Bradley better than Cooke. Although the latter is a better agitator, Bradley really stepped up his play at the end of the season and in the playoffs. I think the Caps will have to decide between which two to keep, and I hopes its Bradley.

He's a good 4th line energy player and apparently one of the best guys in the locker room. A one-year deal should do it. I can see Chris Bourque eventually taking over his role next season.

Funny thing, thou...I remember when the Caps resigned both Bradley and Ben Clymer, the general reaction was that Clymer: Good, Bradley: What the Hell are They Thinking? The Clymer contract looks pretty bad now (even if it's only $1 million)....

Kim said...

I agree with breed16. I realize that you cannot always make a decision based on whether a player is cool, etc. However, we have plenty of skilled offensive players. To carry on in the playoffs we need the "Bradley-like" players. Brads has the chemistry with the team and picked up his play in the second half of the season (Is there any reason to think that a full season under BB would be different?)

I think there is a reason why players like Brooks and Matt Bradley were sought out for quotes, interviews, etc. in the last several weeks. They provided leadership and charisma but more importantly backed it up with their play on the ice.

Besides his quotes following the Edmonton shootout goal and Nick getting selected as Rookie of the Month alone are reasons I would hate to see Brads go.

JP said...

Bradley was pointless and minus-four over the last five games of the Philly series, but I agree that his line did seem to provide a forechecking spark when it was needed.

As for his quotes, don't forget his line after the rout of the B's (per CapsChick) - "We heard them. [Matt Bradley] was like, 'The fans wanted it, and I am a fan favorite, so I had to give them what they wanted." - Brooks Laich, on the fans chanting "we want 10" with the Caps up 9-2

Kim said...

Had forgotten about that one. Could I possibly like Matt Bradley even more!

Seriously, there is just something about that guy.

Scott said...

Brads is one of my favorite players to watch and cheer for. What he may lack in talent he makes up for in hustle and energy.
Would I like him on the team next year? Yeah of course. As long as he's not too expensive. But, we do have a glut of 3rd & 4th liners and I think some are going to have to go. I think Bradley brings some intangibles to the team, especially in the locker room, and I don't really see him getting sent away. So, it's gonna come down to money.

Too bad we freakin signed Fleishman for 2 years...he can go

hotdog88gt said...

Resign for sure. That goal he scored to end that long shootout is enough reason for me.

Scai said...

Prototypical fourht line banger, does what those guys do. Had a solid season, contributing the way he is able to.
Since he's not expensive and a part of the glue of the team I'd keep him around.

b80vin said...

There is no logic when one is choosing a favorite player and Brads is one of my favorites. As always Rage get's the logic right, a tale of two seasons. And I'm not giving anyone a plus for a single shootout goal. But I can remember two games when Bradley had three hits on two different players in less than a half a minute. Granted both happened at the end of the year, but that's when we needed it.

I give him a 7: 5 for overall season play, and 2 because I just like the way he plays when he plays well.

Obviously I hope he's with the team next year, but I understand if he isn't. No way he's a million dollar man.

My word verification is: carona. For some reason, I remember that I have no limes.

noonan said...

kind of with rage here, if not for picking up his game when it mattered most, march and april, it would be a 5 or 6.
I must admit, when jp put up the poll of who we would least prefer to see on the roster when the season began, or something like that, during training camp(god that poll seems like yesterday), and the choices were clymer, bradley, sutherby and someone else(fill me in here jp) i totally picked bradley. now, i think we definitely need to resign him. especially when you consider his salary and that he wont be due a big raise if any.

noonan said...

he really does need to learn how to get his slap shot off of the ice though. pretty sure hes got the worst shot on the team. and someone correct me if im wrong, but thats not just my opinion, i think i heard it somewhere(and ive seen it plenty)

pplc said...


You're not supposed to vote for yourself here (the single 10 vote that exists right now). This is for the FANS. LOL

MikeZ said...

I gave him a 9 - yes, he's a third-liner, but there's few better third-liners that I know of (except maybe Laich). If he could up his scoring, he'd be the full package, but as it is, he's among our best physical forwards, and it shows whenever he's on the ice.

Early in the season, when this team was the antithesis of physical, Bradley was still willing to pound people flat. There was even a point that I came to consider Bradley the best player on the team, just because I hate anyone who won't hit for their teammates.

Add in his general competence and reliability, his decent speed, and his general selflessness. I would say he's a solid 9er for this Caps team.

RandyD said...

I gave him an 8, because he did meet his potential. His offensive numbers were on par with previous seasons, and he played more games, and had his first positive +/- as a Cap. Throw in his leadership, character, that he never quits a shift, and his OT Shoot Out goal -- I count that as a good season. His numbers are what you'd expect for a 4th line guy, and he plays the forecheck really well. Sometimes the 4th line was the best puck-possession unit on the team. I'm sure he's a player that coaches love to coach.

He's one of the players I liked, especially for his intensity on the ice. Considering his salary, I would think he's gonna stay. If he asks for a big raise though, there's no telling.