Friday, May 23, 2008

2007-08 Rink Wrap: Brian Pothier

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, Brian Pothier.

Contract Status: 2008-09 salary of $2,500,000; UFA after 2009-10 season
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 31
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 4+
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 38 games played, 5 goals, 9 assists, +5, 20 PIMs
Key Stat: Pothier was one of two defensemen on the team (Tom Poti being the other) to average more than 15 even strength minutes, one power play minute and one shorthanded minute per game.
Quirky Stat: Had no points on Fridays, despite playing nine Friday games and having more than twice as many shots on that day than on any other.

The Good: Pothier was on pace for a 10-goal/19-assist/plus-10 campaign (which would have been career bests in goals and points, and the five goals he did score tied a career best) when his season was derailed by Milan Lucic. His 7.7 shooting percentage was tied with Mike Green for second among the team's blueliners, he drew the second most penalties per sixty minutes of a Caps rearguard, and even though he played less than half the season, he ended up fourth among the D-corps in points. Pothier had the best plus/minus relative to his team of any Caps defenseman, the second best takeaway-to-giveaway ratio of the group, and had four goals in 17 games under Bruce Boudreau.

The Bad: Pothier had two points (no goals) and a minus-3 rating in 15 November games and had just one goal in his first 26 games. He also had the second-fewest hits-per-game of any Caps defenseman (Poti had the fewest).

The Head: Pothier's health is improving, but he's still symptomatic as he tries to recover from what is at least his fifth concussion.

The Vote: Rate Pothier 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 Questions: If Pothier gets better and can play, what role do you see him having on the 2008-09 Caps? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating 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.



1) That's good news that he seems to be improving, but its an ominous sign that he's still NOT symptom free so many months after the injury. Retirement appears a distinct possibility
2) Seems like 3 years ago when we last saw him play, but by and large he was having a typical Pothier season. Not outstanding, but fairly solid for him A 5 is what he deserves. Of course we'll never know if he could have lifted his game like the rest of the team did in the second half.
3) To get a 10 next season he'd have to play 70+ games. Be a top 4 defender, play big minutes on the PK, and get some PP time. Contribute some offensively. 10 goals/30 helpers.
4) Sadly that seems unlikely. He'll probably either retire before the season, or is one good hit from that inevitability

JP said...

Pothier is/was solid in the right role, which is what he was settling into last year. The Caps definitely could have used him. I gave him a 7 - slightly better than I had expected, but that's probably the result of seeing him overmatched in a role he couldn't handle the year before.

Rich said...

Gave him a 6 and JP a 9 for being way ahead of the curve on the injury.

Anonymous said...

i wanted to leave a 1, but i left a 2. becuase when he was healthy he was playing better then last year.

tg said...

I want to give him an incomplete, unfortunately. I think he played well when he was in the lineup, and he was much better in the second pairing than on the top pairing.

I also think that the team should strongly encourage him to retire. Show him a picture of Eric Lindros, Pat LaFontaine, or Brett Lindros and say, "You want to be able to play with your kids and have a normal life, right?" Especially since it seems like every concussion makes it more likely you're going to have another one.

exwhaler said...

I agree with JP--Pothier at his best is a solid 3-4 defenseman. In his first season, he was extremely overplayed in the first two months. You can't jump from averaging 16 minutes to nearly 25 a game without some effect, and Potsy began burning out before he got injured last season. This year, Poti allowed him to drop back into a better role, but with his concussion injuries, I'm worried it's too late.

exwhaler said...

I agree with JP--Pothier at his best is a solid 3-4 defenseman. In his first season, he was extremely overplayed in the first two months. You can't jump from averaging 16 minutes to nearly 25 a game without some effect, and Potsy began burning out before he got injured last season. This year, Poti allowed him to drop back into a better role, but with his concussion injuries, I'm worried it's too late.

JP said...

Back in mid-Winter, the Caps had three injuries that worried me long-term - those to Pothier, Clark and Fehr (Nylander's was just a time/rest thing, so it wasn't of concern for 2008-09, knock on wood).

Fehr certainly seems good to go.

GMGM says that Clark is improving and that he expects him to be ready.

Obviously Pothier is still miles away and, in my BillFristian diagnosis, doubtful to return.

While that sucks, if you could only pick two of the three to get healthy...

NS said...

gave him a 6. he played better than i expected and starting shooting the puck more. i like.

i hope he retires, for his own sake. with up and comers like Lepisto, Alzner, Finley, and Godfrey, we will be fine.

b.orr4 said...

I gave him a six because he seemed to be on an upward tick before that Milan Lucic "Hey, look how tough I am I can hit people when they're not looking" cheap shot. (While we're on the topic, I'm still waiting for Brashear to beat the crap out of Lucic as payback, but I guess he's too busy scoring goals.) Anyway, I guess I'm ambivalent about the return of Pothier. On a personal level, I like Brian. He really took pride in playing for the Capitals when a lot of players weren't giving us a second look and he became a solid member of the community. And by all reports, he's a good guy in the lockerroom. However, this concussion thing has me very nervous. Even if he does make it back for training camp, given his history he's just another hard check away from going down for good. That means that once again the team will be down a top four defenseman and certain guys (i.e. Erskine) will be forced into roles they can't handle. I hate to say this, but I wonder if the Caps aren't secretly hoping Brian can't come back so they can claim a long-term injury and use his salary to go out and get a Hal Gill-type player who, by the way, earns the same amount of money as Pothier. I know it might sound cold, but while I certainly hope Brian lives a long, healthy life, it might be better for all parties if he hangs up the skates and moves on to the next phase of his career.

JP said...

No need to apologize, B - I think most of us feel similarly.

I'm not sure, however, that the Caps need to go outside the organization for another defenseman at this point.

Personally, I'm fine with a top four of 52-26 and 3-55 with 44, 23, 4 and perhaps Alzner (or less likely Lepisto) fighting for minutes in the last pairing until it's proven that they can't get the job done with that group.

The team has plenty of assets - they can go get a guy if they need to. But I'm fine taking a wait-and-see approach to see if they do, indeed, need to.

All that said, the $2.5m relief would certainly be welcome.

breed16 said...

He was on his way to an 8 under a full season. Completely outplaying my expectations which were low. In fact, I started naming stupid hockey plays after him last year. For example, when you're trying to clear the puck but it rolls through your legs instead, that was called a "Pothier."

Buuuut I gave him a 6 because as The Tuna is fond of saying, "you can't help the club in the tub." I"m sure he's a nice guy, but he needs to retire so we can reclaim that desperately needed cap space. Sorry Potsy.

NS said...

that 2.5mil can be used for ALOT of good.

bigonetimer said...

I didn't rate Pothier, but he was on his way to a 7. Five concussions, though? Sayanora...

I would argue the Caps do need to go outside the org to get another D-man--it is our weakest link (assuming, mightily, that we re-sign Huet). I just don't have the confidence in Erskine and Jurcina to be our second and third stay at home guys, and Alzner is 19. The question is, do we stay the course until the trade deadline, and then possibly overpay for a rental player for 10 weeks, or do we go aggressively after an Orpik or a Lilja in July? Methinks the latter.

Jimmy Jazz said...

Once Bruce took the helm, Pothier really came into his own once again. He'd be better than Emy as a third pairing OD, but I think he's finished as an NHLer.

Ogre said...

Just thinking, I know most people dislike him, but who came to Pothier's aid and did fight Lucic later? If I'm not mistaken, it was Erskine. I think Erskine - Pothier was a fine d-pairing. It's a great 5-6, behind Schultz - Poti and Green - Morrissonn.

I couldn't grade Pothier. I have a friend who played minor league hockey with him, and I met him at the uniform unveiling. This is a shame that his career is likely over, but I don't want him to be a Lindros, when at this point Lapisto is a better option, and I'm not sure Boomer isn't either(is he still under contract, or did he sign a one year deal?).