Tuesday, May 27, 2008

2007-08 Rink Wrap: Tom Poti

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, Tom Poti.

Contract Status: 2008-09 salary of $3,500,000; UFA after 2010-11 season
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 31
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 9
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 71 games played, 2 goals, 27 assists, +9, 46 PIMs
Key Stat: Poti was the only Caps defenseman to average 17 even strength minutes, two-and-a-half power play minutes and three-and-a-half shorthanded minutes per game.
Unsurprising Stat: His two goals tied a career single-season low.

The Good: Poti was second among the team's defensemen in points, assists, plus/minus, shots on goal, power-play points and average ice time per game and lead the team in blocked shots and shifts per game. He nearly doubled his even strength production (from 11 points to 21, including a pair of even strength goals in 2007-08 after none in 2006-07) and finished the season strong with both goals, 15 assists and a plus-17 rating in his final 35 games. Poti had six multi-point games and his fewest PIMs-per-game since his rookie year.

The Bad: Poti was brought in to (among other things) quarterback the top power play unit, but couldn't fill that role and lost the job to Mike Green fairly early on. As a result, his power play TOI dropped from 4:38 per game last season to 2:39 per outing this season and his point total dropped from 44 to 29. Poti's shooting percentage was the worst among all Caps with enough shots per game to qualify (and was 368th - or sixth worst - in the NHL in that stat), he had the fewest hits per minute of ice time of any of the team's blueliners (a nagging shoulder injury, no doubt, was at least partially to blame for both that and the lowest shots-per-game total since his rookie season), and his takeaway-to-giveaway ratio was better than only Alex Semin's, Jeff Schultz's and Milan Jurcina's among Caps' regulars. Poti also missed multiple games with groin (six games), upper- (three games) and lower-(two games) body injuries and waited 44 games before scoring his first goal of the season.

The Vote: Rate Poti 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: Which blueliner would you most like to see Poti paired with in 2008-09? 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.


Ogre said...

The question - I'd most like to see him paired with Schultz as our number two pairing. I was talking with a friend about this yesterday, and I think that the ideal pairings are Mo-Green, Poti-Schultz, and Alzner-Pothier, assuming Pothier can play. If he can't, why not just push Godfrey in now?

D-men don't develop in the AHL. Most poor to mediocre NHLers can defend AHLers. I'd rather see Godfrey and Alzner in the top league now, unless the Caps can make a serious offer for a Roszival without financially destroying the roster.

JP said...

I agree with the 52-26 and 3-55 top pairings, though if Alzner makes the team, I think it'd be wise to pair him with a vet (see the developments of Witt, Gonchar and Eminger, for examples of why), and Poti would be a great fit there.

Btw, I gave Poti a 5 - he was brought in to be a PP QB and couldn't do it. At his salary, "solid second-pairing D" is a little disappointing.

Tyler said...

Godfrey? Now? Ahead of Eminger, Erskine, and Jurcina? What has he done to merit that? Get to know Chocolatetown, young greyhound.

I gave him a 6. For a huge chunk of the season it looked like Poti couldn't shoot the puck because of a bum shoulder and he played through it.

Natty Bumpo said...

Maybe I'm just buying into the spin from the team, but Poti struck me as the most positionally sound and defensively responsible of all Caps blueliners this year. I think his TOI and +/- stats reflect that he played well in his own end...or at least that the coaching staff was happy with his play.

True that Poti was purchased to be our long-lost PP QB. But do we penalize him for losing out to Green, who proved to be one of the league's best? From his previous teams, I remember hearing how poor Poti's decisions were and how his gaffes could kill a team in big moments. His numbers down the stretch and his minutes per game DESPITE losing PP time indicate that he did raise his game and answer critics in those respects.

Am I crazy to give him a 7?

b.orr4 said...

Poti's an interesting case. When he came in, he was expected to be our offensive leader from the blueline and yet by the end of the season, he was our best defensive defenseman. I don't think he forgot how to score over the summer, so I have to believe his offensive downturn was the result of a couple of factors. First and foremost was the nagging shoulder injury that I understand was with him for most of the season. Second was the startling emergence of Green. The combination forced Poti to morph into a different player, someone who was on the ice during the late minutes of a game and on the PK. Assuming he's completely healed, I expect Poti to regain some of his offensive touch next year. As to the pairing, I'd like to see him matched up with Schultz again, although the prospect of him tutoring Alzner is enticing. One side note, I heard Denis Potvin this morning explain how the Detroit brass decided after Yzerman retired to shift gears and focus on developing depth in the defensive corp through the draft. Sounds awfully familiar to what the Caps have been doing lately.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Natty Bumpo, I also gave him a 7, I felt he was the one of the best (reliable) D men we had. I knew we were not going to give up too many opportunities while Poti was on the ice.

JP said...

@ Natty: Not at all. His defense and overall play was very solid, and playing hurt is also a plus (as Tyler noted). His defense had been getting better over the past few years, though, so I sorta expected him to be responsible.

As for penalizing him for losing out to Green, the spot was his to lose and he did, which was surprising given the talent surrounding him and his obvious passing skills. It may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it gave Green increased opportunity and with it confidence, but Poti should have been able to hold that job, even in Hanlon's PP. The problem, imo, was that he was never a threat to shoot the puck, so opposing PKs could place their focus elsewhere, and it hurt the entire PP.

In retrospect, Green is obviously better as a PP QB because of the threat of a nut-busting slapper. But Poti's impact on the PP - the primary reason he was acquired - was not positive. I agree 100%, though, that he's a solid all-around blueliner.

tg said...

I weighed his defensive presence as being more important than his (lack of) offensive presence. I guess I think that while it's nice when defensemen can chip in offensively, that's not their primary mission. (Unless they are named Green, Gonchar, Iafrate, etc.) Would I like to see his point total go up? Sure, but I'd take another couple years of how he played this one.

Tyler said...

JP also mentioned 3's salary. I think that for what he brings/brought to the table that $3.5M/ is a pretty fair number. I think he's more than a solid second-pair D, I think he fills a lot of things that this team needed: Veteran D with 'tutoring' ability. Solid with the puck. Few/no dumb penalties. Someone who can be on the ice in all situations.

JP said...

I agree with most everything that has been said. Maybe my five is harsh, but it's based on my expectations, and I had expected solid D from a guy of his age who had been a +15 over the previous two seasons, but had also expected a bit more offensively. I absolutely welcome 23 minutes a nightin all situations from him next year.

Natty Bumpo said...

certainly fair to say he didn't live up to his billing as set out by GMGM...
McPhee on Poti: "Our scouting staff thought that [Poti] had the best years of his career last year and that he's really coming into his own. We needed a left-handed shot for the power play, he's excellent on the penalty kill and moves the puck, very, very well. We've felt we've got some young defensemen who are good at shutting the other team down, but we needed a little more skill to help us out with special teams."
Poti on his role in Washington: "I was able to show everyone what I could do, given the chance and given the ice time. "[McPhee] wants me to come in and do what I did for the Islanders last year - play hard, eat up a lot of minutes and play a lot of special teams."
but i guess i'm still stuck on talk of the disappointment from past teams, even if he had emerged somewhat in 2006-2007 (see Mirtle.) i expected a lot of PP minutes, but i also didn't expect a reliable, defensive stalwart who could play in any situation.

he'll have to rediscover his scoring touch to receive a 7 from me again next season.
but i ended up happy with the terms of his contract, and personally i didn't expect him to live up to the $3.5 mil.

NS said...

gave him a 6.

in order to score higher, he needs to improve his transition game and start bombing away from the point. his defensive ability def improved and was welcomed.

ended up being more solid than i thought, despite the occasional dumb ass plays he had during the season. it is a long season, though.

billy said...

Poti overcame a wretched start to the season and posted a solid campaign overall.

His offensive output was definitely disappointing, but he was better than advertised in his own end. Given his career totals, I'm hopeful that his offensive numbers will rebound next season. As others have suggested, I suspect injury may have contributed there.

In short, the Caps defense has much bigger problems than Tom Poti.

breed16 said...


Even though he lost PP-point duties (PPP duties?) he was the goo that filled the gaps in our defense all year. His minute-eating and reliable efficiency make him our de facto #1 defenseman if not the technical #1. $3.5 million seems just right.

In an ideal world, Poti-Alzner skate behind Mo-Green, with Shultz-Eminger/Jurcina as the third pairing. The D-Corps is swirling in what-ifs and question marks and this is probably unrealistic but while we have him in his prime I can't think of a better on-ice coach for our blue-chip blueliner.

For a 10 next year, I'd like him to be more of a shooting threat (and by extension a scoring threat), make Alzner look like the next Phaneuf, and set the Guinness World Record for longest hockey stick ever used in a game (unless he already has that record).

bigonetimer said...

I thought Poti started at about a 2 and went to a 6 by the end, so I gave him a 4 for the year. His overall defensive play was a nice surprise, but it's not what the Caps signed on for at 3.5M...at that price, it's not too much to expect for him to return to his 2007 offensive stats and continue to improve on D.

Daniel said...

I can't believe most people expected a worse season than Poti put up... I was expecting quite a bit more offensively (whether he was injured or not has no bearing on production v. expectations), and for the most part he was transparent both in transition and finishing with the puck.



1) Three years for Bradley?? Wow, didn't see that coming. They must have gotten him cheap. Say good bye to Cooke!

wittcap79 said...

Wow, a lot of 6's and 7's. I gave him a 4. As JP said he was brought in to QB the PP and couldn't even fill that role effectively. I hope he picks it up some next year. I like the guy, but he didn't live up to what he was supposed to. (Offensively)

RandyD said...

Everytime the Caps bring in someone to QB the powerplay, they never live up to expectations. (Remember Phil Housley?) However, I though Poti did a great job of anchoring the D-corps. He played a good positional game and played well in our own end. Comparing the defense to last year to this year, I figure Poti deserves some of the credit. That gives him at least a 7.

(And yes, I wrote this before reading Natty and b.orr4 -- I agree with both BTW.)