Should We Be Concerned About Brooks Laich?

Brooks Laich

Photo credit: Joel Auerbach

Before the season began, a lot of people were looking for Brooks Laich to “turn it on” in his contract year. After three straight years of scoring 20 goals or more, many felt we would see his game taken to the next level. His season up to this point:

Instance G A PTS S TOI
Laich through 49 games 9 18 27 116 889
proj 82 games 15 30 45 194 1488

So far, underwhelming. Or is it?

What could we have reasonably expected from Laich? Players who have had similar seasons since the lockout at around the same age give us some clues.

Player Pos Year Age GP G A P Sh TOI
Brooks Laich 2010 26 78 25 34 59 222 1426
Similar players
Jason Pominville RW 2007 24 82 34 34 68 212 1428
Nik Antropov C 2009 28 81 28 31 59 224 1392
Mark Bell C 2006 25 82 25 23 48 227 1444
Marco Sturm LW 2007 28 76 27 17 44 224 1413
Milan Michalek RW 2009 24 77 23 34 57 179 1421
Scott Hartnell LW 2009 26 82 30 30 60 210 1460
Patrick Marleau C 2008 28 78 19 29 48 185 1422
Antoine Vermette C 2008 25 81 24 29 53 175 1424
Dustin Penner LW 2008 25 82 23 24 47 201 1411
Averages 26 80 26 28 54 204 1424
Similar players following year 27 77 22 28 50 176 1348

In 2011 Laich scoring 22 goals would have been a reasonable expectation. Take into account the regression to the mean for Capital’s shooting overall, constant line juggling, and his occasional use as a 4th line checker and his 82-game projection of 15 goals doesn’t look like he is too far off the mark.

Some might even point to his scoring droughts this year as another cause of alarm, going as many as a dozen games without registering a goal, but they would be mistaken. Given that coming into this year Brooks Laich has scored in roughly a quarter of every game he has played the last three years, we can be 99% sure that he would have to go 16 games in order to see a statistically significant scoring drought.

Sure, we would like to have the bittersweet moment where Laich is lighting that lamp at a pace for a 30-goal season as we rack our brains on Capgeek trying to figure out how to keep him. For now, just enjoy the fact he is the team’s best forward when it comes to keeping even strength scoring chances in the Caps’ favor, considered a Selke candidate by others and performing completely within reasonable expectations.

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  • congero

    Right on. Besides, I don’t see Brooks as the kind of guy to have a contract year break out. I think you get his all every season no matter what.

  • Rick

    Since the Caps seem intent on growing the female fan base… they need to resign Brooks. He’s a solid 3rd line guy who’s going to bring it every game too, so it’s all good.

  • Monty

    The Caps less offense-more defense approach is primarily intended to reap benefits come playoff time. But it will also reap benefits come contract negotiation time for players like Brooks, because some of the gaudy offensive stats of some players (like Brooks) from last season’s atypical offensive season for the team as a whole can now be viewed as an aberration and not the norm. Let’s be honest, Brooks’ stats from last season were in part due to being the slot man on a 25% efficiency PP and being one of the key players in the Caps’ run ‘n gun attack. He’s not racking up the points quite as much on a pedestrian PP and a more defensive-oriented attack. His numbers this season are more the norm for a player who goes back and forth between 2nd and 3rd line, and that’s the role he should be paid for come contract time; otherwise, the Caps will have trouble affording him and everyone else under the salary cap.

  • http://georgiaave.wordpress.com/ Noah

    I’d be concerned if the whole team wasn’t in an offensive funk too, Brooks gives so the caps so much more than what can be measured in statistics.

  • Peter Hassett

    Good observations from @Monty, and I agree.

    He’s so solid on D that he’s being tasked for it more often. That and the general Caps offense malaise can account for the drop off in goals. Add to that his off-ice leadership, and he’s the most sturdy guy in a Caps sweater.

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  • Jon

    Love you guys, but do not ever compare Brooks Laich to Scott Hartnell again. EVER.

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