John Erskine Signs Two-Year, $3.9M Contract Extension

Okay, this one makes somewhat less sense. (Photo credit: Rob Carr)

Busy day! The Capitals have announced they have re-signed tough guy D-man John Erskine to a two-year contract extension worth just south of $4 million. Erskine is the team’s lowest-ranked defenseman when it comes to possession, although he’s not getting tagged for that yet in the goals-against department. He’s currently eating up career-high minutes– 19:30 per game.

Here’s Sky’s tweet, also timestamped weirdly:

So… thoughts? Press release below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 25, 2013

Capitals Re-sign John Erskine

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman John Erskine to a two-year, $3.925 million contract extension, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. Erskine will earn $1.925 million in 2013-14 and $2 million in 2014-15.

Erskine, 32, currently ranks sixth on Washington in average ice time per game (19:30), the highest total in Erskine’s 11-season career. His previous high came in 2006-07, Erskine’s first year with Washington, when he finished the season with an average ice time total of 18:03 per game. He has tallied one goal and one assist this season and ranks fourth on Washington in hits (31) and tied for third in blocked shots (19).

The Kingston, Ontario, native has recorded nine goals and 32 assists along with 452 penalty minutes in 294 career games with the Capitals. Washington is 9-0-0 in games that Erskine tallies a goal and he currently ranks 17th all-time in games played among Washington defensemen. Just five other players remain on the current Washington roster from Erskine’s first season with the club in 2006-07.

The 6’4”, 220-pound blueliner has compiled 46 points (12 goals, 34 assists) and 788 penalty minutes in 435 career NHL games with Washington, the New York Islanders and Dallas. He currently ranks 16th among all active defensemen in penalty minutes. Erskine has appeared in 32 career playoff games, all with Washington, and ranks eighth among active players in career playoff games played with the Capitals.

Erskine was originally drafted by Dallas in the second round (39th overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

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  • Farhan Khan

    weird move, worst d man on the team.

  • That kinda money would be fine as long as we got some more fisticuffsmanship outta him

  • Hockeynightincanada

    I was just talking about Erskine last night on CSN and WaPo. Said that the guy just does the talking with his fists and does what is asked of him. He’s one of the true tough guys we still have on our team.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    He may be slow, but I respectfully disagree. A bit overpriced, sure but there few blueliners that can bulk’em out like Erskine, except for maybe Adam McQuaid who is better. He can also skate top six minutes. He fills two roles that most of our D-man can’t. Decent #6/7 D-man.

  • 28IS(still)GREAT

    I like Big John – and this seems to be a fair cap hit for keeping him for 2 more years. And to the extent there’s going to be some off season shake-ups with our D (which I hope there is), then I like that Big John looks like he’ll stay part of the mix.

  • Don’t get me wrong: I love John too. I just think that salary space needs to be spent on GOALS.

  • mike

    What does double nickel make?

  • Hockeynightincanada

    I think salary needs to be spent on a balance of everything. Defense among everything, then goal-scoring, and a couple tough guys to protect our star(s).

  • I think when it comes to skaters, you pay for shots/goals or prevention of shots/goals, and everything else is noise. The enforcer/goon/thug idea is a relic that hasn’t actually worked in a long time.

  • Graham Dumas

    I like Erskine as a blend of pure toughguy and stay-at-home D. I think it’s not necessarily fair to characterize him solely as an enforcer.

  • chris

    So basically you want Matt Hendricks to fight everyone? Name another Capitals defenseman to actually have a legitimate fight. Opposing players act different when he’s on the ice. They tend to vacate Holtby/Neuvy’s crease quicker. He’s a physical tough defensman. He isn’t asked to score goals, thats what Green, Carlson, Orlov and Kundratek are supposed to do. His role is similar to that of Karl Alzner only more physical.

  • 28IS(still)GREAT

    Agreed. But I don’t really see Erskine as an enforcer/goon/thug. Exhibit A in that category is DJ King. I think Erskine is a decent #6/7 D-man as the other commenter pointed out. He’s a known commodity and by season’s end will know the system through and through. Those intangibles combined with the stats we know merit the moderate premium IMHO. Now we just need 2 or more similar D-men but of a higher overall caliber.

  • I don’t want any Caps player to fight. Fighting is (almost always) pointless and doesn’t lead to wins. It’s an outdated idea and it’s at the very best a parallel notion towards winning games.

    I don’t believe your point about players living in fear while Erskine is on the ice.

    The difference between Alzner and Erskine is that Alzner actually is good at limiting shots against.

  • I didn’t characterize Erskine at all, let alone characterize him as an enforcer.

    I’m just saying the nebulous idea of “toughness” as a corollary to wins is utterly wrongheaded.

  • GAH. I did NOT say he’s an enforcer. I said the logic HNIC was advocating was unwise and outdated.

  • 28IS(still)GREAT

    Gotcha. And I agree, “toughess” shouldn’t be used as a direct corollary to wins. But I think you’d agree that “toughness” is certainly a factor to consider when assessing a player’s skill set, right? Of course, how you definite “toughness” is another matter. But its definitely a character trait worth taking into consideration when examining what a player does or doesnt bring to the table.

  • Ah I think you nailed it! I’d certainly prefer “tough” over the alternative, but the term is so vague and subjective that it is useless in making evaluations or operational decisions.

    I think a lot of the jargon we hear is an attempt at mystifying hockey to keep people in entrenched positions of authority.

    When someone responds by saying “you wouldn’t understand toughness” or “You don’t know how to win hockey games” comes off more defensive that accusatory. That said, I do NOT understand toughness as an abstract concept, and I don’t know how to win hockey games (except I can identify patterns — if not tactics– that lead to winning hockey games).

  • Rhino40

    Aaaah, but iot’s so much fun, Peter!

  • Bradley vs Downie was a classic I admit!

  • I said this on Twitter, but I’ll repeat it here. I love Ersk and he’s played great this year. But 2 mil a year when u have Schilling, Wey, and Orlov knocking at the door is ridiculous.

  • chris

    A good fight can be just as effective as a good check/hit. Then again you might think checking and hitting is pointless. It is all to gain control of momentum in a game or motivate your teammates or stick up for a teammate.

    I never said players live in fear of Erskine, he doesn’t skate away from the crease after a save. He pushes, shoves and jaws with opposing players instead of allowing them to crowd the crease.

    You have any stats to backup this Alzer claim? I never claimed him to be better than Alzner, only that his role is similar but more physical.

    Try reading people’s comments. Cannot wait to see what you whine about in response to Brouwer’s comments about Semin.

  • Funny you say that about hits.

    You did say “opposing players act differently”, not that they are treated differently.

    Here’s a bunch of charts that show how playing with Alzner leads to better results:

    Thanks for playing.

  • 28IS(still)GREAT

    Hey – as a Semin fan I totally hear ya! Case in point – just substitute “toughness” for “lazy” in an otherwise declarative statement regarding said player’s questionable value – and WHAM! – welcome back to probably 90%+ of the anti-Semin arguments you used to hear.

  • chris

    Yes, it is funny.
    Chicago is 30th in the NHL in hits. Their record is 15-0-3.
    Calgary is 29th in the NHL in hits. Their record is 7-7-3.

    Minnesota is 28th in the NHL in hits. Their record is 8-7-2.

    Anaheim is 22nd in the NHL in hits. Their record is 13-2-1.
    Washington is 23rd in the NHL in hits. Their record is 6-10-1.
    Montreal is 8th in the NHL in hits. Their record is 12-4-3.
    Pittsburgh is 12th in the NHL in hits. Their record is 13-6-0.
    Ottawa is 4th in the NHL in hits. Their record is 12-6-2.

    Wait, shouldn’t the Capitals have a better record because they hit less? Shouldn’t the Canadiens, Penguins and Senators record be less because they hit more? The key here is puck possession. The Capitals don’t possess the puck enough. How do you get a takeaway to gain possession? Physical play which leads to hits.

    Yes, I said opposing players act differently, not that they cower in fear of John Erskine. They react to how the defense of the Capitals react. Erksine doesn’t back down, he holds his ground. Watch what Jeff Schultz, John Carlson, Karl Alzner or Tomas Kundratek do when the crease is crowded after a save. There is not pushing, there is no clamping down on a stick, there is no getting between the opposing player and the goal tender.

    That’s great, use last years stats which mean absolutely nothing. How about this years stats. The stats that show when Alzner is on the ice the Capitals have more Goal Against than Goals For and the opposite when Erskine is on the ice.

    Thanks for the website link. Great information there.

  • I’m glad you’re so energized about this, but I think you’re missing the point.

    Hits correlate negatively to success. What you may see 17 games into a season isn’t going to have the significance of a full season (or multiple seasons)– that’s why a low-possession/high-luck team like ANA is kicking ass.

    Further, hits are calculated spuriously and shouldn’t really be trusted anyway.

    So much of your argument is based on innuendo and sensationalism that I don’t think we’ve got any shared ground to reach. The good news is that we’re not far apart — I really like Erskine! I just don’t think he’s worth nearly that much money, and the Caps should have dedicated their salary cap space towards players who have a better chance of producing wins in predictable and documented ways.

    Having “sandpaper” or “keeping players honest” is awesome for watching and enjoying a game, but when it comes to planning a team or taking a critical look, they’re about as useful as chicken entrails and eye of newt.

  • Matt

    Bottom line Peter…Hockey is about motivation, strategic aggressiveness, and good old fashioned team testosterone. “Sensationalism” really, I take it that you would never step foot into a blue color hockey town to see a game then correct? Why do you think spectators go bezerk when the team is on a roll or there is a struggle. A fight is sometimes deemed necessary by the enforcer, to help remind his teammates its time to pull your heads out of your fourth-point-of-contact or to remind the opponent that he has another player’s back. You wouldn’t understand what Chris is saying here because you sit behind the keyboard and analyze old stats and play blog nanny. My bet is that you are one with the house of Schultz. Yeah, let’s talk about overpaid….There’s money well spent for what?

  • I think I pretty much made your point for you when I said this:

    Having “sandpaper” or “keeping players honest” is awesome for watching and enjoying a game, but when it comes to planning a team or taking a critical look, they’re about as useful as chicken entrails and eye of newt.

    Except without all the mean stuff you said below that.

  • Hokaheyhockey

    This video just shows that Ovie needs to get his beard back! It goes so well with his hat tricks ; )

  • Hokaheyhockey

    Interesting that you begin the story with the image of Erskie wailing on Asham, one of the best middle weight enforcers in the NHL. In case anyone has forgotten, intimidation and accountability are important elements to winning in hockey, just as much as stamina and tenacity. In any case, Erskine may have won this bout with Ash. For despite being a D man with only 1 goal per year, Erskie will now be making twice as much as Ash who is a 4th line forward who can put in 6 goals and a dozen assists per year.