Brooks Laich: 2013-14 Season Review

Brooks Laich suffered a groin injury during the 2013 lockout that has changed the trajectory of his career.  The former 20-goal scorer now struggles to play a full schedule and struggles to justify his 4.5 million dollar cap hit. After an operation this spring, there are now two futures waiting for Laich: a return to glory is one. The path of Tom Poti is the other.

By the Numbers

51 Games played
16.9 Average time on ice per game
8 Goals
7 Assists
48.0% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
45.5% Goal percentage during 5v5
7.6% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
92.5% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

Peter’s Take

It seems to me like fans have turned on Brooks Laich. I can see why. His possession numbers have plummeted in the post-Boudreau era, his scoring isn’t even a shadow of what it once was, he can’t stay healthy, and when he is in the game he’s dragging other players down.

Of all those things, which are his fault?

Laich went down at the end of November– after many weeks of playing hurt on the disastrous Black Hole Line. Laich came back in the new year and lasted through the middle of March, when he could no longer play through it. He went under the knife, ending his season and snatching back a glimmer of hope that he might someday return to form.

I don’t want to labor over Brooks’ 2013-14 stats too much, but in hindsight they weren’t all that bad– at least not when compared to the dismal team around him. And that he was able to nab 15 points is pretty impressive considering how thoroughly jammed up his crotch area was.

I’m wary of believing Brooks’ woes are behind him, but if his surgery went as well as he said it did, and if the team can return to the simple, steady offensive push of years past, I truly do think Laich would see a renaissance. Let’s hope so. If not, that contract is on the books through 2017.

Brooksy on RMNB

In Pictures

Ohai Nicky

“Dude, my bad.” But is it truly your bad, Brooks?

Uhh… that’s it on the GIF front. Kinda slim pickins. Stupid groin.

Your Turn

Did I get it wrong? Do you believe Brooks is the architect of his own decline? Either way, do you think he can turn it around? Who do you like Dancing with the Stars this season? And did you even see the Footloose remake? ‘Cause I didn’t.

Read more: Japers Rink

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  • Freedoooom

    Buy him out.

    I’d rather sign Kulemin then take a chance on Laich.

  • Diller M

    Laich is one of my favorites, but I have to agree. The Tom Poti disaster cost the Caps their shot at the cup, and this will just drag the team down further. Free up roster and cap space for the youngsters

  • Boush

    The Japers Rink career stats and #fancystats show, to me, that these last 1.5 seasons are an anomaly of his career. Guys get injured, and this is his first injury. It doesn’t seem like it was multiple injuries, just the one that kept getting re-aggravated by a team that is notorious for not knowing how to handle groin injuries and a guy that has never been injured. Based on the fact that Green’s groin returned to normal after having the same surgery, I don’t see Brooks having an issue next year. Regardless, I cannot hold an injury against a guy.
    His contract is not ideal, but it’s a product of the fact that he would have been the second best forward available on the market. As “bad” as his contract is, he would have been paid more by any other team at the time.
    I say keep Brooks, since he plays LW and C, which are the Caps’ two biggest holes at forward. He plays both positions at a middle-six level, and has shown the ability to step in temporarily on the top line. You don’t buy out a guy who got hit with a double whammy of first career injury and Oates when his entire career beforehand showed top-six production.

  • Shaun Phillips

    As much as I do like Laich when he’s healthy, I think whether he can come back from the injury is a crapshoot. If he comes back and succeeds, awesome. If he comes back and gets reinjured/is minimally effective, the Caps are stuck with that 4.5 mil cap hit for a few more years with no out. Buy him out now, use the money to sign some FAs, and move on. Even if he doesn’t land somewhere else, he’s the winner in this; he still gets to take Julianne home.

  • Lawrence
  • Connor

    Yes you do. Especially when he has a nagging groin and a cap hit of 4.5 mill. Just to put things in perspective Ryan Kesler has a 5.0 capt hit, only 500,000 more than Laich. Great all around guy, but its time to get him off the books.

  • VeggieTart

    Or try to con one of the SoCal teams into a trade so he can go there and be with his girl.

    It worked for Mike Fisher in Nashville.

  • yv

    What to do with Laich and will you take a risk of not buying him out?? This is a gambling and biggest headache problem that new GM would rather not having. Former GMGM had taken such risk with MG and probably lost, same seemingly losing gamble had former Pens GM Shero by resigning Letang to monstrous contract.

  • Barrett

    Keep him. He’s a heart and soul guy. Relentless motor. Has leadership and defensive responsibility. He’s the perfect 3rd/4th line center. There is multiple reasons the team has declined recently and one of them is getting rid of the gritty two-way players like Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks, Jeff Halpern and injuries to Laich.

  • Boush

    You can play the “cap hit game” in both directions. There are good and bad deals based on timing. There were six guys signed to $4.5mil cap hit deals in 2011: Erik Cole, Ville Leino, David Backes, Tom Fleischmann, Brooks, and Andrew Ladd. Laich is neither the worst nor the best of that bunch, but it gives you better context of the market at the time.
    How do you differentiate between “nagging” and “an” injury? Varlamov had a “nagging” injury for roughly the same time period and has been a healthy, elite goalie ever since he left DC. Poti was old and repeatedly injured – it’s not a comparable situation.

  • Barrett

    I’m sure GMGM didn’t anticipate two pucks to Mike Green’s head resulting in concussion issues or Shero anticipating Letang would have a stroke.

  • ” but if his surgery went as well as he said it did”

    Brooks Laich is an unreliable source on his own health.
    “I feel 100%” – Brooks Laich, every interview ever.

  • yv

    As I recalling there were same type of discussions of health, production and risk before resigning MG and Letang because of questions about their durability.

  • JH

    Agree 100 percent with Diller.

  • Sarah

    Eh, if he said anything else, even in private, people would just be calling him soft.

  • Sarah

    I would argue that Julianne gets to take him home. But that’s just my opinion.

  • Catherine__M

    Last I heard is you can’t buy him out while he’s on IR, which he still is because he didn’t pass his exit physical? Did I miss something there?

    And you’d lose in NHL career and salary at a premature age but consider taking some pretty girl home really winning in the situation? Oooook then.

  • johnnymorte

    Can you sit down on the couch? Please, for once. Sit down on the freakin’ couch! Rest Brooksie, rest..

  • Sarah

    Okay apparently that’s *not* just my opinion.

  • Shaun Phillips

    You’re right they can’t buy him out until he passes a physical (unless they try and argue this was a preexisting injury from pre-current CBA). My bad forgot about that. Hoping he’s given another one and passes it before the deadline.

    And I was trying to make a joke. Sorry, didn’t mean to offend anyone.

  • Catherine__M

    Ah ok. I really wasn’t sure if I’d missed a development (specifically the whole pre-existing and injured playing elsewhere thing). Do we know if it’s clear that he’s safe in this way or could this become A Thing?

    And 🙂 while the whole “pretty girl as consolation prize” thing makes me twitch a little (or a lot, depending how frequently and recently it’s been repeated 😉 )….I’m not really offended just find it a bit silly but trying to make a joke of it doesn’t type out well.

    But no, I wouldn’t make that trade. If I were him, and faced with losing a contract that big, I’d expect a significantly higher hotness quotient and a higher lifetime earning potential in a romantic partner to make up for it. Plus, the loss of the intangibles, like loving the sport and the team etc, I’d want some intangibles in my prize, too. Or a Death Star. Intangibles or a Death Star.

  • Jonah

    Buying him out means that he is still paid that money. It just isn’t count towards the salary cap for the team.

  • Guest


  • JenniferH

    I dunno. If–which is of course the HUGE key word here–if he is better, than he’d be a great asset to the team in just about every area. I like Laich (haha) and I want to see him stay in a Caps uniform. But if he’s not healed and he’s just going to continue to not play at a level which will hep us, then buying him out is the best option. So, yeah, I dunno. It depends on if he’s healthy or not and, well, that we don’t know.

  • Sarah

    Relax, the top two are just selling cat litter box liners. It’s expensive, but fun. 😉

  • X

    If the caps are smart they will be shedding cap space in many areas (Erskine, trading a forward away, not signing a goalie). Let’s say we do that and sign grabovski at $5 mil (I have no idea what his real value is) we are left with around $12 million to make moves. Is dropping Laich’s 4.5 mil worth the breathing room? It seems like we have enough to work with salary wise to make the necessary additions.

  • Eric Schulz

    I’d guess about $4.5 million for Grabovski. Anywhere from $4.2-$4.8 million, would be my guess. $5 million should be a conservative figure.
    Bottom line: I agree with your assessment 100%.

  • Eric Schulz

    I think that we all need to get past his contract. He was paid too much even at his best (although, given that we didn’t have a lot of guys like him – as good defensively as offensively – you could understand why he was valued as highly as he was); he’s not going to be worth $4.5 million even if he returns to form. What we need to evaluate is: is his contract affecting our ability to improve our team. This last year, sure, with the lower cap, but we also (probably) couldn’t have known how ineffective (hurt) he would be. For next year, I really don’t think that his contract prevents us from making the moves we need to in order to return to contention.
    I’d be fine with keeping him and hoping he returns to form. Even if we don’t make many moves… resign Grabovski and:
    Ovechkin – Backstrom – Fehr
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Wilson
    Laich – Johansson – Brouwer
    Chimera – Latta – Ward
    That’s a legit top line, and a legit 4th, obviously. The 2nd is banking on some progression from Wilson, of course, but Kuznetsov pro-rates at 51 points even with no improvement there (due to high on-ice shooting percentage, I think he improves in play, but his points are right around that with on-ice shooting % regression; I’m calling it a wash there), and Grabovski drives possession. Wilson’s muscle and speed really gives that line a high ceilling, I think. And with that 4th, we roll lines, so if the 2nd has a rough go of it, we can lean more heavily on the veterans, our bottom-6.
    That 3rd: Laich and Brouwer didn’t work well together, but Laich was playing hurt, and Brouwer also wasn’t exactly playing his best either. I think that Brouwer has figured it out a little bit (I think he tried to be too cute early in the year, after a 33 goal – pro-rated – season last year, and that got him away from his simple game… he said the same thing, shortly before he took off; 2 goals in the game prior to the Olympic break, 3 in the 2 after, then he kept running hot all throughout the rest of the year). Johansson has great speed, is a very nice stickhandler, a nice passer, and he used to be more of a two-way forward. If he rebounds even a little under a new coach, I think he and Brouwer work really well together; Brouwer always records more goals than assists, and Johansson looks to set people up. They are each clearly above average 3rd liners. If Laich returns even somewhat to form, he used to be a solid 2nd liner; he’s also an above average 3rd liner, and he is a very nice fill-in-the-blanks guy who will provide whatever that line needs. I prefer Johansson at center, but we could have Laich take faceoffs. Without making any moves beyond keeping Grabovski, I think we have a very nice, deep 4 forward lines if Laich gets healthy. I think the risk is worth it. I think we have more than enough money to add a 2nd pair defender to partner with Green, a 3rd pair defender to partner with Orlov, and a backup goalie without having to buy-out Laich.
    If we move on from him, I understand why, but I don’t think we NEED to. I just don’t see how we need to cut him to make any moves, and I think it’s worth the risk to hang onto him. If he rebounds, we’re better for it. If not, his contract doesn’t prevent us from making any moves. And we can always buy him out later; it won’t be a compliance buyout, but I’d take that small risk; the upside, to me, is worth it.

  • Eric Schulz

    And: who cares what he’s paid!? I care about how it affects our ability to improve the team. It doesn’t; next year we’ll have enough cap to make any moves we want/need to make, without buying him out.

  • Eric Schulz

    Also, please don’t quibble with those lines. If you have a big problem… first of all, I don’t see how you could.. but if you do, sure, bring it up. But if you have a small thing, let it go. IMO, those are the lines we should START the year with (assuming no big FA move at forward). If Wilson, after being given a fair chance, isn’t ready for the top-6, you can flip him with Brouwer, no harm. I really think Wilson is ready (I think he has the skill set to fit on that line, even if he may not be ready for any top-6 role; I think he’s had enough experience with the playoffs 2 years ago, and the full 82 game season this year, even though he didn’t play a lot of minutes), but I wouldn’t be shocked if I’m wrong. I *would* be shocked if Latta isn’t ready; same thing with him though. Give him a fair audition; if he fails, we can easily move Beagle in there. Or even Chris Brown; I really liked what I saw from him last year, certainly as a 4th liner, and I wouldn’t mind him moving to the 3rd line if Laich isn’t healthy
    Johansson – Brown – Brouwer
    Chimera – Latta/Beagle – Ward
    wouldn’t be awful… although I don’t like that for a long stretch, unless our top two lines are operating at least near their best-case scenario.

  • CJ

    Incoming wall of text

    I am a newer Caps fan who sees much of the roster in a different light than many of you who have followed this great sport for much longer than myself. Since I returned home in 2011 all I have really seen is a man who will push through whatever he has to to be on the ice. I know things like toughness, determination, and other intangibles are thrown around like darts at a dart board these days but I respect Liach’s willingness to push for the benefit of the team.

    That being said we have to weigh what both tangibles and intangibles are worth on a person verses his cap hit. To do so I am going to list some things that will likely be considered.

    1) Production: say what you will but his production has tanked and no one will argue. Something that relates to this however is where and when did he earn his 15 points. How many were earned with Ovi on the top line or after the new year? This relates directly to a reflection of coaching and positioning as assigned (black hole).

    2) Cap hit: 4.5 mil through 16-17 season. This is an awful lot of money for very pedestrian numbers

    3) Health: After speaking a pair of experts on the topic I was told that the type of groin damage thought to be incurred by Brooks is not uncommon for what amounts to both sides of the muscle failing. Simply put, after tearing the one side the extra load wore through the other so ended up needed additional repair as well. The same experts each told me that once repaired and allowed to heal fully the same sort of stresses should not occur again within the muscle.

    The experts are a family relations who deals with these types of issues professionally on a frequent basis.

    These are a handful of the things the all will need to be considered by the new GM.

  • Catherine__M

    Death Star it is!

  • Sal

    “Which are his fault?” Uh, excuse me, but I would start with the fact that he CHOSE to leave his teammates during the summer of the lockout in order to enrich himself and ended up getting hurt. By contrast, Brouwer stuck around and fought FOR the players union and other players. Why didn’t Brooks? As far as I am concerned, he brought ALL of this on himself.

  • ACN

    That’s a bit of a strawman argument, don’t you think? Especially considering the Caps’ two best players Ovechkin and Backstrom going to play during the lockout as well as several others. We could argue that maybe the players who chose to play during the lockout were doing more for their team by staying in shape.

    Whether or not someone gets injured can be kind of a crapshoot, and saying that he did less than Brouwer is just silly. Not everyone can be at the negotiating table, and players have the right to weigh and consider what is going to be best for their career: whether it’s going out to play, stay back practicing, or other choices. The same right that the rest of us have in figuring out how to maximize our job and career potential. Brooks thought he would be best served by staying in playing shape; he got burned by an unlucky injury. Given his health history up to that point, I think it’s fair to say that few of us predicted that, and certainly Brooks didn’t.

  • Weak sauce. And his teammates weren’t together– the league was locked out. That’s the point of the lockout. He’s a hockey player; he went to play hockey.