Blackjack for Brooks

At this time last year, some of my media pals and some of the fans out there with whom I regularly converse were wondering just what the hell Brooks Laich was thinking. They wondered why a guy with eight goals and 18 points would choose to have his salary for the upcoming season decided via the arbitration process. As with many things in this great game, it’s never as simple as the numbers.

A few months later some of these same folks crunched the numbers again. Looking at the training camp depth charts, they couldn’t see how Laich would make the Caps roster last fall. I told anyone who was willing to listen that Laich would make the team (duh), and that he would flourish afterwards.

He played all 82 games and scored 21 goals.

I guess Laich’s 2007-08 season surprised a lot of people. But good young players get better. They’re not necessarily the same player you saw at age 21 or 22. Throw in a good work ethic and a willingness to go to the net, and you’ve got a pretty well-rounded NHL player. Laich can play all three forward positions, he can kill penalties and he can play on the power play. He’s worked very hard to shore up some of the areas of his game that sagged earlier in his career, and today it paid off when he signed a three-year contract with the Caps.

No arbitration required this time around. The salary cap hit for the Laich deal will be just under $2.1 million. That leaves only defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and forwards Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr unsigned among Washington’s group of RFAs. Morrisonn has elected for arbitration, but a deal can be struck before it gets that far, as with Laich.

The Caps are also still discussing a possible pact with UFA center Sergei Fedorov. To the best of my rudimentary calculations, Washington now has 21 players under contract for a total of about $50.1 million for the upcoming season. The NHL’s salary cap for 2008-09 has been set at $56.7 million.

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23 Comments on “Blackjack for Brooks”

  1. Tom in FL Says:

    I predict he will outperform the contract. I agree with your assessment. He’s very solid.

    The salary cap website already has Federov included at $4M. It doesn’t count Alzner, and if you put him in and subtract Pothier you have $2M for Mo, Fehr and Gordon. A defenseman and a forward almost must be traded.

  2. Mike L Says:

    Great news that Brooks is signed for three years. He went to arbitration last year to get the one-way deal, and got it. He put in the effort to prove he’s an NHL player and he flourished. Now he knows what he’ll be doing for 3 years. Plus since he and Green are signed for awhile, they can keep working on their music.

    I bet the ladies in town are also quite happy with this news… (That was one of the funniest Caps Q&As I’ve ever seen…)

  3. Janet Smith Says:

    The Hockey News site is reporting that Laich and Federov are now signed..and $4 million for one year is what they are saying the $ is for Federov.

  4. Matt Says:

    I was worried last year that he would be the odd man out and I was worried again this year.

    Glad for Brooks to get a deal done with some term, and happy as a Caps fan that he will be a part of this team for the future. I think it would have been a big loss to the locker room if he had left.

  5. But beware of arbitration, especially HORSE. Arbitration # 4 – the numbers If the 10th best poker player in the team played only with the 9 better players then she would quickly lose his salary. Then again there are 21 players who just follow arbitration.

  6. Kevin K Says:

    I saw on the NHL Network that TSN reported Fedorov had been signed to a 1 yr 4 mil contract, but I havent seen any mention of it anywhaere else. Whats going on with this?

  7. CAPS FAN Says:

    They announced Federov’s signing in the Washington Post today too. The article said “Federov had agreed to the terms but the paperwork was still being drawn up”.

    Also, can anyone explain what the arbitration process is?

  8. Mike L Says:

    Gordo signed today, Fehr signed yesterday…. only Mo to go.

  9. Tom in FL Says:

    Here’s the latest cap:

    It has the Caps $280K over. If you option Laing to Hershey, they are $200K under. If Pothier is subtracted, they are $2.7M under. Put Alzner in and they have exactly $1.05M for Morrisonn.

    I would expect maybe a trade though with 14 forwards. Maybe.

  10. Mike L. Says:

    Tom, are you counting Sergei Fedorov in your numbers, as technically he hasn’t signed yet. Besides, $1.05M is plenty for Morrisonn.

    I suspect Pothier will go onto the long-term disabled list (or whatever it is in hockey) and not be under the Cap. If you have to spend a week in bed after jogging 2 blocks after your kids six months after the injury, you’re not going to be in an NHL training camp two months later. Thankfully, Pothier is thinking straight despite the injury and is putting his life and family ahead of hockey…which is a good thing.

  11. Tom in FL Says:

    Mike L: Click on the link. Federov is included. I think Mo made close to $1M last year, so the $1.018 that is left might be under the qualifying figure.

    The way LTIR works, as it was explained to me, is if you miss at least 10 games and 24 days, you can get relief for that portion of your salary. Ten games is 1/8th or roughly $300K each for Pothier and Clark. Obviously if Pothier misses the entire season, the entire $2.5M is replaceable which is why I didn’t include him.

  12. Turk in Alaska Says:

    Brooks pots 30 this year…

    How’s florida this time of year?

  13. Tom in FL Says:

    Another subject:

    Mike, there’s rumor the Caps plan to hire ice dancers. I want to go on record as being strongly opposed. By and large on the site, Tarik’s blog, the gals are unanimously against and the guys are split. It’s stupid to see them in Tampa and would be stupid looking in DC. Honestly, if they didn’t have skimpy outfits and maybe each wore a player jersey, I could be supportive.

    I go to the beach to look at women. I go to the hockey rink to watch hockey.


  14. Boo! Says:

    I have to agree with Tom. I am VERY disappointed in the decision to start a Spirit Squad. I grew up in the great white north and cheerleading were never a part of hockey … there is just no place for it in THIS game (literally and physically – they will just be in the way). This is a “new” southern hockey thing – not an ol’ time northern hockey thing. If we want to be taken seriously then we should not pull stunts like this. If the point is to draw fans then all the Caps have to do is win – last season is proof positive of that. Please respresent us to the powers that be and keep in mind that the majority of comments that I have read have NOT been supportive of the decision to start a Spirit Squad. It’s just an embarrassment. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  15. Anthony Says:

    Then watch Hockey at the VC. I honestly don’t care about the ice girls. My first and only real exposure to them was when I went to the carolina game with the fan club. It, to me, was no different than the sprirt typed people we had last year, just different outfits.

    Whatever gets the people in the seats is fine with me. Besides, if there are woment to look at and guys to look at, I’m going to look at the women, at least occasionally. I’ve never understood this attitude guys have that they would never look at the women, and dont’ want them there.

  16. Boo! Says:

    They got people in the seats last season without selling out with a Spirit Squad – they did it by winning.

  17. Anthony Says:

    Will all due respect, and?

    How do you know that some people weren’t there for the free t-shirts or the chipotle burritos last year? What percentage of people were there to see slaphot or for the ice kids?

  18. Boo! Says:

    With all due respect, seeing as none of those things packed the house at the beginning of the season, I think it is a fair assumption that their winning record at the end of the season is what started to draw in the masses. The only time they packed the house before that was when we were dominated by fans from nearby teams. Do you honestly believe that they were ‘rockin’ the red’ because of a dozen or so free burritos?

  19. Turk in Alaska Says:

    [rolleyes] Yeah, I flew all the way from Alaska last season for a shot at free t-shirts and chipotle burritos. Adding a Spirit Squad of scantily clad 20 year olds damn near guarantees my return this year. Forget about Fedorov, I want hot chicks! [/rolleyes]

  20. Anthony Says:

    That is the point that I was trying to make.

    It was obvious that people came to watch them win, to anyone who was actually at the games. Its just as nuts, to me, to say that peolpe will come ONLY to see the ice girls. People will come whether the team wins or loses. You might come once to see the ice girls, but that would be it.

  21. Boo! Says:

    That’s the point – a Spirit Squad is not needed to draw people in. So why add one?

  22. Anthony Says:

    Money, apparantly.


  23. Boo! Says:

    I did. You’ll see my response there (from earlier today) once it clears the moderator.

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