Is Brooks Laich Overrated?

Mar 18, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich (21) during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Capitals 5-2.  Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
(Photo: Rob Grabowski, USA Today)

So we know that he can change a tire for someone stuck on the side of the road.  We are aware that he is dating a very attractive actress named Julianne Hough.  Brooks Laich seems like a pretty swell guy off the ice.  But is his $4.5 million dollar price tag for the next two seasons still worth keeping on the Capitals books?

The 2014-15 season was one of Brooks Laich’s healthiest seasons in the past couple of seasons.  He played in 66 games and was ranked 9th best among Capitals forwards for total time on ice for the season.  He averaged a little under 15 minutes in icetime per contest and spent most of the season on the Capitals third and fourth lines.  He was rarely used in power play situations, but he was used heavily on the Capitals penalty kill.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 12:  Brooks Laich of the Washington Capitals poses for a portrait at MCI Center on September 12, 2005 in Washington, D.C. ( Photo by: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

( Photo by: Mitchell Layton /GettyImages)

As many games as Laich was able to play in 2014-15, he only managed to register 7 goals and 20 points.  He also only registered 1 goal and 2 points in the 14 postseason games the Capitals played in.  Going back to the 2013-14 season, Laich played in 51 games and registered 8 goals and 15 points.  Laich has only registered 35 points in the last 117 regular season games he has played in.

To put things more into perspective, rookie Andre Burakovsky played in 13 fewer Capitals games during the season than Brooks Laich did.  Burakovsky was also frequently bouncing back and forth between Hershey and Washington through the year.  Burakovsky ended up with two more points than Brooks Laich did this past season.  Some other Capitals depth forwards like Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle (who both make significantly less than Laich does) put up similar numbers to Laich.

Brooks Laich still has two years left on his contract with a cap hit of $4.5 million.  I would argue that it is a lot of money for a player who is arguably putting up third/fourth line production.  Most teams that have players making around $5 million dollars have players that are consistently putting up 40-60 points for their clubs.  Most of those players are in their respective club’s top six forward group too.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 05:  Brooks Laich #21 of the Washington Capitals looks on during a faceoff in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on March 5, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

For the upcoming 2015-16 season, the Capitals top six forward group is set and it has received a major overhaul.  Barring any major injuries that plague the Capitals, Laich will not be used in the top-six forward group.  The opening night lineup will probably feature Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Oshie on one line, and Andre Burakovsky-Jay Beagle or Marcus Johansson-Justin Williams on the other line.  When Nicklas Backstrom returns from his hip injury, he will slot in his normal spot on the top line.  There is still the possibility Laich could center the third or fourth lines to start the season, but Laich is better suited to play the wing versus center.

While the opening night roster is almost set for the Capitals, they could also receive some push from the bottom for some roster spots.  It appears that the Capitals are going to take a hard look at forwards Stanislav Galiev and Jakub Vrana during Training Camp.  Could one of these two young guys challenge for an NHL roster spot?  Could they put some of the veteran Capitals like Brooks Laich on notice?

Hough-500x343Brooks Laich has been a fan favorite in Washington for the longest time.  But fan favorite-ness aside, the NHL is also a production-based business.  There is a lot of money and a large commitment to the player known as Brooks Laich.  From a business side, $4.5 million is a lot of money for a 20-point player.  It is a lot of money for a player who does not regularly play in a top-six role capacity.

Is there a solution to the Brooks Laich enigma?  My first thought is to possibly trade him, but the Capitals will probably have to retain a bunch of his salary.  The second possibility could come in the form of a buyout.  But if the Capitals did buy out Laich, he would still be on their cap for the next four years.  This contract would not be easy to get rid of for the Capitals management.

Is there any value to keeping Brooks Laich on the Capitals roster anymore?  Are there any positives to keeping Brooks Laich around?  I feel the cons outweigh the pros, but I always tend to look at the business side of things first.

What is your opinion Capitals fans?  What should the Capitals do with Brooks Laich?  Is he still needed?

By George Foussekis


About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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