As the offseason begins, we’ll take a player-by-player look at the year that was for the Washington Capitals.
Contract status: $1 million in 2010-11, unrestricted free agent this summer.
The year that was: After his first half of the season was limited by injuries that included a broken finger, Matt Bradley saw his ice time decrease (10:29) this year to the lowest of any player on the roster who suited up for more than 10 games. A year after posting career highs in goals, assists and points, Bradley (like much of the team) saw a dip in offensive production, but despite the lower numbers and the slight decrease in average ice time, he still managed to provide his usual spark.
The #needsmorebradley meme got more fuel whenever the veteran winger stepped up in defense of his teammates, whether by dropping the gloves or simply finishing his checks and grinding the play down low in the offensive zone. Bradley may be overlooked at times for his ability to provide veteran perspective on the state of the Capitals, but on the day of the team’s exit interviews he knew all anyone wanted to know is why, again, Washington was unable to live up to its high expectations.
“That’s the million-dollar question. We always look back and say why, and what could we have done differently?” Bradley said. “In the heat of the moment — it’s not like we’re out there not trying to win; we want to win as bad as anybody, but for whatever reason things get off track.”
Looking ahead: Could Bradley have played his last game in a Capitals uniform? After six years in Washington, it’s uncertain if the veteran right wing will be back for another stint or if the Capitals will choose to go with younger, cheaper energy on the fourth line.
Bradley has said he would like to stay in Washington and he has been a stable presence in the locker room during his time with the organization. But whether he returns will be one of the many decisions General Manager George McPhee will make in the coming weeks and months this offseason.
Etc.: It was a quintessential Bradley moment late February when the Capitals veteran decided to make sure Pittsburgh’s notorious Matt Cooke didn’t avoid punishment for a knee-on-knee hit against Alex Ovechkin a few weeks earlier. Bradley made sure he finished every check he could against Cooke, his former teammate.
“You can’t go hit our best player with a dirty hit without us retaliating,” Bradley said at the time. “I don’t think Cookie wanted to fight, so with that aspect, the best thing to do is hit him solid. I tried to hit him clean. I wasn’t trying to hit him with a dirty hit, just with a solid body check.”