Updated: 3:38 p.m.: After earning his place on an NHL roster out of training camp for the first time last fall, Mathieu Perreault reached another benchmark in his career with his first, one-way contract.
Perreault, who was a restricted free agent this summer, has agreed to a new two-year deal with the Capitals worth $2.1 million.
Perreault appeared in 64 games in the 2011-12 regular season, recording 16 goals and 14 assists, but found himself watching from the pressbox for much of the postseason. When the Capitals’ playoff run came to a close, Perreault expressed his frustration at the lack of playing time and opportunity but it appears he may receive the chance to solidify a more prominent spot next year.
“They told me I was part of the elite forwards on the team,” Perreault said of his discussions with Washington about his future role. “They see me on top lines and they think I can do good things for them, so I’m excited for next year. A new coach coming in hopefully I’ll get a little more ice time than I did last year.”
The 24-year-old forward has struggled with consistency throughout his time in the NHL and even last year he often bounced around the lineup fitting in among the top-six on one night to working on the fourth line the next. When Nicklas Backstrom was sidelined by a concussion, though, Perreault proved he could take on a more significant offensive role.
Perreault also helps give the Capitals flexibility in their forward lines. If he’s playing his natural position of center, Perreault will likely fit in more on the third or fourth lines and allow Washington to move utility-man Brooks Laich up to the second line as a wing. But Perreault can also play wing, if necessary.
Earlier this week, when asked if he felt pressure to bring in a new top-six winger to help replace the loss of Alexander Semin’s scoring General Manager George McPhee said Washington would “try our own guys”.
Perreault will likely be one of several forwards with higher offensive expectations when next year begins, but the Quebec native said he’s not too worried about determining his exact role now.
“The way Washington’s been playing they always have three offensive lines,” Perreault said. “So even though I might end up on the third line you know you’re going to be playing with guys who can still score and put points up, even on the fourth line. No matter where I end up in the lineup I know I’m going to be playing with good guys.”