As the offseason begins, we’ll take a player-by-player look at the year that was for the Washington Capitals.
Contract status: $4.5 million in 2010-11, unrestricted free agent this summer.
The year that was: Immediately upon his arrival it was clear Jason Arnott’s greatest impact would be as a veteran, former Stanley Cup winning voice in the dressing room. In a matter of 20 games and two and a half months with the Capitals, Arnott’s lunches, barbeques and mentoring of players — particularly, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin — became well-documented.
Arnott had a knack for scoring in key moments with the Capitals in the regular season but he only posted one goal in the playoffs (Game 2 against the Rangers). He had an easy chemistry with Semin from the beginning, but as time, and the postseason, progressed, neither player looked to be in sync. It’s unclear how much the veteran center may have been limited by a knee injury that required minor surgery in late March. Arnott said the knee was “still pretty sore” on the day following Washington’s ouster from the playoffs.
Looking ahead: Was Arnott a quick fix for the postseason push or someone who the front office believes could have a lasting role in the organization? That question will be answered in whether he returns to the Capitals for a lengthier stint.
The Capitals have added veteran leaders to the roster at the trade deadline in three of the past four seasons. Arnott could continue to provide a guiding presence to younger players, but it’s possible the onus could be placed on the younger franchise cornerstones to step up.
Arnott said he would “absolutely” like to return to Washington.
“It definitely would be my first choice to come back and try to win here,” said Arnott, who was asked if he had any idea how long he would like his career to last. “As long as I can. I haven’t really set a time. As long as I’m healthy and can still play at a high level and still perform and have fun at the game, I’m gonna play as long as I can.”
Etc.: While some players might take some time to adapt to their new team or feel comfortable speaking up, that wasn’t a problem for Arnott. After his first game with the Capitals on March1 against the Islanders, the stoic center pulled no punches with harsh criticism of the team he had joined less than 48 hours earlier.
“If that means me speaking up and guys don’t like it, that’s what I’ve got to do,” Arnott said at the time.