As the offseason begins, we’ll take a player-by-player look at the year that was for the Washington Capitals.
Contract status: $3.5 million in 2010-11, unrestricted free agent this summer.
The year that was: The Capitals picked up Marco Sturm off of waivers from Los Angeles two days before the trade deadline in a little-to-no risk move by General Manager George McPhee. Sturm had only just fully returned from offseason knee surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments before being acquired by Washington.
While Sturm occasionally showed some of the speed he possessed in the prime of his career, it was clear that the knee problems, which required him to wear braces on both legs, still limited him. He wasn’t picked up exclusively to add goals, but given the Capitals’ need for offense at times, it was a little disappointing that he only scored one in his 18 games.
“It’s always kind of bugged me a little bit that I didn’t score early on,”’ Sturm said at the time. “It happened [Saturday], so I’m very glad…. When you come to a new team you want to show what you’ve got, but I was hurting a lot, too, before I came here so it’s becoming more comfortable for me. I got to know all the guys better and better, even on and off the ice, and that helps for sure.”
Sturm was praised for his ability to make the correct, veteran play on most occasions and provide some stability. At times Coach Bruce Boudreau went so far as to say that Sturm’s reliability made him the type of player “to count on” in the postseason. Sturm auditioned on all four lines at different points, but it became clear that he was best suited for a spot on the second or third line wing.
Looking ahead: Taking Sturm off of waivers didn’t cause the Capitals any direct harm, but at the same time, it wasn’t always clear where he fit in on the roster. He played primarily during even-strength situations, and averaged less than a minute of time on the power play and penalty kill per game. While his positional strength is an asset, it’s hard to know if Sturm fits in the Capitals’ long-term plans beyond this brief experiment.