As the offseason begins, we’ll take a player-by-player look at the year that was for the Washington Capitals.
Contract status: $716,667 in 2010-11, restricted free agent this summer.
The year that was: Mathieu Perreault played more NHL games this past season than ever before in his career, as he was one of the many centers the Capitals auditioned in various roles. At his best, he brought speed as an offensive catalyst on the second or third line, holding his own alongside the likes of Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich.
There were times when Perreault looked the part of his 23 years and limited NHL experience, though, which occasionally resulted in him being scratched and eventually led to his return to Hershey. He continued to strive for consistency, and while his overall numbers are on par with what he’s accomplished in Washington previously, six of the 14 points came in the first outing after a game he didn’t play in, whether by being recalled from Hershey or a scratch the night before.
Perreault was on the ice for more even-strength goals against than any other forward who played at least 30 games at 2.62, but he also continued to improve and earn more offensive zone time, starting his shifts there 54.6 percent of the time and seeing them finish there 53.7 percent of the time.
Looking ahead: Perreault’s objective has long been the same: performing consistently at a high level in the NHL, and not simply having a good handful of games fueled by the extra adrenaline of a recall. It’s a challenge for all players but it’s an ongoing battle for Perreault, who has completed his entry-level contract and is still not guaranteed a spot in Washington.
Should he be re-signed by the Capitals, it’s not out of the question to expect that Perreault would continue to at least garner spot duty in the NHL. If he is re-signed but fails to make the roster out of training camp, given the Capitals’ continued need at center and the presence of up-and-coming players like Cody Eakin, Perreault will be watching his path to the NHL grow steeper.