As the offseason begins, we’ll take a player-by-player look at the year that was for the Washington Capitals.
Contract status: $575,000 in 2010-11, $825,000 in 2011-12.
The year that was: Matt Hendricks arrived at KCI in September on a professional tryout, earned a spot on the roster and quickly become a fan favorite. The blue-collar forward fit in nicely on the Capitals’ fourth line and took on an energy role. He also made it a habit to stand up for his teammates, racking up the most major penalties (14) on the team.
Consistency remains the biggest goal for Hendricks, who isn’t someone the Capitals expect to fight every night — although he is prepared to do so to keep his roster spot. (As was discussed on ‘24/7,’ when Hendricks sported a memorable shiner from a bout with Sean Avery.) The spark Hendricks provides is arguably more important than the fisticuffs themselves, though, as having someone willing to run into opposing goaltenders, wear down defenders but not see it result in a goal, or answer the bell to protect a star player are all elements that can provide game-swinging momentum.
Hendricks posted the most points of any player regularly on the fourth line and has often said that he wants to contribute on the scoresheet as much as possible. It seems fair to expect a similar, if not higher, offensive output from the Minnesota native next season.
Looking ahead: Hendricks earned his first one-way contract mid-season when the Capitals signed him to a two-year deal worth $1.65 million total. That contract not only keeps one of Washington’s primary agitators and energy sources in the lineup but it does so at a price that won’t cause salary cap crunches in other areas.
If Hendricks could reach or surpass his personal goal of wanting to score 10 goals in a season it will be a bonus for the Capitals’ secondary scoring.
Etc.: Hendricks may not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking of players with stellar breakaway or shootout moves, but on a few occasions this season he put himself in that category.
In Washington’s 4-1 win over Toronto in late January, Hendricks demonstrated a pretty set of moves on a breakaway with a deke that fooled goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. It was a move he had used before, in a shootout while playing for Colorado, and one he dusted off to show that it’s not only the Capitals’ stars who can break out some extra flair in the offensive zone.