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: It took until his ninth game in a Capitals sweater for Scott Hannan to earn a victory with his new team. Hannan was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Tomas Fleischmann only a game before the start of Washington’s season-worst, eight-game losing streak in December. It got to the point that, despite the tension in the dressing room, teammates occasionally cracked jokes about Hannan being a jinx.
The losing streak passed, and it didn’t take long for Hannan to become comfortable in the Capitals’ room. He took on a leadership role, calling two players-only meetings — most notably one following Washington’s dreadful showing in a 4-1 loss to Los Angeles on Feb. 12.
Hannan didn’t add speed to the Capitals’ blueline and there were times, particularly in the playoffs against Tampa Bay, where that showed. But he did provide a veteran’s poise and vocal presence – his affinity for talking on the ice to keep himself and teammates aware of actions was one of the most noticeable traits upon his arrival. Hannan also isn’t afraid to show a little bit of a mean streak, regardless of whether that meant dumping an opponent in front of the crease or making sure to finish his checks along the boards.
When injuries began to mount late in the regular season and the playoffs, Hannan became even more valuable, stepping up to play critical minutes and help take some of the pressure off the young tandem of John Carlson and Karl Alzner.
Looking ahead: Hannan could easily be the odd man out among those who wrapped up the season with the Capitals, particularly if Mike Green and Dennis Wideman are both completely healthy for the start of next year.
That said, if the veteran would be willing to see his salary dip and wants to stay in Washington, it’s possible he could fit in the mix somewhere, depending on the other moves General Manager George McPhee might make. But the Capitals already have seven defensemen signed for 2011-12, not counting Dmitri Orlov, who will be in the first year of his entry-level contract next season.