Caps forward Brooks Laich
just finished up his fifth full NHL season. In each of those seasons, his goal, shot, power play goal and ice time totals have all increased every season. Although his consecutive games played streak came to a halt at 257 late in the season, Laich finished up with 25 goals, 34 assists and 59 points to establish career bests in all three departments. He also established career bests with a dozen power play goals (second on the team) and a plus-16, the first “plus” rating of his career. Laich is now exactly even for his 393-game NHL career.
Laich has scored 20 or more goals in three straight seasons. He has had 30 or more assists and 50 or more points in each of the last two campaigns. Laich’s ice time has increased by more than 50% from his rookie season of 2005-06 to the just-completed 2009-10 campaign.
A staple on the Washington power play where he finished fifth on the team in extra-man scoring, Laich was also a mainstay on the Capitals’ penalty killing unit. He averaged 2:06 per game in shorthanded ice time, third among all Washington forwards. Laich scored at least one shorthanded goal for the fourth straight season.
In the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Laich skated an average of 3:34 in shorthanded ice time per game. That figure is tops among all Caps forwards and sixth among all forwards in the league.
Laich contributed four game-winning goals to the Washington cause in 2009-10, including a pair of overtime game-winners. One of those came in the season’s first month (at New York Islanders on Oct. 24) and one came in the final month (vs. Boston on April 5).
Even though Laich has shown tangible on-ice improvement every season since coming into the NHL, he is not content to rest on his laurels.
“For myself, there are areas where I have to be better,” he said, just after the premature conclusion of the 2009-10 Capitals season. “And it’s not all on the ice. For myself, I think I can mature more in the locker room, and there are different hats you can put on in the locker room.
“As a group, our best players are kids. Nicky Backstrom is 22 years old. Alex Ovechkin
is 24. Most kids are just getting out of college and still living at their parents’ house and looking for a summer job at that age. Our young guys are still learning and we’re getting better. The talent and the upside is incredible with these guys. But there are areas where we can improve, and I think this [first-round playoff] loss is going to make everybody a lot more motivated. It should, anyway, give everybody a kick in the ass.”
Laich is heading into the final season of a three-year contract he signed in the summer of 2008. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the conclusion of the 2010-2011 season.