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2011 NHL Free Agency: A Look at Brooks Laich

 Now that we have a confirmation of sorts from Nieuwendyk that our payroll is, indeed, increasing for next season we will continue to roll out some Free Agency profiles.  Today we will focus on another forward that has been floated around for some time as part of our collective "wish list of players."  Let's look at Brook Laich today.

Why he'd fit:  Laich is known as a bit of a "jack of all trades" for the Washington Capitals.  His defensive game was truly what defined Laich's 2010-2011 season.  He was second on the Capitals in blocked shots for forwards.  He saw the most time on the team on the penalty kill.  He played on the power play.  He played both wing and center this season.  That amount of versatility and defensive responsibility makes him a very appealing player to have on your team.  Playing in all situations, Laich put up 48 points this season (16 g, 32 a) showing that he can succeed in any capacity you ask of him.  Laich is also not prone to injuries, having played in all 82 games this season (he's missed only 4 games in the past 4 seasons.)

Why it won't work: Even though Laich saw plenty of time on the PP, his offensive production in that situation was not very good -- his G/60 on the PP was 0.53.  For some perspective, that's worse than Trevor Daley's offensive production on the PP of 0.77 G/60.  Laich was a power play scoring machine the previous season, so that begs the question: is this past year an anamoly or a sign that he is not as effective on the power play as once thought?

Final verdict:  I am a big fan of consistency when it comes to forwards.  A player that has proven scoring consistency and defensive responsibility AND can be counted on to play in 99% of all games for the season?  Yes please!  Laich is coming off of a contract that saw him make about $2M on average a year.  You can expect that he will get a pay raise, probably somewhere in the $3-4M/year for 3-5 years range.  That's a contract I would consider giving to a player that has shown that he can do it all.  And at the age of 27, Laich will probably continue to stay at or above his production for the past 3 seasons.  He'd be a solid addition to the forward core.