Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Report Card: John Erskine

Erskine skates against the Rangers in January.
Today I give you the ninth installment in my "Report Card" series, as I continue my evaluation of each Capital through this past regular season and playoffs. Today's player is rugged stay at home defenseman John Erskine, who finished his fifth season in the organization this year.

Stats/Season Summary: Erskine had a great year statistically by his standards.  He played in 73 games, a career high by 21 games, and recorded four goals and seven assists to go along with 94 penalty minutes and a +1 rating.  The goals were a career high as well, as were the total points.  Any time that Erskine missed was, in general, because of injuries, he had a few lower-body injuries in the middle of the winter and then hurt his hand in March during a fight.  Overall, he had his best season ever across the board and he was able to emerge as a serviceable NHL defenseman, and he became somewhat of a fan favorite as a result. Grade: B
Role Play: Erskine did exactly what he was supposed to this year, carving out a role for himself in the regular lineup and having a career year for a team that suffered bad injuries on the back end.  Erskine also became the Caps' primary fighter on the back end and developed a reputation as a team-first player.  As a team's sixth defenseman, that is your job description: give a little offense, protect your teammates, and don't mess up bigtime.  For the most part, Erskine was able to do this with few exceptions.  Big John Studd played good. Grade: B
Playoffs: Erskine was solid again in the playoffs, playing in all nine games and recording a goal, an assist, a +1 rating and six penalty minutes.  Like in the regular season, he never looked fully out of place, though he did made a few bad plays in the Tampa series, but then again, so did everyone else.  His goal was a total fluke, but a goal is a goal.  I was convinced in the playoffs that his regular season wasn't a total fluke. Grade: B-
Future Potential: Erskine is signed through the next two years at $1.5 million per, so he probably isn't going anywhere when you factor in his great year this past season.  Erskine is a reliable play on the back end, and he should continue to be the sixth defenseman so long as the Caps don't sign sign Scott Hannan, which I don't think they should.  He has earned his keep, for now. Grade: B-
Here's some video of his best fight this year, against Atlanta's Eric Boulton.

The next report card will be posted on May 18th, and will feature goaltender Braden Holtby.

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