|Erskine skates against the Rangers in January.|
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.