|Ah, an elite shutdown defenseman: a rare thing for a Caps fan until now.|
Recap of Last Season: Krazy Karl enjoyed a full on defensive breakout last year, jumping from third pairing defenseman at the start of the season to one half of one of the best young defensive pairings in the NHL by season's end. He really was a rock by the time the playoffs rolled around. Alzner played in all situations except the man advantage, and excelled in positional defending, blocking shots, and shorthanded work as he began to show the promise that made him the fifth overall pick in the 2007 Draft. For my full post-season analysis of Alzner's stellar 2010-11, click here.
Expectations for this Season: More of the same. Now that Alzner has signed his contract extension and will be a Cap for the next two years, Washington needs Alzner to continue to be a top shutdown defenseman for them in order to achieve their goal and go deep into the postseason. The British Columbia native will be asked to play in all situations again, particularly on the penalty kill, and his sound defensive presence will be essential to the Caps. He's an a-list player.
Playing Time: Defensive pairing A; penalty kill unit A. As a top defenseman, Alzner is going to eat ice time like one. Nothing new from last year.
Projections: 80 GP, 3 G, 11 A, +19 rating, 22:25 ATOI.
The next season preview will feature Mike Knuble.