Monday, September 13, 2010

30 Caps in 30 Days: Andrew Gordon

During the thirty days of September, I'll be trying to preview the seasons of thirty players currently under contract with the Washington Capitals and who have a good chance of spending some time in red, white, and blue this season. Advanced stats are given from ranked against other players at the same position--forward, defense, or goalie--in the same organization, at 5-on-5, unless otherwise noted. Age is on opening night. Today, Andrew Gordon)

(Photo courtesy Caps Snaps)

Andrew Gordon: age 24, 6'0", 195 pounds, shoots right.
Contract: $500k in NHL, $90k in AHL, RFA in 2011, per Capgeek.

2009-2010 raw stats:
NHL: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 0 shots, 0 PIM
AHL: 79 GP, 37-34-71, +22, 195 shots, 57 PIM
Playoffs: 17 GP, 13-7-20, +2, 56 shots, 2 PIM

Andrew Gordon is one example of several late-round picks (along with Mathieu Perreault and Stefan Della Rovere) George McPhee has made recently that has a chance to make the NHL soon. Gordon appears to have little left to prove at the AHL level. This past season, he mainly played right wing on the Bears' top line along with Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux, scoring plenty of goals along the way. In the Calder Cup playoffs, he got injured for a few games, and the change in the Bears was very noticeable, as the team struggled after having to shuffle lines to make up for his absence. He was the Knuble of the Bears' top line, and also had a nice skillset to complement Aucoin and Giroux.

I think at this point few people think that, despite his time as a top-line wing in the AHL, Gordon can make the NHL as a scoring-line forward. Instead, he will likely make the NHL--and his making the NHL is almost a foregone conclusion now--as a fourth line forward, or possibly a third line forward. His total NHLE (ratio 0.44) is to 16 goals and 31 points, which is pretty good for a bottom-six forward. Counting only even-strength play, the ratio is 0.54 (and probably a better indicator, since Gordon is unlikely to see much power play time in the NHL). Gordon scored nineteen power play goals, and factoring this in Gordon's NHLE becomes around ten goals and twenty points (assuming Gordon's goals-to-points ratio is the same both overall and on the power play). Even if Gordon's NHLEs are inflated by virtue of his AHL stats coming during the best single season in AHL history, on the best team in AHL history, Gordon, given a full season in the AHL, could be as productive as Matt Bradley in his best year. That sounds good to me.

I don't think Gordon will make the NHL this season. There is simply too much forward depth on the Capitals for him to make the jump as a winger (at the moment; in the future wing may become a weaker spot). Between Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Knuble, Alexander Semin, Tomas Fleischmann, Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr, Jason Chimera, Eric Belanger, Boyd Gordon, David Steckel, Matt Bradley, and DK King (and Tyler Sloan, maybe), Gordon gets pushed to the guy called up for the Caps after the team's second or third injury up front. That does not bode well for his NHL stats during the next season, but he will get plenty of time in the AHL, probably next to Keith Aucoin and, say, Francois Bouchard or Steve Pinizzotto, and can develop further. I don't think extra time in the AHL at this point for Gordon is a bad thing, since it allows him time to further develop his all-around game (not like an offensive player who may get used to easy AHL competition). I don't think the organization will, either.

Projection: 5-10 GP, a goal or two, maybe three or four points at the NHL level. In the AHL, around 70 GP, 30-35 goals, and 70 points. Oh yeah, and some more great blogging on Russian Machine Never Breaks.

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