Tuesday, September 28, 2010

30 Caps in 30 Days: Tyler Sloan

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 behindthenet.ca 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. Teammates are those listed at 10% or greater and at even strength (though the percentage includes all manpower situations). Today, Tyler Sloan)

Tyler Sloan: age 29, 6'3", 205 pounds, shoots left.
Contract: $700k, UFA in 2012, per Capgeek.
2009-2010 linemates: 24% Tom Poti, 10% Jeff Schultz
2010 playoff linemates: 76% Joe Corvo, 12% John Carlson

2009-2010 raw stats:
NHL: 40 GP, 2-4-6, -1, 34 shots, 22 PIM
Playoffs: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 shots, 0 PIM

2009-2010 advanced stats: 3rd-to-last in Corsi QoC, 3rd in Corsi Rel QoC, 5th in Corsi QoT, and 3rd-to-last in Corsi Rel QoT. Zonestart 49.1% offensive zone (middling) with Zonefinish 48.8% offensive zone (middling, only ahead of Karl Alzner among Caps defensemen). Corsi Rel -10.3, 3rd-to-last on team, only ahead of Tomas Fleischmann and Karl Alzner.
2010 playoffs advanced stats: last in Corsi QoC and in Corsi Rel QoC, first in Corsi QoT and in Corsi Rel QoT.

(Photo courtesy Caps Snaps)

WOWY (yellow is how much better the player is with Sloan, green how much better worse Sloan is with the player)

Tyler Sloan is a marginal NHL/AHL defensemen. I don't think anyone disagrees with me there. His skating and skating speed is pretty solid, but his stick skills and acumen for the game are AHL-level. While he endeared himself to Caps fans in his NHL debut with the hit shown in the video above, he hasn't shown much since. Looking at his WOWY, Sloan made everyone else worse, save Karl Alzner (small sample) and Mike Knuble (why the disparity between Ovechkin and Knuble's numbers? Maybe some of the Knuble/Sloan magic was while Ovechkin was out). At the very least, as shown by his most fortunate circumstances. Can your minutes get any easier than the weakest competition and strongest teammates?

Why exactly, then, is a marginal defensemen going to be a regular on a (we hope!) Cup-contender's roster? Well, George McPhee thus far has shown an immense loyalty to his players. Sloan, toiling away for years in the AHL, benefited with a deal on the longer side. With McPhee generally hesitant to pass players through waivers, Sloan could prove to be a cap problem (as he was looking last year, keeping Karl Alzner in Hershey), but with the thinner blueline in DC this year, Sloan actually may be of some value. Why? He's cheap, he won't play every night, and he doesn't completely crap the bed in his minutes, which I think will be easier next season.

He could be a bit better, sure, but $200k over what he should be worth doesn't make Sloan's contract an albatross by any means. With the cap space McPhee has to toy with, Sloan will likely stay in Washington the entire season and play a regular shift until the playoffs begin. I can't imagine McPhee not adding another defenseman to the roster by the trade deadline, but until then, Sloan is part of the regular rotation. 7D isn't a vital enough position to warrant an upgrade (as is 2C). Pushing others down the depth chart, though, is always a good idea.

I can, however, imagine blueline injuries, which will give Sloan a regular sweater for long stretches of the season. His press box 7D status is only 1 injury away from dressed 6D, after all. Injuries to the forwards could also get Sloan a sweater as a winger.

60 GP, 2-5-7, -6.