CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2012-13 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: John Erskine
Position: Left Defense
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 223
Penalty minutes: 34
Average Ice Time: 18:27
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 2-year, $3.925 million contract [$1.9625 million cap hit in 2013-14]
Strengths: A tough-as-nails defenseman, Erskine will block shots [third behind John Carlson and Karl Alzner with 62], drop the gloves [2 fights in 30 games], and use every ounce of his 223 pounds along the boards [fourth in hits behind Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer and Matt Hendricks with 91]. His 18:27 of ice time alongside John Carlson was the highest of his career and his plus-10 was third on the team behind Eric Fehr and Carlson.
Weaknesses: Erskine will turn 34 at the end of this month and as the season wore down, so, it seemed, did he. He was a minus-4 while averaging 19:27 in the playoffs. Erskine’s biggest drawback is his lack of mobility when teams dump the puck into his corner and make him turn to retrieve it. His lack of quickness can also be exposed by speedy forwards behind and around the net.
Memorable Moment: On Feb. 9 against the Panthers Erskine took on noted heavyweight George Parros and outpunched him by a 10-3 count. Less than a month later Erskine had himself a new, two-year extension worth just under $4 million. “I love having Big John in the lineup,” Hendricks said. “Having him back there is kind of like having a big brother. It’s fantastic knowing he’s got your back no matter what. It definitely helps my game.”
2013-14 Expectations: A full season would be nice. In his past two seasons with the Caps Erskine has dressed for just 58 of a possible 130 games. He’s a plus-13 in those games and provides a much-needed nasty edge to the Caps’ blue line. Although Erskine played well in a No. 4 role this season he’s probably best suited as a fifth or sixth defenseman logging between 12 and 14 minutes a night.