Capitals' final report cards: Jack Hillen

Capitals' final report cards: Jack Hillen
May 9, 2014, 10:30 am
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Washington Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen (38) prepares to shoot a slap shot against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center.

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Jack Hillen

Position: Left Defense

Shoots: Left

Age: 28 [turns 29 Jan. 24]

Ht/Wt: 5-10, 190

Games: 13

Goals: 0

Assists: 1

Points: 1

Penalty minutes: 4

Plus-Minus: Minus-4

Average Ice Time: 18:16

Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 2-year, $1.4 million contract [$700,000 cap hit in 2014-15]

Strengths: When he’s healthy … OK, we seem to say that every year … but in the 13 games he played alongside Mike Green, the Capitals went 6-5-2 and seemed to get out of their own zone much more cleanly than without Hillen. Listed generously at 5-foot-10, Hillen is a strong skater and a better than average first passer.

Weaknesses: Size matters in hockey, especially on the back end, where Hillen has been the victim of hits that took him out of the lineup for months at a time. In January of 2013, Hillen suffered broken ribs that sidelined him for 25 games. And in the second game of this season he fractured his right tibial plateau and missed the next 60 games. He returned to play 11 games before sitting out the final nine games after colliding with Alex Ovechkin. As a result, Hillen has played in just 36 of the Capitals’ 130 games the past two seasons.

Memorable Moment: On Oct. 3, in just the second game of the season, Hillen went behind the net to retrieve a puck and was checked into the boards by Calgary Flames forward Lance Bouma. He was helped off the ice by teammates and would not return again until March 2.

Quotable: “I’ve had a broken jaw, broken ribs and broken knee. I drank lots of milk as a kid, I swear. What can you do about it? I mean, they're freak injuries. Maybe I need a sacrifice a live chicken or something.”

2014-15 Expectations: No one on the Capitals needed a summer of rest and rehabilitation more than Hillen, who acknowledged after the season he did not have 100 percent strength in his right leg when he returned to the Capitals’ lineup this season. If the Capitals do not make a move for a top four defenseman this summer Hillen could begin next season the way he began this season, alongside Green on the Caps’ second defense pairing.

[RELATED: What grade would you give Mike Green for 2013-14?]

 

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