On the eve of the NHL Trade Deadline, the Toronto Maple Leafs made their last deal of the season. They sent Daniel Winnik a 2016 5th round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Brooks Laich, Connor Carrick and a 2016 2nd round pick. It has been said that taking on Laich’s remaining year on his contract allowed the Leafs to acquire the second-rounder. This ended Laich’s 12-year run in Washington.
What is unfortunate for Laich is he goes from the best team in the NHL to the worst team. The Capitals finally looked like they would be dangerous in the playoffs. They will be one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference and as long as Braden Holtby remains as good as he has been, teams will have trouble with them. They could run the table through the East, only running into trouble in the Stanley Cup Final no matter who they face.
To give you a little history lessen, Laich was drafted in the sixth round (193rd overall) by the Ottawa Senators in the 2001 NHL Draft. He was traded to the Capitals in 2004 in return for another long-running Capitals forward in Peter Bondra. In the next 12 seasons, he would score 133 goals and record 191 assists for a total of 324 points in 742 games. His best years in Washington started in 2007 and lasted all the way until the 2012-13 lockout. In the five seasons in between, he averaged 47.6 points a season, having two 50+ point seasons.
Not What He Once Was
However, since the lockout, his offensive production has fizzled out. In the seasons since, he has averaged only 11.5 points per season. This season in particular has been bad. He had only one goal and six assists in 60 games. This drop in production has made him expendable. Obviously, Washington has decided that Winnik would help them more than Laich would, along with him having a lower cap hit.
So now Laich is a member of the Maple Leafs, destined to finish at the bottom of the NHL. How does he feel about it?
“I have such an empty feeling that I never got the ultimate goal… I really wanted to do it with Alex, I really wanted to do it with Nicky and really wanted to do it with Mike Green, who unfortunately wasn’t back this year.”
Laich’s job now is to help lead the young players that have come into the Leafs lineup. While he no longer is the offensive producer he used to be, he can still be a good third-line player for the next season or so. Who knows, maybe he can find some of his offensive game playing with the kids that are joining the Leafs lineup.
That next season or so will be as long as Laich will last with the Leafs. As he has a year left on his contract after this season, he will more than likely to be a candidate to be moved at next year’s trade deadline. If that is indeed the case, it would be nice if the Leafs sent Laich to a Stanley Cup favorite. At least that give him the opportunity that he was robbed of this year.