The numbers do not tell the entirety of Karl Alzner's story.
In three full NHL seasons, the Capitals defenseman has scored four goals and assisted on 30 others, far less eye-catching statistics than those of Mike Green and John Carlson, his more offensively-inclinded defensive partners.
Then again, Alzner has played in all 212 of Washington's regular-season games since 2010 -- not to mention all 30 playoff games -- while averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game (including nearly 2:30 on the penalty kill) and blocking 356 shots, second-most team-wide behind Carlson over the last three years.
Either way you slice it, Alzner's value to the Capitals cannot truly be quantified. The 24-year-old has developed into Washington's most reliable and consistent defenseman as well as one of the NHL's better stay-at-home blueliners. Wednesday, he was rewarded with a four-year contract extension worth $11.2 million ($2.8 million per year) to continue his maturation process in Washington.
“Being able to stay in one place, hopefully stay in one place…. is something that we were really interested in,” Alzner said during a conference call Wednesday “Another thing for me is looking at the team, thinking that we have a legitimate chance of doing something good here. I think everybody wants to be on a winning team. The longer of an opportunity I have to be with this team the better I think it’s going to be.”
As a restricted free agent, Alzner had arbitration rights (the deadline for club-elected salary arbitration notification is Thursday at 5 p.m.), but was glad to avoid it knowing that it was not the "best option" for the type of player that he is.
“I think for a player like me is not necessarily very well represented in arbitration,” Alzner said. “I’m definitely not a numbers guy, my game isn’t something that you can read about and get a sense in a resume it’s more something you need to watch on video over a long period of time…..It was, I think, in both of our best interests to try and settle before that.”
Considering general manager George McPhee's method, Alzner's four-year contract is sort of an anomaly. Last season, all six contract extensions McPhee handed out -- forwards Aaron Volpatti and Eric Fehr, defensemen John Erskine and Jack Hillen, and goaltenders Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth -- were all two years long.
Yet McPhee was willing to break the mold to sign a player that he believes will be a cornerstone of the franchise for far longer than that.
“We don’t want to do too many long term deals and four years is a long time,” McPhee said. “We can go back to Karl in three years and start again. He’s the kind of player coaches love, managers love, really reliable player, great teammate. I thought it was a real good pick when we made it [fifth overall in 2007], thought he could play here for 15 years and it looks like that could happen.”
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