Photo: Dilip Vishwanat
Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.
“Hello, it’s me.
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.”
Yes, the Caps have “been there, done that” in terms of Tomas Fleischmann. But maybe, just maybe, they should revisit a reunion with the man we know as Flash. He isn’t the best option when it comes to free agent forwards, but given the reality of the salary cap, the Caps could do a lot worse than a player like Fleischmann to upgrade the skill-level of their third line.
The Caps say they are aiming to play a faster, more skilled brand of hockey with their third line next season, and Fleischmann checks off a lot of the boxes that are required to help with this. He possesses great offensive instincts, he’s creative with his decisions making, and he’s a good skater. All around, he’s an offensively skilled player who best slots in on a third line and the Caps are looking for just that type of player.
Some people have a negative opinion of Fleischmann from his previous stay in DC. There are complaints that he can’t win puck battles or is soft on the boards. But, in the end, it’s about outscoring your opponents. And if the Caps have decided to give a new look to the third line, Fleischmann’s style of play might help in outscoring the other team. For context, here’s how he compares to the Caps’ two main third-line wingers from last season, Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera, as well as Marcus Johansson, who is likely to get a lot of ice time as a winger on the third line next season.
The numbers are for the last 3 seasons at 5v5.
|Player||Points/60||Shot Attempt % (Relative)||Individual SA/60||Goals For %|
(Score and venue-adjusted from Corsica)
Fleischmann’s production isn’t too far behind Johansson’s, a guy who is a luxury to have on a third line. And his HERO chart shows that his production rate has been borderline top-six in recent seasons and is most likely to be at a third-line rate next season. Though Chimera, whom Fleischmann would essentially replace, has been more productive than Fleischmann over the last three seasons, it’s important to keep in mind that Chimera is in his late thirties and his production in two of those three seasons likely isn’t sustainable moving forward.
Possession-wise, Fleischmann is again similar to Johansson. His raw shot-attempt percentage is on the right side of 50 percent and his relative numbers are passable.
Flash pulls the trigger more than any of the other guys in the chart and more than most Caps forwards. If there’s an element the Caps could use more of among their forwards, it’s someone who isn’t shy to shoot the puck.
Fleischmann shouldn’t be the first guy the Caps target in free agency, but they could do a lot worse than him. He’s a winger with skill who best slots in on the third line. Further, he won’t cost too much, so there’s not a lot of risk should he be a total flop or if Jakub Vrana forces his way into the lineup. Essentially, he would add depth to the battle for a third line wing spot that currently includes Vrana, Wilson, and Stan Galiev. If the players at the top of the Caps free-agent wish list sign elsewhere or want too much money, signing Fleischmann would be a better move than doing nothing at all.
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