The Washington Capitals announced Thursday they re-signed restricted free agent forward Mathieu Perreault to a two-year extension. Terms were not dicslosed, but Caps.com’s Mike Vogel tweeted the deal was for $1 million in ’12-’13 and $1.1 million in ’13-’14.
Perreault, 24, set career highs in goals (16), assists (14), points (30), games played (64) and plus/minus (+9) in 2011-12. He finished first on Washington in shooting percentage (26.7%) and tied for fourth on the team with four game-winning goals. His 30 points ranked 10th on the team while he finished tied for fifth in goals and tied for fourth in plus/minus. Perreault tallied his first career NHL hat trick on Jan. 24 vs. Boston.
“I wanted to be back in D.C.,” Perreault said. “This was the team that gave me my first chance and I wanted to keep going. I like the guys, I like the group; new coach coming in. So I’m very excited for next year.”
While registering career highs in scoring, Perreault bounced around on different lines last season. He averaged 12:01 TOI in 64 games, eighth on the team for forwards, and won 50.8 percent of his faceoffs. He was used sparingly on the power play — exactly 1:00 per game — ninth in forwards on the team. In addition, Perreault played in just four of the team’s 14 playoff games.
Despite not having regular linemates or seeing extensive power play time, Perreault told reporters on a conference call Thursday afternoon, “Talking with the organization, [for] my agenda, I know they told me I was part of the elite forwards on the team, they see me on the top lines and they think I can do good things for them.”
GM George McPhee’s recently made statements that he feels the Caps have internal options to replace the goal scoring Alexander Semin will take with him when he eventually signs a deal to play elsewhere. Presumably, from the information Perreault shared today, he was one of those players McPhee was referring to.
“We like to try our own guys. We added a skill guy in [center Mike] Ribeiro and expect that that move’s going to make us a whole lot better,” McPhee said. “They did it last year. Troy Brouwer got  goals for us last year….So we’ll try our own guys.”
Perreault rose through the Caps ranks as a center, but he’s small (very generously listed as 5’10”, 180) and not an elite skater, making him a liability on defense, so he could be employed as a winger to provide spark. He’s streaky — but skilled — and in the right situation with a good playmaker he could be utilized as an “instant offense” type of player on the wing.
“I told them last year if they wanted to put me at winger I could, I wouldn’t mind doing that,” Perreault said. “I’d be up for the challenge for sure. If I could get more ice time [at wing] I would do that.”
McPhee still has plenty of time to add to the scoring dynamic of the Capitals, but it looks more and more like he’ll live up to his words and start the season with the crew he has in place until he can better assess the needs of the team.
Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Capitals coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.