He's a stand up guy who will change your tire. He's more famous for who his partner is in some circles. His teammates like him.

And he's winding down his hockey career with a salary more befitting of the man he used to be.

Which is how you get to be a Leaf these days.

There's going to be all sorts of comparisons of Laich to Daniel Winnik, but that's the Capital's point of view. On this side of the trade, we should be looking at how he stacks up against the other guys who aren't what they were, or who were never what the guy who gave them a big contract that one time thought they'd be.

Okay, he's not, and never has really pretended to be the kind of player Michalek is. He was played up the lineup in Washington for years, maybe up over his real ability. He got points, played a solid positional game, but he was never the guy with the scoring touch, with the hands. He wasn't the creative force, and Washington didn't need that; they had the biggest wellspring of hockey genius that wasn't in Pittsburgh.

In later years, he's slid down the depth chart, and become a sort of soft grinder (and I don't mean that pejoratively). He's not an old-school fourth line guy who can stand still on the PK and hit hard, but he is a guy who suppresses shots and can sometimes score, and he's not actually bad at it. Even this year, as his stock plummeted with the Caps, he's been doing very well at shot suppression. With one exception: he's had horrible, horrible stats with Tom Wilson. And I mean, who wouldn't?

With Mike Richards and Michael Latta, he's been fine, although the points haven't come. But isn't that the theme of this year? That no one can score? So is this a performance problem or an expectation problem? I know, I know—why not both. I think it's primarily a money problem. He was made redundant by Mike Richards.

If only he'd been paid less, he wouldn't be a Leaf. So how does he compare to guys doing more like what he does now?

Oh, well now. Well, well, well. Isn't that interesting? Maybe a reclamation of Brooks Laich's career that might lead to a reset of his salary after his contract runs out is not out of the question. At the very, very least, if he plays out this year on the Leafs, he's an upgrade over Byron Froese, who is out with a reported broken hand.

He did clear waivers with the Capitals. The Leafs could pop him onto the Marlies as a bit of a ringer and just let him show his character there. But I hope they don't do that. I hope he gets the full treatment, where they run him through all their coaches and trainers and treat him like a real NHL player and then see what he's got.



As usual, this post was made possible by the work of others. Own the Puck Visuals and HockeyViz were the stars for this one.