CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Michael Latta
Age: 22 [turns 23 May 25]
Ht/Wt: 6-0, 209
Penalty minutes: 12
Average Ice Time: 7:42
Contract Status: Due to become Restricted Free Agent. Capitals can retain his rights with minimum qualifying offer of $605,000. Completed 3-year, $2.425 million entry-level contract with $590,833 cap hit.
Strengths: Acquired along with Marty Erat from the Nashville Predators in the 2013 NHL trade deadline deal that sent forward prospect Filip Forsberg to Nashville, Latta saw limited action with the Capitals but showed a willingness to defend his teammates, twice dropping the gloves in his 17 games. Latta is an above average skater and checker who scored 66 goals in his final two junior seasons in Guelph, but he saw only fourth-line duty with the Capitals in his first taste of the NHL.
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Weaknesses: Latta has not shown much of an offensive side since turning pro late in the 2010-11 season. He’s managed just 34 goals in 183 AHL games over parts of four seasons. A lower body injury in January sidelined Latta for 11 games and limited his AHL action to 51 games.
Memorable Moment: On Nov. 15 in Detroit, in his 10th NHL game with the Capitals, Latta scored his first NHL goal and it was a big one, tying the score with just over 8 minutes left in regulation to set the stage for a 4-3 shootout win over the Red Wings. Latta shared his excitement with this priceless Twitter photo.
Quotable: “The way I look at it, I want to bring energy, make some hits, draw penalties, play good D-zone and stick up for my teammates.”
2014-15 Expectations: If the Capitals re-sign Latta he figures to be a depth player who can center the fourth line or play right wing. A strong training camp under a new coach could be all Latta needs to get a shot at replacing Jay Beagle on the fourth line. Latta brings an edge that is lacking on the Caps’ roster and that could be his ticket to getting into the NHL and staying there.