Tampa Bay Lightning: The Misconception Of Alex Killorn

Let’s take a look at Alex Killorn of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Part 17 of my Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluations has arrived. Last time, I looked at rookie forward Mathieu Joseph’s season, and he was far better than I had initially thought before I started. This next player is another in which I don’t believe he had a great season, but could definitely surprise me. He’s someone who I’ve seen thrown around by fans, including myself, in trades, and some fans just don’t like him at all. This intriguing third line winger, is Alex Killorn. 

The Basics

Alex Killorn played in all 82 games last season, and recorded 18 goals and 22 assists (40 points). Averaging 14:52 time on ice, which was a career low, Killorn started just 46.1% of his shifts in the offensive zone, also a career low, being used more defensively than on offense. However, he followed that up with fantastic possession numbers, with a 54.2 Corsi-For%. He also posted a career best takeaway to giveaway ratio of 30 to 22, which is a +8 differential. That marked the first time in his career that he had more takeaways than giveaways. For PDO, which is ultimately measured and calculated luck, he posted well above the average of 100, with a 102.9, which is very lucky, and means he might not have as good of a season next year, unless his luck holds true. When Killorn was on the ice, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 46.4, another career high for Killorn, and an expected goals against of 35.7, his second lowest total since the 2014-15 season, which is a +10.7 differential. 

Advanced Analytics

Looking at his stats, he’s solid all the way around, but those stats don’t always translate into the advanced analytics that I use. CF% does not mean he is good at breaking out of the defensive zone or gaining entry into the offensive zone. But he still had some really solid numbers last season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the spider graph below reflect that, even a little bit. 

Killorn (red), stands out when it comes to his shooting metrics. He shoots a lot (Shots60), and gets a lot of goals, or just general contributions off of those shots (ShotContr60), but doesn’t necessarily gain assists off his shots, whether it’s tipped or put in off a rebound (ShotAssists60). Where he really struggled, relative to the other two players on the graph, was in his effectiveness of entering the offensive zone, as he posted last in both entry metrics (PossEntry60, PossEntry%). He ranked second in the exit metric that calculates how often he breaks out in a 60 minute span (PossExit60), and tied for first in how many exits he posts relative to the total number of times he attempts an exit (PossExit%). To dive in deeper on his exit metrics, I looked into CJ Turtoro’s Exits per 60 minute visual. 

Killorn ranks 9th on the Lightning roster when it comes to exiting the defensive zone. The one problem is, Killorn has the second lowest number of total breakouts, ahead of only Brayden Point, among the top 10 players. He is effective passing the puck up and out of the zone, but doesn’t often find himself skating it out himself. If there isn’t any passing options or room to skate, he dumps or clears it out to reset in the defensive zone. He doesn’t have a very high number of fails either, nearly half the amount that Mathieu Joseph had in a near identical workload, so he does just fine breaking out and doesn’t face too many problems in doing so. However, where I am most interested is in how badly Killorn looked entering the offensive zone on the spider graph. Let’s take a closer look at his entry metrics, by using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minute visual. 

Killorn ranks 12th on the Lightning roster in entering the zone. The struggles we thought we saw on the spider graph really wasn’t much of a struggle at all. The spider graph looks at controlled entries, when a player passes or skates it into the zone. It doesn’t take into account uncontrolled entries, which is when a player dumps it in deep. When you take controlled and uncontrolled and put them together, Alex Killorn really isn’t bad at all. He just looks for the smart play, sends it in deep, and then forechecks hard. He tends to skate it in himself when he doesn’t dump it in, relative to him passing to a teammate. But the best part about Killorn’s entry metric, is the fact that he seemingly never fails. He has the second lowest fail total among the 14 players listed, behind only Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.

 

In Conclusion 

Killorn may not be the best player on the Lightning. He also doesn’t have the best contract. However, he is a lot better than many people think. He was very safe with the puck last season, able to enter and exit the offensive and defensive zones without turning the puck over very often. He had good shooting stats and nearly had a 0.5 point per game total, which is solid, considering he played less than 15 minutes per game (on average). Maybe there’s just a misconception of him due to the fact he has such a bad contract, but no one really knows. Looking at everything, maybe we should hang on to Killorn for at least one more year, because his value is lower than his production, and the Lightning won’t get a fair return for him. 

 

All stats via Hockey-reference

Spider graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered by CJ Turtoro

Featured Image Credit: Justin Miner

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