Luke Schenn

Tampa Bay Lightning: Bringing In Schenn & McElhinney

featured image photo credit – Mark6Mauno/Flickr

The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t make much of a splash on July 1st, ultimately signing just two true NHL calibre players.

Those two were Curtis McElhinney, former Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes goalie, and Luke Schenn, a depth defenseman, who has travelled through Toronto, Vancouver, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Arizona and Philadelphia through his 11 year career in the NHL.

Here’s what the two of them bring to the table.

Curtis McElhinney

The veteran, 36 year old goaltender has had a long tenured career, and over the last couple of seasons, has been very important for his teams. He helped Toronto clinch a playoff berth two seasons ago, by stepping in and winning a very important contest to officially clinch. He then was a part of the miracle run in Carolina, where they went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

McElhinney is coming off of a career high in starts with 33, posting a career-best 20 wins in the process. He is an outstanding NHL backup, but the Lightning already have fan favorite, Louis Domingue, backing up elite net-minder Andrei Vasilevskiy. What was the point?

They gave McElhinney $1.3M. He’s more expensive than Domingue’s cap hit of $1.15M. Domingue had more wins (31) in less games (26). McElhinney (.912 Save%, 2.58 Goals Against Average) were better than Domingue’s stat line (.908SV%, 2.88 GAA), but that’s not a huge difference.

However, there is one area in which McElhinney stands out more than Domingue however, and that is goals saved above average. While Domingue posted a -1.81 GSAA, McElhinney had a +2.25. But, keep in mind, McElhinney has only posted more wins than losses twice since the 2009-10 season in years with more than 10 starts, and those seasons were the last two. That could either mean improvement despite his aging, or he’s just benefitting from being on a good team at the right time. Maybe that could continue with Tampa, but Louis Domingue has already proven his success with the Bolts, and I don’t understand why they don’t keep sticking with him in net.

This signing ultimately tells me that Domingue is likely to get moved, and I really don’t like that. 

Luke Schenn

Schenn will likely be a 7th defenseman, as he was signed to a 1 year, $700k contract. With that said, these are some players who could’ve been brought in instead (Dan Girardi) and some players he will be competing for time with. 

visual created by Kyle Pereira, stats from CJ Turtoro

As shown above, every other option would have been better. Schenn is atrocious when it comes to entering the offensive zone, and defending against the rush. He couldn’t break up an opponent’s entry, even if his life depended on it. He also is really bad at entering the offensive zone, as shown by his PossEntry60/PossEntry% on the graph. Schenn is really all over the place, and seemingly just shoots the puck a lot. Based on the above visual, I’d genuinely just take a flier on Callan Foote making the jump next season. Just a pointless signing in my book. 

In Conclusion 

The Lightning have had a very slow off-season. This first day of free agency didn’t change a thing. On the one hand, I’m glad they didn’t pull teeth for a guy like Joe Pavelski, but the depth signings, both of them, were just useless. They haven’t signed their RFAs yet. Brayden Point and Cedric Paquette need to get signed quickly.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers have done almost everything right in building up their roster for next season. The Lightning need to get it together, or they will quickly fall behind an ever-so competitive Atlantic Division. 

Spider Graphs created by Kyle Pereira, gathered by CJ Turtoro

Stats from hockey-reference

Salary Cap Info from capfriendly

Tampa Bay Lightning

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

Tampa Bay Lightning: Pavelski Wants The Sun

Joe Pavelski visited with the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday, as his time in San Jose has seemed to run its course.

July 1st is right around the corner, and there’s no better date than that for hockey fans. Free Agent frenzy begins and there are countless names to look out for, like Artemi Panarin, Mitch Marner and countless others. There are a lot of “Hope so”’s and “What if”’s. But no one can truly predict where each player goes on that date. But there’s one move that seems to be getting more and more clear. Joe Pavelski wants to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Is It Possible?

I could make this easy and just say yes, then move on, but there’s more to this story. The Lightning have about $10.626M in cap space, with Brayden Point still left to re-sign. That doesn’t even count the extra $5.8M from Ryan Callahan’s placement on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR), which then bumps the cap space up to $16.426M. Here’s to say that Point takes $9M per year, that bumps the space down to around $7.426M. Now Paquette is someone else I would like to re-sign, and he’s going to be fairly cheap, and take about $1.5M or so. That bumps it down to about $5.926M, but that’s not all. Without Pavelski, the Lightning line-up would look something like this:
Yanni GourdeSteven StamkosMathieu Joseph
Tyler JohnsonBrayden PointNikita Kucherov
Ondrej PalatAnthony CirelliAlex Killorn
Alex Barre-Boulet-Cedric Paquette-Taylor Raddysh/ Boris Katchouk
Now, those lines aren’t bad at all, but there are moves that can be made here. First, an Alex Killorn trade (Keep in mind, Killorn has a full no trade clause and must waive it for a trade to happen). If the Lightning go back to the Canucks end, and acquire a bottom 6 forward for cheap, such as Jake Virtanen or Nikolay Goldobin for Killorn and a bit of a sweetener, then you can free up around $3.5M, to bring the cap space back up to $8.426M, not counting the contracts of Barre-Boulet, Raddysh or Katchouk, as they’re just temporary place holders. If you bring back Adam Erne for about $1M, then sign Pavelski to a 1 or a 2 year deal for $4M per year (he could easily take more, but if he does take a discount, that would be the most I’d give him), that combines to take the cap down to $3.426M, roughly. So yes, it is definitely possible for the Lightning to go out and re-sign Point, and sign Joe Pavelski. They’d even have the space to bring in another player for no more than $3M. If those things were to happen, then the entire Lightning lineup would look a little something like this:

Victor HedmanMikhail Sergachev
Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak
Jan RuttaBraydon Coburn

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Louis Domingue

Just to confirm the fact that Tampa can afford these moves, I built the team on capfriendly, using the armchair GM tool, and here’s the look of that, with cap space included.

As you can see, the Lightning actually have more space then I had worked out earlier in this article, but will ultimately have to have extra players called up for injuries. Those players likely include Barre-Boulet, Katchouk, Verhaege and Raddysh, all of which costing less than $1M each. They’re also waiver exempt, and can come up and go back down whenever the Lightning need it, and they won’t have to worry about waiver claiming from other teams.

Salary Cap info via Capfriendly

Feature image courtesy of Dinur Blum

Tampa Bay Lightning Draft Review

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s draft may have been solid for some, including myself, but not so much for other fans. I’m here to either push you one way, or pull you even further away from whichever side you are currently on. So let’s get into a full draft review.

Round 1, Pick 27: Tampa Bay Lightning select Nolan Foote, F, Kelowna Rockets

This is the pick that was cause for debate, as Foote was expected to go in the middle to late stages of the second round, and potentially even the third round. However, the Lightning reached for the brother of their top defensive prospect, Cal Foote, with this pick. I did a scouting report on Foote shortly after day 1 of the draft was completed, but I’ll give you a quick run down. He isn’t a very good skater, but outside of that, possesses a well-balanced, two-way skill-set. If he can hone in on his skating skills, I could easily see him as a second line winger in the future. But again, this was a reach at 27th overall, and there were better options (as it stands today) at that spot.

Draft Pick Grade: C+. Would be a B if he wasn’t such a big reach however.

Round 3, Pick 71: Tampa Bay Lightning select Hugo Alnefelt, G, HV71 J20

The Lightning acquired the 71st overall selection as a part of the JT Miller trade with the Vancouver Canucks at the draft. I also did a scouting report on Alnefelt a few days ago, and I was very impressed with his skills. In short, he is very fluid with his movements in all directions, and is very, very poised in net. He can make clutch saves when needed, and he tracks the puck with such precision, it’s like he’s a programmed machine made to stop a puck. He also has advanced rebound control for his age, and I genuinely believe he could cross over to the AHL as soon as next season to play for the Syracuse Crunch in a backup role. I’m very happy with this pick.

Draft Pick Grade: B+. Would be an A- but we have Andrei Vasilevskiy for the foreseeable future.

Round 3, Pick 89: Tampa Bay Lightning select Maxim Cajkovic, F, St John Sea Dogs

This is my favorite pick, hands down. I did a scouting report on him as well, but this is the last player I scouted, at least for the Lightning’s picks. He’s a Marchand type of player, who plays with an edge and a bit dirty too. He does have a good offensive touch and plays well in the defensive zone. In short, he’s a great pick, but needs to be more disciplined at the next level. I can see him as a middle 6 forward in the future.

Draft Pick Grade: A

Round 4, Pick 120: Tampa Bay Lightning select Maxwell Crozier, D, Sioux Falls

Crozier is an overager at 19 years old, but is coming off of a solid season with Sioux, posting 43 points in 60 games. 20 of those 43 points were primary (goal, primary assists), which is solid, especially for a defenseman. These are his statistics, according to prospect-stats.

As shown above, he ranks on the higher end of the scale in almost every stat, except for expected goals per 60 minutes (eG/60). He has good size, standing at 6’2, 190 pounds, and that’s a pattern you’ll see. Taller or heavier players were coming off the board when Tampa had to make their pick. I do like this selection from an analytical standpoint, but I had no film and can’t make a true assessment on him.

Draft Pick Grade: B-

Round 6, Pick 182: Tampa Bay Lightning select Quinn Schmeimann, D, Kamloops Blazers

Another tall, stocky defenseman, Schmeimann played in the Western Hockey League for Kamloops and did alright. At 17 years old, nearly 18, he scored 5 goals and assisted on 23 more for 28 total points, with 14 points being primary. Here’s more from prospect-shifts.

Again, Schmeimann does well analytically, outside of two metrics: eA1/60 (expected primary assists in 60 minutes) and eG/60 (expected goals in 60 minutes). I like the selection, but there was no film on him, and I cannot give him the good ol’ eye test. I will be keeping a close eye on his development into next season.

Draft Pick Grade: C+

Round 7, Pick 198: Tampa Bay Lightning select Mikhail Shalagin, F, Spartak Moskva

Shalagin is a tall kid, standing at 6’4, but is an unhealthy 168 pounds. However, despite his very lanky stature, he managed to dominate the MHL (second tier Russian league). The Russian hockey player is 19, turning 20 in September of this year, which makes him 2 years older than some of the other prospects in this draft. However, he scored 48 goals and 27 assists (75 points) in 45 games played. 45 games played is not a typo, he was just that good. Sure, there’s the Russia factor, and sure, he is an overager, but I still feel very happy with this selection. There’s no Prospect-Stats page for him, and also no film, but he looks like a very intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. Potential late bloomer, similar to that of Nikita Gusev.

Draft Pick Grade: B

Round 7, Pick 213: Tampa Bay Lightning select McKade Webster, F, Green Bay Gamblers

The Lightning’s final selection was an undersized left winger in Webster (5’10, 159 pounds), who posted 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points in 58 games played in the season prior. However, he only played 6 games this past season, with 2 assists. He is committed to the University of Denver next season, and if he can remain healthy and produce at a good level in college, than this could be another solid selection.

Webster didn’t place too well in the games he did wind up playing last season. Currently, it was just a casual 7th round selection, nothing very special and likely won’t play an NHL game. However, that could all change with a good NCAA season or two.

Draft Pick Grade: C

In Conclusion

The Lightning drafted well, in my opinion. Nolan Foote may have been a reach, but he’s still a good prospect. Maxim Cajkovic and Hugo Alnefelt were fantastic third round selections. Outside of the first three picks, they took fliers on some potentially solid bottom 6 forwards. All in all, I’d give their draft a B- grade. It wasn’t anything great, but it wasn’t awful either. Only time will tell which way this draft leans towards more: Good or Bad.

All stats via Prospect-Stats and eliteprospects

Tampa Bay Lightning: Evaluating Mathieu Joseph

Part 16 of my Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluation is here, and after evaluating back to back defensemen, it’s time to go back to the forward core. This forward was a rookie last season, and had a pretty good year at that.

Embed from Getty Images

After being selected 120th Overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, he quickly made his way through the Tampa Bay Lightning’s prospect pipeline, and quickly earned a role on the NHL squad. That player is Matthieu Joseph.

The Basics

Joseph played in 70 games last season, and was able to produce 13 goals and 13 assists (26 points). That may not sound too good, but he did only average 11:22 time on ice, and only started 48.8% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Despite a higher defensive zone deployment, Joseph had solid possession numbers with a 51.4 Corsi-For%. He had a takeaway to giveaway ratio of 28 to 24, which is a +4 differential. Joseph also recorded a 101.2 PDO, which may not seem like much over the average of 100, but it’s still a pretty big difference in luck, and Joseph had a good amount of luck. With Joseph on the ice, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 34.9 and an expected goals against of 29.5, which is a +5.4 differential.

Advanced Analytics

On the surface, I’m really liking a lot of what Joseph brings to the table. He managed to get nearly 30 points in a fourth line type of role, while being deployed more defensively than offensively. He had solid possession numbers and had a fantastic takeaway to giveaway ratio. He also pushed the pace of offense a bit, having an expected goals for of nearly 35 and keeping the expected goals against down below 30 shows his responsibility on the back end. If we look at a spider graph visual, we will better understand the areas in which Joseph truly excels at.

Joseph (blue) has consistent numbers across every metric. He doesn’t have one glaring weakness, not anywhere. He contributes a decent amount through his shooting (ShotContr60, ShotAssists60), but could look to shoot a little more in the future, as he shoots the least among the 3 forwards shown (Shots60). Where he is outstanding, and completely ahead of the other two forwards shown in the graph is his effectiveness at entering the offensive zone. He also manages to break out a decent amount, as he ranks first in the metric that calculates defensive zone exits over a 60 minute span (PossExit60), but then ranks last in a metric that calculates the amount of defensive zone exits out of the total number of defensive zone exit attempts (PossExit%). Since exiting the zone is a shady area of the graph, we’ll head over to CJ Turtoro’s Exits per 60 minute visual and get a better look at his breakout attempts.

Joseph ranks 10th on the team when it comes to exiting the defensive zone. The one knock on him is his small workload when it comes to breaking out, as he has a smaller workload than every player ahead of him except for Brayden Point. He passes it up and out to a teammate a little less often than he skates it out himself, but the controlled breakouts (passing out, skating out) exceeds the uncontrolled breakouts, which is him dumping or clearing the puck out. The one problem I have, is his amount of failures. While it may not seem bad, look at other players with a similarly light workload, and he has the most failures among them. He must work on fine tuning his breakout for next season. Where he really excelled, however, was his effectiveness when entering the offensive zone, according to the spider graph. Using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minute visual, we can see just how effective he was, and why.

Joseph ranked 3rd on the team in entering the offensive zone, ranking higher than Steven Stamkos. He loved taking matters into his own hands when entering the offensive end, as he preferred carrying the puck in himself over passing it up to a teammate to do the dirty work. He skated it in himself just about as much as he dumped it in deep, which is why it reflects so positively on the spider graph. But what’s even better is the fact that he had a very heavy workload despite a small amount of minutes, and still had less fails than 7 of the 9 other players in the top 10. He is fantastic and very effective when on the rush, and gaining entry in the offensive end.

In Conclusion

Mathieu Joseph has come a long way, and fast, from being a fourth round pick. Once he made it to the NHL level, he took advantage of every second he had there. Now, next season, with Erne potentially out the door, JT Miller traded away and potentially Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn or Tyler Johnson out next, there are doors being opened for Joseph. Next season will be a gigantic year for him to prove just how good he can be. I could see him slotting into the JT Miller role, where he rotates up and down the top 3 lines, playing on Steven Stamkos’ line, Brayden Point’s line and Anthony Cirelli’s line. My prediction is a 45-50 point campaign for the former 120th overall draft pick.

All stats via,
Spider graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered by CJ Turtoro

Featured Image Credit: Dinur Blum