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

Tampa Bay Lightning: JT Miller Heads To Vancouver

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded Center Iceman J.T. Miller to the Vancouver Canucks for a haul of picks and a prospect.

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a splash at Day 2 of the NHL Entry draft. With a Brayden Point contract looming, and the salary cap, at the time, an unknown, Julien BriseBois decided to make a move now to ensure that no matter what, he would have enough room to bring back Point. But the guy who found himself packing was a favorite of mine, and he goes by the name JT Miller.

What Was The Deal?

The Vancouver Canucks were the team that got JT Miller, and what they had to cough up was quite the return for Tampa. The Lightning got a conditional 2020 1st round pick, a 2019 3rd round pick (Hugo Alnefelt) and goaltender Marek Mazanec. The condition for the first is this: If the Canucks don’t make the playoffs, the first is in 2021. If they make the playoffs next season, then it’s a 2020 1st. The Lightning would then find themselves with 2 first round picks in either 2020 or 2021, and if the Canucks miss the playoffs in 2020 and 2021, they have a solid lottery pick in two years. To get that value alone is a very good return for JT Miller, who was often rotating through the Lightning top 9. But to also get a 3rd rounder in a deep draft? Now that’s a steal.  I’m sorry, I really like JT Miller, but the Lightning got more than enough from Vancouver. Marek Mazanec ultimately becomes their AHL starter for the Syracuse Crunch, as the Lightning lost Connor Ingram in a trade with Nashville and Eddie Pasquale went to Russia to play in the KHL. That ultimately leaves their AHL goaltending empty, until now.

Salary Cap Room For Point Now?

Miller carried a $5.25M cap hit that would go on for the next 4 seasons. With that contract off the books, the Lightning went from $5,376,669 in free space to $10,626,669. That should absolutely cover Point’s next deal, in full.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Braydon Coburn Stays Put

Per Joe Smith of The Athletic Tampa, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Braydon Coburn agreed to a two-year, 3.4m extension.

Deep Dive On Coburn

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The 34 year-old defenseman recorded four goals, and nineteen assists in seventy-four games last season, while maintaining a corsi-for percentage of 52.6 and a fenwick-for percentage of 52.2.

The former Thrasher has been in the league for fourteen years. He’s been quite the work horse, playing in at least seventy-two games a season for ten of his fourteen seasons in the NHL. During all those years in the NHL, Coburn has not only maintained a positive plus/minus, but is a career plus 44. 

Not only is that impressive in my opinion, but he’s done that while playing in nine hundred and twenty-four career NHL game. While plus/minus is a team statistic, I believe it tells more than whether or not a team has good defense. Each member of the defense has an important part to play, and an elite defender, or goaltender can only do so much to hide a lack of defensive production by an individual. Being a guy with such a high plus/minus, that shows just how good he is personally. In addition, his advanced possession metrics (fenwick-for and corsi-for) have been pretty impressive as well. 

With his consistent defensive production, his ability to stay relatively healthy, and his ability to add some depth scoring, it makes that 1.7 million cap hit beyond reasonable. Tampa Bay did a really good job keeping a quality veteran on the roster, without overpaying for the talent. This is a good contract.

What’s Next?

Now with Coburn on the books for the next two seasons, general manager Julien BriseBois now has to turn his focus to the other remaining pending free agents including Brayden Point, Anton Stralman and Cedric Paquette. The only issue is that Tampa has roughly 6 million in cap space. So, you can likely expect BriseBois to make a few moves in the coming days to free up space.

stats from hockey-reference.com

cap research from CapFriendly.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Awful Trades and A Slow Off-Season

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois has not impressed anyone yet. Since taking over a star-studded team built by former GM Steve Yzerman, BriseBois decided not to add at the trade deadline.

 

His team, regardless of that, had an historic season. Or should I say, Yzerman’s team did, because BriseBois only added Jan Rutta, who played 14 games in blue and white. He also called up Cameron Gaunce, who stepped in for two games.

Then, with forward Brayden Point waiting for a contract as a Restricted Free Agent, BriseBois tests everyone’s patience by first extending Rutta, and then trading a bright, young, and talented goaltending prospect in Connor Ingram for a bucket of pucks. I mean a seventh round pick, in a draft three years from now, ultimately has the same value as a bucket of pucks. But at least you can get the pucks immediately and not wait three years for them. You’re welcome Nashville.

 

Why Is The Ingram Trade Bad?

First off, Ingram is a prospect, and the best in the Lightning system for his position. That alone should be reason enough for him to warrant a hell of a lot more than a seventh round pick in 2021. But there’s a lot more than meets the eye, so a deeper dive should do the trick.

 

Who Is Connor Ingram?

Ingram is a 22 year old goalie, who was drafted in the third round (88th overall) in 2016, where he was ranked as a top-10 goalie (and the eighth off the board).

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After being drafted, he returned to the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League, where he had played for the previous two seasons. In 45 games, he posted a 2.44 goals against average (GAA) and a .927 save percentage (SV%). Then, in six postseason games, he was magnificent, with a 2.18 GAA and .946 SV%.

The following season, he began with the Lightning’s ECHL affiliate at the time, the Adirondack Thunder, where he quickly proved he was too good to be there. With a 1.30 GAA and .960 SV% in three games, he was called up to the Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. There, he stepped into a big role, starting 35 games and posting a 2.33 GAA and .914 SV%.

Ingram started this season once again with Syracuse. But then, out of the blue, his playing time was rolled back. Despite being in the AHL all-star game this past season for his stellar season with the Crunch, he was sent to the new ECHL affiliate, the Orlando Solar Bears, after 22 games.

In those said 22 games, Ingram had a solid 2.26 GAA and .922 SV%. He was beginning to show why he was worthy of being a third-round selection (about where top goalies tend to get selected). That’s when things fell apart. According to personal sources, there was a dispute between Ingram and Lightning management, though it is unclear what exactly the disputes were about at this time. He did not play well in the 13 regular season ECHL games that followed (2.81 GAA, .914 SV%), but did play up to expectations in the playoffs (10 games, 1.94 GAA, .935 SV%), before ultimately falling short and getting knocked out of the playoffs.

 

In Conclusion

His frustrations were clear in his struggles at a low-level of hockey, and he reportedly requested a trade when he initially was sent down to the ECHL.

Just like with the Jonathan Drouin situation however, Ingram went back to his true on-ice self in the playoffs, and the problems seemingly, were no longer problems anymore. But at least the Lightning were able to snag Mikhail Sergachev for Drouin. Granted, Drouin had a lot more value than Ingram does, but the Lightning could have easily gotten more. At least get a third round pick back for him, or even a B-level prospect. But instead, in essence, a bucket of pucks that will get delivered in 2021.

 

All stats via Elite Prospects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

Puck77

National Hockey League: Who Will Take Home The Hart Trophy?

The NHL Awards Show is coming up, and the finalists have already been announced. There are favorites and there are snubs, and fans have been vocal about who should win, and who deserves a nomination.

 

The Hart trophy is no different, and there have been varying cases for all three finalists. The Hart Trophy, for those who don’t know, is awarded to the player who is judged to be the most valuable to his team. Here are the finalists, and why they should, or could, win.

 

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Why He Should Win: Kucherov finished the season with 128 points, which, for this era, is unbelievable. He showed dominance in the league that had not been seen since the Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux era in Pittsburgh. He has already claimed the Art Ross trophy for most points in the entire league. A guy so dominant deserves this trophy certainly, but are point totals really enough?

Why He Should Not Win: Kucherov has every reason to win, but let’s look at what awards the players this trophy. “The player judged to be the most valuable to his team.” His own team. This is not league MVP, which Kucherov would claim, hands down.

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Was Kucherov really that vital to his teams performance? Well, yes, but if you take him out, the Lightning will still be a playoff team. They have Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s also not a captain, nor an assistant captain, so you can’t turn to leadership qualities for help. Yes, he led his team in points by a wide margin, and yes, he had a historical season in every sense. But no, Tampa would not blow up if he were not there.

 

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Why He Should Win: Sidney Crosby is the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Phil Kessel was swirling in trade rumors and Evgeni Malkin struggled, Sidney Crosby remained Sidney Crosby. He led the Penguins in points with 100, 18 more than second place Kessel. He led the team in assists with 65, 10 more than second place Kessel. He finished second on the team in goals with 35, behind linemate Jake Guentzel (40) and ahead of third place Kessel (27). He was tied with Kessel for power play goals (12) and had the most time on ice among forwards, averaging 20:59. He is the heart and soul of the Penguins, and their captain.

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Why He Shouldn’t Win: The Penguins had a down year in terms of where they finished as a team, as well as some individually underwhelming production. Crosby did not, as he held strong to his name. However, he’s just like Kucherov in a sense that the Penguins may not be awful if he were to leave them. Crosby is a huge figure in the locker room, but the Penguins still have so much star power with Malkin, Guentzel, Kris Letang, Kessel, Justin Schultz, and Matt Murray. They would still be a far different team, but I still believe they’re good enough to make the playoffs.

 

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

Why He Should Win: As the captain of the Oilers, he went on to do McDavid things. He finished second in the league in points with 116, just 12 points behind the otherworldly production of Kucherov. He finished with 41 goals, which is tied with Kucherov for sixth in the league. He also notched 75 assists, second to only Kucherov (87) around the entire league. Edmonton is not a good team, and if you take McDavid off the roster, they’d be worse than the Ottawa Senators. What McDavid does for this team, no one can top it.

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Why He Shouldn’t Win It: While Kucherov was able to lead the Lightning towards a President’s Trophy, and Crosby was able to snag a playoff spot with the Penguins, McDavid was left golfing. He wasn’t good enough to get his team to the playoffs, despite being one of the best players in the league.

 

Deeper Dive

One way to decide whether or not a player was more lucky than successful is by looking at a stat that ultimately quantifies a players luck.

Higher than a 100 PDO means that person was lucky, and likely won’t repeat their season at that clip. Under 100 PDO is unlucky, and likely means that player could have done better. 100 PDO is average, not lucky or unlucky.

Kucherov finished the season with a 102.7, Crosby finished with a 101.9, and McDavid finished with a 100.7. That being said, Kucherov’s historic season was spectacular, but required a lot of luck, and he likely will never reach that total again in his career.

Crosby did not have as spectacular of a year, posting the lowest goal, assist, and point totals among the finalists, but still required some luck to reach triple digits, and if the Penguins struggles continue into next season, Crosby may not reach the 100-point plateau.

Meanwhile, McDavid was just a little over average, not requiring much luck to reach an incredible 116 points, and has a good chance of consistently hitting those marks despite being on a relatively weak roster.

 

In Conclusion

McDavid deserves this trophy through and through, because he produced at a very high rate, and didn’t need a lot of bounces to go his way to reach his mark, showing that he can consistently reach that same production season by season. He’s also the only guy you can look at and say “Without him, his team would really struggle.” He’s also the captain, and the captain of any team is extremely important as is. So while he didn’t produce like Kucherov did, he has the “C” on his sweater, and not as much luck on the ice.

 

Stats via NHL.com

PDO via Hockey-reference

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals