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: 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

Embed from Getty Images

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: Projected Free Agent Contracts

How much could the Tampa Bay Lightning Free Agents fetch this summer? 

Guys, calm down, this is (maybe, but probably not) the last Lightning off-season deep dive. But this one is probably better, to be perfectly honest, because it isn’t just an opinionated blurb from me, an 18 year old kid with no degree in anything. That’s right, I’m contacting real experts!

What Is It This Time?

Evolving Wild has put together contract projections, and Sean Tierney gathered their data to make a visual, in which I gathered to inform you readers. What you guys do with this information is completely up to you, but let’s keep the chain going. Anyways, back to the meat of the article. The Lightning have $8,576,669 in cap space. Here’s the projections.

I personally highlighted Brayden Point, who is projected to take a 5 year deal worth an average of $8,244,551, which is a $42,212,755 contract over 5 years. With that deal, the Lightning are left with precisely $332,118. That takes everyone out of the equation, but we can go into the negatives. Anton Stralman is all but officially gone at this point, that’s just the universal truth, so I will go with the next player, and that’s Braydon Coburn. I love Coburn’s game, and would love to see him back, but at what cost?

According to the visual, Coburn will receive a 2 year deal worth an average of $2,122,458, which is a grand total of $4,244,916 over the 2 years. I believe it is well worth it to keep him around, and with that contract on the books, the Lightning will have a cap space of -$1,790,340. That looks a lot like for my bank account. But on to the next paycheck! Cedric Paquette is the picture you see in the dictionary when you look for the words “fourth line center”. He is the picture perfect player in that role, and I want the Lightning to bring him back before a Coburn deal is made (if ever).

Paquette is looking at a 2 year deal worth an average of $1,463,096, which is a total of $2,926,192 when the contract is all set and done. With that deal, it knocks down the Lightning cap hit to a grand total of… drum roll please…. -$3,253,436. Beyond that, Adam Erne, Dan Girardi, Cameron Gaunce and Danick Martel can walk. If they buy out Ryan Callahan, they save $3,133,333, which gives them -$120,103. That is much better looking, but still not enough. Consider call-ups, like Alex Barre-Boulet, who has a cap hit of $759,258 on his entry level contract. That, ultimately, gives the Lightning a much more daunting debt of -$879,361. Trade Tyler Johnson, who has a cap hit of $5,000,000, or trade Alex Killorn , who has a cap hit of $4,450,000, or trade Ondrej Palat, who has a cap hit of $5,300,000. That’s a lot of numbers, but what they ultimately mean is one of them must go, or even two of them. Lots of people lean more towards trading Killorn, but in reality, he may not be enough being traded by himself. Reason being, you are going to get another player in return for that Killorn deal, and what cap hit will that player have? If he’s not playing at the NHL level, then do you re-sign Martel or Erne? Do you go outside the organization and sign someone there, and at what cost? With all those moves, you still only have 5 defenseman on the main roster. Calling u Callan Foote is affordable, but are you even sure he’s ready for a full-time spot on the roster? So maybe Foote isn’t that option, so do you trade for a defenseman, and at what cost?

In Conclusion

Julien BriseBois has quite the doozy of an off-season ahead of him, and while he does get the most important player of the bunch back, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions and open spots that need to be filled. The best plan would be to qualify Point’s Restricted Free Agency, allowing him to hit restricted free agency, temporarily. Stay tight in contract talks to ensure he sticks around. Re-sign Paquette and Coburn comfortably and re-evaluate a contract for Point. Move the necessary player’s to free space for not only Point, but for Barre-Boulet and any other depth forwards or defensemen they want to acquire. It won’t be easy, but if the cards are played right, this could be a masterful job by BriseBois at the end of the day.

Salary Info via Capfriendly

Projected salary visual via Sean Tierney, gathered from Evolving Wild

Featured Image Credit: Justin  Miner

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Player Evaluation Part 8: Cedric Paquette

Part 8 of my Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluations is finally here.

We touched on Yanni Gourde and Anthony Cirelli on the last two parts, and their both young and haven’t been with the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL squad for a very long time. I decided to go with a veteran player that has been as reliable as a player can get for several years with the Lightning in Cedric Paquette.

The Basics

Paquette played 80 games for the Lightning last season, putting up 13 goals (0.16 goals per game) and 4 assists (0.05 assists per game) for a total of 17 points (0.21 points per game). Paquette averaged 12:00 time on ice last season, with only 38.1% of his shifts starting in the offensive zone. Due to his high defensive zone deployment (61.9%), he recorded a relatively low Corsi For% of 45.7. Paquette had a takeaway to giveaway ratio of 21 to 12, which is a +9 differential, which is really good. He recorded a 101.8 PDO, which tells me he had a bit of luck on his side, which has been the case for every single player so far in my evaluations. With Paquette on the ice, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 29.3 and an expected goals against of 31.3, which is a -2 differential. But, when you’re primarily used as a defensive forward/on the penalty kill, you can’t expect to have better offensive statistics.

Advanced Analytics

Paquette is smart with the puck, as we know, based on his +9 takeaway/giveaway differential, but he doesn’t push any sort of offense. He had a very low point total, due to penalty killing and a high deployment rate in the defensive zone. But is there an area in Paquette’s game where he stands out compared to previous players I’ve looked at? My spider graph will show just that.

Paquette shoots at just about the same rate as Gourde, but other than that, he isn’t a stand-out player. It’s quite shocking to me that his best stat is shooting in this case, because based on many of his stats, he doesn’t seem to get the opportunities to shoot often. Using CJ Turtoro’s Exits per 60 minutes visual, we can see what’s been going wrong for Paquette when breaking out of the defensive end.

Ranking 17th on the team, Paquette has a light workout when breaking out of the defensive end. He generally isn’t the guy who’s looking to get the puck out, but when he is, he skates it out himself or passes it to a teammate an equal amount. He also tends to just clear or dump the puck out of the zone, and occasionally ices the puck. However, he does not fail very often, which is a very good sign. Paquette is often killing penalties, so it is good knowing that, although he doesn’t break the puck out often, he doesn’t screw up often, and can get the job done.  

The rankings are a little all over the place, but Paquette ranks 14th on the Lightning roster when entering the offensive zone. Like with breaking out defensively, Paquette doesn’t show any tendencies of skating in himself more often than passing to a teammate, or vice versa, as it’s relatively even yet again. What he does do, is he dumps it in deep very often, which, as a fourth line center, is good to see. Just get the puck in deep, keep the opposition away from our net, no need to force a pass, or push your way into the offensive zone and risk a turnover. Smart hockey. He also fails very little, though his fails per 60 minutes (fails/60) is a little bit more than surrounding players, but that is due to, in part, his much higher workload to those same surrounding players. .

In Conclusion

Paquette plays a very clean. smart, and low-risk form of hockey. He simply does his job, as a defensive minded forward, of turning the puck over very little, and not forcing plays if it isn’t there. He doesn’t drive the offense much, but that’s perfectly fine; his 17 points in a fourth line, penalty killing role is more than enough for me. He embodies what most fourth liners should do, and that’s play a low-risk, low-reward game, keeping everything simple. Paquette is an upcoming free agent, and the Lightning should send a contract his way, as not many players can fill his shoes in that role.

All Stats via hockey-reference

The Spider Charts used Data from CJ Turtoro, created by Kyle Pereira

Entry/Exit Charts via CJ Turtoro

Featured Image Credit: Justin Miner

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Player Evaluation Part 6: Anthony Cirelli

I’ve decided to go back to the Tampa Bay Lightning forward group and I’ve chosen to look at Anthony Cirelli.

Part 6 goes out to my friend Mark, he requested that I take a look at Cirelli.

The Lightning’s third line center has been solid and reliable, producing decently offensively. He’s also young, with decent upside to potentially be a top 6 forward. But is he as reliable as he seems? Let’s dive in and find out.

The Basics

Cirelli played all 82 games last season, marking the first full season of his career. He put up 19 goals (0.23 goals per game), and 20 assists (0.24 assists per game) for a grand total of 39 points (0.48 points per game). Cirelli, nicknamed Rocko, averaged 14:51 time on ice, starting his shifts in the offensive zone only 41.3% of that time. Based on his high defensive deployment, his Corsi-for% (CF%) should take a bit of a hit. However, that is not the case, as he registered a solid 53.7 CF% last season. Cirelli put up an unreal takeaway to giveaway ratio of 46 to 15, which is a +31 differential. Cirelli registered a 102.5 PDO, which means he got quite a few lucky bounces, which seemingly is a reoccurring factor with the Lightning. With Cirelli on the ice, the Lightning registered an expected goals for of 47.9 and an expected goals against of 36.2, which is a +11.7 differential.

Advanced Analytics

Cirelli may not have been the most productive, but in a third line role, did very well. As for his possession statistics, he had a very good CF% and an incredible takeaway to giveaway differential. What this tells me is he is a good transitional player, which should be reflected by my spider graphs, so will those back my statements up?

Cirelli (compared to Yanni Gourde and Cedric Paquette) does not look very good. But behind the numbers, there is an explanation. Cirelli isn’t very offensively oriented, as I’ve already pointed out, so his offensive stats that are crushed by Gourde gets a pass. As for his Exits per 60 minutes, he deserves a pass. Playing on the penalty kill and very little 5v5, he won’t exactly shine exiting the defensive zone. When it comes to entering the offensive zone, he is on par with Gourde, and far ahead of Paquette. But, to go back to the breakouts, his stats are hindered by the penalty killing he does, and CJ Turtoro’s Exit per 60 minute visual will show exactly that if my statement is correct.

Cirelli ranks 8th on the team among forwards, which is the bottom half of the team. However, he does a lot of things right. He tends to carry it out himself, not passing it out to a teammate very often. When a lane to skate isn’t there, he seemingly just clears the puck, and very rarely ices it. He doesn’t fail often, relative to Steven Stamkos, which is a good thing. What this tells me, is that he doesn’t often break the puck out of the defensive zone often, but when he does, he makes very little mistake with it. As displayed by his takeaway to giveaway ratio, he is smart with the puck and doesn’t try to extend a play if it isn’t there. How about when he enters the zone though? Is he as good as the spider graph displays? By looking at CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minute visual, we can find out.

Cirelli ranks 10th on the team when it comes to entering the offensive zone. Like when exiting, he opts to carry it in, rather than pass it to a teammate, which is fine. And, again, like breaking out, if a lane to skate isn’t there, he dumps it in deep and chases. Cirelli plays very smart hockey. But when entering the attacking zone, he does fail a little bit more than some of the guys around him, which tells me the brunt of his turnovers come when entering the offensive zone. But all-in-all, he is a solid transitional player.

In Conclusion

I knew before I began writing this that Anthony Cirelli would stand out the most outside of the offensive zone, as he was one of the puzzle pieces that would be a league-best penalty kill. But upon doing the research I learned even more. He is a low-risk, high-reward player. He doesn’t force passes, and likes to keep the puck on his own stick. When he doesn’t have the option to skate it out of the defensive end or into the offensive end, he simply dumps it out, or in, depending on the situation. He clearly found success, as he nearly hit the 20-goal, and 40-point marks on the season. Plus, he is still young, and can be even better next season for the Bolts.

All Stats via hockey-reference

The Spider Charts used Data from CJ Turtoro, created by Kyle Pereira

Entry/Exit Charts via CJ Turtoro

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals