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

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: Alex Biega Deserves More Ice-Time

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega has been a consistent seventh defenseman for most of his NHL career.  Throughout his time with the Canucks, he has been rather effective even though he doesn’t play quite often.

He is truly a defensive defenseman who should probably get more ice time. He has been crazy loyal to Vancouver as he as been in the organization since 2013. Before joining the Canucks, he was part of the Buffalo Sabres organization, but he never played a single game in Buffalo. While he was in the Sabres organization, he mostly played for their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans.

On July 5, 2013, he signed a contract with the Canucks.

Offense

As stated earlier, Biega is a defensive defenseman, so you won’t see him making too many flashy plays in the offensive zone. But, Biega did have post a solid offensive season last year as he tallied 2 goals and 14 assists in 41 games played. It’s an improvement over last season. In his 2017-2018 campaign, he played in 44 games and posted 1 goal and 9 assists.

I also want to share that Biega played in less games than Jay Beagle, Adam Gaudette, Derrick Pouliot, Chris Tanev, Tim Schaller and Erik Gudbranson, but still managed to out score them. 

Defense

Embed from Getty Images

Biega’s defensive skill-set is underrated. His defense alone should get him a spot on the bottom defensive pairing, but Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green preferred to use Luke Schenn and former Canucks defenseman (now on the Pittsburgh Penguins) Erik Gudbranson more often.

If it were up to me, I would have deployed Biega more often than Schenn and Gudbranson. In the visuals below from CJ Turtoro, you’ll see a comparison between Biega and Schenn, as well as a comparison between Biega and Gudbranson.

visual from CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

Across the board, Biega’s entry defense, exit defense, possession entries and shot contributions are far better than Schenn and Gudbranson. But, the best parts about Biega’s defensive game is his entry defense and possession entries. It’s evident from CJ Turtoro’s visuals, Biega has been dependable when he’s been in the roster but it doesn’t get appreciated by the coaching staff.

Lack of games 

While Biega’s offense obviously holds him back, his defense has been stellar and he does deserve more playing time. The 2017-2018 season was the first season of Biega’s pro career that he spent the entire season in the NHL. As mentioned above, he played in 44 games during his 2017-18 season, and saw slightly less playing time this season. But, he has proven that when he’s in the lineup that he’s effective. Perhaps with Schenn hitting the free agent market on July 1st, the Canucks won’t pursue re-signing Schenn and will look to put Biega in the bottom six pairing permanently.

Overall

3.5 out of 5

I don’t think there’s anything else you could ask from such an amazing 7th defenseman and hopefully he’ll get a full-time spot in the lineup next season.

stats from hockey-reference and Corey Sznajder

visual from CJ Turtoro

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals