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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Featured Image Credit: Dinur Blum