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.

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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 Hockey-reference.com, NHL.com
Spider graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered by CJ Turtoro

Featured Image Credit: Dinur Blum

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

Tampa Bay Lightning

Who Is The Most Underrated On The Tampa Bay Lightning?

It’s time to evaluate another Tampa Bay Lightning player. This time around, I take an in-depth look at J.T. Miller.

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Miller has played in multiple roles at even strength. He’s played with Steven Stamkos on the first line, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point on the second line, and with Anthony Cirelli on the third line.

In my opinion, Miller is the most underrated player on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Cedric Paquette is a close second.

The Basics

Miller played in 75 games last season, recording 13 goals (0.17 goals per game) and 34 assists (0.45 assists per game) for a total of 47 points (0.63 points per game) last season. Miller averaged 14:40 time on ice and he started 48.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Despite the high defensive deployment, Miller put up a very good 53.8 corsi-for percentage. He also proved his reliability with a takeaway to giveaway ratio of 42 to 38, which is a +5 differential. He also played physical and recorded 115 hits. Miller recorded a 100.5 PDO, which means he was not lucky or unlucky last season. With Miller on the ice, the Tampa Bay Lightning had an expected goals for of 40.1 and an expected goals against of 32.9, which is a +7.3 differential.

Advanced Analytics

Miller is smart with the puck (positive takeaway to giveaway ratio), and has great possession numbers despite being mainly a defensive forward. Yet, he’s not a top-of-the-line scorer and he plays limited minutes, but he’s still a crucial component of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In addition, Miller plays a physical, defense-first, safe and smart kind of hockey. But, will that reflect on the spider graphs?

visual created by Kyle Pereira, data from CJ Turtoro

Miller (red) was a major contributor with his shooting (ShotContr60, ShotAssists60), but takes a very low amount of shots (Shots60). I believe, upon seeing this, he could potentially be a 50+ point producer consistently if he shot the puck a little bit more. He is fantastic in transition, both entering the zone (PossEntry60, PossEntry%) and exiting the defensive zone (PossExits60, PossExit%).

But, is this graph truly accurate? Let’s lock down on what appears to be a fantastic transitional game, and look a bit deeper using CJ Turtoro’s Exit per 60 minute visual.

visual created by CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

Miller is the second ranked player on the Lightning roster, behind only Kucherov, when it comes to exiting the defensive zone. He does a great job passing the puck up to a teammate and out, as well as carrying the puck out himself. He dumps and clears the puck just as much as he skates it out himself, seemingly wanting to make sure the puck does, in fact, get out, rather than try and clear and fail. Miller does ice the puck a bit, which needs to be adjusted a little bit, but isn’t a problem. He does fail getting the puck out quite a bit, but his straight forward mentality when exiting the zone is fine, and he has plenty of success with it.

But, how about entering the offensive zone? Using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minutes visual, we can find out just how good he is.

visual created by CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

Miller was the 4th best player on the Tampa Bay Lightning when it came to entering the offensive zone successfully, and that top 4 separated itself from the rest of the team. He relied more on himself skating the puck into the zone, but ultimately preferred dumping the puck in deep, and chasing for it. As stated above, Miller is a no nonsense, keep-it-safe player, and the fact that he dumps it in more than anything else is unsurprising. He also failed a few times, but again, it isn’t that bad at all. You can’t expect perfection from a player. He plays it smart, and never forces plays, and it works at both ends of the ice.

In Conclusion

Miller is hands down the most underrated player on the Tampa Bay Lightning. He plays very smart hockey, with limited mistakes.

Miller plays physical when he needs to, and he can put up points. He is versatile as well. Miller can be featured at center. He’ll win face-offs and get the puck into the hands of his teammates. Miller has also proven to be really effective on the wing as well. He has the offensive skill set to play on the power play, and is a reliable penalty kill asset.

Miller is vital to the Lightning’s success, and I expect more of the same from him next season.

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

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Player Evaluation Part 10: Mikhail Sergachev

Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluation part 10! We made it, finally! But who will it be this time around? Staying on the back end for this one, we will look at another youngster, defenceman Mikhail Sergachev.

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Sergachev was traded from Montreal to Tampa Bay two off-seasons ago,  and has been a big part of the team since. How valuable was he to the record-setting totals from last season?

The Basics

Sergachev played in 75 games for the Lightning last season, recording six goals (0.08 goals per game), and 26 assists (0.35 assists per game) for 32 points (0.43 points per game). He averaged 17:55 time on-ice last season with 53.8% of his shifts starting in the offensive zone. That deployment in the offensive zone led to a Corsi For% of 53.7%. He had a takeaway to giveaway ratio of 18 to 50, which is a differential of -32, which is not necessarily good. He also recorded a very average PDO of 100.7, and when Sergachev was on the ice, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 56.2 and an expected goals against of 47.8 which is a differential of +8.4.

Advanced Analytics

Sergachev constantly tries driving the offense, but a lack of consistency is what caused him to lose ice time to rookie Erik Cernak, as well as losing a couple games as a healthy scratch in a defensive rotation involving Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi, and at one point, Cernak. His consistency must be solved, but did his offensive numbers, and constant pushing of offense in the transitional game, make up for his struggle with turning over the puck? Let’s look at the spider graphs.

Sergachev was right up at the top of the rankings when it came to his shooting, whether he was contributing goals or chances (ShotContr60), gathering assists (ShotAssists60), or just taking a high volume of shots (Shots60). He also stood out, almost hand in hand with Victor Hedman, when it came to entering the offensive zone (PossEntry60, PossEntry%).

He also sparkled exiting the defensive zone, compared to his teammates (PossExit60, PossExit%). While he doesn’t break up passes and generate takeaways while the opposition is entering the zone (Breakups60), he doesn’t allow a lot of entries (PossEntryAllw60).

But when the opposition is breaking into the Lightning d-zone, chances are they’ll get past Sergachev (PossEntry%). Based solely on what I have seen from this graph (and basic statistics), his high deployment in the offensive zone leads to him not dealing with much in the defensive zone, thus why he doesn’t give up a lot of entries, but does give up more entries than he stops. That being said, I also predict that he has a small workload breaking out of the defensive end, but to determine that, we must look at CJ Turtoro’s Exit Per 60 minute visual.

Despite my best guesses, I was wrong, wholly and completely.

Sergachev has a similar workload breaking out of the defensive zone as Hedman, which is why he ranks third on the roster in this metric (1st among defense). He relies heavily on a breakout pass, as he doesn’t skate it out himself too much. He mainly decides to clear or dump the puck out of the zone more than anything, and does get the occasional icing called against him.

But what really concerns me is the high level of fails (Fail/60). That tells me he either forces way too much up ice (since he does push heavily to drive the offense), or he doesn’t successfully clear or dump the puck out of the zone.

I don’t know which is worse quite honestly, but what I can say is he needs to stop whatever it is. He’s still young, and as he grows as a player and gains more confidence in himself (as well as more hockey maturity), he’ll be able to read the play more effectively, and turn the puck over less. Hopefully, at least.  On the contrary, his entry metrics were solid, so let’s see what he did right entering the offensive zone, using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minutes visual.

Sergachev is the best defenseman that played for the Lightning this season, in this metric, and it wasn’t even close.

He passed it to a teammate for an entry or individually skated the puck out himself with equal results, and if neither option was available, he simply dumped it in deep. He didn’t fail nearly as often when entering the offensive zone, but he is a defenseman, and defensemen should not always be the ones entering the offensive zone.

But his success driving the offense makes up for other struggles. Based on prior evaluations, Sergachev should be constantly deployed alongside Hedman, as Hedman can make up for Sergachev’s mistakes. They can both help Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point put the puck in the back of the net.

But we are not done here, we have one last thing to look at. Defensemen need to be good at defending, that’s kind of the point, and to see how well Sergachev played in the defensive zone, let’s hop on over to Sean Tierney’s controlling the blue line visual.

Sergachev is highlighted on the graph, and boy, it does not like good for Sergy.

He generates an egregiously low amount of breakups, and a below average breakout % (Previously referred to as PossExit60 or PossExit%), which puts him in the “Bad” section of the visual. This is why he has his setbacks in ice time, and this is why he was placed in that rotation with Girardi and Coburn. This must improve, regardless of how well he pushes the pace offensively. If he doesn’t get his defensive game figured out next season, he could be looking at another season on the bottom d-pair with second line power play time.

In Conclusion

Sergachev is an exceptional pace-pusher, and does a great job generating offense, and excelling in getting the puck into the offensive zone to begin with. But he turns the puck over far too often when breaking the puck out of the defensive zone, the zone that he can’t afford turnovers in.

Then to top it all off, he struggles “controlling the blueline”, which is his job. He has a lot of improving to do, and he must act fast. But he is still young, and super valuable in terms of offensive production, which is the main reason among many that the Lightning fared so well this past season.

All Stats via hockey-reference

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

Entry/Exit Charts via CJ Turtoro

Defensive zone chart via Sean Tierney

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