Grading nearly any one of the New York Islanders defensemen this season poses a challenge but let’s take a look at the performance of pending free agent Thomas Hickey.
Having been paired with several different players throughout the season and being regularly and undeservedly scratched, it was difficult for Thomas Hickey to find a steady role on the 2017-2018 New York Islanders. However, in his final year under contract, defenseman’s game didn’t stray much from his typical performance.
Reaching a new high in points at 25, Hickey was able to take advantage of his time spent with Ryan Pulock. He assisted on many of his iconic slapper goals towards the end of the season. He also not only scored for the first time against the New York Rangers but managed to do it three times throughout the year. While this shouldn’t affect his overall grade, it does give him brownie points from me.
Although he reached a new offensive high for the season, it is no secret that Hickey isn’t known for his point production. On a defensively barren team, number 14 was able to maintain a fairly average performance.
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Throughout the season, Hickey was able to keep strong +/- rating of 20, making him not only the most positively rated defensemen on the New York Islanders but of any skater overall. While +/- is a difficult statistic to back players with because of its inconsistency, such a firmly positive rating amongst a team with hardly any players breaking double digits and with such a high GAA, it can’t be anything but a good thing.
Hickey also had one of the highest even strength CF% amongst all active defensemen on the team at 47.7. While he played some of the least ice on the blue line, he ranks 8th on the overall team in TOI and 11th in CF%, still making this a positive statistic for the defensemen.
As a smaller player, Hickey had his fair share of battles lost. His net-front presence was often lacking and it was hard to always see why he was a main piece of Doug Weight’s penalty kill because of it. He would also often get burned while backchecking needing Ryan Pulock to bail him out on several occasions.
Overall, Thomas Hickey had an average season and on a team that struggled on defense, this should be considered more valuable. He didn’t give any particularly outstanding performances but maintaining positive possession numbers and going on a small offensive streak pushes Hickey to at least a B- rating, possibly leaning towards a B when factoring in the rest of the team’s defense (and of course, those goals against the Rangers).
In what is most likely his last season with the New York Islanders, Thomas Hickey proved to be the player he’s always been: a steady, third pair defenseman who plays a plain but honest game.