John Tavares’ departure from the New York Islanders will be felt offensively. But something we haven’t yet considered was his contributions defensively on the penalty kill.
When John Tavares left the New York Islanders we all immediately thought of the 84 points that had now left with him. Something we haven’t yet realized is just how good John Tavares was defensively for the Islanders.
Tavares’ offensive qualities are obvious. With 621 points in 669 NHL games, there’s a reason the Maple Leafs are giving him $15.9 million in salary this seasons.
But it’s Tavares’ defensive qualities, specifically on the penalty kill that went unnoticed. The New York Islanders are going to have to find a way to get that out of their current roster.
Penalty Kill Stats
(All stats in this article are taken from NaturalStatTrick.com unless otherwise linked.)
We all know that the New York Islanders had the worst penalty kill in the NHL last season. With a 73.2 percent efficiency, they did a terrible job on the man-advantage as a whole.
But a standout performer on that Islanders penalty kill was John Tavares. Across a number of categories, he lead his teammates and was clearly the best option for them.
Of the players that were on the ice for at least 100 minutes of penalty kill time, Tavares was one of the best at keeping possession. Only Thomas Hickey held a higher PK CF% (12.13 percent) than Tavares’ 11.27 percent.
An 11.27 CF% sounds low, but consider that the best PK in the league was the LA Kings with an 85 percent efficiency. Their best player at keeping possession was Jake Muzzin with 15.24 percent CF%.
Retaining possession of the puck is a vital element for a successful penalty kill. And Tavares was one of the best on the Islanders to do so. A second vital element for a successful penalty kill is limiting scoring chances.
The entire point of a power play is to give the other team a scoring chance to compensate for the infraction they had to endure. The role of the penalty kill is to limit those chances.
In terms of scoring chances against on the PK, Tavares held a team-low. For players who had 100 minutes or more of penalty kill time, Tavares was on the ice for 133 scoring chances against (SCA).
So great. Tavares was one of our better if not best penalty killers. Now what? Cause Tavares won’t be with the Islanders next season? Can anyone step in? What about the two new players that are supposed to be there for accountability and responsible defensive play?
Leo Komarov played 192:04 of PK time with the Leafs. But his CF% was 9.50 and his SCA was 171, or third lowest on the team for players who played 100 minutes or more.
Valtteri Filppula played 104:13 on the penalty kill for the Flyers. He held a PK CF% of 8.84 and an SCA of 104. He was also 40 percent on the draw during the PK to Tavares’ 49.3.
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Neither are likely to contribute what Tavares was able to contribute on the penalty kill. The Islanders might just have to look elsewhere in the lineup for some PK support. Or, hope that whatever structure Barry Trotz can conjure up will significantly alter the Islanders performance from last season.