With the season over, it's time to take a look back and examine each player's individual performance. We'll briefly break it down, and then offer a letter grade for the year. It's report cards, Nashville Predators-style, from Blum to Wilson. Next up: Matt Halischuk.
#27 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators
June 01, 1988
The Skinny: Considered a footnote in the Jason-Arnott-to-New-Jersey trade that was as much about clearing salary and making Shea Weber the captain as acquiring another player, Matt Halischuk ended up making a name for himself in his first season in Nashville. A confluence of injuries in Nashville and Halischuk's 23-point performance in Milwaukee lead to his being called up, alongside teammate Blake Geoffrion. Halischuk played on the fourth-line for the rest of the season, impressing Barry Trotz and his staff enough to keep his job when Steve Sullivan came back for the playoffs. Halischuk rewarded the coaches' faith by scoring arguably the biggest goal in franchise history
The Performance: While Halischuk and Geoffrion earned the call together, their roles on the Predators developed in starkly disparate ways. Trotz gave Geoffrion probably the softest minutes of any Predator ever, playing against competition (-1.223 Corsi) that was orders of magnitude weaker than anyone else's on the team. By contrast, Halischuk played the fifth toughest minutes of the Nashville forwards, by the same metric (1.102 Corsi).
And while Halischuk had a tough row, how well he hoed it is not as clear. Ostensibly, Halischuk was a great fourth-line player, with 12 points in 27 games and a +5 rating. His boxscore stats, however, are pretty clearly a fluke. The Predators were outshot worse with Halischuk on the ice, than any other player on the team. Also when he was on the ice, Nashville had its highest shooting percentage (12.4) and its fourth-highest save percentage (.938). While it would be nice to suppose Halischuk made his teammates and goalie that much better, the preponderance of statistical evidence shows that individual players affect shot totals, with limited-to-no ability to boost shooting or save percentage. He got all the bounces.
The Grade: Mr. and Mrs. Halischuk, I just want to compliment you on what an exemplary young man Matt is. He has demonstrated a maturity beyond his years, always doing his work, never complaining, and never acting up in class. I can personally attest to the improvements Matt made through hard work. Despite his success on the final exam, however, I can't ignore his early struggles. Matt simply lacked the mathematical accumen to do multi-variable calculus as a sixth grader. As such, I suggest he repeat the grade. I have no doubt that, with his work ethic, he will eventually reach all of his goals.
A for effort. D+ for performance.