2010-11 Nashville Predators Report Card: David Legwand

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 24: David Legwand #11 of the Nashville Predators celebrates after scoring an open net goal against the Anaheim Ducks in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 24, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

With the season now 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: David Legwand.

Today's report card features another special guest writer, avowed Legwand fan Amanda DiPaolo of Predlines. A genuine maple syrup-chugging Canadian, Amanda's mild-mannered alter ego holds a PHD in political science at teaches at MTSU. By night, however, she's a regular presence on Bloggers Row at Bridgestone Arena. Her review of Legwand's season follows...


David Legwand

#11 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-2

204

Aug 17, 1980

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG ENG SOG PCT

Regular Season

Playoff

64

12

17

7

24

6

41

13

+13

+4

24

8

0

1

2

2

3

0

4

1

130

31

13.1

19.4


The Skinny: Being the first ever draft pick of the Nashville Predators comes with responsibility and expectation, as does a $4.5 million a year cap hit. While it is his abilities to shut down the opposition's top line that makes Legwand so impressive, the pressure to perform offensively this season was especially paramount.
After leading the Predators during the six-game playoff series a season ago against Chicago with 7 points, General Manager David Poile commented that if Legwand didn't score 20 goals this season he'd have some questions to answer. Legwand played all 82 games and scored 11 goals during the regular season of 2009-10. Legwand fell just short of the 20-goal mark with 17 goals this season, but played 18 games less due to an injury that took him out of the lineup from the middle of November until the end of December.

The Performance: Legwand's value to the Predators is evident. The team's record in the 64 games he played was a solid 36-20-8. Legwand was first in ice time among forwards with anaverage of 18:48 per game and ranked third in shorthanded ice time at 2:01 on average per game, just after Jerred Smithson and Nick Spaling.
When Legwand scored a goal, Nashville was unstoppable with a 13-2-1 record. While his 17 goals did not include any power play tallies despite an average of 1:36 per game of ice time on the power play, Legwand scored 2 of Nashville's 5 regular season short-handed markers.

Once healthy, Legwand went on an offensive tear to end the regular season, and continued his solid play throughout Nashville's 12 playoff contests. From February 9th to the end of the season, Legwand picked up 23 points in 28 games, including 10 goals and 13 assists.

While often criticized for it, Legwand's true value to the team can be seen in his 4 empty-net goals (ENG). Legwand finished third in the league for ENG behind only the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky and Boston's Milan Lucic who each scored 5 empties. Legwand's ability to score empty net goals shows that the coaching staff believes in Legwand's defensive ability on the ice in circumstances where the opponent is desperate to tie the game. When Legwand scores in those circumstances, he puts the game out of reach for the opposition. That situation sums up Legwand as a hockey player perfectly. It is his job to shut down the opposition. If he does that and he finds the back of the net, it means good things for the Predators.

The Grade: When looking at reasonable expectations for Legwand, we should use Poile's assessment from the off-season last year - 20 goals. It is unreasonable to expect a player like Legwand to light the lamp every night being in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy when his number one task as part of the team is to shut down the top lines of the opposition on a nightly basis.

It would be hard to make an argument that the Detroit, Michigan native failed to meet any expectations of him this season as he and linemate Marty Erat often carried the team offensively during Nashville's stretch run when the Predators were fighting their way week after week trying to get into the top 8 of the Western Conference in February and early March. Grade: A

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