Cody McLeod was one of two pre-Deadline, head-scratching players acquired by David Poile this season. Shipped from Colorado on January 13 for Felix Girard, McLeod played 31 regular season games and 15 playoff games for the Preds. He recorded five goals and one assist for six total points over those 46 games.
In terms of expected offensive production, McLeod’s output in Nashville was par for the course. The interesting wrinkle to his season was how much of a focus he became down the stretch and in the playoffs. The fourth line basically became the subject of an evergreen question: who are the least bad players that can play on this line? In the playoffs, McLeod was often one of the answers as he appeared in the 9th most contests among forwards.
There is a caveat, however.
McLeod had the lowest Time On Ice per Game in both the regular season and playoffs among NHL regulars on the Preds. And, frankly, that’s right about where you want him. He can be a successful player in limited circumstances and still skates better than other regular fourth-liners. But, it’s clear that Laviolette made severe adjustments regarding his deployment when he came over from Colorado.
Notice how McLeod’s Offensive Zone Starts dropped from 53.6% to 30.5% after the trade. This was a necessary considering his abysmal 36.6 CF% in his time with the Preds.
Although McLeod’s deployment was greatly sheltered, the Preds’ deep run in the playoffs began to highlight several missteps by the fourth line. Most notable was opposing coaches’ ability to deploy the last change in away games. The fourth line, starting in the defensive zone, in this scenario, would often get hemmed in by the opposition’s top unit for entirely too long.
What also became a recurring theme through the latter part of the season was the 4th line’s inability to create high-scoring danger chances. Naturally, one can’t expect them to do so at an elite level, but McLeod’s unit and their production was unacceptable. And, they did not provide staunch defensive protection on the other side of the coin either, as seen below.
In the meantime, please ignore his 22.2% shooting percentage from his time as a Nashville Predator.
Best Moment of the Season
McLeod, inexplicably, posted several memorable moments this season (including scoring against his former team in his first game post-trade). Regardless, McLeod’s game-winning goal in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the St. Louis Blues takes the cake. The wacky goal was an insurance marker at the time but ended up deciding the game for the Preds, who would go on to a 2-1 series lead and eventual series victory.
Worst Moment of the Season
This is somewhat of a tough call. Although McLeod had several bad moments this season, he didn’t ultimately pay for many of them. The most notorious, however, would be his fight against Jared Boll in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
Although he was standing up for a teammate, the following penalty kill from the instigator penalty he received resulted in a powerplay goal for the Ducks. Even in this moment, however, McLeod was saved. The Preds won the game, and his teammates were very complimentary of his decision afterwards.
Trending Up or Down?
McLeod has probably been trending down his entire career. (Editor’s note: LOL) In terms of advanced metrics, McLeod put up career lows this season. He is under contract for one more season, and, if all goes according to plan, will only see the ice in depth rolls as the 13th or 14th forward. At this point, it would be a surprise to see the Preds re-sign him after next season, but crazier things have happened.
After all, Mile High Hockey points out how essential he is to team success ;)
Let us not forget, if it wasn't for the acquisition of Cody McLeod and his leadership, the Preds never would have made the playoffs.— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) April 21, 2017
FINAL GRADE: D
How would you grade Cody McLeod’s 2016-17 season?
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All stats are courtesy of hockey-reference.com.