2018-2019 Player Reviews: Kyle Turris
Last season had much of the fanbase—and possibly David Poile—thinking “I’ve made a huge mistake.” But is it as bad as it seems?
What else is there to say about Kyle Turris that hasn’t been said already by the fans, the media, the coaches and Kyle Turris himself? After his arrival at the trade deadline in the 2017-2018 season (and subsequent $36 million extention), Turris, alongside Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith, went on a hot streak, and it seemed the problem of secondary scoring was no more.
Then they disappeared in the playoffs, and continued their ineffective play as a line into last season, even prompting a mid-season trade of Kevin Fiala for Mikael Granlund. It didn’t seem to help—and that’s before accounting for injuries.
However, there is plenty of analysis to be done—plenty of meat left on that bone. So let’s take this home, throw it in an article, add some analytics, sprinkle in some charts—baby, we’ve got a stew going.
The Report Card
The Counting Stats
Kyle Turris played only 55 games, which one would assume would give him some leeway in regards to depressed performance, but unfortunately that isn’t the case here. He produced only three goals at even strength—a total that is supassed, somehow, by his four power-play goals. His 16 points comes out to a rate of about 1.32 points per 60 minutes, but only 0.29 points per game.
While it is true that Turris has never been known to be a goal-scorer in his own right (his career high at even strength was 19 goals in 2016-17 in Ottawa, while playing 78 games, the most he played in five seasons), one would expect his point total to be a bit higher if he truly is going to fill the role as a puck distributor.
Kyle Turris Career Point Production
|Player||Season||Team||Games Played||Goals||Total Assists||Primary Assists||Secondary Assists||Points|
That didn’t really pan out.
Turris posted career lows in goals, assists AND points last season—the lone bright spot being that all but one of his assists were primary assists. Since it is obvious that Turris is better at distributing the puck than he is at shooting it, having him play with linemates who can score would be an obvious and ideal option. More so than, and I’m just pulling this out randomly, playing on the wing of an elite distributing center.
He’s not going to turn into a top-six goalscorer, especially playing out of position—so let him play to his strengths.
Oddly enough, on a team that was worst in the league on the power play, Turris was tied for the team lead with four power-play goals (Forsberg also had four), shooting an absurd 30%. He averaged nearly two goals and an assist per 60 minutes, the former putting him in the top 25% of the league. However, his four actual goals were quite a bit more than his 1.54 expected goals, so there was likely a bit of luck involved.
Turris didn’t spend any time on the penalty kill, and really never has throughout his career.
The Analytics - Shot Generation
The so-called “advanced” statistics are a bit of a mixed bag on Turris. His shot isolate shows that he provides a positive offensive presence in shot generation, especially near the net. Defensively, he’s right below average, but serviceable for a second-line center. However, Turris played with a revolving door of linemates with varying results.
Beware, as always, the dangers of sample size, but we saw some success when the JOFA line reunited and Granlund replaced Fiala on the second line (not pictured is the other main line Turris was part of: Järnkrok-Turris-Smith. They posted a nearly identical -1%). And let’s give Turris credit where it is due—it might seem that maybe he is being carried by Craig Smith (and to some extent, he is), but the isolates with Turris and without Smith still show a +3%, so at least Turris is a positive offensive contributor. Looking at shot isolates over his career, he has performed better since joining Nashville, thankfully, a trend which shows him scoring in high-danger areas more often and steadily improving defensively—something always good to have in a middle-six center role.
Goals (and Wins) Above Replacement - GAR/WAR
Turris had a very down year when it came to Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Goals Above Replacement (GAR). His -2.4 GAR was the second lowest on the team, only ahead of Brian Boyle’s short tenure. In fact, he didn’t have a higher than average value in any RAPM value (Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus)—stats that contribute directly to GAR/WAR numbers (remember, offensive goals for, defensive expected goals against and power play goals for are three of the five values that weigh heaviest in determining WAR). This led, predictably, to the lowest WAR value of his career since 2012-13.
His RAPM values—all contributing factors to WAR/GAR—were noticably worse than those of the other centers on the team, including Colton Sissons and Nick Bonino, players who played an an offensively-limited checking line. It’s especially telling that Nick Bonino, whose role on the team is clearly defensively-oriented, outperforms Turris offensively as well. It’s not a very good look at all, and simply states the fact that Kyle Turris was lacking in nearly every area of his game last season.
Once again, I’m referencing the amazing work of Corey Sznajder has done in hand-tracking NHL games for the last few years. While the data can be a little skewed for forwards if there are fewer than 30 games tracked, these numbers for last season are pretty much in line with what these players have done on a three year average.
Kyle Turris grades out fairly decently. He excels, in fact, at carrying the puck into the zone and is just outside the top 10% of all players at entering with possession—a valuable asset for a player whose game is best at setting up plays for his linemates. Shots per 60 is low for Turris; however, it’s relatively low for all the centers shown, including Duchene and Johansen (see below). But he’s above average at shot assists per 60 (which includes tertiary assists), and just slightly below average at shot contributions. These numbers are much better than Bonino’s—however, they don’t come close to Johansen and Duchene, who are really in a league of their own.
This further highlights an important point: Turris excels when he is setting up the play for his linemates. He isn’t known for his goal-scoring ability aside from that one season in Ottawa, and I wouldn’t expect that to change any time soon. But Kyle Turris definitely has good value in transition and contributing to shots, especially compared to Nick Bonino.
In a somewhat rare bit of solo magic, Turris goes coast to coast (like buttered toast) to score the game-winning goal in overtime.
This game was awful all around, and was a pretty good sign of things to come for the team, but this was as bad a game for Turris as you could have. He was on the ice for three goals against, all of which came from Kyle Connor in his hat trick effort.
Silver lining: One of the goals happened right after Turris came on the ice, but happened after what I'm sure is probably the worst individual play by any Predator last season. Check out the series of mistakes by Matt Irwin at 4:04 in the above video. But I’m warning you now, this will probably be your reaction.
There are people out there who haven’t given up on Turris yet; in fact, this site has several people who are ardent in his defense. The overwhelming consensus is that Turris or Bonino will be traded away from Nashville by the break next season, so both have some work to do to either prove their worth or play badly enough that nobody wants them.
I believe Turris can bounce back and have a great year. Centering a scoring third line with Colton Sissons and Daniel Carr (or Rem Pitlick and Eeli Tolvanen) would be great to compliment a checking fourth line of Watson-Bonino-Järnkrok.
I’m not convinced that putting Turris on the wing is the answer—especially with Johansen playing center. But I’ll let Kate go deeper into that topic, as she did earlier today in her excellent piece here.
I think he has a good year—I think 13-15 goals and 40-45 points overall is where he bounces back to, and hopefully he survives the trade deadline.
I like Kyle Turris, and there’s potential there, and I truly believe this season was a fluke marred by a mid-season injury. I think consistent linemates and strength on the power play will help him, but there’s no way around saying that last year was bad—and nobody wants a six-million-dollar unmovable burden you cannot trade.
I hope he can turn things around, but last season was about as bad as you can get.
How would you grade Kyle Turris’ season?