Miikka Salomaki is not the most impactful forward on the Nashville Predators. He is a role player or a specialist, if you will.
He’s also one of the more physically imposing players on the team. Finishing with the 4th most hits on the team, despite logging only the 18th most even strength minutes, indicates his skill set as well as his role. Plus, he not only hits people, he hits them hard.
(That hit was two years ago, but who cares, it’s fun to watch.)
But when it comes to the puck, Salomaki’s game does not lead to much action on the ice, as illustrated best by his on-ice rates per hour from HockeyViz:
When Salomaki’s skating, the puck is basically frozen to the ice.
Not that there’s a whole lot wrong with that. This team has enough offensive talent that it can handle having someone like Salomaki in the lineup for 10 minutes a night to put some clamps on the game. As long as he isn’t a turnstile on defense (*cough Cody McLeod *cough), he has a role on the team.
Salomaki finished with only eight points in 58 games, including two goals, but his shot-attempt numbers were just fine. His 50.5 shot attempt for percentage was good for 13th on the team and was 8th best among forwards. Again, that’s mostly because he wasn’t allowing much in the defensive end, as seen here from NaturalStatTrick:
Salomaki led the team in shot attempts allowed per hour. That’s nothing to scoff at.
With the speed and physicality Salomaki has, it’s no wonder he finds his way in the lineup during the regular season. So how did he fare in the playoffs?
Though he didn’t manage even a single point in eight games, his presence was still felt. He managed 17 hits in those games and was still out there preventing shot attempts in his own zone:
Overall, I’d say Salomaki had a fine season. We all wish he could provide a little more offense, but his tendency to create problems for the opposing team—even if it doesn’t result in goals for the Preds—is worth keeping around.
Two summers ago, Salomaki signed a two-year deal worth $1.2 million. He is up for another contract this summer as an RFA. The Predators could do much worse than Salomaki, considering the skill set he has and the role he is expected to play. Unless he wants longer term that the Predators are unwilling to commit to, I would love to see Salty return for another couple years.
In early November, Salomaki went on a scoring frenzy. In four games against the Kings, Blue Jackets, Penguins, and Capitals, Salomaki put up five points (2 goals, 3 assists) and logged over 13 minutes a night.
Like I said, scoring frenzy!
One of his goals was on this breakaway:
An excellent lead pass from Yannick Weber and Salomaki just buries it.
So that was a fun time.
Like most everyone else on this team, Salomaki’s worst moment comes in the playoffs. Not a particular game or moment—just the whole playoffs.
Throughout the playoffs, Nashville’s skaters were continuously getting hemmed in the defensive zone, struggling to create offense when it mattered, and making bad decisions. Salomaki was not immune.
The Hartman-Fisher-Salomaki line has been on the ice for all three Colorado goals thus far in this series - all at ES - all after failed DZ clears.— Seth Lake (@SLakePreds) April 14, 2018
Before they cleaned up the series in Game 7, the Jets dominated the Preds 6-2 in Game 5. Salomaki played 10:58 and registered three hits and one block. He didn’t play again and had to watch his team get eliminated five days later.
Overall Grade: B
You know, sometimes in writing these player reviews, you go into the piece with bias and prejudgments about how you think a player performed. Most of the time, those biases and prejudgements are only confirmed with more objective analysis, but occasionally—as is the case with this one—you can be surprised.
I was definitely ready to give Salty a poor grade for this season, for whatever reason, but I don’t feel like I can do that. He has a very specific role and I think he performed it well. Not to mention he performed it just as well in the playoffs.
While A’s are reserved for the excellent students—I can’t in good conscience give a player like Arvidsson and Salomaki the same grade because Arvy is quite obviously the better player—I think a B fits the performance.