The 31-year old Matt Irwin skated in 44 contests for the Predators this season. He’s a replacement-level defender and has one more year remaining on his current contract.
Irwin posted one goal and six assists this season. He found himself most often partnered with Yannick Weber, the most common third pair from the Stanley Cup run in 2017. He also spent some time with Dan Hamhuis when injuries were decimating the lineup.
Irwin had a career-high 38 penalty minutes this season, good for sixth among Predators who played at least 40 games this season.
Further, Irwin did not see the ice during the Dallas series in April. Here’s his season overview from Hockey Viz:
You simply cannot forget about how Miikka Salomäki made Duncan Keith lose his mind in December. Irwin took down Alex DeBrincat, as seen here:
Matt Irwin was decent on paper this season, but consistently bad to the eye test. He didn't make any particularly high-stakes mistakes, because he wasn't trusted in that kind of situation, but watching him was almost always frustrating.
The “other” ginger defender is making the league-minimum salary and will likely not receive a qualifying offer if he’s still with Nashville at the end of this season.
I honestly do not see a role going forward for Matt Irwin on a defensively-rich team. Yannick Weber, Steven Santini, and Dan Hamhuis will see ice time more than Irwin will this season unless there’s some sort of injury. Call-ups from Milwaukee like Frédéric Allard or Alexandre Carrier are also serviceable additions. Irwin might find himself seeking another team next summer.
If you remember all the way back to Irwin’s debut with Nashville in 2017, the veteran defender was initially sent to Milwaukee. He stuck in Nashville for another two seasons. Could Irwin end up back in Milwaukee this season?
It’s difficult to rate Irwin any higher when he spent nearly half the season in the press box. Again, he’s essentially a replacement-level guy who is filling a roster spot in Nashville.
How would you grade Matt Irwin’s season?
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