2020-21 Predators Player Report Cards: Malone, Smith, Allard, Farrance & Lewington
Grading Nashville’s call-ups in this bizarre season.
With the uniqueness of the 2021 NHL season, expanded rosters and opportunities for young players were frequent. This year, fans became accustomed to the likes of Tanner Jeannot, Mathieu Olivier, and Alexandre Carrier, but Nashville still used other prospects sparingly. The following players—Sean Malone, Cole Smith, Frederic Allard, David Farrance, and Tyler Lewington—combined for just seven appearances.
With all that game tape to watch, I’ve been given the honor of grading their seasons. Keep in mind that none of these sample sizes are large enough to draw any conclusions from the statistics cited.
Sean Malone: Malone played his lone NHL game this year in a February contest against Tampa—a 6-1 loss for Nashville. His entrance into the lineup, which came at a cost to Eeli Tolvanen, inspired one of the great Twitter debates of the season, but he did ultimately record a primary assist in that game.
Other than that play, Malone was mostly quiet that night, recording a 58.3% Corsi at even strength despite an on-ice save percentage of 71.4%. Malone started three shifts in the offensive zone, two in the neutral zone, and one in the defensive zone.
Cole Smith: In a surprising (but typical of the Predators) move, Smith—no better than an AHL depth forward—entered the lineup for the opening game of the season—a 3-1 win over Columbus. That 5:57 of ice time was his only appearance in a Nashville uniform this season and finished with a 23.5% Corsi, including one high-danger chance for and one against.
Frederic Allard: In the throes of Nashville’s injury problems, Allard skated in his first NHL game on March 13 against Tampa. In what many anticipated would be the first of a few games for Allard this season, he skated nearly 17 minutes of even-strength ice time. Playing with Ben Harpur, Allard recorded 52.4% Corsi but was on the ice for two goals against (although one was rather flukey).
David Farrance: Coming off his senior season at Boston University, Farrance signed his entry-level contract with Nashville at the end of March then suited up for two games—one in April against Detroit and one in May against Carolina. In just over 30 minutes of even-strength ice time, Farrance recorded a 38.9% Corsi, a 47.9% expected goals rate, and drew one penalty in an otherwise uneventful two nights in the NHL.
Tyler Lewington: Lewington—a veteran of 286 AHL games—appeared in the same two games as Farrance this season and recorded a primary assist against Detroit. His 26 minutes of even-strength ice time was highlighted by three penalties taken, a 71.1% expected goals rate, and a 53.3% Corsi rating.
Malone: Malone was a key pivot for the Chicago Wolves this season, scoring 15 points in 23 games and competing with Tommy Novak as one of the team’s top-two centers. He recorded eight primary points at even-strength and recorded a primary point on 53% of the even-strength goals he was on the ice for. In my tracking, he was one of the Wolves’ best possession forwards with a 54.6% Corsi rating at even-strength.
Smith: Smith had his ups and downs in his first pro season, finishing with ten points in 23 games for Chicago, including six primary points at even-strength. At times, he was on top of his game as a power forward; At other times, he was dealing with the tribulations of the pro game, including inconsistency issues cited by Wolves’ coach Ryan Warsofsky. In transition, he exited the defensive zone with control just 48.2% of the time and entered the offensive zone with control 55.0% of the time.
Allard: Allard was a crucial piece in Chicago’s veteran blue line and finished the season playing mostly alongside Josh Healey. Allard recorded three goals and 18 points in 25 games for the Wolves, including nine primary points at even-strength. In eight games tracked, he recorded a 52.0% Corsi rating and allowed just 2.68 high-danger shots against per 60 minutes—best among the defenders in the pipeline this season.
Farrance: Farrance didn’t suit up in the AHL this season but did skate in 11 games for Boston University, scoring five goals, seven primary points at even-strength, and 16 total points. Most notably, he recorded a primary point on 58% of the even-strength goals he was on the ice for and excelled in transition (64.4% successful zone exits, 44.7% successful zone entries against).
Lewington: Suffering from an early-season injury, Lewington played just three games for Chicago and didn’t find the scoresheet once.
Malone: Malone is a Group 6 UFA this summer having not played enough NHL games in his pro career for Group 3 status. I think Nashville would be wise to bring him back as a veteran center for the Admirals, but aside from a few injury call-ups here and there, Malone has little chance at a future in gold.
Smith: Smith is a restricted free agent this summer and will almost certainly be qualified by Nashville. Maybe the organization hopes he can be another Jeannot-like gem, but I think his career is destined for the AHL.
Allard: Allard is at quite the crossroads with the organization. He’s 23-years old and done everything he’s been asked of in the AHL, but is there any room for him to break into the NHL? I imagine the team may want to keep him around to shore up Milwaukee’s blue line, but maybe he asks for a trade, ends up in Seattle, or isn’t qualified altogether.
Farrance: Farrance is a big part of Nashville’s future on defense. If everything stays the same heading into next year, the Predators will have Josi, Ellis, Ekholm, Benning, Fabbro, Carrier, and Borowiecki, meaning Farrance will be fighting to be defender #8 or he’ll start the season in Milwaukee.
Lewington: Lewington is another Group 6 UFA, and I don’t think Nashville will look to bring him back at the AHL or NHL level.
Malone: B — Malone’s debut was largely unremarkable aside from a primary assist and an unfortunate penalty.
What grade would you give Sean Malone’s 2020-21 season?
Smith: F — Seeing Smith’s name on the lineup card was questionable to begin with, and his five minutes of ice time was as bad as you could hope for.
What grade would you give Cole Smith’s 2020-21 season?
Allard: C — Allard was thrown into the fire against Tampa and performed fine given his pairing with Ben Harpur.
What grade would you give Frederic Allard’s 2020-21 season?
Farrance: D — Despite no major errors, Farrance was on the wrong end of a possession onslaught in his two appearances, including a 7-1 thrashing of Detroit.
What grade would you give David Farrance’s 2020-21 season?
Lewington: C — Lewington’s primary assist was a nice stretch pass. Other than that, not much to note.
What grade would you give Tyler Lewington’s 2020-21 season?
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, nhl.com, naturalstattrick.com, and hand-tracked by me.