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2019-20 Predators Player Report Cards: Miikka Salomäki

The winger showed flashes of potential, but never really put his game back together after a series of injuries derailed his 2016-17 season.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Miikka Salomäki has been a curious case for years. He’s showed promise on paper, but never really put it together on the ice. One of the first things I wrote for On the Forecheck was a piece looking at lineup options for the 2017-18 season, where I optimistically predicted that Salomäki’s transition play and passing skills could be a real boost to the fourth line.

That, uh, that didn’t end up happening.

Likewise, his defense has looked good on paper by multiple metrics, but putting him in high-stakes defensive situations has never been something the Predators have done—nor should they have.

This look at Salomäki’s last three seasons shows him to have limited both shot quantity and shot quality very well.
evolving-hockey.com
This estimate of Salomäki’s current ability as a NHLer shows him, again, as an excellent shot-suppressor almost throughout the defensive zone and especially in the slot.
hockeyviz.com

He’s clearly doing something that affects his team’s defense while he’s on the ice, but whatever it is doesn’t work consistently or let him reliably help in critical situations—he and a player like Nick Bonino or Calle Järnkrok look very different and get treated very differently by coaches.

This year at the trade deadline, Salomäki was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate in exchange for defender Ben Harpur, and the mystery of what exactly had gone wrong with him ceased to be Nashville Predators fans’ problem.

The Report Card

Because Salomäki only played in five NHL games this season, we don’t have one of those. The sample size klaxon would be blaring too loudly to read it, anyway.

The Analysis

I thought about breaking this down into “the good” and “the bad,” but the man was a fourth-line forward who played, again, five NHL games this season and has since been traded. He’s not the least-skilled forward I’ve seen in gold (that’d probably be Cody McLeod), but he’s far from a good one compared to other NHL players.

Salomäki scored a goal this season, and did not contribute to the Preds giving up any goals while he was on the ice at 5v5—although he did take two penalties, and with the Predators’ penalty kill this season that was playing with fire and they might have gotten burned.

Overall, he was...fine? I guess?

He had 15 points (5G/10A) and 35 penalty minutes in 41 games for the Milwaukee Admirals, which is not great but also isn’t our problem, and then managed four points (2G/2A) in eight games for the Toronto Marlies, while only taking a single minor penalty. That’s a lot better, and if the Marlies can help Salomäki get back to his earlier potential then good for them.

The Single NHL Goal

Salomäki had the first goal, with assists from Colton Sissons and Roman Josi, in a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild back in October, when the Preds were on top of the world.

The Grade: I (Incomplete)

Again: he had about sixty minutes of time on the ice. You wouldn’t evaluate a top-line/top-pair player based on three games, or a goalie based on one. Heck, Seth Jones played as much in the single 5OT game between the Blue Jackets and the Lightning this spring as Salomäki did all season.

That’s my opinion, anyway; what’s yours?

Poll

How would you grade Miikka Salomäki for the 2019-20 NHL season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (0 votes)
  • 4%
    B
    (2 votes)
  • 13%
    C
    (6 votes)
  • 17%
    D
    (8 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (2 votes)
  • 60%
    I wouldn’t—he didn’t play enough.
    (27 votes)
45 votes total Vote Now

Statistics and analysis from evolving-hockey.com (Patreon), hockeyviz.com (Patreon), and eliteprospects.com have been used in compiling this player grade.