The other day, I wrote about the Hurricanes cap situation for next year and mentioned that they are going to have a tough decision to make regarding Jiri Tlusty. Assuming the salary cap stays where it is, the Canes aren't going to have a lot of wiggle room under the cap after extending Faulk, Tlusty and other RFA's, so they have to be careful with deciding how much money each of these players are worth. In that article, I said that they should pay Faulk whatever it takes to make him stay, as he is the most important RFA, but Tlusty's final price will be interesting to see. Some may look at only last year and say that Carolina should roll out the bank trucks for him because you do not let a 23-goal scorer walk away for nothing. That was only 48 games worth of data, though and committing long-term money because of an incredible performance over a small-sample size is just a bad idea.
This is especially true in the case of Tlusty because the odds of him repeating this kind of season seem pretty low. Don't get me wrong, he, along with the rest of the Canes first line, had one of the most productive seasons in the NHL going by goals and points. Not only that, but it was one of the best seasons the league has seen in six years and a lot of it had to do with the three of them posting ridiculous on-ice shooting percentages at even strength. Couple that with their mediocre possession metrics, and it's fair this line regressing a bit next season. The question is how much will their production fall off?
Both Eric Staal and Alexander Semin have been able to raise the shooting percentage of their teammates in the past and neither of them had ridiculous seasons in terms of their own personal shooting percentages. Semin is actually coming off a down year where he had trouble finding the back of the net, so I would expect him to improve there. That leads us to Tlusty, who had a ridiculous season where he was on pace for about 39 goals and over 60 points. Getting to play with two elite play-makers in Staal & Semin had a lot to do with that, but he also heavily benefited from a 19.7% shooting percentage, which probably won't carry over to next season.
There are some players who have been able to maintain high shooting percentages on a year-to-year basis, but it's a rare talent and Tlusty hasn't been in the league long enough for us to know if he fits into that category. Therefore, it's fair to expect some regression from him, but I think everyone knew that going into the season because players just don't go from being third liners to consistent 30+ goal scorers in the span of a year. What we should be more concerned with is whether or not Tlusty can still produce at a decent rate on the first line without converting on nearly 20% of his shots.
Tlusty is only 25 years old and it's possible that he just took longer to peak offensively than other players, but what are some reasonable expectations for him next season? If he does cool off, will he still produce enough to stay on the first line or will someone take over for him? Taking a look at Tlusty's career numbers will help us answer these questions.no comments