Tim Brent's two-year stint as a Carolina Hurricane went in a much different path than many expected. Signed as a free agent in the summer of 2011, it was thought that Brent would help the team's penalty kill and provide some much-needed help in the faceoff circle. He ended up doing neither, spending minimal time on the PK and having the worst faceoff percentage on the team among regular draw-takers. Brent did provide plenty of value last year despite this, though. He gave the Hurricanes plenty of secondary scoring with 12 goals and ended up being a key part of their power play for the second half of the season. It was a nice surprise because getting that kind of offensive output for a fourth liner on a very cheap contract is huge if you're a budget team. This along with Brent's strong hockey sense made him a favorite to some fans, but last year was kind of an aberration for him.
While Brent's versatility was nice to have, his play at even strength was very poor, as the Hurricanes were getting sledgehammered whenever he was on the ice. His strong goal-production was the result of him scoring on 16.9% of the shots he took, which was unlikely to carry over to the next season. Brent not scoring on every 11-12 shots he took wasn't going to be the worst thing in the word since he is a fourth liner, but his play at even strength was going to have to improve drastically for him to be a useful player on Carolina. As a fourth line center, he doesn't have that difficult of a role and his main responsibility is to not get lit up defensively. Since Brent has produced good results on the power play and is a pretty smart player in general, one would think that he should be able to be a decent even strength player in a protected role with decent linemates.
This year, Brent went through a revolving door of wingers on the fourth line and wasn't given that important of a role at even strength, but his performance this year was much stronger than it was in previous seasons. Brent went from being one of the worst territorial players on the team last year to one of the best this season and made the Hurricanes slightly less of a liability at even strength. The only problem was that his offensive production completely dried up, as he scored only one point in 30 games and had no goals on the season. I'm sure many were expecting Brent's numbers to regress this year since his scored at an unsustainable rate last season, but a decline like this wasn't expected.
Brent's season was odd in a lot of ways because while his game improved dramatically in a lot of areas, he did not score at all and one would think that he should have better results next year. At the same time, his underlying numbers went from terrible to fantastic in the span of the year and it will be interesting to see how those hold up in a full season. With Brent being an unrestricted free agent, the Hurricanes are going to have to make a decision on him very soon. Is he good enough to center the fourth line next year or are there better options out there to replace him with? Since Brent's performance with the Hurricanes has been a mixed bag overall, it might be tough to comitt more years to him when they have players from within the organization who can play his role without much of a drop off.
Some team will probably want Brent's services next year, though. After the jump, we will look at what he did in his second year as a Hurricane and how he contributed in ways that didn't show up in the boxscore.no comments