Pucks in Depth: Taking Notice of Jaccob Slavin … Nikita Kucherov Leading...

Pucks in Depth: Taking Notice of Jaccob Slavin … Nikita Kucherov Leading Lightning

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Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning
Taking notice of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin …

To put it bluntly, the Carolina Hurricanes are not having a good season. They have just 67 points to their name and are much closer to the basement of the Eastern Conference than a playoff spot.

Still, there is young talent on the roster that leaves hope for the future, particularly on defense.

Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin get a lot of the headlines, and not without reason, but Jaccob Slavin may end up best among the plethora of promising defensemen on the Hurricanes. He probably already is.

The 22-year-old blueliner is quietly putting together a strong season for the Hurricanes. He averages more than 23 minutes of ice per game and has more 5v5 points than Kevin Shattenkirk, P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan McDonagh, Zach Werenski, Shea Weber, Mark Giordano, and Faulk, to name a few.

His overall totals may not jump off the page — he is on pace for 34 points — but they’re impressive considering he sees very limited PP time (81 defensemen have more power play minutes, an average of 2.7 per team)

While Slavin’s point totals are very solid considering his usage, his underlying numbers are what really stand out.

Despite playing tough competition and starting shifts in the offensive less frequently than every defenseman on the roster, the Hurricanes are much better with Slavin on the ice than without him.

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The Hurricanes control a larger percentage of the shot attempts with Slavin, a larger percentage of the chances with Slavin, and the goal numbers aren’t even in the same stratosphere.

With Slavin, the Hurricanes score 57% of the goals at 5v5. To put that into perspective, Washington and Columbus are the only teams to score 57% or more of the goals at 5v5.

The Hurricanes have been a disaster without Slavin scoring ~37% of the goals, which is almost identical to the numbers the historically bad Avalanche have posted.

Essentially, the Hurricanes are Columbus caliber with Slavin on the ice, and Colorado caliber without him.

He is a fantastic young player and it’s about time people start taking notice.

Nikita Kucherov leading the Tampa Bay Lightning back into playoff contention …

A few weeks ago making the playoffs seemed like an impossible task for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They couldn’t score, the goaltending was struggling and Steven Stamkos remained sidelined; as he’s been for almost the entire year.

Things looked so bleak that GM Steve Yzerman sold off veterans Ben Bishop, Valtteri Filppula, and Brian Boyle at the deadline, signaling he is looking ahead to the future.

The team has done a complete 180 of late, though, and leaped right back into the playoff picture. The biggest reason for the 8-2-1 run the Lightning are riding, which has them within one point of a playoff spot, is the play of Nikita Kucherov.

He has been absolutely dominant of late attempting 86 shots and tallying 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) over the last 11 games.

During that stretch, the Bolts have controlled over 60% of the 5v5 shot attempts and out-attempted their opponents by 63 with Kucherov on the ice, an average of 5.7 attempts per game.

If the Lightning are going to sneak into the playoffs, they need their stars to shine. Right now Kucherov is doing just that.

Written by Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)