2015 Season Review: Dwight King
He didn't exactly kill it this year. I know, I'm shocked too.
Everyone's Favorite Probable Murderer scored 13 goals this season, only 2 less than his career-high 15 from the previous year (albeit in four more games). He shot 10.2%, which was off his 2013-14 mark of 13.5% but was still one of the highest shooting percentages on the team. As you can see from the table above, his possession numbers were basically close to the 2nd line minutes he received for much of the season (especially after Tanner Pearson went down to injury). His Corsi For, Corsi Against, and Fenwick Against numbers all look like a baseline, if perhaps slightly underperforming, 2nd line player. Perhaps that's all you can ask for from a guy who was pressed into action that's almost certainly above his ideal usage.
Simply put, Dwight King is not a 2nd line forward, especially not on a team as good as the Kings. His continued usage there hampered the team throughout the season. While his possession numbers look OK, this has a lot to do with his linemates and usage more than anything he's contributing, as we'll discuss below. And as you can see in the graph above, none of his other stats are at a 2nd line forward level: his own Goals/60 were clearly high 3rd liner, and his putrid A/60 rate puts him in line with a middling 4th liner. Add that up and the fact that the Kings basically scored like an offensively challenged 3rd line while he was on the ice makes sense. He also barely got shots on goal at a 3rd line level either, so without that aforementioned 10.2% shooting percentage all of this would have been even worse.
Let's dig deeper into his Corsi for a second. First, his dCorsi stats:
|CF60||Expected CF60||CA60||Expected CA60||dCorsi60|
|59.56 (9th)||58.84||49.65 (14th)||47.59||-1.33 (14th)|
The rankings next to his Corsi For per 60, Corsi Against per 60, and dCorsi per 60 reflect where on the team he finished among skaters who played at least 20 games last season. So basically shot attempts towards the opposition net were up a little bit above what could be expected from Dwight's linemates/zone starts/competition/etc, so that's good. But on the same token the team allowed more attempts towards their own net when Dwight was on the ice than the dCorsi model would have predicted, so that's not good. He's similar to Tanner Pearson, except not as good at contributing to getting attempts toward the opposition net to compensate for his lack of defensive acumen. As a result, his overall dCorsi ends up slightly underwater instead of positive like Tanner's did. Although honestly, for a player of his caliber and the not-huge sum they're paying him, his dCorsi isn't really that bad. So I guess you can call this a "borderline negative", if you want.
Dwight's WOWYs make it more than a little clear that he was helped immensely by playing with Toffoli & Carter, however. Dwight's Corsi % with Jeff is 57.2%, but just 51.6% without him (Jeff is a little lower too without King at 56.3%, but obviously his numbers hold up much better). It's a very similar story when looking at Tyler Toffoli- King on the ice with Toffoli has a 58.3% Corsi, but just a 51.6% Corsi without him (Toffoli without King is a 56.9% Corsi). This looks pretty definitively like King benefited hugely from playing with those two men following Pearson's injury; at the very least though you can't say he dragged either of them down in possession, so that's nice.
King has a team-friendly $1.95 million cap hit for the next two seasons. That might actually be a tiny bit high for what he brings to the table, but it's nothing that's crippling the team or anything. But what's clear is that King is not a 2nd line forward. While he didn't actively drag down Jeff Carter or Tyler Toffoli in puck possession, he's a huge drag on their offense, due to his inability to provide anything resembling assists or produce much in the way of shots-on-goal of his own. This matches up with what my own personal "eye test" told me throughout "that 70s line mark 2", when I would frequently watch King's lack of speed and/or offensive awareness handicap the ability of Carter & Toffoli to create offense. It has to be considered a contributing factor in the Kings missing the playoffs last season, especially given the tiny margin they missed by.
So hopefully next year King is back where he belongs on the depth chart. He's a decent 3rd liner (though not one who is going to provide your team with a lot of offense), and a pretty great 4th liner, should you be able to push him all the way down there. If King ends up having to play 2nd line minutes for the Kings for any great stretch of time again next season, however, it does not bode well for the team's chances.
I give King a D. Maybe that's being a bit too harsh on him, because it's not his fault Tanner Pearson got injured last year. But he was given an enormous opportunity to play with two of the best forwards on the team (on what had been one of the best 2nd lines in the entire league up until that point), and he pretty clearly just could not step up to the plate. If King isn't used over his head again next year, I'm sure this grade will improve. Sorry man. Your kid's still adorable.
Grade Dwight King's season.