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2015 Season Review: Jarret Stoll

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Stoll... did not have a good year.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

stoll_HERO

Positives

This is not going to be as long a section as Toffoli's was, to say the least.

When a reporter asked Jarret Stoll after the final game of the season what role he'd play if he returns to the Kings, he answered:

I’d play any kind of role, to be honest. [Reporter: You would?] If we make the playoffs and have a chance to win the Stanley Cup, I would play absolutely any role. You want to be a part of a good group, you want to be a part of a fun group that wins. I don’t think you ever want to be on a losing team. Sometimes, obviously it happens. You’re not going to make the playoffs every year, you’re not going to win every year. But you want to be with a great group that means a lot to one another and has a chance to win a Stanley Cup.

Stoll's had pretty much the same role since he joined the Kings, though: third-line (and occasionally fourth-line) center. Though his performance has dropped off, he's never missed more than ten games in a season, and he fought back from an upper-body injury late this season. In the midst of all that, he's a vocal locker room guy, and his teammates like him. That's all cliche, but it did seem to apply to Stoll even more than some of the other trusted vets on the team. He also won the Kings' Daryl Evans Youth Hockey Service award.

As far as actual performance goes, it's not a pretty picture, but we can try to find a couple of positives in Stoll's play. For one, he did have three power play goals, his highest total since 2010-11. He got them on eight shots and one minute of PP ice time per game, so there's a [SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT], but that put him second to Marian Gaborik in goalscoring rate with the extra man. I'll also give him some kudos in an area he literally should never get kudos in: in his final 25 games of the season, Stoll only picked up five minor penalties. Stoll has been a consistent presence in the penalty box since coming to LA and was outdoing himself two-thirds of the way through the season; for whatever reason, he ended with perhaps his cleanest run of play as a King.

(And an aside before the negatives begin: Stoll had a 3% 5-on-5 shooting percentage this year. No matter what the opinion is on him, that's just bad luck.)

Negatives

OK, pretty straightforward here: Stoll's even strength numbers were down, across the board, from 2013-14. Don't believe me?

STOLL_STATS

Did I say "across the board"? Well, almost across the board; the only stat that went in a positive direction for Stoll was his ice time. That is truly something. (I think you can blame Mike Richards for that particular nugget; Nick Shore didn't have close to the same level of trust from the coaching staff this season.)

It really feels like piling on, but we have to go beyond the above chart and show just how rough a time Stoll had in various departments this year.

  • Stoll was leading all NHL forwards in minor penalties midway through the year; by season's end, after his cleaner stretch, he was "only" fifth in the league with 28.
  • Among regular LA penalty-killers, Stoll was the only player on the ice for more than one shot against per minute while killing penalties. By comparison, Anze Kopitar was second-worst at 0.81 per minute, though he did it while contending with the toughest zone starts on the PK.
  • Only Andy Andreoff and Jordan Nolan put up worse possession numbers than Stoll this year. What makes that a lot worse is how much time Stoll spent with Justin Williams; it's hard to make Williams average in the Corsi department.
  • Stoll had two goals at 5-on-5 this season, to go with another one at 4-on-4. In 73 games.
  • On the Kings, only Marian Gaborik and Jeff Schultz had better Corsi For percentages with Stoll (61.5%, 58.3%) than they did without Stoll (59.4%, 56.0%). Everyone else saw their numbers decline while on the ice with Stoll.
  • Stoll did all of the above with his most advantageous zone starts since he arrived in LA. In his defense, though, they were still tougher than the team average, as Jeff Carter, Nick Shore, and Trevor Lewis got more offensive zone starts. However, Anze Kopitar increasingly carried the defensive load this year, and Mike Richards also started a higher percentage of shifts in his own zone compared to Stoll.
The one consolation for Stoll is that Shore and Richards weren't too great themselves in these areas, as we'll explore in the upcoming days (they're next!). Of course, the problem is that Richards is super-hard to get rid of and Shore is super-raw. So which of those three is the most expendable? You know the answer already.

Highlight

Of Stoll's three even-strength goals this year, two were dramatic game-winners. This one gets the nod over his Ducks OT goal because it was more his doing... and because it was the Canucks. Classic.

Going Forward

Jarret Stoll is an unrestricted free agent. Before the evening of April 17, there was probably about a 50-50 chance of Stoll returning to the Kings in a reduced role next year, probably as the fourth line center. That required two things: (1) that Stoll take a sizable pay cut, and (2) that nothing would change the front office's opinion of Stoll. So much for #2, as Stoll was arrested in Las Vegas for drug possession. I guess that Stoll's legal trouble doesn't COMPLETELY rule out the possibility of Stoll returning, but it certainly makes it a lot less likely.

Without Stoll, the Kings would probably ice some combination of Mike Richards, Nick Shore, and Trevor Lewis down the middle of the bottom six. If Richards ceases to be a black hole (more on that coming up!), this might be addition by subtraction.

Stoll played 575 games with Los Angeles (regular season and playoffs) and tallied 230 points, though only 50 of those points came in the last two seasons. Either way, he'll always have two Cup rings and the goal that started it all.

Grade

It was a rough year for Jarret Stoll; I'll hand out a D.