Tanner Pearson played 42 games for the Kings this past season, his year cut unfortunately short by a broken leg. He likely would have been able to return had the Kings made the playoffs, perhaps as soon as the first round, but, well, y'know. They didn't. Yeah.
But did Tanner put together a good half-a-year at least? Let's take a look.
Tanner's possession numbers were very good, if not quite elite-level. His dCorsi provides an interesting breakdown:
|CF60||Expected CF60||CA60||Expected CA60||dCorsi60|
|59.56 (1st)||58.84||49.65 (20th)||48.06||4.45 (4th)|
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 he lead the team in shot attempts per 60 while he was on the ice, vastly outperforming his expected shot attempts. However, on the flip side he was a very poor 20th in shot attempts against per 60 while he was on the ice, ahead of only Mike Richards among skaters who played at least 20 games (he was ahead of Andy Andreoff too, but my waifu only got into 18 games last year). His Expected CA60 is a bit higher than many of his teammates, suggesting he was playing reasonably tough minutes (only Gaborik, Doughty, Martinez, Brown, and Regehr had higher expected CA per 60 among qualified skaters), but he still clearly underperformed in this area.
So this paints a picture of Pearson as a player who helps get off more shot attempts against the opposition while he's on the ice, but also gives up more shot attempts to the opposition than you'd like to see. This is in line with his numbers in 2013-14 as well, where in 49 games (and it must be said, neither sample is enormous or anything) he had a CF60 of 64.39 (ahead of an ECF60 of 58.15) but a CA60 of 50.60 (compared to an ECA60 of 48.50).
This all belongs in the positive section though because, in both cases, the end result is a net positive in possession when Pearson is on the ice. Basically, he is good enough at increasing shot attempts to make him a positive factor, despite some shot attempt suppression issues. In 2013-14 he had a dCorsi of 4.14, and he improved on that number in 2014-15 with a 4.45. That number was 4th on the team this past season, behind only linemate Tyler Toffoli (5.23), Anze Kopitar (6.75), and Marian Gaborik (7.47). The bottom line here is that Pearson appears to be a very solid 2nd line possession driver at the NHL level. His continued success in this area will go a long way towards helping the team survive the possible loss of Justin Williams in the offseason.
Scoring chances is another stat that shows Pearson's value to the team. The Kings in general don't do quite as good here as they do in raw puck possession- at evens last year, the Kings had a 53.0% Scoring Chance %, 6th in the league, compared to a 55.3% Corsi that lead the league by a wide margin. But with Pearson on the ice the team received 56.84% of all scoring chances, once again putting him 4th on the team (behind Toffoli, Gaborik, and Kopitar). He was 3rd on the team in on-ice shooting % (8.95%) behind Jamie McBain (!) and Toffoli again, although that one I'd take with a massive grain of salt given the 42-game sized sample. Still, all of these are encouraging stats for a team that desperately needs to generate more offense going forward.
In the big picture- possession, scoring chances, and on-ice shooting %- Tanner looks like a very quality forward, perhaps even one capable of playing top-line minutes if necessary. Having him on the 2nd line instead gives the Kings an extremely deep top-six forward group. Had he been available for the second-half of the season, one would think they'd have likely been able to squeak out a playoff birth, given how close they came without him.
Well, that injury was sure a negative, but it's hard to really fault him for a freak occurrence like a broken leg. Of course we'll all need to cross our fingers that he makes a full recovery from it without any lingering effects. It will be something to keep our eyes on in training camp for sure.
As mentioned above, his shot attempt suppression could definitely be better. Right now he is under-performing in that area a bit (though again, his success in generating attempts on the opposition still makes him a net positive in possession). Improvements in his defensive play would take him from an extremely good player to a truly elite-level one. As of right now though, he's a below-average defensive player.
It's worth noting that we still haven't seen Tanner play a full 82-game season yet. It took him a while to earn a regular roster spot in 2013-14, and then he suffered the injury that took him out for half a season last year. While it's hard to see his numbers experiencing a significant decline over the course of a complete season, it's still something to keep in mind.
Tanner was set to a restricted free agent entering this offseason, but he signed a 2-year, $2.8 million dollar deal back on April 2nd. Given all the things we've talked about already, a $1.4 million dollar AAV obviously represents ridiculously good value for the team. That's a hell of a low price to be paying a very effective 2nd line player for two of his prime seasons. Of course it probably goes without saying that the Kings should likely expect to be paying more (perhaps significantly more) for his services next time.
Even given the caveat that he only played half-a-season, I don't see how you can really go lower than a B here, and I definitely see the argument for an A. He was a very good 2nd line player who drove possession, scoring chances, and shooting % while he was on the ice. What more do you really want from the guy, other than "don't break your leg next time"? Ah, screw it, I'm giving him the A. You deserve it buddy, if nothing else than for succeeding in life despite the handicap of being named "Tanner". Seriously, what the hell kind of name is that anyway?