With the 2018-19 NHL season firmly in the rear view mirror, it’s time to look back at what we learned about the players of the Los Angeles Kings. How did they fare in a down season? What’s next for each of them? Who will still be here on opening day? Join us as we take a look back at the season, try to figure out what went wrong, and see where we go from here. Today we look at Trevor Lewis. Hard work, a defensive presence, leadership, and consistency has defined his career in Los Angeles. The 2018-19 season was not kind to the perennial unsung hero. Will that ensure his departure on an expiring deal in a trade deadline move? Will he be a King in 2020-21? How does he fit in to the “we’re going to build from within” plan that Rob Blake is moving forward? All of this and more...
2018-19 Season: 44 games, 12 points (3G, 9A), 9 PIM, -9, 87 shots, 134 total shots attempted, 3.4 shooting percentage, 95.8 PDO, 14:01 time on ice, 51.5% CF%, 3.1 CF% rel.
Contract: Signed through 2019-20, $2.0 million AAV.
No matter how you slice it, Trevor Lewis’s 2018-19 season was not something any of us will be looking back on and remembering fondly. Multiple factors contributed to one of the worst seasons—if not the worst—of Lewis’s career:
- Injuries (after missing 14 games in 2017-18, he missed 38 games this season),
- Contracting Tyler Toffoli’s “I Can’t Shoot Anymore Syndrome” (he found the back of the net just over three plus per cent of the time after hitting 10.4 in 2017-18 and 8.3 in 2016-17), and
- Playing musical linemates (thanks Willie D.!) all season.
Let’s dive into these three critical season in review points...
To say the Kings have a grit problem would be an understatement. They lost the snarl throughout the lineup. Gone are the Willie Mitchells, Matt Greenes, Jordan Nolans, and Dwight Kings. The gritty players that are left—Doughty (spent all year pouting), Dustin Brown (missed the first 10 games), Kyle Clifford (has played more than 73 games once since 2013-14) and Trevor Lewis (eclipsing 73 games only twice since 2013-14)—have had their issues as of late.
The injury bug is a real concern for the Kings as they move into this contract year. While they love his game, the old adage that the best ability is availability is suddenly a tag being applied to Lewis. And while the injuries aren’t anything of the whining, unwilling to play through pain, nagging sort, it is something to be concerned with that his continued puck battles and getting to the greasy areas on the ice have started to catch up with him. Although $2 million isn’t a huge AAV, the Kings will need at least 75 games from Lewis this season to justify a bridge contract extending past game 82 this coming season.
Almost everyone important on the Kings seemed to contract Toffoli’s “I Can’t Shoot Anymore Syndrome”. With the exception of Clifford (his shooting percentage rose 2.2% in 2018-19) and Brown (who stayed close to level, dropping only four-tenths of a per cent), the other dependable top forwards had noticeable dips in lighting the red light: Jeff Carter (dropped from 15.3% to 7.5%), Adrian Kempe (13.4% down to 10.4%), Anze Kopitar (from 17.5% to 14.1%), and Toffofi (9.6% to 5.8%). Lewis’ precipitous drop from 104% to 3.4% would be alarming for any player and even more glaring when you start looking at the advanced stats.
For the fourth straight year, more 5×5 goals were scored against the Kings with Lewis on the ice than goals for (18 GF vs. 27 GA). This is a microcosm of his season that illustrate to fact that is was the third worst statistical season of his career when combining Corsi For %, Fenwick %, Offensive Point Shares, Defensive Point Shares, and Hits Per Game into one muddy soup of analysis.
Maybe it would have helped if his interim head coach would have put Lewis with a consistent set of teammates night in and night out. Seems like he struggled the entire season trying to find a combination he could excel next to.
The result was a Pluck Chart that showed Lewis straying significantly from the mean which indicated his performance was influenced by luck.
Now imagine if Willie Desjardins looked at last year’s usage and saw Lewis averaged a career high 15:14 TOI. Maybe he wouldn’t have reduced his playing time by 1:13 per game, all the way down to 14:01. Maybe also this same coach would have not left Lewis on the ice for extended shifts (0:42 average shift time in 2018-19 compared to 0:34 in 2017-18). A quick look at Lewis’s career shift averages will tell you his best years are when his shifts are sub-40 seconds and his worst are when they are over 40 seconds. Seems strange that this obvious point would have been missed, yet here we are poking holes in Lewis’s season. The final numbers weren’t so pretty (for everyone, not simply Lewis).
What to expect in 2019-20. One can reasonably expect Lewis to move back to his 2017-18 form within Todd McLellan’s accountability system. It’s well within reason, that the forward whisperer will cajole 30 points from Lewis which seemed to be his trajectory before an incompetent coach got a hold of him. Lewis’ ability to use the forecheck to create his own offense bodes well in McLellan’s desire to have everyone play a 200-foot game. If he can go north of 75 games, his status of Staples Center Cult Favorite will be preserved and he can expect a solid Kings contract commiserate of the Swiss Army-type play and results we’ve come to expect.
“It’s all you...!” - Austin Wagner
The subtle pass to the side...
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