When Colby Armstrong was brought in for just $1M on a one year contract, there wasn't much expected of him. Coming off of a couple injury riddled seasons with the Maple Leafs, Armstrong looked like he may be a done player.
Playing in a sacrificial role, Armstrong's duty to the team is not to provide offense, but much like Ryan White and Travis Moen's reviews before him, Armstrong's purpose is to limit damage against while eating up minutes. Like White, and unlike Moen, Armstrong was able to limit chances against at even strength. His chances against per 60 minutes were the second lowest on the team, which is pretty impressive when he's starting just 27.9% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Perhaps Armstrong's most impressive feat at even strength though, is his risk/reward rating. The second highest success rate among forwards comes from a 4th liner? Armstrong's play with the puck at even strength is extraordinarily smart. His puck control is possibly the best asset he has in his toolbox of talent, and his lanky frame allows him to outreach opponents to make plays.
As the first half of the season wore on, Armstrong was given a tougher and tougher role. As I've noted before, the higher and lower the zone starts get, the less the big gap between possession and zone starts mean. Even with offensive zone starts as low as what Armstrong received, possession will begin to even out to an extent.
What is interesting is that when given an easier role, Armstrong was able to outperform the team average by a wide margin. This should be a significant indicator of how much zone starts impact performance.
On the penalty kill, Armstrong began the year atrociously. We wrote about it on EOTP in many a game recap, but Therrien's confidence in him began to pay off eventually. While facing the toughest opposition of any forward on the PK, Armstrong put up solid second wave numbers in both possession, and scoring chances.
Used as a sacrificial 4th liner and penalty killing forward, there isn't much more you could ask from Colby Armstrong.
First half grade: 8/10