Now that Tomas Fleischmann has officially been signed by the Canadiens, it seems only fitting that we take a look at what can be expected of him this year.
Invited to camp on a professional tryout, Fleischmann thoroughly impressed everyone while skating on a line with David Desharnais and Dale Weise, and earned a one-year contract with the Habs. It seems all but guaranteed that the trio will be kept together as the third line for the regular season, and if the preseason is any indication, that line can potentially present many problems for its opposition.
The best part about the signing is that he comes at the bargain price of $750,000. At that rate, given how he's looked through the preseason, it could be among the best bargain contracts in the entire NHL this season. He has put up over 25 points in the last eight consecutive seasons, and if he can do that again he'll be providing excellent value for Marc Bergevin.
Last season was by no means a career year for Fleischmann, but it wasn't a disaster either.
It's understandable that Florida wanted to shed themselves of his contract at last year's deadline. He was carrying a cap hit of $4.5 million, they needed space for youth, and he wasn't quite living up to his price-tag with 21 points over 52 games. When he was traded to Anaheim, his playing time took a bit of a hit, as he was acquired to be a depth player for a team on a Stanley Cup run. In the playoffs, he only dressed for six games on a team that made it all the way to the Western Conference finals.
It's easy to look at his season as a flop, and to say that it hindered his ability to get an NHL contract, which led him to eventually accept Montreal's offer of a PTO. However, when you look beyond just the point total, his numbers - while probably not worth the $4.5 million cap hit - were not actually that bad.
Averaging just a shade over 12 even-strength minutes per game of playing time, Fleischmann managed to score at a rate of 2.0 points per 60 minutes. This includes his time in Anaheim where, when he played, he skated primarily alongside Rickard Rakell and former Hab Jiri Sekac. This is a very respectable stat line, which if he can replicate, will make him a welcome addition to a team that severely lacked scoring last year.
He managed this with a personal shooting percentage of 6.1%, which is over 4 percentage points lower than his career average of 10.5. He's not the 20 goal scoring version of himself that he once was, but there is good reason to be optimistic that he can have a bounce back year this season with the Canadiens.
Realistically, we should forget 20 goals; he hasn't even managed to hit 10 in the last two seasons. But, as mentioned, the price tag he carries doesn't demand high scoring totals. That being said, it's not out of the question that he could put up over 20 points, which for what he costs would be fantastic. He may be on the wrong side of 30, but the simple fact is that he has the ability to contribute at the NHL level.
The chemistry he has displayed with Weise and Desharnais is encouraging. It's not going to be a line that can carry tough defensive assignments, but if Michel Therrien can manage their deployment accordingly, they seem to have the potential to be a solid third scoring line. Naturally expectations should be tempered, but with what they did in the preseason, there's a lot to be optimistic about.
He probably could have fetched more money elsewhere, but it seems he wanted to play for the Canadiens. That says that he probably believes in the team's ability to win now, and his ability to contribute to that. If he can build off his preseason performance, it should be interesting to see what he can do this year.