Coming in at number one is someone who I really hoped the Montreal Canadiens wouldn’t trade. Well, as long as he could score the Western Conference Final-winning goal AND Stanley Cup-winning goal then I’d be happy for him. He did? Delightful! Can we get him back? Nuts.
Lehkonen scored an astounding 85.0% on this model. With that said, I should address the elephant in the room: I wrote an article about him mid-season calling him a tad overrated. Allow me to explain.
I got tired of reading articles talking about his “great defensive numbers,” but not referencing what those numbers were or putting them into context. All year, and indeed in the playoffs last year, it seemed that he was starting to get more offensive deployment.
Not only was he getting more offensive starts, but he’d been taking advantage of them. So, it’s time we flipped the script on Lehkonen being a defensive dynamo but an offensive black hole. Rather, he can have a great impact all over the ice.
The only weak spot that I measured for this model is that he had the fifth-least defensive-zone starts per 60 (hence the defensive dynamo rant earlier). Other than that, he had the best shot-attempt share, xGF% and points per 60. The only other place he wasn’t the best at was goals-for percentage, coming in at fifth-best.
So, he might have been given more cushy deployment, but he’s the one who took advantage of it by putting up points and generating scoring chances like an elite machine.
Narratives take a long time to change, and Lehkonen’s has had to change a few times. From the sniper role he teased in his first season, to the defensive juggernaut of more recent seasons, and now a play-driving winger who can put up points. It’s a testament to his overall ability that he’s played well in so many different situations, and his presence in the lineup will be missed in 2022-23.
For more info on the model I used, check out the introduction to this series.
#1: Artturi Lehonen
#2: Jake Evans
#3: Brendan Gallagher
#4: Christian Dvorak
#5 Nick Suzuki
#6: Tyler Toffoli
#7: Jonathan Drouin
#8: Cole Caufield
#9: Michael Pezzetta
#10: Josh Anderson
#11: Rem Pitlick
#12: Mike Hoffman
#13: Joel Armia
#14: Ryan Poehling
#15: Laurent Dauphin
#16: Paul Byron