Coming in at 11, and another one of those surprises, is Rem Pitlick, scoring 52.5%.
Mr. Pitlick was confounding to be sure. He had the exact opposite issue as Joel Armia. His advanced metrics were terrible but everything else was outstanding. Having the worst Corsi-for percentage on the Montreal Canadiens and the third-worst expected-goals-for percentage is certainly not a way to climb a list. However, having the fourth-best goals-for percentage and points per 60 doesn’t hurt. Add in the eighth-most defensive-zone starts and you’ve got yourself a pickle (or a Pitlick?).
Those of you who have been following this series know that the tangible stats (points/60, goals-for percentage) are weighted higher than the more predictive stats (I say “more” predictive because there is a lot of debate as to whether or not any stat can be predictive). So, the question has to be asked: Was Pitlick just someone who went on a heater, or can he be a very good NHLer?
He looks good with the puck on his stick, and certainly works hard in front of the net. I would venture that not many of those goals this year were fluked into the net.
I’ve heard the Paul Byron comparable, and that’s a tempting one to make because of the way he looks with the puck and the fact he was a waiver pickup. But Byron was one of the better defensive forwards in the league during his height (figurative height). On top of that, Byron was an analytics darling, and as you can see Rem is something less than that.
Pitlick’s new contract is intriguing and, I think, well worth it to see if this was a flash in the pan. I would love to see him in a situation where he was a little bit more insulated and see if his play away from the puck could improve. Certainly his play on the defensive end and in transition is not as bad as these numbers suggest, but it could definitely use some improving.
For more info on the model I used, check out the introduction to this series.