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2018-2019 Tampa Bay Lightning Player Grades: Cedric Paquette showed improvement

Paquette had his best NHL season since his rookie year.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning season is over. With a long summer ahead of us, we’re going to hand out grades to each player on the roster. You did your part submitting your grades via the reader survey, and they are presented along with our writers’ grades. All told, about 360 of you submitted grades, which is less than last season, but that’s understandable considering how the season went. Follow along with the series through the month of May and share your thoughts in the comments.

Cedric Paquette was a player that I entered the year thinking really needed to have a good, and healthy, season for the Lightning. He’s not a high impact player as a fourth line center, but you do need to have that depth from top to bottom to be a successful team and put up a season like the Tampa Bay Lightning had this year. I’m still of the opinion that Paquette could be on the move this summer with Mitchell Stephens waiting in the AHL as a potential replacement for him. So his strong season could help to boost his value on the trade market if the Lightning front office decides to let him go.

I had the highest grade among the RawCharge writers for Paquette giving him a B. Lauren gave him a B-, with everyone else other than Loserpoints giving him between a C- and C+. Loserpoints hit him with the D grade. On the reader side of the grading, Paquette finished out with a B- grade.

The following card shows that as well as how he performed in some high level stats. Wins Above Replacement and the expected goal impacts come from Evolving Hockey. The xG impacts include all situations.

For the first time in his NHL career, Paquette played a complete season. He finished the year with 80 games played, breaking his career high of 64 games from the 2014-15 season. He missed one game due to an injury and was a healthy scratch for the final game of the season. He also set a career high in goals with 13 breaking his high from his rookie season of 2014-15. He also had the second highest points total of his career with 17 points.

Paquette managed to achieve this goal total by being aggressive in driving the net. A number of his goals came opportunistically from right around the net. But he also showed off a good shot with a number of pretty snipes among his goals scored. He added two goals to his total with a couple of shorthanded goals, the first ones he’s scored since 2015-16.

The big weak point of Paquette’s offensive game is that he does not pick up assists. In 316 NHL games, he has just 27 assists against 40 goals. He has only had one season in which he recorded more assists than goals. But offense isn’t really the name of Paquette’s game; it’s defense and penalty killing.

Paquette was the fourth best Lightning forward in terms of Goals Against per 60. Only Alex Killorn, Adam Erne, and Anthony Cirelli came up better than him in that category. he is more middle of the pack in Expected Goals Against per 60, but still has good numbers in that statistic.

Paquette had the second most short handed time on ice among the Lightning’s forwards. He took the second most short handed faceoffs, though he wasn’t particularly great in winning just 40.6%. His faceoff difficulty led to the Lightning turning to Steven Stamkos more as the season went on to take shorthanded faceoffs as Stamkos put up a 55.6% win percentage short handed. At even strength though, Paquette was good on faceoffs winning 54.2% of draws good for second on the team behind Yanni Gourde.

One of the big weaknesses of Paquette’s game, besides the lack of offense generation, was in the area of penalties. He took 27 penalties at even strength, the most of any player on the team and tied for the second most in the NHL. He balanced that somewhat by drawing 20 penalties, tied with Nikita Kucherov for most on the team.

For me, my grade of a B for Paquette came down to his success on the penalty kill, on even strength faceoffs, and on his goal scoring. Oh, and on staying healthy. I expected him to only play 60-65 games and score around five goals with 10 points. He definitely exceeded my expectations in that regard, but his penalty issues took him back down a notch for me.