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Player Grades 2018-2019: Yanni Gourde, another undrafted contributor for the Lightning

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After a breakout rookie season, how was Gourde’s sophomore campaign?

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-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.

Yanni Gourde’s sophomore campaign was an up and down affair. Expecting Gourde to fully replicate his 64-point rookie campaign was always on the whimsical side, but a 48-point season is still respectable. If anything, Gourde showcased that he, like all hockey players, is streaky. He had multiple goalless and pointless droughts that plagued his season, but he always managed to put forth a full effort every night on the ice.

Gourde’s season saw goalless streaks of five (three times), nine, and 10 games, and at one point he only scored one goal in a 19 game stretch (his 10 game goalless streak was immediately followed by the nine game streak). His worst streaks on the points side were one of five and another of seven games. His worst stretch, production wise, was from December 4th to January 17th where he registered seven points (one goal six assists) in 20 games.

Gourde’s 48-points this year saw him maintain a strong possession game, but he only fired six less shots compared to his rookie campaign (130 to 136). His shooting percentage predictably dropped from 18% (a percentage that usually sticks to elite shooters in the NHL) to 16% (a good percentage overall, regardless), while a reduced role on the power-play pushed his power-play goals from 13 to 9.

Thankfully, Gourde’s relentless forecheck and tenacity enabled the Lightning to continue their winning ways even without his production (it also helps having Nikita Kucherov scoring at a torrid pace to pick up the slack).

Yanni Gourde, 5v5 Shots For/Against Rate
Micah Blake McCurdy, @IneffectiveMath, www.hockeyviz.com

As the shot charts show, when Gourde was on the ice, the Lightning were usually in control of the game. Most of Tampa Bay’s forwards have similarities in their shot charts, and Gourde is no different. But given the fact that he was moved around the lineup throughout the season, his shot rate numbers are still impressive. At 5v5, the Lightning controlled 51% of the shot attempts and 53% of the expected goals while Gourde was on the ice. The overall production might not have been what everyone was hoping, but Gourde’s ability to generate offensive pressure is still something to be lauded.

Another area where Gourde has been strong for the Lightning is defensively. The above shot rate chart showcases the areas where opposing teams shoot from, but doesn’t showcase how good Gourde’s defensive xG impact is.

Yanni Gourde, Off/Def RAPM Chart
Evolving-Hockey, @EvolvingWild, evolving-hockey.com

Only three other Lightning forwards had a better impact defensively than Gourde; Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn, and J.T. Miller. If Gourde can up his offensive numbers back into the 50-point bracket and maintain his defensive consistency, then there will be little to complain about for the feisty winger.

Gourde’s newly signed extension kicks in next season, and even though the value per year is fine in and of itself, the length is an area of concern. The contract will take Gourde into his age 33 season. A no trade clause for the first three years of the contract also restricts what the Lightning can do if Gourde’s offensive numbers do slip as he closes in on 30 years old. The last three years have a modified no trade clause, but it’ll be interesting to see what Gourde’s value will be at that time. In the short-term there shouldn’t be much worry, but hockey is an odd sport.

As for grades, I gave Gourde a B while the consensus from all of you was a B+. Gourde’s reduced offensive output in conjunction with his long droughts led me to drop him slightly from my initial grade of B+. Still a good season, but it could’ve been better given how well he played overall. I’m confident that he will bounce back next season, especially if he isn’t moved up and down the lineup as much as he was this season.

With Brayden Point’s new contract looming over the horizon, it’ll be interesting to see what Julien BriseBois does with the remaining forwards on the roster. Gourde should be safe from any kind of trade due to his contract, but his no trade clause doesn’t kick in until July 1st. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could be moved. It’s highly unlikely given his impact on the team, but BriseBois will explore all of his options. There are also other contracts on the Lightning that could be easier to navigate away from in Ryan Callahan and J.T. Miller, but this is all speculation.

Regardless, the Lightning should keep Gourde solely for the memes when he scores a goal. Seriously, this thing is a gem.