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2020-21 Lightning Player Grades: Bottom Six Forwards

The strength of the team’s depth chart.

2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome to the 2020-21 RawCharge Lightning Player Grades. Today we’re tackling the bottom-six forwards on the roster. The Lightning had one of the strongest forward groups in the NHL this season and into the playoffs. Their performance gave them the depth to supplement what the Lightning’s best players did throughout the year and the playoffs. Let’s look at them and give them their report cards for the season.

In this Report Card, we’ll be looking at Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde, Mathieu Joseph, Patrick Maroon, and Ross Colton.

Stats from Evolving-Hockey.com. Player stats for 2020-21 on the player cards have been pro-rated by Evolving-Hockey to an 82 game season.

Barclay Goodrow

Regular Season Grade: B-

Playoffs Grade: B-

NHL Stats: 55 GP, 6 Goals, 14 Assists, 20 Points; Playoffs - 18 GP, 2 Goals, 4 Assists, 6 Points

Player Card:

Goodrow put two 20-point campaigns together in a row while averaging around 15 minutes a night. He’s a solid third liner that plays big minutes on the penalty kill. Goodrow is a sound defensive player, and he continued to show that during the 2020-21 season. While isn’t as offensively gifted as his two linemates, he was able to chip in on the offense throughout the season at a higher level than I thought he would. During the playoffs, he played that game that was expected of him, and actually contributed a little bit more offense than he did in the 2020 playoffs despite starting off with an injury, which gets him a B- grade from me for slightly outperforming my expectations both during the regular season and the playoffs.

Blake Coleman

Regular Season Grade: B-

Playoffs Grade: C+

NHL Stats: 55 GP, 14 Goals, 17 Assists, 31 Points; Playoffs - 23 GP, 3 Goals, 8 Assists, 11 Points

Player Card:

Coleman had another solid regular season and playoffs. Like Goodrow he continued to play defense at a high level on the third line, but unlike his linemate, Pickles brought a lot of the offensive pop to the line. He also improved his assist rate and set a new career high for assists with 17. His goal scoring was a little bit down though. In two fewer playoff games, he scored two fewer goals and points which lined up pretty close to my expectations. Also good to keep in mind that he got all of this offensive output with barely any power play time. As I expected some team (Calgary) signed him to a deal, and will make him their second-line right winger and give him power play time. They’re going to get a great player.

Yanni Gourde

Regular Season Grade: A-

Playoffs Grade: C

NHL Stats: 56 GP, 17 Goals, 19 Assists, 36 Points; Playoffs - 23 GP, 6 Goals, 1 Assists, 7 Points

Player Card:

I’m really going to miss Yanni Gourde. Elite defense. Very high end offense. Great finish. Hard worker. Not afraid of anyone. Gourde finished fourth on the team in scoring and tied for second in goals with Steven Stamkos who missed 18 games. Gourde had a very good season, one of his best in a Lightning sweater. The playoffs though were a bit of a disappointment for me. While he did score six goals which was one short of the 2020 playoffs, he only recorded one assist which kept his point total down significantly from last year’s 14 points in 25 games. That ended up making his playoffs just a slight disappointment for me, but only slight, because he still performed at an extremely high level defensively.

Mathieu Joseph

Regular Season Grade: B+

Playoffs Grade: C+

NHL Stats: 56 GP, 12 Goals, 7 Assists, 19 Points; Playoffs - 6 GP, 0 Goals, 2 Assists, 2 Points

Player Card:

Joseph had a big bounce back season offensively. He went into a big slump during the 2019-20 season after a strong rookie debut. He ended up being sent back to the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL to work on his game. While he was with the Lightning in the 2020 playoff bubble, he didn’t play. He did suit up for six games during the 2021 playoffs. First he replaced an injured Barclay Goodrow at the beginning of the playoffs, and then returned to the line-up for the last four games in the Stanley Cup Final, where he recorded his first two playoff assists in his career. Joseph still needs to play better defensively, but it was good to see him get back some of the offensive spark he had showed as a rookie.

Patrick Maroon

Regular Season Grade: C+

Playoffs Grade: C+

NHL Stats: 55 GP, 4 Goals, 14 Assists, 18 Points; Playoffs - 23 GP, 2 Goals, 2 Assists, 4 Points

Player Card:

Maroon is Maroon. You know what you’re gonna get. A Stanley Cup! I kid, but also not really. Maroon is a player that doesn’t actually provide a lot of value on the ice with his play. He’s slowed down and when he was playing with Colton and Joseph in particular, you could really see his lack of foot speed. But he’s also smart and somehow was still able to position himself well to support his more fleet of skate friends on the ice.

Maroon’s goal scoring was down with a slightly higher assist rate that kept his points per game rate about the same. The playoffs were a similar story. And he scored a goal that could have ended up being epic when he tied the game late in Game Four against the Montreal Canadiens, but the Lightning lost that game in overtime.

Where Maroon’s value comes in is more on the bench and in the locker room. The guys on the team love him while the guys on the other side hate the sound of his voice. He did what I expect him to do in both the regular season and the playoffs, and thus he gets a C+ grade in both.

Ross Colton

Regular Season Grade: A+

Playoffs Grade: B

NHL Stats: 55 GP, 6 Goals, 14 Assists, 20 Points; Playoffs - 18 GP, 2 Goals, 4 Assists, 6 Points

Player Card:

Colton is a player I had talked up going into the 2019-20 season and again going into last season as a dark horse to make the Lightning roster. I felt like he was a Killorn Lite or a Diet Killorn as it were. A similar size player, that plays a similar style of game - hard on the puck, relentless, with a decent shot. Early in his call-up Colton went on a big goal scoring bender that was the result of a lot of luck. That meant he well outperformed my expectations of what he would do if he got into the line-up this season.

I looked at him as being a 20 point type of player in an 82-game season. Pro-rated out to 82 games, he performed at a 25 goal, 33 point pace. Colton hasn’t scored more than 20 goals in a season since 2015-16 in the USHL. This is not the kind of performance I expected from him, and also not the kind of performance I expect from him going forward. He put up four goals and six points in 23 games in the playoffs, which is a 21 point full-season pace, and more what I would expect from him in 2021-22.

One big point to make though is that he played defense like what I expected from him. Ranking so well in Defense WAR is a good sign for him going forward. He ended up grading out very similarly to Alex Killorn, hence the comparison.

Because of his regular season over-performance, he gets a big grade from me. Because his playoffs were about what I would have expected going into the season, I started him at a C+, but he gets a B from me for scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal.