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Pierre-Édouard Bellemare Goal of the Year

Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning via Twitter

We’re finally getting around to reviewing the 2022-23 season. Instead of assigning grades or any of that nonsense, we’ll start by looking at the player’s best goal from the season and go from there. For some it’ll be easy, others have way more to choose from.

Player:

Pierre-Édouard Bellemare

Stat Line:

Reg Season – 73 games played, 4 goals, 9 assists, 34 PIM, 51 shots, 4.68 iXG, 67 hits

Playoffs – 6 games played, 1 goals, 1 assists, 0 PIM, 5 shots, 0.30 iXG (5×5), 16 hits

Goal of the Year Video:

Bellemare fires from the slot
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare fires the puck from the slot and gets it through the traffic at the net, making it a 2-0 game in the 1st period

Goal of the Year Description:

One of Bellemare’s few snipes this season was off a turnover created by the rookie mobile defender, Perbix, who jumped down the boards to cut off the puck and found Bellemare at the faceoff dot for a shot.

Four of Bellemare’s five goals this year were to open the scoring in the first period, including his playoff-opening goal in Game 1 against the Leafs. Three of his goals were tip-ins or rebounds from in front of the net.

How did the 2022-23 season go for them?

Bellemare had yet another very competent season as the fourth line center. That job is never going to be flashy or bring a big advantage to a team, but sucking can quickly result in changes. It’s a boon for the Lightning for Bellemare to be a calming presence up the middle that gives the coach peace of mind with his play.

Based on the numbers, Bellemare won faceoffs (52%), killed penalties (most TOI among forwards, lowest goals against rate), and won his minutes on shots when tied and leading.

I mention Bellemare’s shot share split away from when the Lightning were trailing because his numbers were shockingly dissimilar from when the Lightning were tied or leading. Having watched the season, I chalk that up to needing a line to run out the clock during blowouts. I’m mostly willing to ignore that part of his game because a defensive center isn’t the right specialization to have when you are trailing. Scoring wingers like Perry are the ones you expect to see get put in those positions, which the Lightning executed by moving Perry up to the third line on occasion.

Overall, I accept that Bellemare lost his minutes on the shot clock, goals, and expected goals, but in the times where he was needed he played well (52% on chances when defending leads).

Beyond the results of his play, Bellemare didn’t deal with any major injuries, missing only nine games during the regular season, though he said after the season he was fighting uphill to get back to the level of play he thought is in him.

I hope it isn’t held against Bellemare if the passing of his mother this season affected his play and it took six months to get himself to where he needed to be. I can’t imagine losing a parent, I know his loss hit the whole Lightning community.

2023-24 Contract Status:

Bellemare is a 38-year-old UFA this summer and is heading towards the open market without an extension with the Lightning. The late-bloomer to the league stated pretty clearly that he wants to keep playing and has more to give despite his age.

Brutally for Bellemare, his three most recent teams he’s played for are all Stanley Cup Champions and yet he doesn’t have a championship himself. He’s spent two years each with Vegas, Colorado, and Tampa Bay, leaving Colorado before their Cup year, after Tampa’s two championships, and being on Tampa when Vegas won their first Cup.

Do we expect them to score more or less next season?

Whether it’s the Lightning or a different contender, we’ll see Bellemare in the NHL again. He’s a valuable defensive fourth line center who wins faceoffs, can competently tip, rebound, and be a body in front of both nets, and facilitate the puck going in a positive direction. And he kills penalties. Age is just a number with Belly. I know there will be contenders looking for his services for a million or so.

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