Tyler Johnson is Bound to Bounce Back in 2020-21

Tyler Johnson
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Tyler Johnson may have been one of the most controversial names of the offseason. Between the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cap hell, to him passing through waivers untouched. The offseason was not fun for the nine-year vet. 

Tyler Johnson is on Target to Bounce Back

Tyler Johnson is a Stanley Cup champion. It doesn’t get much better than that. Or, so it may seem. However, the middle-six player who has been with the Lightning for his entire nine-year career in the NHL hasn’t exactly had the best few seasons. 

After posting a 72-point campaign in 2014-15 and carrying the proverbial load for the Lightning Cup run with 23 playoff points, he averaged 17:14 of time on ice per game that season. Since then, he has only surpassed that time once, in 2016-17. Granted, the Lightning are stock-piled with talent. Between Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov breaking out since that 2016-17 season, the emergence of Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli, to go along with Steven Stamkos playing more games per season than usual, Johnson has been limited, certainly. But it hasn’t been more clear than the last four seasons. 

Johnson’s Last Four Years

The first year in this span is his 2016-17 season, where he averaged a career-high 18:49 time on ice per game. He finished that season having played 66 games with a total of 1,242 minutes of ice time. You’re probably thinking, who cares about total ice time? Well, looking at goals per game, assists per game, and points per game paces are good, but it isn’t always completely reliable. In the case of Johnson, he’s looking at an uptick in ice time for this season. So, looking at his last few years of low ice times and giving a “fair” assessment using those paces, wouldn’t actually be fair. 

In 2016-17, Johnson scored 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 66 games played. Using his total ice time, he scored 0.015 goals per minute played, 0.021 assists per minute played, for a grand total of 0.036 points per game. 

In 2017-18, Johnson scored 21 goals and 29 assists for 50 points in 81 games. He averaged exactly 17 minutes per game, which led to a total of 1,376 minutes of ice time. Using that, Johnson recorded the exact same per minute rates as 2016-17, with 0.015 goals, 0.021 assists for 0.036 points. 

Tyler Johnson’s Decline Begins

The last two seasons is where Johnson saw the biggest fall in ice time. In 2018-19, Johnson scored 29 goals and 18 assists for 47 points in 80 games played, averaging just 15:57 of ice time per game. That ended up getting him to play 1,276 minutes throughout the season. He finished with an outlier in terms of rates that season, finishing with 0.023 goals per minute and 0.014 assists per minute for a pretty consistent pace of 0.037 points per minute. 

Finally, in 2019-20, Johnson finished with 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points in 65 of a possible 70 games played. He averaged just 14:33 of ice time per game that season as well, continuing his slide down the lineup. Because of this, he played just 945 total minutes. This led to a goals per minute rate of 0.015 (look familiar?) and 0.018 assists per minute for 0.033 points per minute. 

Tyler Johnson’s Projected Stats

Using the rates above, Johnson should be good for about 0.015 goals per minute. As for his assists, they have dipped in recent seasons, so as a safe bet, one could plug him in at about 0.017 assists per minute. That would lead to a 0.032 points per minute pace. Taking into account the shortened season, along with the fact he has missed at least one game every season, let’s say he plays 52 games. Under the impression that it’s another normal season for Johnson, let’s plug him in for 14 minutes of average time on ice per game. That mark would lead him to play 728 minutes. That means he would project to score 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points. Not great. 

However, with Kucherov out with an injury and an opening in the top-six and power play, Johnson is projected to play a larger role this season. Considering that, I have his goals per minute pace rising to a 0.018 mark, while his assists also rise to 0.021. That would equate to a 0.039 point per minute pace. Understanding the fact that he will play with Point on the powerplay (based on what has been seen at camp), plus how motivated he must be after this crazy offseason, these paces might be a bit low. 

What to Expect From Tyler Johnson in 2020-21

To be on the safe side, those paces will remain where they are for this projection. Figuring out his role will be more complicated. However, looking back at his 2017-18 season where he had modest time on both special teams units, an average of 17 minutes per game sounds about right for this shortened season. 

With the idea that Johnson will average 17 minutes a game over 52 games, he would play 884 minutes in total. Using the total ice time and the paces, that would land Johnson with 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points in those 52 games. To put that into perspective, Johnson would slot into a projected 76 games if the season was a normal 82-game schedule. Taking the 35 points in 52 games rate, here’s where Johnson would land in a full season: 23 goals and 28 assists for 51 points. Now that is a solid season for Johnson! Here’s to hoping he reaches or surpasses that mark when the season finally gets under way!

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