The Tampa Bay Lightning shifted their depth around for the 2024 season. The organization lost seven of its ten oldest players from the 2023 roster. The team looks much younger. As this article provides, 27-year-old Michael Eyssimont‘s impact is vital to the Lightning’s bottom six this upcoming year.
Eyssimont Gearing Up for Full-Time Minutes
A career in the AHL seemed likely for Eyssimont until the 2022-23 season. Eyssimont split four seasons between the Manitoba Moose and Ontario Reign from 2019 to 2022. Then, Eyssimont earned the opportunity to play games for the Winnipeg Jets last season. He recorded one goal and four assists for five points in 19 games.
Path to the Lightning Organization
Unfortunately, Eyssimont was placed on waivers in January by Winnipeg. However, the San Jose Sharks claimed him the following day. Eyssimont succeeded with the Sharks in his short stint with the organization, recording three goals and five assists in 20 games.
During the 2023 trade deadline, Eyssimont joined his third team of the season. The Lightning traded forward Vladislav Namestnikov to the San Jose Sharks to acquire Eyssimont. He played 15 regular season games for Tampa Bay, recording two points. In addition, Eyssimont scored two points in three playoff games. Eyssimont can provide an enticing impact for the bottom six next season.
In a hockey game, shooting the puck is never wrong, even if better options are available. Eyssimont is a high-volume shot-taker at all strengths. He recorded 11.24 shots per hour last season, 21st-best amongst forwards (all strengths). During his time with the Lightning, he recorded 10.86 shots per 60, first among forwards.
Furthermore, Corey Sjanzder (All Three Zones) provides further insight into Eyssimont with the Sharks last season. In his tracked sample of games, his 17.88 shots per hour ranked seventh best in the entire league. Additionally, Eyssimont was in the company of elite shooters, including Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, and Cole Caufield.
While Eyssimont is not an efficient shooter, his play style aligns with the system of Head Coach Jon Cooper. The Lightning frequently toss pucks on the net. Moreover, Eyssimont can throw his weight around and absorb checks.
Another asset of Eyssimont is his ability to create pressure against opposing defencemen. After creating turnovers, Eyssimont uses his body position effectively to create separation to maintain possession of the puck. From there, he can fire a shot, pass the puck to the point, or continue the cycle down low. Eyssimont recorded 19.51 shots off the forecheck and cycle per 60 last season, the 10th-best in the entire league. While the standard fourth line consists of forecheckers, Eyssimont offers a dual-threat package to his game. Below are clips from Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Michael Eyssimont (TB23) made the most of his return to the lineup in the Bolts' 4-2 Game 5 win.
He scored a goal and an assist with an 85% xGF% at 5v5 while being active on the forecheck.
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) April 28, 2023
A Fourth-Liner Who Can Play Off The Rush
The Littleton, Colorado native is a fourth liner who can provide more than body checks. Eyssimont is a prime example of “grit gone right.” His 10.18 hits per hour ranked tied for 65th amongst forwards last season. Additionally, Eyssimont plays an effective game off the rush. His 13.82 shots off the rush per hour is nearly five shots higher than the league average. Furthermore, he finished above the mean in controlled entries and entries leading to scoring chances per hour. Fourth-liners who can rush the puck are scarce in the league.
Expectations For Michael Eyssimont’s Impact
The Lightning found a potential diamond in the rough with the Eyssimont trade. He provides unique value to a fourth line that not many teams possess. Moreover, Eyssimont works extremely hard and will give 100% effort every night. He earned a full-time roster spot with his playoff performance. A total of ten goals and 25 points is a reasonably expected achievement for Eyssimont next season.
Main Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports