Key Stat: Kempny averaged 17:26 per game at even strength during the playoffs, fourth-highest among all players and among blueliners. By comparison, Kempny’s even-strength ice time was just over 14 minutes in 31 regular-season games with the Blackhawks prior to the trade.
Interesting Stat: During the regular season, Kempny and John Carlson actually had better five-on-five CF, FF, and SF% numbers apart from one another than they did when paired up. Kempny’s SF% at even strength dipped from 58.24 to 47.70 when going from a different partner to Carlson. That said, Kempny was a lot more sheltered than Carlson as he made the adjustment to his new team, earning more offensive-zone starts in his first 22 games - and once the postseason began, both saw vast improvements across the board in their numbers when on the ice together as opposed to apart.
The Good: Kempny’s acquisition was very under-the-radar, one of those low-cost deadline moves that can have a decent (or in this case, massive) impact. Prior to his arrival in DC, the Caps - and their blueline in particular - had struggled with getting the puck out to start the team’s transition to offense. Kempny’s mobility and puck-moving skills were helpful in that regard, and after a few early stumbles, he settled in alongside Carlson and helped the Caps’ shots-against drop almost two shots per game in the final two months of the season. He even chipped in on offense, picking up two goals in his 22 regular-season games with the Caps - equaling his career high in 50 games the season prior.
But it was in the playoffs where things really clicked, for both Kempny and the team (and the two were not unrelated). He and Carlson became a dominant duo on the Caps’ blue line, with an even-strength SCF% of 51.23 while routinely facing opponents’ top lines - and when you’re talking about the opponents faced in this year’s playoffs, that’s no small feat, be it Steven Stamkos or Sidney Crosby or William Karlsson. He once again got to provide a little offense, as well, adding two goals (including a key nail-in-the-coffin goal in a wild Game 4 in the Final) and three assists during the Caps’ run to the Cup.
Kempny credited Todd Reirden for getting his confidence back here in Washington because he didn’t have much coming over in the trade. Said he had some bad games in the playoffs but Todd would give him keys to get right back on track.— Ed Frankovic (@EdFrankovic) June 13, 2018
The Bad: It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the new blueliner, particularly in his Caps’ debut, and Kempny’s early days with the club were a bit up and down - although much of that early time was spent on the team’s third pair alongside, among others, Brooks Orpik.
Through the final 22 games of the season, Kempny posted the fifth-lowest CF% at even strength among Caps’ blueliners despite somewhat sheltered minutes, and the second-lowest points/60 rate (although he wasn’t really brought in for his offensive prowess).He also had a bit of a penchant for taking penalties, with the second-highest penalties/60 rate among the team’s defensemen during both the regular season and the playoffs.
Kempny and His Defensive Partners (chart by @muneebalamcu):
Kempny’s 5v5 Usage (chart by @muneebalamcu):
Kempny’s Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage (chart by @muneebalamcu):
The Vote: Rate Kempny below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Based on his 46 games with the squad, and his comfort level with Carlson, what is a reasonable contract offer for soon-to-be UFA Kempny? What is Kempny’s ceiling as a player? Where does he need to improve? What would it take for you to give him a “10” next year?
Other Kempny Season Reviews: RMNB
How do you rate the Caps portion of Michal Kempny’s 2017-18 season?
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