Key Stat: Kempny again set a career high in average ice time per game, skating just over 19 minutes a night alongside John Carlson on the team’s top blueline pair. That’s over two minutes more than his previous high (set in his 22-game post-trade stint last season); in fact, his average ice time at even strength still tops that by over a minute.
The Good: When the Caps traded for Kempny at the 2018 deadline, the expectation was likely not for him to be a significant offensive contributor. But with almost a full season in the Caps’ system under his belt and a defensive partner prone to jumping into the play, it seemed almost natural that Kempny should put up some points this year - and put up points he did, tying Matt Niskanen for third among Caps’ defensemen with 25 points and trailing only Dmitry Orlov (8) and John Carlson (13) in goals with six. Unsurprisingly, his goal, assist and point totals were all career highs (in fact he more than doubled his career goal total in a single season).
The Bad: Kempny had his stumbles and struggles this year as he adjusted to his full-time role on the top defensive pair, and it showed in some of his underlying stats - his HDCF% at evens dipped from a career rate of about 52% down to 45.7%, and his SCA/60 bumped up above 30 for the first time in three seasons. He was also prone to taking penalties, his 60 penalty minutes and 1.2 penalties/60 both ranking second on the team behind only Tom Wilson.
Ultimately, however, the biggest negative for Kempny was the torn left hamstring he suffered towards the end of the regular season which required him to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season and all of the playoffs. While his addition to the lineup last year had helped bolster the team’s defensive depth, it was clear that the lineup without him simply couldn’t recover from losing his minutes (to say nothing of the loss of what had become a great partnership with John Carlson) and certainly played a role in their first-round exit.
The Discussion: Kempny should hopefully be back and healthy in time for the start of camp (or at least the regular season); after what is likely to be some upheaval on the blueline this summer, what do you see his role being in 2019-20? Do you think he should remain on the top pair with Carlson or should the Caps search for other options, internal or external, to fill that spot? What would it take for you to give him a ‘10’ next season?
Other Kempny Season Reviews: Peerless, RMNB
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.
How do you rate Michal Kempny’s 2018-19 season?
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