The Key Stat: 10:14 - Connor McMichael’s 5v5 time on ice per game during his 68 regular season games played. That’s almost a full minute and a half less than what fourth-liners Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd were getting, and same goes for Daniel Sprong, who was shipped out of town. Newcomer Johan Larsson was awarded more ice time per game than McMike, despite being the fresh face in town. Hell, even Axel Jonsson-Fjallby technically got more 5v5 ice per game in his 23 appearances than McMichael. In fact, there wasn’t a single regular skater who saw less ice per game than the Caps’ supposed top prospect.
The Good: Beneath the surface, some of the popularly used measurements ended painting quite a favorable picture of McMichael’s performance. His 56.45% xGF was the best such mark amongst any skater who was regularly drawing into the lineup. And the best part was, McMike accomplished this on both sides of the metric. His xGA/60 - a metric that can loosely interpreted as a measurement of defensive responsibility - was 2.18, which put him neck and neck with Nic Dowd (2.16) for the best such reading on the team. But McMike’s defensive positioning isn’t what had the fanbase hot and bothered for years before he was finally given a shot under the bright lights this season...and he didn’t dissapoint. Well, kind of, but more on that in a minute. His xGF - which, like its counterpart, should be loosely used to understand the potency of a skater (or more accurately, the potency of his team’s offence while he is on the ice), was 2.83 xGF/60. This was higher than Alex Ovechkin’s reading, higher than Anthony Mantha, or John Carlson’s. In fact, it was higher than anybody on the team who played in more than 18 games for the Caps. This can be caveated in any number of ways, but those caveats scarcely matter - the prized rook put in his first season and the advanced measurements tell us he’s looking like he’s every bit the stud we expected him to be.
The Bad: The bad news is advanced measurements don’t tell the full story, and the story missing here is one about missed opportunity. McMike finished the campaign with 9 goals and 9 assists, with 8 of those goals and all of the assists coming at even-strength. That’s not so bad for a first go-round in the bigs, all things considered, but the production in relation to the expected goal measures really left something to be desired...and the conclusion from it is ugly and obvious: Connor McMichael couldn’t finish. His 7.69% shooting percentage was decidedly on the wrong side of the team rankings. The only other forwards who shot beneath 8% were Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Brett Leason, and Carl Hagelin. Not exactly the type of offensive company you want your blue chip prospect to be keeping at a skill metric.
But perhaps more alarming than any particular number is the clear fact that Connor McMichael was unable to win his head coach’s trust, and was only able to force his way into the Caps postseason lineup by dint of injury higher up the depth chart. It’s easy to point at some impressive under-the-hood numbers and see promise and proficiency, but the real personnel and tactical pros are making these assessments and decisions on their own criteria, and by these criteria, whatever they are, McMichael clearly failed to impress.
The Discussion: What gives with this skilled player’s difficulties finishing good chances? Was this season a disapointment, or was it a perfectly normal developmental season? Is McMike ready to step into more responsibility next season? And finally, what would it take for you to give McMichael a 10 next season?
The Vote: Rate Connor McMichael 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 Connor McMichael’s 2021-22 season?