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2015-16 Pensburgh Recap: Trevor Daley

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A mid-season pickup who turned into a big time contributor gets his turn in the spotlight for the Pensburgh season review. It's Trevor Daley time.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Age and Contract Status

Age: 32 (DOB: October 9, 1983). Daley has one more season under contract with a $3.3 million cap hit and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017. It's probably also worth mentioning here that the Penguins do have a $1,125,000 retained fee on Rob Scuderi 's contract in the trade that brought Daley to Pittsburgh that they are on the hook for the in 2016-17 season.

Preseason Expectations

Well, for Daley personally it was a wild year. After being draft by the Dallas Stars in 2002 and first breaking into the NHL in the 2003-04 season, Daley experienced his first change of organizations in the summer of 2015 when Dallas shipped him (plus Ryan Garbutt) in exchange for Patrick Sharp and Western PA's own Stephen Johns. Daley was seen as a guy who could help the Blackhawks try to win yet another Stanley Cup, but things didn't work out in Chi-town. Daley fell out of favor with coach Joel Quenneville and became quickly an afterthought, somehow.

Even more amazing, the Blackhawks decided it was a good idea to gain salary cap space in a swap of ineffective defensemen and traded Daley to Pittsburgh on Decemeber 14th for Scuderi and the $1.1 million in cap space.

2015-16 Stats

Regular season: (Chicago): 29 games played, 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points, 8 penalty minutes

Regular season: (Pittsburgh): 51gp, 6g + 16a, 22p, 26 PIMs

Playoffs: 15 gp, 1g + 5a, 6p, 10 PIMs

Verdict

After coming over to Pittsburgh in the trade; the rest, as they say, is history with Daley and his broken ankle gingerly skating out to lift the Cup as the first person Sidney Crosby passed it to. Quite the whirlwind for a guy who 12 months prior was still with the only NHL team he had ever known to switch clubs twice, play well and then have to watch from the sidelines as his team won Lord Stanley.

But Daley did plenty to help, including a shining moment and memorable playoff performance. Game 4 vs the Capitals. Kris Letang got himself suspended for a reckless hit and Olli Maatta was hurt on a different bad hit to majorly deplete Pittsburgh's defensive depth. Daley and Brian Dumoulin were tasked with matching up againsst the Alex Ovechkin / Nicklas Backstrom line, and they did well. Daley scored a goal and was on the ice for all 3 Penguins goals, and none against in a 3-2 OT win that gave Pittsburgh a commanding 3-1 series lead. Ovechkin and Backstrom were held point-less on the night and Daley's 28:41 was by far a team high. It was a masterful game by Daley.

Unfortunately though, it was also one of his last. Daley broke his ankle in Game 4 of the ECF and was out for the playoffs. Luckily he was able to put skates on and join the team in the celebration to enjoy the moment.

Future

Daley's age (turning 33 just before the beginning of the regular season) and miles (838 NHL games played) points to him being more towards the end of his playing career than the beginning, but there's no reason to believe he can't play as well as he played for the Pens last year in the near future. He should be in a 2nd pairing role that could also chip in on PK and PP as needed, with the potential to even play first pair minutes like his hey-dey in Dallas in an extreme pinch (like Game 4 Washington). That's not a realistic consistent level of play to sustain, but having the capability is a comforting thing to keep.

It will be interesting for a debate to see if Pittsburgh can keep Daley past this contract, he's scheduled to become a UFA and at age 34 could be looking for that "one last big contract" at this point of his career. Pittsburgh has shown they won't go too long for aging defensmen (Paul Martin ) so 2016-17 could well be Daley's last in Pittsburgh as the team transitions towards a younger defense. However, if the player wants to come back and can agree with the team on a term/amount that works for both sides, a return could be possible.

Daley's HERO Chart

(From Own The Puck)

2015-16 Game-by-Game Analysis

(From HockeyViz, explained here)

daley72616

What kind of jumps out to me is the bottom chart look how at about game 70 Daley starts churning out the offense. Then look at the first chart and that pretty much aligns to when Daley got moved up to play regularly with Kris Letang. With the warning of a small sample (just 172 minutes together) Daley and Letang did slay when together with a 56.3% Corsi For % and seeing 2 of every 3 goals (66.7%) go into the right net. The team, of course, was playing spectacular down the stretch racking up wins, so this was the best time to be in this role, but it's worth pointing out Daley + Letang crushed it.

Distribution of Teammates and Competition

(From HockeyViz, explained here)

daley7262

GIFs of the Year

This goal in March against Braden Holtby and the Caps showed some nice hands and scoring touch.

This excellent fake-shot into a pass by Daley to Bryan Rust in Game 5 vs. the Rangers was a mighty purdy play. And important, it broke a 2-2 tie and the Pens would never look back going on to score the next 4 goals to power them to a series clinching win.

daley pass nyr

A nice defensive play in Game 1 against Ovechkin to thwart a scoring chance

Patric Hornqvist gets a tip on this Daley shot

daley hornqvist goal caps

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Feel free to vote in the poll below to rate Trevor Daley's season. Vote based on your expectations coming into the season, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.