Player: Dominik Simon
Born: August 8, 1994
Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic
Contract: one year remaining at salary cap hit of $750,000
Regular Season History
The overall numbers are nothing that jump off the page, but when you take into account Simon’s ice-time and the fact he received very little power play time his performance is not as bad as you might believe if you just listened to the criticism. Just looking at 5-on-5 production, his 1.72 points per 60 minutes were sixth-best on the team among forwards that played at least 40 games.
Simon had outstanding possession numbers, really strong defensive numbers, and did pretty much everything well except for actually scoring goals. He is a perfectly fine, useful player right up until he actually has to shoot the puck. That was especially true in the second half of the season when he finished with a 31-game stretch that saw him score just a single goal.
Game of the Season
November 10, 2018 — One of Simon’s three multi-point games during the season, this one coming against the Arizona Coyotes. Simon recorded both of his points in the second period, scoring a goal to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead then recording the primary assist on a Patric Hornqvist goal later in the period to put the game out of reach.
Charts (via hockeyviz)
The mark of an impressive player on a spreadsheet whose team shoots the puck a lot more with him on the ice than they do when he’s on the bench. Simon’s defensive numbers are also via rates some of the best in the league — the other team can’t shoot the puck at the Pittsburgh net when most the shift is spent in the other zone.
Simon plays almost exclusively at 5-on-5, and as we’ll see below had issues scoring later in the year. Playing with guys like Patric Hornqvist and Nick Bjugstad didn’t seem to work as well for production.
As the above shows though, Simon’s production took a pronounced and defined slide over the course of the season. He started out at 3+ primary points per hour, which is totally unsustainable and proved to be so as the season went on.
Monthly breakout (via yahoo)
The monthly splits also demonstrate the scoring difficulties as the season went on.
Simon’s usage was a pretty big topic of discussion, not only because he maintained a spot in the lineup, but because coach Mike Sullivan kept moving him up in the lineup. He finished with zero goals and an assist and helped create a goal later in the series even though it did not result in a point in the box score for him.
He keeps dominating the possession and scoring chance aspect, continues to be a strong defensive player, and finds some finishing ability to produce enough offense to validate the trust the coaching staff clearly has in him.
Worst Case 2019-20
Simon keeps getting first-line minutes, continues to have no finishing ability with the puck on his stick, sees his possession numbers drop, and is a drag on the top-six because of it, thus validating the criticism from a significant portion of the fan-base and media.
He does what he did during the 2018-19 season and drives possession, plays well defensively, and does not score anywhere near as much as anyone would like him to. Basically, be a solid, if unspectacular player, that simply does not score a lot of goals. Exactly the player we saw during the 2018-19 season.
What should Simon’s role look like for the 2019-20 season and what will he produce? It is going to be a big season for him and the Penguins because he will be due for a new contract as a restricted free agent following the season. His performance this upcoming season will go a long way toward deciding what that new contract will look like and whether or not he is a part of this team’s big-picture, long-term outlook.
Grade Dominik Simon’s 2018-19 Season
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