The Dallas stars were once paying Tyler Seguin 9.85 million dollars each year to be their star center. Now, they are still paying him 9.85 million for 4 more seasons after this one, but his production has fallen off. Roope Hintz has taken over as the #1 centreman, new faces are forcing lineup changes, and Seguin’s knee injury in 2020 forced a long recovery process.
When watching the player, Tyler has a similar jump and stride to that of his pre-injury self. He is still an active forechecker who shoots when he can and finds his teammates frequently enough to balance out his stat sheet. He still wins an abundance of faceoffs and tries to make an impact game after game. However, he is still not producing like a 10-million-dollar player.
This article will attempt to uncover the reason behind Seguin’s lack of post-injury production in search of what can be done to replicate the ‘prime Seguin’ player mold for the 30-year-old player and body, if possible. Now is the time to find and optimize a playing style for Tyler Seguin that can reinvigorate his career before he and his fans have to go through the next 4 seasons after this one of 10-million-dollar middle-six production, or worse.
The inspiration for this article comes from Tyler Seguin’s teammates, Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn. Joe Pavelski has seen much success in his older seasons at 36 years old, 37, and so forth. He has likely enjoyed the effects of playing with Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson for the past few years, but he is nowhere close to a liability, despite some physical limitations including below-average skating and agility.
Jamie Benn has also redeemed his 46-point 2021-2022 campaign with 37 points in 41 games already this year. Seguin still has his hips going for him and should be able to find a way to get back to scoring, so let’s find out where he’s having trouble using a “What’s Wrong” checklist.
Tyler Seguin Item 1: Shooting
As a previously-regular 30-goal scorer, we can understand his production better if we see his shot-creation numbers. Specifically, Tyler Seguin’s 40-goal campaign in 2017-2018 came from 335 shots and shooting 11.9%. 11.9% is not very high compared to the other top goal-scorers from that year, but shooting for quantity with 4.08 shots per game is not the worst strategy for anyone in the NHL looking for 40 goals.
To compare, Seguin currently has 98 shots in 42 games as of January 9th, 2023, and only 9 goals, shooting 9.2%. His teammates like Jason Robertson and Jamie Benn are shooting almost twice as successful as he is. Based on these numbers, Seguin is only shooting 2.3 times per game, which is astronomically different from the 4.08 shots per game that he took in his most successful scoring year in recent history. Regardless, shooting should not solely account for the reason behind having 9 goals in 41 games.
Verdict: Not a huge concern
Solution: Shoot more
Tyler Seguin Item 2: Luck
Using Natural StatTrick’s Skater data (PDO = on-ice shooting % + on-ice save %), we can determine if Seguin has had bad shooting luck, whether that be him or his teammates when he’s on the ice that could lead to an overall poor stat sheet for him (goals and assists). Specifically, in looking at Seguin’s numbers, he’s operating at a 1.003 PDO which is practically even (100% = 1.000) meaning that there is neither good luck nor bad luck influencing his stats from a shooting and goalie perspective when he’s on the ice. For reference, Tyler Seguin had a 1.015 PDO in 2017-2018 which was 171st in the league, so PDO/luck had no effect on his statistical outputs.
The second metric to use for luck is comparing expected goals to actual goals using MoneyPuck.com’s data. Specifically, Tyler Seguin’s 40-goal 2017-2018 campaign had him scoring 40 goals on 34.6 expected goals. This can be attributed to the fact that he took 335 shots, where each shot’s ‘expected goal value’ would likely add up to a high number of total expected goals for any player shooting that much, but it is still an impressive number. In comparison, Tyler’s numbers this season are 9 goals on 12.4 expected goals through half of the season.
If we weighted these numbers evenly with his 2017 numbers, we would find that he would finish this year at -6.8 Goals Above Expected compared to +5.6 Goals Above Expected — a significant difference. With all this in mind. Let’s say he maintains his 41-game pace for this season and finishes with 18 goals. If he hypothetically ran at an expected goal rate like his 2017 year, we’d have him at 24 goals in this extremely-hypothetical scenario. Are 24 goals enough to justify 9.85 million? Unlikely.
Verdict: not a concern
Solution: Shoot more or be twice as lucky?
Tyler Seguin Item 3: Opportunity
Looking at the opportunities given to Seguin, some may think that Tyler Seguin has been pushed down to “second-line minutes”, but this is not the case and “second-line minutes” does not mean anything in modern ice hockey. If you’re a forward who is playing less than ~14 minutes a night then you could either be considered ‘sheltered’ or ‘bottom-six’. Otherwise, you are among your team’s top forward ice times, with the usual night-to-night fluctuations based on coaching decisions, penalties, etc.
Tyler is getting plenty of ice time to create and perform, averaging 16:33 per game this season. This is still considerably less than when he averaged 20:55 per game in 2017-2018 and could be roughly 5-8 fewer shifts per game for the athlete. Does this mean he has less time to shoot/create? Do 5-8 shifts per game make a large difference? It is tough to tell by making Ice Time an individual factor, hence this checklist, but it is unfair to assume he is stuck on the bench and has no chance or time to score.
Further to the topic of Ice Time, there may be concerns about Seguin’s power play opportunities. Tyler Seguin had 25 even-strength goals, 14 power-play goals, and 1 short-handed goal in 2017-2018. This means that 63% of Seguin’s goals were even-strength and 35% were on the PP. As well, he averaged 3:09 of PP time per game playing on the top unit in 2017-2018, 3rd on that roster.
This season, he is on Dallas’ 2nd PP unit and is only averaging 2:04 of PP time, 6th on the roster. Tyler would benefit from man-advantages to have time and space to pick his spot to score, and this ice time issue could have an effect on his overall production. However, since 25 of Seguin’s 40 goals in 2017-2018 were at even-strength, he should not be excused for 9 goals in almost 550 even-strength minutes so far.
Verdict: somewhat of a concern
Solution: Find ways to score at even strength, and make better use of the time given
Tyler Seguin Item 4: Line mates
The final consideration in analyzing Tyler Seguin’s numbers is his linemates. Using MoneyPuck’s Lines Tool, Seguin has only played on one line for more than 75 mins (Marchment and Gurianov). That trio only shot 48% of the Expected Goals when they played together, shot 50% even for the Unblocked Shot Attempt share, and ranked near the Kiviranta-Faksa-Glendening line’s expected goals per 60 minutes numbers. This 16-game sample was enough for that trio to be split up. Seguin has since played with Marchment & Faksa, Kiviranta & Dellandrea, and Marchment & Dellandrea, all for an appropriate minimum of 50 minutes.
Out of all these combinations, the best analytical combination has been Marchment-Seguin-Faksa who controlled 65% of the Expected Goal share and 59% of the Unblocked Shot Attempt Share in 10 games together. These numbers are so good that they trump the Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski lines’ season-long stats.
Is Marchment-Seguin-Faksa a line that can keep up those crazy numbers? Is Seguin comfortable playing with those 2 players? Is there someone else that he has advocated to play with internally out of personal preference? Further to these unanswered questions, Marchment-Benn-Johnston has been a fixture for the past while, meaning that Pete Deboer would likely be unable to justify breaking that trio up for Seguin.
Verdict: concern if there is no statistical merit to line combinations
Solution: Marchment-Seguin-Faksa for a larger sample ‘until it fails’, or find another analytical solution/trade route
Tyler Seguin: Conclusion
The theme of this article has been that we are asking so many questions about Tyler Seguin. He is a player that we did not have to previously question because he silenced every one by putting the puck in the back of the net. I even considered questioning if Seguin had an elite shot, but at this point, this checklist works through enough areas for the Stars and Seguin to prioritize their efforts on linemates or different opportunities in hopes of helping Tyler return to form. Does he have to shoot 4.08 times a game to get an admirable goal total? Does he need new linemates or a ‘playmaker’ to play with? Can he create individually?
This article is not to be taken as a dig on the player but rather a revelation and chance to reflect on Tyler Seguin’s performance to see if he has had the ‘short end of the stick’ or if there are certain adjustments that can be made like shot quantities in order to succeed to the 10-million-dollar scorer value that he and his fans aspire for.
He will be our highest-paid forward for the next few years, so the organization must do everything it can to accommodate his needs to make him more comfortable on the ice and help him find ways to succeed and regain some possible lost confidence.
Overall, Tyler Seguin is a good NHL player, and he can be great again. The usual answer of ‘keep shooting, kid’ may not be the answer that Tyler needs to return to his goal-scoring form. Playing with grinders like Kiviranta and Dellandrea could be a strong reason for an absence of offense from #91. Seguin may need a reputable linemate that draws the attention of opponents to consequently create more space for Tyler so he can sneak into vulnerable scoring areas rather than being the focal point of a forward line.
This reminds me of the Benn-Seguin-Radulov line, where all three forwards were so effective that they created space for each other and Seguin had some fantastic statistical years as a part of that trio. All in all, Seguin is not a broken player by any means and still puts in the effort to be a more productive hockey player post-injury.
Maybe a night or two with Robertson will help his chances to ‘spark’ some offense…