Radek Faksa: Elite role player that has fallen through the storyline cracks this year

Among many of the storylines concerning the Dallas Stars hockey club this year, this story has fallen through the cracks. Statistically, Radek Faksa is having one of the best “role player” seasons in recent memory.
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Radek Faksa's on-ice statistics and overall value have reached the level that he was signed long-term to be: an effective defense-first shut-down center. While Faksa’s base offense this year looks normal for him (10 points in 43 games so far), his metrics have improved tremendously. In this article, I will outline how well Faksa has done in the new-look bottom six for the Stars.

Faksa’s Results: Analytics

According to NaturalStatTrick, out of Radek Faksa’s 9 seasons in the NHL, here are his on-ice metrics and their rank out of the 9 years, as well as Faksa’s NHL league-wide rank in each of those key stats this season (forwards only, minimum 100 minutes of ice time):

Metric

%

Faksa Season Rank / 9

2023 NHL-wide Rank

Corsi For %

55.72

1

42

Fenwick For %

55.19

1

40

Expected Goals For %

55.17

2

67

High-Danger Corsi For %

58.00

1

37

Faksa is having the best analytical season of his career, controlling more of the offense and limiting opposing offenses at an elite rate. For his efforts, he is ranked in the elite tiers of the NHL in shooting metrics that signify quality hockey players.

Furthermore, Radek Faksa’s 5v5 PDO (on-ice shooting % + on-ice save %) is at 0.957, the lowest of his entire career, and is ranked 427th of 456 forwards to have played 100 minutes this season. This implies that Faksa has been unlucky this season, whether goalies are giving up goals or his line can’t score, despite the elite on-ice metrics shown above.

Faksa is also succeeding this much on the ice with a 28% Offensive Zone Start percentage, meaning that 28% of his faceoffs are in the opponent’s end and 72% are in the Stars’ defensive end (ranked 436th of 456 forwards).

Both Radek Faksa’s low PDO and low OZ Start percentage tell us that he’s been dealt a poor hand, as usual per team deployment throughout his career, but this 2023-2024 version of Radek Faksa has elite on-ice metrics despite the tough situation he’s been tasked with overcoming.

Reasons why Radek Faksa may be so successful this season

Teammates

The Dallas Stars have an unconventional fourth line. Sam Steel spent time alongside Kirill Kaprizov on Minnesota’s top line last year, and Craig Smith was a valuable playmaking + energy player in Boston’s middle-six for a solid stretch. Now with Dallas, each player is on a friendly contract compared to their value, and both slide in well alongside Radek Faksa on what most teams would consider him as a strong third line or checking line, not to mention Ty Dellandrea, who waits in the wings. The luxury that Dallas has with this fourth line means that each player elevates each other, specifically on the defensive side, where the Athletic has the following rankings for the Stars’ fourth line:

Defensive Rating (per theAthletic):

  • Craig Smith: 89th percentile
  • Radek Raksa: 86th percentile
  • Sam Steel: 77th percentile

This is top-tier value for a fourth-line in the NHL. While the offense isn’t there for most of these guys, they are effectively a shut-down line for a team looking to make strides in the playoffs. I’m curious to see how an offensive-oriented player like Dadonov affects the outputs of a fourth line in the current roster makeup where Sam Steel has recently been moved to 3rd-line center. Regardless, Radek Faksa is among his defensively-conscious linemates who are helping rather than hurting his value this year.

Coaching

Without an inside scoop into the coaching structure of the Dallas Stars, one can only make inferences but not definitive conclusions. I believe in the new coaches and new system that Pete DeBoer and his staff have brought to the stars. As we can see in the stats above, Radek Faksa has seen similar deployment as under past coaches but has become the most effective at 5v5 in his entire NHL career. 

Whether it’s pre-game planning regarding opponent strategies, extra attention to video, better conditioning, or something else, it seems that Radek Faksa has found a solid rhythm in his second season under DeBoer where Faksa embodies the strong defensive player that he was signed long-term to be.

Conclusion

I believe Radek Faksa has served the Dallas Stars well as a “role player” this season. He has elevated his game to a higher overall level and become more of the ‘elite defender under tough deployment’ that he was signed long-term to be.

I’m happy to see his on-ice numbers reflect this positive defensive presence that I’ve seen from watching games, as he seems to have a bit more ‘pep in his step’ this year. I’m looking forward to seeing Faksa continue his dominance into the playoffs, where I hope his value shines brightly and gets the attention it deserves as the Stars work towards a Stanley Cup. All the best to Radek Faksa this season.