This is a series of posts previewing all Flames players prior to the new season that will run throughout the month of September; today, we begin with the players that had a bit of a rough go of things last season--whether they were injured, down on their luck, or just didn't deliver as expected. Today's player is Alex Tanguay.
The past two seasons have not been kind to Alex Tanguay since leaving the Flames in the summer of 2008 as part of the deal that brought Mike Cammalleri to Calgary; from injury issues to his apparent decline as a go-to guy for tough minutes, there's little doubt the player the Flames signed to a one-year deal back on July 1st isn't the same as the 4-time 20-goal scorer they acquired from the Avalanche four years ago.
Despite remaining relatively healthy, Tanguay's last season with the Lightning was arguably the worst of his decade-long career. The skilled playmaker scored only 10 goals and 37 points in 80 games last season while shooting a career-low 11.0% and only 7.7% at EV. His total of 1.63 ES pts./60 was good for sixth best amongst Bolts forwards, however, his powerplay production dipped. Historically a dependable difference maker with the extra man, Tanguay recorded only 7PPP last season while spending an average of 2:00/game on the man advantage. The fact that he took 0.5/60 more penalties than he drew doesn't exactly work in his favour either.
It wasn't just his counting stats that brought him down, however. Tanguay was sheltered last season, operating with the second easiest ZoneStart of all regular Tampa forwards at 55.9% and ranking seventh of twelve Bolts forwards in terms of the quality of competition he faced; his Corsi rate relative to his QoC (0.644) was worse than Ryan Malone (0.686), who ranked fourth in the same category. The Lightning were outscored and outshot with #13 on the ice, and his possession numbers below average. To some degree, Tanguay's failings last season were a symptom of the quality of the team as a whole--Tampa finished the season in twelfth place in the Eastern Conference--and a portion can be blamed on poor luck (indicated by his PDO of 100.4 compared to 107.8 the previous year with Montreal), but by the looks of it, this is a player who struggled to make the most of his circumstances, and they likely won't get any easier from here on out. He may not be taking on the other team's best all the time, but he certainly won't be suiting up against scubs.
At 30-years-old, Alex Tanguay likely still has a few good years left in the tank if he can stay healthy. He's certainly due for a bounce-back year after recording only 91 shots on goal and shooting a full 7.8% less than his career average last season. As a player who has averaged 20 goals and 41 assists over the course of his ten-year career, another such season is not outside the realm of reasonable expectations for Tanguay, and I'm cautiously optimistic about his chances of replicating those numbers. At $1.7M the Flames would surely be delighted with such production--Lord knows they need a bargain.