Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
Regular season statistics:
Key Stat: 5th - Curtis McKenzie finished fifth on the team in penalty minutes in roughly half as many games played as the four players in front of him. His PIM per game pace is second on the team behind only Antoine Roussel. McKenzie's penalty minutes were primarily comprised of fighting majors, as he had six of those in the 36 games he played. (Roussel had 11, in case you were wondering.)
The Good: Once Shawn Horcoff, Brett Richie and McKenzie were united on the fourth line down the stretch, an electric chemistry was formed between the trio that really helped spark some depth scoring. That line was fantastic on the puck, and really drove the possession. Their numbers don't accurately state what that trio was able to accomplish for the Stars. There were several goals created from the cycle time this line spent in the offensive zone so that scoring lines could come out and continue the pressure they created. For the stretch they were together, this group was sparkling.
The Bad: While not necessarily a bad thing, McKenzie showed he was quick to drop the gloves. Considering his value in scoring when he was with Ritchie and Horcoff, I think he's shown that he doesn't have to play that way to have a role at the NHL level. It did add some grit to the lineup that was lacking, but some of the fights that he got into you could tell he had bit off a little more than he could chew against some solid opponents. To take the next step, I'd prefer he pick his spots better when it comes to the fighting myself -- let the cycle game and offensive creation be the focus.
Bottom Line: McKenzie is a big body that isn't afraid to go into the hard areas. He fights for pucks, for his teammates and has shown he can both score and create general chaos on the ice. In limited minutes, he had decent puck possession (50.74% CF on the season, though that number is misleading too. Check out his game-by-game CF percentages, sorted with his highest CF% games at the top. A majority of those games came in February and March.
He wasn't being buoyed by high PDO (generally a number used to look at luck) in most of those games. He took some time to adjust but once he did he was a pretty good possession player in limited minutes -- it's not likely to continue at the rate he was at later in the season, but it's also not outside the realm of possibility he'll have positive possession metrics when he makes the team out of camp next season.
Vote now: Rate McKenzie on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.