Adversity, they say, creates opportunity. Necessity, per Frank Zappa, is the mother of invention, and brass rings exist to be seized. On the heels of his first full NHL season, “Progress” seems to be the narrative springing up around Radek Faksa, but is it the correct one?
Radek Faksa made his actual introduction to NHL hockey in 2015-2016. The now 23-year old Czech played 45 regular season games in Big D last year. In that time he registered a 5-7-12 stat line while playing 12:21 each night. He followed that up with 13 playoff games, and another five points (3G, 2A). Notably, his ice time jumped to 16:08 during the playoff run.
Though not in the way, exactly, Stars fans hoped, that post-season cameo would prove a sign of things to come. Radek Faksa spent the entire 2016-2017 season with the Dallas Stars, and there was never really any question he would stick. Faksa played 80 games, and in that time, delivered a perfectly respectable 12 goals, 21 assists, and 33 points. Not bad.
Anecdotally, Faksa demonstrated an excellent motor and surprising (though intermittent) offensive instinct. A finish here, a little luck there, and it’s not inconceivable he could have been chasing 20 goals. Despite the turmoil around him, Faksa appeared to be a draft pick rapidly making good, an indisputable part of the way forward for the Dallas Stars, but do the underlying numbers back it up?
Mostly. On the surface, we see Faksa with a 47.3 CF% and a -4.0 CF% rel. Not great, but again, just on the surface. Factor in Faksa started 65.6% of his shifts in the defensive zone, saw his ice time jump nearly four full minutes to 16:21 each night, and had fairly lousy luck (97.1 PDO) and possession struggles are somewhat explained.
A role in the Stars awful penalty kill (1:57 ASH-TOI) undoubtedly had an impact (and should not be dismissed in evaluating Faksa’s play). Faksa’s corsi jumps to 51.8 CF% / 2.2 CF% rel when we just look at even strength play. There are also linemates to consider. Over the course of the season, Faksa’s most frequent wingmen were Injured Patrick Sharp and Devin Shore (19.05%) and Antoine Roussel and Brett Ritchie (17.34%). Not exactly a murder’s row.
With Faksa, the trick is seeing through the poise to a rookie burdened with significant schematic responsibility. Is he a proto 2C learning his game in harsh circumstances, or is he a 3C destined to provide a spark atop defensive duties? Haven’t Stars fans done this dance before (see: Eakin, Cody)?
Next season Jason Spezza will be one year older, and despite assurances he’s seen as a “True Number One Center” by incoming coach Ken Hitchcock, Tyler Seguin has danced along the forward positions throughout his tenure in Dallas. There will be a natural pressure (and opportunity) for Radek Faksa to grow and supplement his peers. There will also be a risk of him turning into a Jack-of-All-Trades.
Which path Faksa chooses could have a major impact in the Stars fortunes moving forward, but that’s a tomorrow question. How do you think he did this year?
What grade would you give Radek Faksa?
This poll is closed
A star is born
B confident, not cocky
C how he responds to new coaching first
F ort was there, but the results were lacking