Penguins Report Card: Dominik Simon, Scoring Chances & Anger | Pittsburgh Hockey Now
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Penguins Report Card: Dominik Simon, Scoring Chances & Anger

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If only he lit the lamp a few more times. Pittsburgh Penguins winger Dominik Simon’s season is more like a stained glass window than a portrait. Pending what you want to see and which way the light shines through, the colors change. Analytics, coaches and the organization had praise and high praise for Simon, while fans lined up to toss eggs and rotten produce in the town square. But Penguins fans had a lot of tomatoes to hurl this season.

Simon, 24, completed his first full NHL season and even head coach Mike Sullivan admitted Simon’s scoring touch may not have developed as they expected.

In the same breath, Sullivan explained the reason Simon was a popular linemate and frequent guest of Sidney Crosby on the top line right wing.

“His lines score, and he’s usually a part of it,” Sullivan said multiple times including during the Round One debacle against the New York Islanders.

Indeed, Simon generated chances by the dozen but converted precious few himself. Simon potted only eight goals in 71 games last season. He had only 20 assists, too.

For fun, here’s a direct comparison without names: Player A posted a 54% Corsi rating, 53% goals-for, and a 54% scoring chance rate. Player B had a 55% Corsi, 56% goals-for and a 60% scoring chance rate.

Based on those metrics, Simon is the worst thing since…Carl Hagelin. Simon is player B. Hagelin in 2017-18 is player A.

An interesting comparison isn’t it? Simon had 28 points (8g, 20a) this season. Hagelin had 31 points (10g, 21a) in 2017-18 despite playing with Evgeni Malkin for most the year.

Hagelin is faster, but Simon also showed good puck retrieval and more playmaking skills. Simon also cost nearly 1/6 of Hagelin.

Last summer, the Penguins signed both Simon and prospect Daniel Sprong to two-year, $750,000 deals. Sprong didn’t have nearly the facets to his game which Simon displayed but if only Simon could finish like Sprong. Many Penguins fans undoubtedly refused to enjoy or accept Simon’s presence because the coaches wisely chose to deploy Simon and allowed Sprong to languish on the fourth line (breaking–Anaheim eventually put Sprong on the lower lines, too).

It was certainly a season of an improper, incorrect, and relentless overreaction on keyboards and in seats at PPG Paints Arena. Simon’s value should be recognized and placed in the proper context. And, as a young player, he could also continue to improve.

RedBeard's Pittsburgh

Dominik Simon Report Card: B-

If only his finishing ability developed at the same rate as his game, Simon would be a $5 million player. But that hasn’t arrived yet and so the Penguins are “stuck” with one of the best $750,000 players in the NHL.

That’s not a bad consolation, even as fans pull their hair out that Simon hasn’t followed Jake Guentzel’s footsteps. Not yet, anyway.

There are reasons the Penguins frequently deployed Simon beside Crosby, which have nothing to do with Simon leaving an apple on the teacher’s desk. Every Penguins center experienced an uptick in chances and possession with Simon. In some cases, it was extreme such as Riley Sheahan and Derick Brassard.

If a winger could propel Sidney Patrick Crosby to just one more scoring chance per game, that’s an extra eight goals per year.

Here’s a direct comparison. In parenthesis is the difference with Simon for each center:

Simon with Crosby: 60% Corsi (+7%). Scoring chances 62% (+7%). Expected goals for 63% (+7).

Simon with Malkin: 52% Corsi (+3). Scoring chances 63% (+10%). Expected goals for 54%. (+3%)

Simon with Bjugstad: 59% Corsi (+14%). Scoring chances 63% (+13%). Expected goals for 67% (+22%)

Imagine making Sidney Crosby 7% better. All stats from NaturalStatTrick.com.

Simon’s puck retrieval, playmaking and ability to move the play forward are assets for the Penguins. His abilities to positively affect the play are not even a little bit in doubt.

However, his lack of presence in the slot and the net front, coupled with his rushed delivery on his own scoring chances led to low numbers. Since he’s not part of the Penguins power play or penalty kill, this is where the comparison to Hagelin falls short and why Simon only gets a B-.

When trying to finish scoring chances, Simon reminds this writer of the rookie version of Bryan Rust.

Simon could turn around the fan frustration quickly. In the meantime, fans will have to realize the positive effect without laughably ignorant insults to Sullivan and Simon.

For now, the Penguins have a spark plug who provides puck possession and scoring chances. He could become a much bigger asset, too. That’s not the worst thing in the world, is it?

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Cal

    May 10, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    For 750k/yr he is a good deal. Ive seen him drive plays, hopefully the offense will come

  2. BIG B

    May 10, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Sssh Dan don’t tell the truth you will be burned at stake.From the outside of Pittsburgh looking in i have never seen seen such a chinsy fan base.A GM brings you two cups abd the fans on twitter insult him everyday and i know this because i leave #pens open every day and dozens of times a day somebody insults GMJR for the smallest thing, just look how many negative things are tweeted because JR praised his defence core.What was he going to do insult it

    I have been a fan of the Pens since 1984 and watched hockey every day of the season for my whole life and i have never seen a fan base with so much to be thankfull and yet so thankless for all the great things they get.Sure the Pens got swept this year but still had a 100 points and won 2 of the last 4 cups.This team has won 15 scoring titles dwarfing everybody else and would have won many more except for injuries and illness.That does not even count all the 50 goal seasons and if i not mistaken this team has the most different 50 goal scorers in nhl histoy.The Pen’s have the most wins in the regular season in the last 13 years as well as the most playoff victories to go with their 5 Stanley Cups in the past 27 years which is more than Detroit A.K.A the gold standard, so please enjoy the greatness that has been thust upon you.

    Being outside of Pitt i often wonder if those who complain are even fans because the fans in the building seem to love them.

  3. William R. Maloni Sr

    May 10, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    If “ifs and buts” were candy and nuts, what a wonderful team the Pens would be!!

  4. Terrence

    May 11, 2019 at 7:48 am

    cmon dan a B for simon he’s not that good also he’s a borderline nhl player so comparing him to hagelin is idiotic

  5. Witch

    May 11, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    Love it…A B- and the fans are all wrong because of what the advanced stats say. And that’s all people can use to defend this abysmal hockey player.
    Oh I know Kingerski….how about the ACTUAL STATS. The ones which matter? The ACTUAL production (or lack thereof).
    Because painting the picture you want means a dull one as you are only using 2 colors. And that’s what advanced stats are. Using two colors and then defining the picture based off of that rather than looking the same picture with 100 colors and then defining the 2 colors in context.
    Oh and LOVE the Hagelin comparison… another player who has zero offense. Hey, how did Carl’s linemates do last year compared to Simon’s this year? And was Simon a speed demon penalty killing freak?

  6. Zach Smith

    June 10, 2019 at 9:16 am

    He should stay on the 3rd line until he develops a scoring touch.

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