OTTAWA, ON. — Heading into the 2015-’16 NHL season, I’m positive that free agent forward Tomas Fleischmann didn’t expect to battle for a job via a training camp invite. Yet here we are, midway through the preseason schedule, with Tomas Fleischmann and several other veterans around the league attempting to capitalize on the limited opportunities that preseason hockey provides.
Through a few preseason games, Flesichmann is doing everything he can to prove he can still contribute to an NHL team. He’s done some good things primarily playing with David Desharnais and Dale Weise, contributing a few points.
Fleischmann has made it clear that he wants to be playing in the NHL this year, whether with the Canadiens or elsewhere. If successful in earning a spot with the Habs, the native of Czech Republic would play for his fifth NHL team.
So what are Fleischmann’s chances of signing a contract with the Habs for the 2015-16 season?
The reality is, the Montreal Canadiens have a very crowded bottom six and several youngsters that look ready to make the jump to the NHL. It’s where Bergevin faces several difficult decisions. Simply, there are too many capable players. Nonetheless, it’s a good problem to have and with recent cuts to young wingers such as Daniel Carr and Christian Thomas, Fleischmann’s chances are increasing.
Fleischmann has always struck me as a versatile player. His role has changed from team-to-team and sometimes, season-to-season. If you toggle through the 3-year span on the Hero Chart below (you can find it here), you’ll see how he may present an interesting option to provide secondary scoring in the lineup.
Over the last three seasons, Fleischmann has been playing 2nd line minutes and producing like one. His possession numbers are also respectable, reflective in the “Impact on Linemates Corsi” section of the chart. To measure his possession numbers against other bottom six players, take a look at Devante Smith-Pelly, Zack Kassian, Brian Flynn, Torrey Mitchell and Dale Weise’s numbers using the chart at Own the Puck. You’ll find that Fleischmann could indeed add a scoring spark to the bottom six. This may help earn him a spot on the team.
With 310 career points in 581 NHL games, fans shouldn’t expect Fleischmann to be a prolific scorer. He has scored more than 20 goals twice in his career and reached 60 points in one season (2011-12 season) with the Florida Panthers. However, over the last two seasons he totaled 55 points.
Where does Fleischmann’s “points per 60” measure up to other Habs bottom six forwards? The chart below, courtesy of SportingCharts.com, provides a visual representation of the question at hand.
Once again, if Fleischmann can find chemistry with the Habs and return to the form he once had, he should provide more offensive touch to the bottom of the lineup.
Where Tomas Fleischmann might lend an additional helping hand is on the powerplay, an area we all know the Canadiens need to improve. Let’s take a look at Tomas’ last four seasons on the powerplay.
|TOI per 60||Points per 60|
Before we analyze the above numbers, lets take a look at some of the Canadiens top six forwards last season.
|TOI per 60||Points per 60|
In the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, Fleischmann posted good powerplay numbers, better than all Canadiens last year aside from Plekanec. However, Fleischmann’s numbers took a dramatic drop in last two seasons as his role diminished. If Fleischmann can find his form from previous years on the powerplay he could give Therrien an additional option on the second unit.
Bergevin and Therrien value experience and versatility. Look no further than Dale Weise, a player the Canadiens will play anywhere in the lineup with trust. Fleischmann is another player of this nature that could earn a spot based on the fact that Therrien can use him anywhere he wishes.
With the season getting underway October 7, we will know soon enough whether Fleischmann will be sticking around. Do you think he makes the team?