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Lightning’s Brayden Point tops break out season with better results

The young star is poised for a big contract after emerging as one of the league’s best.
Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates and early-season goal in Tampa Bay's historic season. Point emerged as one of the NHL's best two-way players in 2018-19. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates and early-season goal in Tampa Bay's historic season. Point emerged as one of the NHL's best two-way players in 2018-19. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published May 7, 2019
Updated May 7, 2019

This is the fourth in a series this month looking at each player on the Lightning’s roster. Up next: Anton Stralman.

TAMPA — Before the season started, Brayden Point seemed a too-easy pick for Lightning player on the rise.

After Point emerged in 2017-18, choosing him to shine again was a cop out.

Except, Point’s third season could almost be looked at as a second break out. If he established himself as an NHL impact player last season, he flirted with superstar status in 2018-19.

It was good timing. Point is in the last year of his entry-level contract. Even after his (and the team’s) poor showing in the playoffs, he made a case for the big bucks.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Hedman's injury amplifies his value

Point established himself as one of the league’s top two-way centers. He has an offensive tilt (92 points), but played against most opponents’ top lines, and did so effectively.

Let’s start with offense. Point scored a lot. His 41 goals tied for sixth in the league, and he led the league in power play goals with 20. There’s no doubt that playing with Nikita Kucherov, the master of the assist, worked in Point’s favor. But this year’s success goes further than that.

Point was second only to Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl in shooting percentage, among players with at least 100 shots on goal. He scored on 21.5 percent of his shots and Draisaitl on beat him out by 0.1 percent.

That number may not sound very high, but a goal every five shots stands far above the league average of 9.9 percent.

Point passed the 40-goal threshold, led the league in power play goals and anchored the Lightning’s shut-down line. Not too shabby for a player who celebrated his 23rd birthday in March.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Tyler Johnson still tailor made for the Lightning

It’s an imperfect measure, but Point’s plus-minus of 27 was second only to Ryan McDonagh on the Lightning, and 10th in the league. His Corsi (measure of shot attempts for and against in even-strength play) isn’t as flashy at 51.9, but indicates the Lightning tend to control play when he is on the ice.

The playoffs, however, proved glaring for Point. He scored once in the four-game series, his only point coming in Game 4 (compared to 16 points in 17 playoff games last year). To be labeled a star who didn’t show up in the postseason, you must first earn star status. Point did that.

The third-year player didn’t perform any worse than the rest of the Lightning and the organization really likes him, so the first-round sweep may not hurt his upcoming contract negotiations. Coach Jon Cooper effusively praised Point throughout the season.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Yanni Gourde's speed put the Lightning in the fast lane this season

The coach emphasized Point’s effort and the tenacity with which he plays. The term compete level gets thrown around a lot in hockey, as the epitome of hockey mentality. Cooper said Point, a player that’s difficult to face on the ice, defined the phrase.

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BriseBois called re-signing Point his top off-season priority. He will be back in Tampa Bay next season and, along with the rest of the team, will have to figure out how to translate these break out numbers to the playoffs.

Brayden Point’s season

High: Point scored three goals in 91 seconds, interrupted by intermission, against Pittsburgh, on Nov. 15. It was his first career hat trick.

Low: Point sat out the Rangers game after missing a team meeting. He said it was a mistake he wouldn’t make again.

By the numbers

41 goals: Point passed the 40-goal mark for the first time in his third season.

0-for-6 on shootout attempts. He entered the season having converted 10-of-15 in his career.

27 plus-minus: Point’s plus-minus was the second-highest on the Lightning.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at Follow @dianacnearhos.

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