When the Calgary Flames re-signed Trevor Lewis to a one-year contract extension in July, most people—including myself—just shrugged and went on about our days. Accounting for $800K against the cap, no one really expected much from Lewis besides playing the fourth line and penalty kill, grinding out shifts, and playing Darryl Sutter brand hockey.
Lewis so far in 2022–23
Now, despite being held pointless when nine other forwards got a point in the Flames’ 6–5 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, just one game prior Lewis was coming off a game where he scored the game-winning goal while the Flames were killing a penalty. Right now, Lewis’ production stands at five points in 15 games, a pace of 27 points in a full 82-game season. Nothing substantial by any means, but it is a big upgrade over the 16 points in 80 games he had last season.
A more detailed glance into Lewis’ unadjusted 5v5 numbers, courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com, tells an even greater story:
Through 14 games (not counting Calgary’s latest), Lewis has a 61.73 CF%, 61.87 xG%, 57.07 SCF%, and a 55.76 HDCF%, all while putting up a 0.972 PDO. With those numbers, Lewis ranks second on the entire team in terms of CF%, xG% and SCF%, just behind Adam Ruzicka (who has only played four games, but he’s looked very good). For HDCF%, Lewis ranks sixth on the team. Sample size is still small at only 14 games played, but Lewis has been fantastic in these 14 games.
I don’t think anyone could have predicted Lewis would have the early success he has had. While the scoresheet isn’t being filled by any means, the Flames are a better team with him on the ice right now. This is demonstrated even more upon glancing at some public analytics models.
A deeper look into Lewis’ game
Lewis’ 5v5 impacts, courtesy of HockeyViz.com, help to demonstrate just how much of an impact Lewis is making to this team.
For those unfamiliar, the top two charts represent the offensive zone, with Lewis on the ice (left side) vs without (right side). The bottom two charts represent the defensive zone, again with Lewis and without him. The more red you see in the offensive zone the better, as it details and effective amount of shots and offensive contribution. Similarly with the defensive end, the more blue you see, the better a player is performing, as it means the opposition isn’t getting significant offensive contribution.
As we look at Lewis’ chart, we can see that the Flames offence remains effective (+6%) when Lewis is on the ice, but the key standout is his defensive impacts. When Lewis is on the ice, the Flames defensive end finds itself at -31% (really good), and +2% when Lewis is not on the ice (not very good).
Some analytics folks refer to this type of defensive impact as a ‘sea of blue’ because well, the defensive end looks like an ocean with that much blue. This is definitely the case for Lewis, as there is a ton of blue, specifically close to the net and on the right point, which is where Lewis covers most of the time. Without Lewis on the ice, the Flames’ defence lets a ton of shot volume from the middle of the ice, which we all know is the deadliest area to score from.
Moving over to the regularized adjusted plus-minus charts from EvolvingHockey.com, a similar story is told. Lewis grades out just above-average on the offensive output scale. However, he more than makes up for it on the Corsi For/60, Expected Goals Against/60, and Corsi Against/60.
Lewis’s contributions are still valuable
The sample size is small, but Trevor Lewis has performed very well in the 14 games played by the Flames. He ranks second on the team in terms of CF%, xG%, SCF%, and sixth on the team in terms of HDCF%. Couple those great results with deeper analytics models, and we can see that Lewis has graded out exceptionally well in the defensive zone for the Flames so far. The Flames have been a better team with Lewis on the ice, than without.
We covered earlier today how Lewis has being given too many minutes as Calgary deploys all four lines in an attempt to balance out time on ice—going against the grain and being the one team in the league to not give their star players more minutes. However, this isn’t something to pinpoint onto Lewis. As the team has went with a balanced minutes approach, Lewis has been serviceable when on the ice.
Getting good contributions from a veteran player making close to league minimum is nothing to scoff at. Playing a shutdown role next to Mikael Backlund is proving to be an effective strategy for this team so far. While this sample hold up? That remains to be seen. But, the results have been great so far, and Lewis has provided exceptional positive value.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire