2018-19 Player Review: Tomas Nosek delivers mixed bag despite career season

Nosek is a restricted free agent, so his future in Sin City is up in the air.

In the 2018-19 Player Review series, we will evaluate the 2018-19 performances of each member of the Golden Knights. Players were evaluated based on overall performance in both the regular season and playoffs, especially with regard to pre-season expectations and how that player performed in his particular role.

Tomas Nosek entered the 2018-19 season on the heels of an impressive performance in the Stanley Cup Final in which he scored a team-high three goals, finishing Vegas’ inaugural playoff run with four goals and six points in 17 games. Expectations were high for the Czech forward, but Year 2 was an unremarkable season for the 26-year-old.

Season in review

Despite a strong showing in last year’s postseason and a convincing performance in training camp, Nosek had a relatively quiet year and never truly established himself as a vital member of the Golden Knights’ lineup, averaging 12:28 of ice time per game.

Nosek didn’t do anything exceedingly well, but his play was still up to snuff from an advanced stats perspective. In fact, he managed a 55.87 Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5, good for sixth among Vegas forwards, as well as a 59.32 High-Danger CF%, which ranked seventh overall on the team.

Plus, Nosek actually set career highs across the board, including in goals (8), assists (9), points (17), games played (68), game-winning goals (1), shots (116) and faceoff percentage (62.12).

However, it wasn’t much of an improvement over his seven goals and 15 points from the year before, and it was a far cry from pre-season expectations following his impressive postseason run. Further proof of the lack of advancement is the fact that Nosek produced nearly identical points-per-60 rates in 2017-18 (1.21) and 2018-19 (1.20).

He did, however, get more ice time, including on the penalty kill. Specifically, Nosek averaged 1:42 of shorthanded time per game, which was second among Vegas forwards, trailing only Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (1:57). However, he didn’t do a sound job preventing the opposition from accessing high-danger areas, as evidenced below.

Even so, Nosek helped Vegas maintain the 14th-ranked penalty kill (80.9 percent), which gave up the 12th-fewest goals (44) while scoring 11 goals of its own. He also drew 11 penalties at 5-on-5 play, which was good for second on the team behind only Jonathan Marchessault (15).

Additionally, Nosek’s Goals Against per 60 minutes while shorthanded was 5.17, which was good for third on the team among forwards with at least 20 minutes of ice time on the penalty kill. He gave up just 10 goals while shorthanded, the second-fewest among forwards under the same parameters.

When he wasn’t killing penalties, Nosek spent the majority of the season on the third line, most frequently skating with Ryan Carpenter. As you can see in the table below, he was at his best while playing with Carpenter and Oscar Lindberg, though Lindberg was eventually traded in the deadline deal for Mark Stone.

Nosek’s individual and line performance at 5-on-5

Nosek (playoffs)82:4947.1352.17053.19500
Nosek-Eakin-Tuch (playoffs)52:35257.5064.9454.550

Nosek’s HDCF% numbers were impressive all year, regardless of linemates and regardless of the time of year. In fact, his lowest HDCF% was 50, and that came in the postseason.

His Goals For percentages, on the other hand, left much to be desired. He was on the ice for zero Knights goals at 5-on-5 in the seven-game series against San Jose, and the highest his GF% got during the regular season was a lowly 42.86.

Further, his goals-per-60 rate of 2.1 at 5-on-5 ranked 10th among Vegas forwards who finished the season with the Knights and who played in at least 20 games. In other words, it wasn’t great, though it was still higher than those of Carpenter, Bellemare, Ryan Reaves, Valentin Zykov and William Carrier.

Standout moment

While being tied up in front of the net, Nosek made a memorable play in a Jan. 4 tilt against the Ducks when he dove and one-handed the puck into the net to even things up at 2-2.

Another highlight worth revisiting was a play that gave the Knights a commanding 3-0 lead over the Winnipeg Jets in a Mar. 21 contest. Taking advantage of a beautiful feed from Paul Stastny, Nosek beat Connor Hellebuyck with this short-handed snipe.

Looking ahead to 2019-20

Nosek is a restricted free agent, so his future in Vegas in uncertain. However, considering the Knights will be in need of some inexpensive contracts, it’s possible Nosek could get extended on another one-year deal. After all, he was in the lineup for all seven games of the Knights’ first-round series against San Jose, getting a spot over other bottom-six options such as Carpenter, Brandon Pirri, Zykov, etc. The Knights will have to make some tough decisions about depth players as they enter a critical offseason on the wrong side of the salary cap.

Nosek gives head coach Gerard Gallant roster flexibility, as he could move to center to skate on the fourth line, as he did in Game 7 against San Jose.

It’s worth noting that Nosek got 15:41 of total ice time in that game, significantly more than the 5:55 and 6:01 given to Reaves and Carrier, respectively. Also, he was on the ice for just one of the Sharks’ four power-play strikes during the infamous five-minute major.

Nosek could take on a larger role on the penalty kill moving forward, especially if Bellemare, who is an unrestricted free agent, elects to sign a multi-year deal elsewhere.

There’s still room for growth in Nosek’s offensive game, even if his current production trajectory seems to have hit a plateau. That being said, the Knights have solidified their group of top-six forwards for the foreseeable future, so Nosek doesn’t need to be “that” guy. He’s shown the requisite skill to take that next step, but he can contribute in other ways; any secondary scoring, which could certainly surface down the road, would just be a bonus.

Nosek presents more offensive upside than most of the other fringe options, and he’s already proven to be a strong two-way player. He would be a valuable asset to retain, even though Vegas’ bottom six is quite crowded at the moment.

How would you grade Nosek’s 2018-19 performance?

A+ or A1
A- or B+3
B or B-25
C+ or C18
C- or below6

Statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, NHL.com and Evolving Hockey.