In the 2019-20 Player Review series, we revisit and evaluate the individual performances of Vegas Golden Knights players from last year’s regular season and extended playoff format. NOTE: Only skaters who played in at least 20 games will be included.
Expectations were high for Tomas Nosek coming out of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. The Czech winger had scored three goals in five games against Washington, and he finished the playoffs with four goals and five points in his final seven games.
While he set career highs across the board the following season, he only saw a two-point increase in production and never evolved into a true middle-six scoring threat.
But that’s not to say that Nosek hasn’t been a valuable member of the Golden Knights over the last three seasons.
Season in review
Last year, Nosek was on the verge of setting career highs in goals, assists and points before the season was paused in early March. He finished the year with eight goals and 15 points in 67 games. However, he achieved nearly identical numbers in the same number of games in previous seasons, so it’s more than likely he would have topped those totals had the regular season continued.
At the very least, Nosek has been consistent in his time with Vegas. For the third year in a row, Nosek’s points-per-60 rate hovered near 1.2.
He’s also filled the hole left by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on the penalty kill and as a strong fourth-line center. His versatility has helped Vegas’ bottom six, particularly in the face of injuries.
He finished tied for fifth on the roster in individual expected goals per 60 (0.85), third in individual high-danger Corsi per 60 (5.24) and fourth in high-danger Corsi per 60 (14.47) despite averaging 11:36 per game, the fourth-lowest among regular Knights skaters.
He wasn’t afraid to get physical, either; Nosek might have played with the two hits leaders on the team, but he threw his weight around, too. He finished sixth on the team among regular skaters with 7.02 hits per 60. He also ranked fourth in rebounds created per 60 (1.24).
But while his production was steady and he wore many hats, he didn’t exactly have an exemplary season. He doesn’t play a flashy game, however, so it’s hard to be critical of his play.
Even so, there were some less-than-ideal numbers.
He finished with a 46 percent goal share and had the fourth-worst expected goals-per-60 rate (2.58). While his 52.23 percent Corsi at 5-on-5 was above 50 percent, it was still good for the fifth-lowest on the Knights.
Plus, his -2.8 goals above replacement, a measurement of a player’s effectiveness compared to league average, wasn’t a ringing endorsement, especially as it was down from 3.3 and 1.7 in his previous two seasons with Vegas. He also saw his faceoff percentage drop from 62.12 percent to 50.12 percent, below his career average of 53.1 percent.
Perhaps some of this explains what led to Nosek drawing the short stick in the playoffs, though the emergence of Nicolas Roy and the acquisition of Nick Cousins made it a more crowded bottom six.
Nosek played in just eight postseason contests, three of which were the round-robin games; his number was called in just two out of 12 games in the first two rounds (he scored in one of those, Game 2 against Chicago). However, Pete DeBoer turned to him in the third-round series against Dallas, putting him in the lineup in three out of five games. One of those was Game 2, Vegas’ only win of the series; not surprisingly, Nosek lit the lamp.
He finished first on the team in goals per 60 at 5-on-5 (1.69), and he finished second on the team in high-danger goal share (60 percent). But he found himself at the bottom of the roster in most major possession categories in the postseason (i.e., Corsi share, shot share, expected goal share, scoring chance share).
Of course, the sample size of eight games is very small, but considering how well Nosek has played over the last few years, the numbers were surprising.
That being said, once again, Nosek brought a little extra to the table in the postseason, when it mattered most. He scored two goals in the five actual playoff games in which he played.
Nosek got off to a great start in 2019-20, scoring two goals in the second game of the season. It was a 5-1 win for Vegas, but with two goals and an assist, it was the most productive game of Nosek’s career.
His second goal of the game came while shorthanded as he and Mark Stone set up a 2-on-1; Nosek buried Stone’s cross-ice feed.
Notably, it was Vegas’ second shorthanded goal of the night and third in two games.
A more meaningful goal was when Nosek scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in a December contest against Minnesota, helping the Knights defeat the Wild in regulation for the first time in franchise history.
However, Nosek finished off one of the prettiest plays of the season, and it came in Game 2 against Dallas, making it his true standout moment of the season. He, Chandler Stephenson and Roy combined for a gorgeous tic-tac-toe goal, giving Vegas an insurance goal by making it a 3-0 game.
Nosek signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal back in early October, so he’ll remain a versatile part of Vegas’ bottom-six. His ability to play center and wing as well as on different lines gives DeBoer plenty of options. He’s hovered around 15 points in each of his three seasons with Vegas but could exceed that pace in the limited season, even with limited ice time.
He got started last night with a goal just 2:13 into the new season.
That being said, his future status with the Knights is in question, having very little to do with his performance. As his cap hit has gone up, Golden Knights prospects have developed, and the Knights could turn to younger, cheaper options beyond this season. Additionally, should some of the more skilled prospects move into third-line roles, it’s possible someone like Roy could slot in as the fourth-line center on a more permanent basis, which could leave Nosek on the outside looking in.
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