In the 2021-22 Player Review series, we will evaluate the 2021-22 performances of each key member of the Golden Knights. Players were evaluated based on overall performance in the regular season with regard to pre-season expectations and how that player performed in his particular role.
Brett Howden was acquired by the New York Rangers as one of the main pieces in a 2018 trade deadline blockbuster that sent Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he never quite had the expected impact.
Last summer he was acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round pick and defender Nick DeSimone, and in 2021-22 the budding center played some of the best hockey of his young career to date.
Season In Review
Howden appeared in just 47 games for the Golden Knights due to injuries and time missed related to COVID-19, and finished with a line of 9-11-20. That represents new highs in goals per game (0.19), and points per game (0.43).
In a surprising turn of events, Howden’s impact grew tremendously, and it will be interesting to see if this is a byproduct of joining a team with more on-ice support and structure, as Vegas was tactically much better put together than the 2020-21 Rangers.
His overall GAR (goals above replacement) number this year was 6.2, and here’s a look at how he arrived there via Evolving-Hockey.com
- Even Strength Offense — 5.1
- Even Strength Defense — 0.8
- Power Play Offense — 0
- Shorthanded Defense — 0.2
- Penalties Taken — 0.1
- Penalties Drawn — 0
Howden also held his own and had some career best numbers in more traditional fancy stats. He posted an expected goals for percentage of 57.02, a Corsi for percentage of 49.02, and a goals for percentage of 53.62.
His role was relegated to the bottom-six for the most part, and he was sheltered a bit, but Howden still made the most of his situation and thrived. It could be that he enjoyed a new place to play, or it could have been a case of a young player starting to get it a little later than expected. Development is a continuum, and it is quite possible the Rangers expected Howden to be an NHL player before he proved he was one.
Howden turned 24 in March, and is coming of a one-year deal worth $885,000 which he signed with the Rangers before getting traded to Vegas. He is cheap NHL depth, and the Golden Knights will likely be able to ink him to a new deal around that amount.
At this point they need NHL players on cost effective deals, and there’s reason to believe they’ll have an interest in seeing how much more potential and growth Howden has in him. If he’s able to take a next step in the upcoming season and beyond, he offers the team the potential to be a decent top-nine center that can be moved to the wing if the opportunity calls for it.
The trade for Howden was a pretty low event move that didn’t draw much attention, and it proved to be a decent pickup for the Golden Knights which could have further impact as time goes on.
Knights On Ice grade: B+
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