With the season for the Colorado Avalanche complete, it’s time to take a look back at the individual players and how they performed.
Next up is Alex Newhook.
First, we’ll take a look at Newhook’s numbers this year.
Let’s start at the beginning. With Nazem Kadri leaving town, the hope was that Newhook would take that second line center job at the start of the season. That didn’t happen, as he got off to a slow start (0 points in the first 8 games), but a little context is important. The season started with Newhook centering Evan Rodrigues and a hobbled Valeri Nichushkin, but whether or not they were the actual second line is another question altogether. The underlying numbers show that line did just okay. Nothing great, but nothing terrible either. Nichushkin left the lineup for six weeks after 7 games, but the usage of that line was interesting.
For the first four games, Newhook’s line had a slight edge in ice-time to Compher’s line, but it was close. For the next three games, Compher’s line was used more at even strength. Once Nichushkin left the lineup, everything was thrown into a blender. Newhook’s slow start didn’t help things, and his season never really took off. Compher was trusted more as the second line center, and got that role the rest of the year. The reality is, Newhook wasn’t producing, so the team switched it up.
Newhook had his moments, but shot generation was an issue, as he took a big step back from his rookie campaign. Even though he played 11 more games and 150 more minutes at even strength compared to the year before, he finished with less shots on goal and less shot attempts. His shot attempts per-game dropped to 1.99 from the 2.38 he averaged as a rookie. Inconsistency plagued him, as there were multiple stretches through the year where he went extended periods of time without a goal. Even though his shot generation dropped, he still generated shot attempts at a higher rate when compared to J.T. Compher. Just a stat I found interesting.
There were some bright spots, though.
Up until about January, Jared Bednar had said he preferred Newhook on the wing. But that month, Newhook was put between Cogliano and O’Connor and had his most consistent stretch down the middle. There was some growth to Newhook‘s game at the center position for a little while, but when the team traded for Lars Eller, he was left without a role. He really struggled offensively down the stretch (1 goal in the final 25 games), and never found his footing. In the playoffs, he picked up a single assist (which, sadly, was more than any other bottom six forward), and registered only two shots on goal in seven games against the Kraken. Most of his time was spent in a fourth line role, so you are left wondering how the team views him heading into next season.
My own personal scouting report on Newhook: Strong skater, good puck skills, has a nice release when he chooses to use it, but struggles to generate chances for himself, defers a little too much, and gets knocked off the puck a little too easily. There’s a lot of talent there, but it hasn’t all come together.
Season Grade: C-
There were stretches this season where I liked Newhook a lot, but they were surrounding by large stretches where you just didn’t notice him. His offensive numbers took a step back, but there was some improvement in other areas of his game. He’s only 22, so expecting growth is reasonable, but after another season where he struggled to nail down a concrete role, where does he fit next season? He’s up for a new contract, which shouldn’t be that expensive, but is he a center? Is he a wing? How does the team actually view him? After his sophomore season, there’s still more questions than answers.