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About Last Season: Justin Williams Performance Review and Grade

In his first season holding the captaincy, Justin Williams played a vital offensive role and led the team’s deep playoff run.

Jamie Kellner

Justin Williams: 2018-19 By the Numbers

  • Age: 37
  • NHL Seasons: 18
  • Games Played: 82
  • Scoring: 23 goals, 30 assists, 53 points
  • Average Ice Time: 17:27 ES, 0:01 SH, 2:43 PP
  • 5-on5: 57.89 CF%, 53.19% GF, 61.16% xGF
  • Contract Status: UFA

Justin Williams is a natural leader. That much is obvious as we reflect on his first season of captaincy in which the team drastically defied expectations.

It was an injustice that Justin Williams wasn’t immediately elected a member of the leadership group two summers ago when he signed a two-year deal in Raleigh and proclaimed that the team was “done losing.”

The team wasn’t successful in the following season, but it was no fault of his. Justin Williams doesn’t have a losing bone in his body. He’s succeeded everywhere he’s been, playing in 155 playoff games and logging 101 clutch points and earning the title of “Mr. Game 7” in the process.

At the age of 37, Williams had a career year. He scored 23 goals and tallied 30 assists for 53 points — his highest points tally since the 2011-12 season in Los Angeles.

He was relied on more heavily this season than in years past, logging an average of 17:27 time on ice per game. That’s almost a full minute more per game than last season, and is over two minutes more than what he was averaging in his final season in Washington.

Williams looked solid in his elevated role this season, and it was clear that he put everything he had into the regular season turnaround and playoff run. Without a contract, his return to the league next season is still in question.

Should he return, we can’t expect for Williams to play 17-plus minutes per night. He will be 38 at the start of next season, and he will need to be used in a more limited role. That being said, his veteran leadership is indispensable and his secondary scoring was critical to the team’s success down the stretch. He’s certainly got gas left in the tank.

There’s been some criticism of the time he spent in the box down the stretch and into the playoffs this season. It’s warranted. The only player who took more minor penalties than him in the regular season was rookie Andrei Svechnikov. Williams committed nine minor penalties in the playoffs, three more than anyone else on the team. That hurts a lot when the Boston power play was scoring at will.

That being said, I don’t have as much of a problem with it in retrospect. Williams was mixing it up during the Eastern Conference Final because nothing else was working. He was angry, and it showed. If it would have turned the momentum of the series, we would have been singing his praises.

Justin Williams is an incredible captain and a solid two-way winger at the age of 37. This season doesn’t happen without his leadership. He has cemented his legacy as one of the most important and universally loved hockey players to pass through Raleigh. His future remains uncertain, and should he choose to hang them up, he will leave big shoes to fill.

Exit Interview


How do you grade Justin Williams’ 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (286 votes)
  • 19%
    B - Above average performance
    (72 votes)
  • 1%
    C - Average performance
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    D - Below average performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (0 votes)
363 votes total Vote Now