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About Last Season: Brett Pesce Performance Review and Grade

The loss of Brett Pesce in the final seven games of the regular season further cemented his role as a critical piece for the Canes.

Jamie Kellner

Brett Pesce 2019-20 By The Numbers

  • Age: 25
  • NHL Seasons: 5
  • Games Played: 68
  • Scoring: 4 goals, 14 assists, 18 points
  • Average Ice Time: 18:20 ES, 0:18 PP, 3:16 SH

The shortened 2019-20 regular season was shortened even more so due to injury for Brett Pesce, but that only served to further highlight his value to the team.

The Canes’ 6-3 win in Toronto on Feb. 22 is famous for the loss of both of the team’s goalies, and the David Ayres story, but is also noteworthy as Pesce’s last game. He went down with a shoulder injury that ended up needing surgery March 5, missing the final seven games of the regular season.

Before being injured, Pesce had continued to cement himself as a key player for the Canes, one of the best shut-down defenders and underrated players in the NHL. Pesce finished third among Carolina skaters in time on ice per game (behind Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton) at 21:53 per game, and still posted a +7 rating.

Plus-minus is a team-oriented, flawed stat, but it’s still noteworthy for a player who’s on the ice as much as Pesce, and against the other teams’ best scorers, to be significantly in the green, despite contributing little offense himself, and seeing middling goaltending numbers behind him.

Perhaps more impressive, given the opposition he faced, is that Pesce was a positive possession driver, with a 52.7% corsi for and 51.1% fenwick for.

While shot-blocking is a bit of an overrated trait these days, Pesce did well in that as well, with 91 in just 61 games.

Pesce is arguably the team’s best penalty killer, leading the way in shorthanded ice time at a whopping 3:16 per game, and contributed heavily to a penalty kill that finished fourth in the league at 84%.

While the loss of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer was certainly the biggest factor in the four-game losing streak following the Ayres game, the loss of Pesce, compounded by the earlier loss of Hamilton, likely played a large role as well. Pesce’s absence likely led directly to the acquisition of Sami Vatanen at the 2020 trade deadline.

Pesce is a key cog for the Hurricanes, and his importance, and loss, can’t be overstated. There is good news on that front, however. General manager Don Waddell told Hurricanes media during a Zoom call last month following the announcement of the return to play format that, given the recovery timetable of four-six months for Pesce’s surgery, it’s conceivable he could return during the playoffs. He was originally thought to be done for the season.

It’s likely the Canes would need to get past the New York Rangers in the qualifying round and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs to see Pesce’s return. If they do, they’d be adding one of their best defenders, and one of the best in the league, back to the lineup at a crucial time.


How would you grade Brett Pesce’s 2019-20 regular season?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    A - Outstanding Performance
    (104 votes)
  • 41%
    B - Above Average Performance
    (76 votes)
  • 1%
    C - Average Performance
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    D - Below Average Performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly Below Average Performance
    (0 votes)
183 votes total Vote Now