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About Last Season: Justin Williams Performance Review and Grade

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Mr. Game 7 returned halfway through the year and proved he could still be effective at the highest level

NHL: New York Islanders at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Williams 2019-20 By the Numbers

  • Age: 38
  • NHL Seasons: 19
  • Games Played: 20
  • Scoring: 8 goals, 3 assists, 11 points
  • Average TOI: 11:05 ES, 0:04 PK, 2:28 PP
  • Contract: Final year of one-year $2M AAV deal. Pending UFA

Old age and dad jokes aside, when Justin Williams returned to the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 8, 2020 after stepping away from hockey for the first half of the season, many wondered what his production level would be. Could he be productive and replicate his previous season that saw him score 53 points and Captain the Hurricanes to their first playoff appearance in a decade? Or would he just be a vocal filler who was simply coming back to take one last crack at a Stanley Cup?

It wouldn’t take long for everyone to know that Willy was back and he wasn’t going to be just a filler. In his very first game back on Jan. 19 against the New York Islanders, Rod Brind’Amour used Williams sparingly on the fourth line, allowing him to get his feet going. The game would go all the way to the shootout and then proceeded to go eight rounds deep in to the skills competition.

The fans wanted to see old Willy get a chance, the bench wanted to see Dad take a crack at it, and finally Brind’Amour gave No. 14 the tap. Spoiler alert, fairy tale ending do happen.

Williams would follow up that storybook ending with two goals in the next game against Winnipeg. After the Canes returned from their bye week and lost 4-3 to Vegas, Williams would play hero again in a shootout against Vancouver on Super Bowl Sunday.

But “Willy” was just getting going. He finished the shootout hat trick six nights later in Las Vegas to complete one of the best come-from-behind wins the Hurricanes have had in years.

Williams would hit a dry spell however, scoring just two regulation points and zero goals between Feb. 2 and Feb. 29, a span of 12 games. February in general was an up and down month for the Canes as they had some exciting victories (Vegas and Dave Ayres night), but there were plenty of disappointments and the injuries starting to pile up.

As the calendar turned to March, the Hurricanes and Williams were both starting to turn things around. Willy scored six goals in what would turn out to be the final five regular season games and the Canes ended the regular season winning three in a row. Over the final few days of the season he found himself in competition with 21-year-old Morgan Geekie for who could be more productive.

For Justin Williams the league-wide shutdown probably came at the worst possible time. He was finally finding his stride after taking off the first half of the season and working so hard to get back in to shape. He proved he could still be productive and even with just 20 games played he finished tied for 10th on the team in goals with eight. To put that in perspective, he was tied with Ryan Dzingel and Jordan Staal who had both played over 60 games and he had more goals then Brock McGinn, Jordan Martinook, Jaccob Slavin, Jake Gardiner, and more. He also finished tied for the lead in shootout goals with Andrei Svechnikov at three.

What the future holds for Williams remains to be seen. Should the Canes fall to the Rangers, would there be enough motivation for him to try again next season? In general, would he want his final game to be without fans? We all know Tom Dundon thinks the world of Willy and if Mr. Game 7 wanted to play half a season next year, one would have to think he would be allowed to.

If he does choose to hang them up, one would have to think Rod Brind’Amour will be recruiting him to join the coaching staff in some form. No matter what he decides to do, Justin Williams has earned the right to be called one of the greatest Carolina Hurricanes ever.

Poll

How would you grade Justin Williams’ 2019-20 season?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    A - Outstanding Performance
    (46 votes)
  • 43%
    B - Above Average Performance
    (46 votes)
  • 10%
    C - Average Performance
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    D - Below Average Performance
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly Below Average Performance
    (0 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now