Martin Necas 2019-20 By the Numbers
- Age: 21
- NHL Seasons: 1
- Games Played: 64
- Scoring: 16 goals, 20 assists, 36 points
- Average TOI: 12:20 ES, 1:48 PP, 0:02 SH
- Contract Status: Two-years left on ELC
In Martin Necas’ rookie season, the former 2017 first-round pick showed off what scouts had lauded him for at the draft, his skating ability and his ability to create plays at speed and in tight situations, but he also showed many elements of growth in his game, namely his size and his shot.
In his official rookie campaign, the Czech forward made many steps that solidified him as what should be a staple piece of the Hurricanes offensive core moving forward.
The thing that set Necas apart in 2017 and still today from many of his peers is his skating ability. While good skating may seem like an obvious prerequisite for any NHL player, the ones that can showcase an elite skating talent stand out greatly from the pack.
Necas has the ability to create plays out of nowhere thanks to his speed and acceleration. Not just from end to end, but Necas is able to explode at a moments notice to get past defenders and can still make high-level plays and stick handle extremely well at those speeds.
Martin Necas 3-on-3 hockey is an experience. He drives down the left wing and sets up Dougie Hamilton for the overtime game-winning goal. Hurricanes beat the Sabres 5-4. pic.twitter.com/BjKAbrJsPp— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) November 15, 2019
In the above GIF, Necas starts his acceleration at the centerline and by the time Evan Rodrigues turns to try and match him at the blueline, it’s too late. Despite having the inner lane, Rodrigues can’t keep up with Necas who gets the inside to the goal.
As he’s about to make a shot, Rodrigues manages to get a stick on Necas’ and causes the puck to come loose. However, Necas manages to regain control and in a split second decision, sends it straight back to Hamilton for the bomb. The speed allowed Necas to draw two defenders to him leaving Hamilton with an open lane and then the quick recovery decision caught Carter Hutton without time to get set.
Martin Necas. My goodness. Number 12 of the season for the rookie. Ryan Dzingel and Haydn Fleury get the assists. 1-0 Hurricanes over the Jets early. pic.twitter.com/yL9xF2pddP— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) January 22, 2020
The above GIF is another example of Necas’ ability to make plays at speed and with confidence. After collecting the puck alongside the boards, Necas sees he is easily past the Winnipeg Jets defenders and he doesn’t even have to dig to keep the distance up.
When he gets close to the goal crease, Hellebuyck begins to make a poke check and Necas, instead of stick handling or attempting to toe drag past the goaltender, pushes the puck between Hellebuyck’s stick blade and pad, catches it on the other side and puts it in. He had the confidence in his speed and the touch to push it through the hole Hellebuyck created and was able to regain it with ease.
Along with his speed, Necas’ edgework and balance makes him nearly a complete skating package. The most prominent display of this was a goal he scored against the Arizona Coyotes.
Necas putting on a dance clinic out here pic.twitter.com/sD883viKN0— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 11, 2020
He backpedals effortlessly away from a defender and then seamlessly transitions to forward skating as he streaks around the back of the net for an easy backhand into the empty net. Outside of the poor defensive coverage, Antti Raanta was caught completely off guard by his speed as he was unable to kick across after Necas started to wrap around.
Necas’ poise and balance on his edges coupled with a tremendous speed and acceleration will make him a huge threat in years to come because elite skaters are a breed all onto their own in the NHL.
Outside of skating, Necas saw another large jump in his game with his increased bulk and comfort with his own strength. At 6-foot-2 and around 190 pounds, Necas has the size to not only lay big hits, which he was sixth on the team in with 65 thrown, but he was also able to utilize it to shake off defenders and create space to make plays. His size allowed him to not only win battles along the boards, but to also box out opponents to give lanes to his teammates.
This size gives him another unique tool for his play making kit. Necas was drafted as a play making center, but has since found himself carving out a role on the wing. Part of that is Brind’Amour choosing to incorporate rookies into the lineups slowly and allowing him to build other areas of his game without the responsibilities of center.
It could be a winning formula as Sebastian Aho also played wing for a few years before making the jump to center and it’s obvious how dominant he has become.
One area Necas needs work on if he wants to transition back to center is in the faceoff dot. While his sample size was relatively small this year, taking only 48 draws, he only won 13 or 27% of them, which is just not nearly good enough. It shouldn’t be an area he’ll struggle in for long with Brind’Amour and Jordan Staal on the team to help him though.
Despite that, Necas definitely deserves an uptick in ice time as long as he is playing as a winger, being one of the Canes’ best forwards throughout the season. With only 14:10 of average ice time, the argument has been made that he was underused by the Hurricanes.
Necas has already shown a knack for playing at speed, and part of that is from his great hockey sense, creativity and vision. He has shown an aptitude for threading passes through defenders and is very good at hitting his targets. He also leaves drop passes for teammates that just seem to always hit their marks. Take this GIF for example.
Martin Necas with a *gorgeous* feed in front to Ryan Dzingel, who waits and buries a goal against his former team and gives Carolina the lead. pic.twitter.com/Qz2m3xGxfn— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 24, 2019
He doesn’t try to force the puck on goal and instead just controls it and passes it under his skate back to Dzingel who finishes it.
While Necas has shown great promise as a playmaker, what has become the most notable part of his game, however, is his shooting ability.
Necas exceeded expectations in terms of xG for the season according to Sean Tierney of Charting Hockey. His charts list Necas with an xG of 9.55 but in reality Necas scored 16 goals on the season, over a 60% increase.
Necas saw the most success with his wrist shot, registering six goals with his strong wrister, but he also showed promise with a left-circle slap shot. Although he didn’t utilize it to much success this year, Necas was a tremendous power-play threat in Charlotte last year from that same spot.
Necas managed to find twine twice from left-circle bombs and had worked on that same shot more and more frequently at practices.
Dougie Hamilton to Martin Necas for the goal. What a pass from Hamilton. pic.twitter.com/imKjU2hRZn— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) November 24, 2019
Necas was selective with his shot taking only 88 over the course of the season, but he was effective when he did take them shooting at 18.2%, only 0.2% less than Sebastian Aho and 56.8% less than team leader Morgan Geekie’s 75% shooting percentage. Outside the Geekie jokes, Necas’ shooting percentage was good enough for 10th highest in the league, a pretty good showing.
Necas was never going to be in the final Calder cut, but he should definitely have at least been in discussions. In terms of forwards, Necas ranked fourth in points behind Dominik Kubalik, Victor Olofsson and Nick Suzuki.
Looking at Kubalik and Olofsson’s numbers, a large part of their production can be attributed to their linemates. Of Kubalik’s 30 goals, 16 were assisted by either Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane. Of Olofsson’s 20 goals, 15 were assisted by Jack Eichel.
At the end of the day, both rookies shot at high percentages (15.7% for Olofsson and 19.1% for Kubalik; the seventh best percentage in the league) and those are commendable numbers, but it is easier to produce alongside elite, all-star level talent. Necas had only two points attributed with the Canes’ top trio.
Nick Suzuki had similar linemate attributed scoring as Necas, but was relied upon more, having 1:49 more average ice time than Necas, but only five more points to show for the extra ice time.
Obviously the Calder will come down between Cale Makar or Quinn Hughes, but in terms of extended ballots, Necas should definitely have been in consideration to appear on more than a few.
Necas was one of the most dynamic players for the Hurricanes this season and after a strong rookie showcase, he seems poised to make a bigger splash for seasons to come if he can continue to refine his game and elevate his already strong skill set. However, one thing about Necas that may never change though is his special touch on one-timers.
Absolutely unreal. Martin Necas has given the Hurricanes a 5-4 lead with a PPG. Jake Gardiner has a 3-assist third period. They were down 3-1 entering the third, they're up 5-4 with 5 minutes to go in Vegas. pic.twitter.com/hj0FmoFwdq— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) February 9, 2020
Martin Necas is back in Charlotte. For those keeping track, he's still scoring goals. And he's still falling down when he takes one-timers. He has 2 points in his first game back with the Checkers. pic.twitter.com/acdkRNkwKg— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) January 6, 2019
Martin Necas scores his first NHL goal! Tie game in Tampa Bay! Great feed from Warren Foegele. pic.twitter.com/jV4OvwKLQE— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 17, 2018
How would you grade Martin Necas’ 2019-20 season?
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A - Outstanding Performance
B - Above Average Performance
C - Average Performance
D - Below Average Performance
F - Significantly Below Average Performance