2019-20 Season Review: The Lukas Radil experiment is over

The late bloomer’s sophomore slump isn’t doing him any favors.

Eventually I’ll be done slogging through the bottom of the Sharks’ roster and giving grades based on how hopeful I am players can improve for their ten minutes or less of ice time. It’s a chore, but the team is only as good as the some of its parts, after all. These players’ contributions still do matter.

Unfortunately, Lukas Radil’s contributions matter in the bad way. The forward was the only player with more than ten games in 2019-20 to not tally a single point — five players out-scored him in fewer games.

I’ll admit that Lukas Radil seemed like an interesting signing in 2018-19. Over 36 games, his 11 points (7 goals, 4 assists) made Radil look poised to enter this season as a mainstay on the third or fourth line, certainly not the AHL player he spent most of the season as.

Of course, back then, his statistical profile looked more like this:

For a more complete explainer of what this chart shows, see below, but a quick glance shows positive defensive play from Radil in his rookie season. That’s pretty encouraging, though his expected goals being so significantly different from his actual goals per 60 meant that his offensive performance was likely to take a hit eventually, as his play evened out.

The task for the 29-year-old going into this season was to improve his offensive performance, while maintaining his defensive play.

Instead, he put up goose eggs across the board. His AHL play wasn’t much more interesting, tallying six goals and ten assists in 28 games with the San Jose Barracuda in 2019-20.

Even if this is just a sophomore slump, exacerbated by both the Sharks and ‘Cuda struggling on the whole this season. But Radil turns 30 years old this August, and players don’t generally get better after that point. There are too many young players in the organization that are better than mediocre to justify keeping around a 30-year-old with a bottom-six ceiling coming off a particularly bad season.

RAPM Chart (via Evolving-Hockey)

The graphic above illustrates a player’s Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM), a measure created here by the twins behind Evolving-Hockey to attempt to “isolate a given player’s contribution while on the ice independent of all factors that we can account for.” For more on their process, see this explainer on Hockey Graphs.

After watching Radil this season, I’m surprised to see any purple on this chart, but his offense is absolutely, expectedly brutal.

Career Summary (via HockeyViz)

If you notice the update to the top chart, McCurdy has provided an update to HockeyViz. Now is a good time to get on board and support his work on Patreon, especially if you appreciate seeing these charts in my work. Ditto for the Evolving-Hockey twins.

An interesting trend this is able to identify is that Radil’s primary scoring starting dropping last year.

What Comes Next?

Radil was on his second one-year, $700,000 contract with the team in the 2019-20 season, making him. free agent in the summer. I’m not sure even another league-minimum contract is worth it. Unless Doug Wilson decides to play 4D chess and take advantage of next season likely being funky because of the coronavirus and the goal is to scrap another year to acquire assets, I just can’t see the point.