The Czech forward seemed poised for a breakout season, and while he had solid production, many fans couldn’t help but feel frustrated with his inconsistencies.
Martin Necas 21-22 By the Numbers
- Age: 23
- NHL Seasons: 3
- Scoring: 14 Goals, 26 Assists, 40 Points in 78 games
- Playoff Scoring: 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points in 14 games
- Advances Statistics: 53.67 CF%, 56.34 SCF%, 52.24 xGF%, 66.67 GF%
- Average TOI: 11:33 ES, 2:34 PP, 0:58 SH
- Contract Status: Restricted Free Agent
Martin Necas may have been one of the most polarizing players on the Carolina Hurricanes this season when strictly talking about the performances on the ice.
The young winger had some brilliant, highlight-reel moments, but his inconsistent impact left even the most supportive wanting more.
His talent is obvious. Necas’ skating is elite and he has great stickhandling abilities and when he can get it off, a tremendous one-timer too. But the problem areas are still way too prevalent.
He has a knack for hanging onto pucks too long and forcing himself into corners and bad shot locations, he is very hit or miss with his compete level and engagement along the boards and in front of the net and when the frustrations set in, he opts to pass away good lucks too often.
But to be fair to Necas, it was truly a tale of two seasons.
Before January, Necas had seven goals and 18 points in 28 games (0.64 point pace) to begin the season and then had seven goals and 22 points in 50 games (0.44 pace pace) to finish off the season. He then registered just five assists in 14 playoff games.
So what happened? One possible explanation is the fact that Necas was one of the many Hurricanes to miss time in January due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The virus affects people in many different ways and we have seen many athletes state that returning to play had been difficult at times after getting sick.
That’s not to simply write off his rough patches and inconsistencies, but it is difficult to accurately judge someone’s performance when that could be a factor.
And it’s not like he hasn’t been a solid NHLer so far. Necas has offered steady production in the Hurricanes’ lineup since he earned his spot three years ago. He has also been a great penalty killer.
Which is why any calls to trade Necas seem to be more so ones borne of in-the-moment frustrations.
Necas was tied for eighth on the team in total points (40) and goals (14) this season and those totals were one off his career high in points and two off his career high in goals.
So perhaps because of his apparent talent and draft pedigree, the expectations for him have been too high, but his production has been in line with a middle-six forward at a cost effective price tag too.
Can he be better than he was? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t contributing at all or hurting the team.
Necas is an RFA and he won’t command a ton of money at this point and a bridge deal is the most logical expectation for his next contract. Perhaps with another year and some different lineup configurations, Necas can have a better year, but he should still be expected to produce effectively for his price tag.
Now this isn’t to say that Necas is one of the Hurricanes’ untouchables in a trade, but you don’t just go and trade a cost-controlled middle-six producer unless it is for legitimate value back.
A high-end goal scorer is a big need for the Hurricanes and Necas would be a pretty good chip to offer up.
And that also might be the best case scenario for Necas.
What I mean by that is that perhaps a bit of the headaches with the young Czech simply come from a difference of hockey philosophies.
Necas loves to play the game by opening up space with his elite skating and creating chances with the puck on his stick. That’s why he mentioned in his exit interviews that he wants to play center. Whenever he has the puck, it’s clear that he plays the game like he is a center.
And that’s because he is a natural center having played there as recently as 2019 with the Charlotte Checkers on their way to winning the Calder Cup.
However, Rod Brind’Amour sees the center position as the defensive crux of a team that needs to be the most responsible position on the ice. He isn’t so much a fan of the free wheeling offensive style of center and Necas isn’t up to par on the defensive side of the game.
Maybe that’s why Necas had struggles with consistency. It could be a case of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Problems will arise unless you put in the work to smooth out the edges.
And that means a give-and-take from both sides. For one, Necas is 6-foot-3, but doesn’t utilize his size well. If he can put on a bit more weight and play a little harder, it will go a long way for him in today’s NHL. He also has to engage more. Get in those hard areas and win puck battles.
On the other side, Necas needs to be given a bit more freedom to create off the rush. He can’t utilize his skillset when playing solely a grind game.
Maybe Necas is primed to take another step for Carolina, or maybe he’s reached his peak. Or maybe this is another Elias Lindholm situation where for a player to unlock his true potential, a change of scenery is needed.