Jiri Tlusty played a huge role on the Carolina Hurricanes last season. He was top five in the NHL in goal scoring, and he appeared to be the perfect complementary player for Eric Staal and Alex Semin. Tlusty was the responsible player on the Canes first line. He bailed out Semin and Staal very often defensively. He got to the front of the net and hit home rebounds in the dirty areas.
Now, he bounces around everywhere from the 2nd line to the 4th line. Tlusty has only 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in 26 games this season, he is on track to his 2nd worse season in the points category in his time with the Carolina Hurricanes, and he does not have any resemblance to the player he was last season. His Average Time on Ice has also dropped from 18:15 to 15:14 from last season to this season. That’s over three minutes, which is a whole lot in the NHL.
Early this year, Tlusty was a very good defensive forward. He was not putting up many points, but he was terrific in his own end of the ice. Along with Jordan Staal, Tlusty was one of the best two-way forwards that the Carolina Hurricanes had. As the season has progressed, Jiri Tlusty’s play in all areas has just been dropping off more and more. He still isn’t scoring, and his defense isn’t nearly as good as it was early this year. This has led to him falling down the depth chart, and throwing him into trade rumors. It also seems like he may have found his way into Kirk Muller‘s dog house, just like Riley Nash has.
Jiri Tlusty is unnoticeable. There are two kinds of “unnoticeable”. There is the good kind. This means that you are an all-around solid player. You don’t make any mistakes, and people don’t see you make mistakes. There is also a bad kind of unnoticeable. That mean that you just aren’t involved in the play. You don’t really contribute to the team, and you are just out there because the team needs five skaters on the ice at a time. Jiri Tlusty has been the bad kind of unnoticeable lately. He just doesn’t contribute. He just doesn’t stand out like he did last season.
Maybe Tlusty was a one-year wonder. Last season, he played with two of the league’s most skilled players, Eric Staal and Alex Semin, when they were completely on fire. He has a lot of “right place, right time” goals. Now teams know that Tlusty had a big year last year, and they know how to play against him.
Whatever it is that is not clicking with Jiri Tlusty, it is certainly hurting the Carolina Hurricanes. This is a contract year for Jiri Tlusty, so if he wants a big paycheck, he needs to elevate his play. If he doesn’t, he won’t get a big pay increase, and he may not even be a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.