2019-20: A Look at Wallmark’s season so far
So after a rather stellar rookie campaign like Wallmark had, both himself and the organization likely would have expected a bigger role for the player moving forward, especially considering he’s entering his prime years now at 24 years old.
But, the Hurricanes went out and acquired another natural center, Erik Haula, to bolster their depth, which in turn pushed Wallmark down a slot in the line-up. But he’s still been rather effective this season.
By my count, Wallmark has been flanked by 8 different wingers through the first 28 games so far, which could spell a recipe for disaster. He’s had very inconsistent linemates, obviously, and at times inconsistent ice-time, which makes it difficult to built chemistry and routinely produce.
But Wallmark has held up just fine.
With 3 goals and 5 assists in his first 28 games, he’s on pace for a slight dip in production but is also averaging 2 fewer minutes on ice per game compared to last season. His Corsi has dropped to 49.1% this year, and his overall possession quality (xGF vs xGA) is down, but those dips can be attributed to his reduced role and revolving door of linemates.
But when given an elevated role and more offensive-minded linemates, Wallmark has delivered. In the last 11 games playing in the injured Erik Haula’s 3C slot, Wallmark’s impact and production have been much improved.
He’s got 2 goals and 3 assists (5 points) in those 11 games, and hasn’t played less than 13 minutes a night. In contrast, he’s only played over 13 minutes in 1 of 17 games with Haula in the line-up, and has just 3 points in those games.
It’s a delicate situation, because on one hand fans are anxiously waiting Erik Haula’s return. His goal scoring and net-front presence have been an extremely valuable addition to the team, and the Canes are understandably better with him in the lineup. But on the other side, you can’t help but feel sorry for Wallmark, who consistently exceeds expectations and has proven worthy of an increased role.
Regardless, Wallmark’s versality, and ability to play all situations and almost anywhere in the lineup (at center) is also a very valuable and sometimes overlooked presence on this team. He’s able to jump up in the line-up when a guy ahead of him goes down injured, and when the team is healthy you have a very high-end 4th-line center who is arguably underslotted.