Coming into the 2018-19 season, the big question around Mark Jankowski was if he would be able to build off his solid rookie campaign. Nine months later, the answer seems to be yes, but nothing worth writing home about. However, since writing about it is what we do here, let’s dive into a season of modest gains for The Big Jankowski.
2018-19 season summary
Jankowski essentially played the same role all season long, centering a bottom six line while eating heavy minutes on the penalty kill. He started game one alongside Sam Bennett on the fourth line while being given the most PK time amongst forwards, and quickly settled into that routine for the season – eventually getting bumped up to the third line. While he scored fewer goals than last season (not having a four goal game will do that for you) he was able to slightly improve in many other areas for his counting stats, seeing bumps in assists, points, primary points, and shorthanded points.
|GAMES PLAYED||GOALS||ASSISTS||POINTS||TOI/GP||5V5 CF%||5V5 CF% REL||OZS%||PDO|
The biggest area in which he excelled was shorthanded points, as both his five goals and eight overall points were second in the league only to Arizona’s Michael Grabner. That being said, the penalty kill itself was lower than last year’s percentage as well as the league average. It’ll be interesting next season to see if this season’s shorthanded prowess was an aberration, or if Jankowski will be able to translate that to a more successful overall PK.
While he was one of the most trusted penalty killers, he only spent a little bit of time on the power play, failing to register a point with the man advantage. He was given a couple runs when the second unit was struggling to find the right personnel, but never really clicked and was quickly taken off. In fact, he spent less time on the power play than mid-season call-up Andrew Mangiapane, which would suggest that he doesn’t really factor into their power play plans for now.
There are some minor concerns about his ability to drive play, especially at 5v5. His CF% Rel dipped into the negatives this season, as most of the Flames found a new gear whereas Jankowski seemed to go a little faster in his current gear. It’s not enough to be an active drag against the centerman, but it will be something worth watching next season to see if this is the most we can expect from him.
Overall, it was a solid year for Jankowski. He did a lot of little things right for Peters – like winning 52.0% of his face-offs – which means he never saw his place in the lineup endangered. He and Bennett would have flashes of putting it all together, particularly when James Neal was injured and the initial chemistry those two showed with Austin Czarnik took off for a little bit. However, Jankowski never truly progressed the was some had hoped after his rookie years, and thus toiled away in the bottom six quite steadily.
Compared to last season
Jankowski looked really good in last year’s pre-season, and then got unceremoniously shuttled to the AHL in favour of Tanner Glass because that’s what the Flames were about last season. After starting off on a fantastic line with Mangiapane and Garnet Hathaway, he would get called up to the big leagues and never looked back. He scored his first ever goal with an assist from Jaromir Jagr which itself is objectively cool, and then settled into a third line role for the majority of the season. He wasn’t the world-beater that Jay Feaster prophesied he would become, but he was a justifiable NHLer.
He also scored four goals against Vegas in a game that really didn’t matter, but damn if it isn’t fun seeing a rookie do that.
What about next season?
With talks of Elias Lindholm moving back to centre, that would potentially bump Jankowski to the 5C spot, behind Sean Monahan, Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, and Derek Ryan. If that’s going to be the case, it might make more sense to bump the left-handed Jankowski to the wing where he would split face-off duties with a righty, which is something Peters has shown to be fond of. He could end up being trade fodder, but unless the deal is particularly sweet there is no reason to be actively shopping him.
Next season will be the last of his current contract, at the end of which he’ll be a restricted free agent again. It would be in his best interest to really put together a statement season, which would be really good both for his job security and the Flames. Hopefully, he’ll be able to help the penalty kill become stronger overall and not just in the shorthanded goals department, and provide the Flames with a bit more consistent attack at 5v5.
2018-19 player evaluations
#4 Rasmus Andersson | #5 Mark Giordano | #7 TJ Brodie | #8 Juuso Valimaki | #10 Derek Ryan | #11 Mikael Backlund | #13 Johnny Gaudreau | #18 James Neal | #19 Matthew Tkachuk | #21 Garnet Hathaway | #23 Sean Monahan | #24 Travis Hamonic | #27 Austin Czarnik | #28 Elias Lindholm | #33 David Rittich | #41 Mike Smith | #55 Noah Hanifin | #58 Oliver Kylington | #67 Michael Frolik