After a poor defensive display in 2017-18, defenseman Mark Pysyk continued down the same path in 2018-19 with the Florida Panthers.
In all certainty, I’m sure we can all agree that Mark Pysyk’s performance this past season was quite disappointing.
For a player who’s regarded as a “defensive-defenseman,” you’d think that Pysyk’s No. 1 attribute would be his defensive play. To let you in on a little secret, it’s been a while since we’ve seen the true Mark Pysyk.
Pysyk ended the season playing in 70 games, recording 1G, 10A, for 11 points. His offensive stat line – while underwhelming – is something you would take into consideration seeing that he’s purely defensive minded.
In all honesty, while Pysyk doesn’t contribute or offer much offensively, his offense isn’t what worries me. Instead, his defensive game has declined since his arrival to South Florida.
For the past two seasons at least, Pysyk hasn’t played up to the team’s standards defensively. He’s constantly caught out of position and offers very little puck support for his defensive partner.
To make matters worse, he’s been playing in a top-four role, something he wasn’t accustomed to during his playing days back in Buffalo.
The Cats have played Pysyk in that position largely because of organizational depth. The Panthers lack the options and depth to put someone in that right-handed, top-four role and because of that, they’re stuck giving those minutes to Mark Pysyk.
So in a sense, it’s a bit of a two-way street in terms of who’s at fault. But to lay it out bluntly, I’d say the Panthers are more to blame for placing Pysyk in a position where he has no chance at succeeding.
The Panthers need a stay-at-home defenseman on the second pair who’s a strong skater, quick puck mover, and a dependable force to guard the backline.
Unfortunately for Pysyk, he’s shown none of those qualities and doesn’t meet the criteria listed above. As well, Pysyk’s recent 47.1% (CF%) indicates that he and his teammates were not in control of the puck when he was out on the ice.
To put it simply, it means that he and his teammates were getting outshot more often (in shot attempts) when Pysyk was out on the ice. For a defenseman playing in the top four, you just can’t have that.
Again, the Panthers can’t have this type of player logging top-four minutes on the blue line. Pysyk has always been regarded as a bottom-pairing defenseman and from what the stats and game results show, he’s far more comfortable playing against weaker matchups.
The Panthers have a big decision to make in regards to the future of Mark Pysyk. For the betterment of the team, they may look to upgrade his position and outright replace him. Either way, if the Panthers want to become more sound defensively, then they can’t go into next season with Mark Pysyk in the top four.