There’s only two logbooks remaining as Bryan Little takes his turn under the microscope. Little churned out another decent season as he continues to score over 40 points, year in and year out. This time around, some of the other stats don’t look quite as good. Does that mean Little is declining, or was it just one bad season? Let’s take a look in today’s logbook.
18 – Centre
6’0″ / 191 lbs / Age: 31
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Despite what you think of Little, he’s going to be around for a long time. Currently the longest serving Jet, he’s not looking to give up the title anytime soon as he’s signed until the summer of 2024, which is five seasons away. He just finished the first year of the contract he signed back in 2017 which has an AAV of $5,292 million. This deal also includes a full no-movement clause until next summer when it becomes a modified no-trade clause where he can submit a 14 team no trade list.
Player’s Season in Review
If there’s one thing about Bryan Little, it’s that he’s consistent. He’s scored over ten goals every single season except his rookie year (lockout year pro-rated), and has topped 40 points in each of the last nine seasons (lockout year pro-rated). Even more similar are Little’s last two years. He had 16 goals two years ago compared to 15 goals last year. He also tallied 27 assists two years ago instead of 26 last year. Both of the last two years Little has played a full 82 game schedule which bodes well for the future as he continues to age.
One of the areas where Little wasn’t comparable in the last two years was the amount of ice-time he had per game. His total dropped over a minute per game as Little averaged the third lowest TOI of his career with 15:50 per game.
The other area where Little began to falter was in the underlying metrics. Little has historically been above 50% in CF%, but last season he dropped to 47.6%. In addition, he finished third last on the team in on-ice xGoals% with a measly 43.1%. The scoring chances line up as well because Little finished near the bottom of the team as the Jets only generated 46.24% of the chances with Little on the ice.
When looking at the shot charts, it becomes clearer how Little fared so poorly in these underlying metrics. Little struggled to get any chances close to the net while he was on the ice.
This poor offense wasn’t because of a strong defensive focus as Little also gave up far too many chances in his own end.
It’s a bad combination to be bad at both ends of the rink, but Little might deserve a bit of slack. When looking at his most frequent linemates, Little was consistently paired with younger players that can’t drive their own line. He played alongside Laine for most of the year while the other winger rotated. Kyle Connor took the spot for a while before Roslovic came in for a few weeks. While this doesn’t excuse all of the bad underlying metrics, it certainly explains why Little’s numbers took a hit this season. Having Laine and Roslovic as linemates is a lot different than the days when Little was between Ladd and Wheeler.
The end result of Little’s season wasn’t too bad. He had to play relatively tough minutes as he helped develop some younger players in their careers. Despite a decrease in ice-time he was still able to hit the 40 point plateau even if some of the underlying numbers weren’t as strong.
What We Said A Year Ago
“A player like Little can provide value even if he isn’t scoring points. The Jets have a really young team and having a veteran presence in the room can help during tough moments. Little is a leader and can help mentor the young players while still playing at a fairly high level. Even if Little is not the most skilled player, his commitment to the organization adds to his leadership credibility.”
Little definitely still provides value to the organization. He’s a leader in the room and can help mentor the crop of young stars as they slowly get older. Even though Little has a large cap hit, the Jets are hoping he can keep up his 40 point seasons for a few more years. Look for Little to stay as the second line centre for one more year before one of the younger players like Copp or Roslovic really challenge for the spot.