Jiri Tlusty’s off-season didn’t go quite as planned. The 27-year-old went nearly the entire summer without landing a contract, and didn’t sign an NHL deal until the New Jersey Devils came calling midway through September. It seemed like Tlusty should have had something to prove this season, but he’s struggled in a big way.
Through 30 games, Tlusty has just two goals and four points, and first-year coach John Hynes has even made Tlusty a healthy scratch on a few occasions. He’s averaging third- and fourth-line minutes in New Jersey, and he’s barely even managing a shot per game. The one plus to Tlusty’s game, as always, is that he’s been a solid defensive zone player and is one of few players in New Jersey who seems able to truly drive play for the Devils.
But Tlusty’s chance to turn his season around could be over, as he underwent wrist surgery earlier this weekend and the Devils announced he will be out for 3-4 months. That means barring a post-season appearance by New Jersey, Tlusty’s time with the Devils could be over after less than half a season with the club.
"On Friday, Devils forward Jiri Tlusty underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist,” New Jersey GM Ray Shero said in a statement. “The procedure was performed by Dr. Robert Hotchkiss at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.”
Tlusty’s contract with the Devils was a one-year deal worth $800,000, but he hasn’t been able to provide the type of offense Shero had hoped for and after how long it took for Tlusty to find a fit in the NHL this past off-season that could mean he’s in for another long summer.
Tlusty’s game is centred on puck possession and it’s one of the aspects of his play that has made him somewhat of a darling in the advanced stats community. Over his past three seasons, during which time he played 120 games in Carolina, 20 in Winnipeg and 30 in New Jersey, Tlusty has a shot attempts for percentage of 51.5 percent. That said, he does a favorable amount of offensive zone starts — 54.4 percent over his past three seasons.
His best offensive season came during the lockout-shortened campaign when he scored 23 goals and 38 points in 48 games, but his point totals were buoyed by a career-best 16.7 shooting percentage at 5-on-5. Tlusty does have 15-goal potential, though, and it’s no surprise that this season, his worst offensive year, comes during a season in which his 5-on-5 shooting percentage is an abysmal 2.9 percent.