If I were to ask you which Tampa Bay Lightning player leads all forwards on the team in ice time in the playoffs, who would you guess?
Most would probably say Steven Stamkos, the two-time winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy as the league’s top goalscorer. Many others would probably pick Tyler Johnson, who has been having a breakout postseason and currently leads the team in both goals and points.
Former Cup-winner Valtteri Filppula? The electric Russian Nikita Kucherov?
Nope on all fronts. The Lightning’s forward ice time leader is actually none other than Alex Killorn.
Killorn is something of a forgotten man in Tampa Bay, and it’s fairly understandable to see why. With Stamkos, Johnson, Filppula, Kucherov and Ondrej Palat at forward, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman on the back end, and Ben Bishop in net, there’s no shortage of great players on the team.
He also doesn’t have the most attention-grabbing history, either. He was a 3rd round pick in 2007, played four solid yet unspectacular NCAA seasons for Harvard University, and is only in his third NHL year. He put up a respectable 38 points in 71 games during the regular season, but didn’t exactly light the league on fire.
Yet it’s Killorn that is logging 20:12 per game. He plays regularly on both the powerplay and the penalty kill for the Bolts, but still leads all forwards in even strength time on ice per game at 15:42.
So, what gives?
The simple answer is that, well, Killorn is actually a pretty darn good hockey player, even if most people don’t realize it yet.
He has 15 points in 19 games, and has some of the best puck possession numbers on the team. While players like Stamkos and Johnson are undeniably more skilled, what makes Killorn so usable is his versatility. Whether trying to come back offensively or trying to defend a one-goal lead late in the third period, Killorn is more than reliable and trustworthy in all situations, moreso than Stamkos and Johnson who naturally slant towards the offensive side of things. When you have a jack-of-all-trades player like that it’s no wonder that Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper plays him so much.
The Lightning are a mere one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals, heading to New York for a historic Game 7 against the Rangers. With everything on the line and no margin for error don’t be surprised each and every time you see Killorn on the ice.
Derek Neumeier primarily covers the Dallas Stars, but also other various topics related to the sport of hockey. A Journalism graduate of Mount Royal University, Derek also writes for Defending Big D, and has done previous work with the Edmonton Oilers as a communications intern and Hockey Canada as a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @Derek_N_NHL