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2019-20 Philadelphia Flyers prospect review: David Kase

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No sophomore slump to be had here, folks.

Casey Liberatore / SB Nation

It’s that time of year again, folks! While the NHL is still planning on coming back for their playoffs sometime this summer, the AHL season is still officially over, and we’re still using this time to talk prospects! Over the last few weeks, Brad and I dished out some grades and brief general thoughts on the Phantoms players’s seasons, but now we’re shifting gears to do some deeper dives into the prospects’ seasons. Because we simply cannot spend enough time talking about them (and we also had a whole lot of them either joining or continuing to hone their professional game with the Phantoms this season). So let’s dive right in!

David Kase has just closed out his second season with the Phantoms, and while of course the team’s success was not what we had hoped it would be, Kase’s personal season saw some marked growth and significant high points, and was also punctuated by a couple of brief stints with the Flyers. He took a substantial step forward this season, there was a lot to like, as he worked to round out his game, and also jump up a bit on the depth chart in the process.

By the numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM SOG SH%
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM SOG SH%
51 7 12 19 14 90 7.8

Overall, we’ve got not too bad of a stat line here. Kase’s 19 points on the season had him ranked ninth on the team in scoring, and seventh among forwards. It was a bit of a drop off from 2018-19, when he scored 23 points in 30 games, but this isn’t something that we should be too fussed about. Team scoring was down for the Phantoms this season (they averaged 2.60 goals per game this season, down from 3.16 in 2018-19), and Kase also saw his shooting percentage fall from a well above average 15.7 percent down to a bit below average 7.8 percent. We can reasonably expect that, on a team not collectively struggling so mightily to score, that Kase’s shooting percentage might regress closer to the mean and give us a season total more representative of his true talent. True, there’s something to be said for individuals rising up and driving team success positively, but this season was something of an extreme, and in general it seems unfair to expect individuals to be the fix.

Also worth noting is that one of the bigger changes from last season is that Kase has sort of redefined himself as closer to a volume shooter, at least on this team. In his rookie season, he put up 51 shots in 40 games, but this season he came close to doubling that total is just 11 more games played, which, though it didn’t directly result in him scoring more this season, the process does bode well for future results.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi For% Corsi For% Relative Scoring Chances For% Goals For Goals Against Goals For%
Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi For% Corsi For% Relative Scoring Chances For% Goals For Goals Against Goals For%
554 510 52.07 4.55 51.39 28 28 50

One of the biggest areas of improvement we’ve seen in Kase’s game is how he’s been able to really pull up his underlying numbers in general, but particularly in these shot metrics. Something of a weakness of his in his first season, this was something that I know I really keyed in on, to say that if only he can work out how to drive play more consistently, that’s going to be a major asset to his game, on top of the bit of shooting talent he brought that year.

And guess what, gang! He did it! Not only has Kase improved his numbers relative to what he posted last season, but he’s propelled himself forward as one of the team’s most consistent play drivers. His 52.07 CF% puts him third among regular forwards, and his 51.39 SCF% third as well. There is a bit of a drop-off in the HDCF% department, as his differential falls to 47.06 percent, and while that isn’t stellar, it is worth noting that this is still 4.41 percent above the team average. The Phantoms as a whole really struggled to drive play collectively this season, but Kase remained one of the bright spots, as they did generally tend to get the better of the shot share when he was on the ice, and that’s pretty crucial.

5v5 Neutral Zone Stats

Entry Attempts Entries Controlled Entry% Possession Entry% Exit Attempts Exits Controlled Exit%
Entry Attempts Entries Controlled Entry% Possession Entry% Exit Attempts Exits Controlled Exit%
138 118 50.85 69.49 108 95 67.37

And just like we talked about Kase turning into more of a play driver in general, so too are we seeing him turning into something of the literal driver on his line. It’s nice to see that he’s generating a lot of controlled exits and entries (seventh and eighth among all skaters, respectively), but perhaps even more notable is how he’s also become one of the most prolific generator of entries on the team. With his 118 entries in the first 35 games tracks, he ranks fourth among all skaters in successful entries (he’s also third in entries attempted), and falls well above the team average of 70.44 individual entries per skater. This all suggests that, when his line needs to get into the offensive zone, Kase is the one tasked with making that happen, and again more often than not, and more often than many of his teammates, he’s able to do it with control. Kase’s 50.85 Controlled Entry% is well above the team average of 41.79 percent, and his 69.47 Possession Entry% (that is, controlled entries plus all dump ins where the puck in cleanly recovered) is equally impressive. This all amounts to Kase being something of a force in transition, and really well rounds out what shaping up to be a strong statistical profile.

Three burning questions

1. Did Kase live up to our expectations this season

I would say yes, and in some ways exceeded them. Considering his first season was abbreviated as he was hit by the injury bug, my expectations were somewhat imprecise—really, I just wanted to see him make some kind of step forward, maybe work to pull up those shot, but really we just wanted to see him starting to look more settled in at the AHL level as he’s given, presumably, a bit of an increased role. And, as we broke down in some more detail above, that’s just about exactly what he did. He carved out a nice role for himself and really established himself as someone to be relied upon to be a driver on whatever line he was placed on. And that’s a pretty remarkable step to have taken.

But if you had asked me at the start of the season if I expected to see Kase suiting up for the Flyers this season, I would have said no. I would have expected that he was given an increased role with the Phantoms, but the sense was that he was far enough down on the depth chart that he wouldn’t be getting that chance just yet. But he really did earn that look with the big club, and I’m happy to be wrong about this particular predication.

2. What do we expect from Kase next season?

Kase made a really great step forward this season, and the next step is just going to be to continue on his same trajectory. He’ll be a third year professional, and with several players likely graduating to the Flyers on a more or less permanent basis, we can expect that he’ll get a larger role and a chance to continue to develop his game, but this time against some more difficult competition.

And hey, if he continues to put it all together, he might well turn out to be one of those players graduating on a more or less permanent basis. *eyes emoji*

3. What would we like to see Kase to improve on?

Perhaps the good news here is that there really aren’t any gaping holes in Kase’s game that are in need of shoring up before he can hope to get a longer look at the NHL level. We always like to see players finding consistency in their game, particularly in scoring, but we can also acknowledge that sometimes streakiness is outside of their control, and more important is making sure that the details are taken care of with the same consistency.

The other piece would just to be to continue to work towards finding the proper balance between playing his game while maintaining defensive responsibility—which is to say that, when you play an aggressive forechecking style of game, there are times when that aggression can burn you, and you get caught a bit out of position. The numbers certainly don’t suggest that Kase is a defensive liability, and he has made some good strides in this area after his first season, but with how heavily the Phantoms’ coaching staff emphasizes playing a complete 200-foot game, he’ll want to make sure he’s really taking care of his decision making when he’s without and in pursuit of the puck. Playing a really complete game, things of that nature.