Last year was completely typical for Cody McLeod. He has been within 1 point of his 12-point output for the last 4 years, and the 5th year he had 8. His 11:11 a night is very near his career 10:43. While it was his highest PiM season to date, 191 only broke his previous record by a single tripping minor.
Possession-wise he has been steadily declining since 2010, cratering this season below 40%, which is abysmal if you couldn't just tell. Of course his usage indicated he would get run over, and while he did actually allow fewer shot attempts than expected, that's a thing he's done almost every season, but his effectiveness in this area is showing a steady declining trend over seasons. Also his shot generation is always well below expectations. It's not always wise to compare dCorsi over seasons but McLeod has had the same role for basically ever. He plays some with terrible linemates, he hits people, he gets hit in the face, he kills penalties, he opens the door.
Most importantly for fans he's become a symbol of a few old problems plaguing the team. The Old Way, hard hockey, veteran leaders, fighting; vs The New Way, skill throughout the lineup, focusing on a younger roster that sends the puck up the ice without necessarily hitting and grinding as much. He wears an assistant captain's A and owns a lengthy extension for a player of his caliber, both considered roadblocks to new ways of roster management.
I think that's why we get so emotional arguing about the usefulness of McLeod and players like him. You're not fighting over him, you're fighting over what he represents, about how we fundamentally think about hockey. That said,
What does it mean for 2015?
It means for one, despite how much many of us would prefer a roster without him on it, he's going to be there. It means he'll probably have about 10 points and over 150 PiMs if he stays healthy. It likely means his line is going to get crushed in the possession game--his line that doesn't get enough ice to be depended on for a low-frequency event like goals will get crushed in the possession game.
Mostly I hope he starts to fight less because his effectiveness as a player goes down dramatically when his hands are slabs of meat from 6 fights a month or something and because CTE.
The impact his game will have on the team at large? I have always felt it's minimal, mainly he keeps younger skill guys from having a shot at the roster, but he will probably have a minimal effect.
What do you think?