After a rollercoaster season, which ultimately ended in a disappointing first-round defeat by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the emergence of a young regular player provided a silver lining for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Defenseman Nick Perbix was that bright spot.
Nick Perbix, 24, is not a new face in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, having been drafted in the sixth round as the 169th overall pick in 2017. Prior to the 2022-23 season, he spent four seasons at St. Cloud State University, where he showcased his talent by scoring 22 goals and racking up 89 points in 135 career games. Notably, in his senior year, he scored six goals and reached his career-high of 31 points.
Perbix began the year playing for Syracuse, but was called up to the NHL in October due to an injury sustained by Philippe Myers. From then on, he became a regular player for the NHL club and did not play another minute in the AHL for the remainder of the regular season. Perbix made a notable impact during this time, finishing the regular season with five goals, 20 points, 22 PIMs, and a +11 in 69 games. He continued to impress in the playoffs, racking up three assists in just six games.
During the regular season, Perbix formed defensive pairings with Mikhail Sergachev (for 468.4 minutes) and Victor Hedman (for 358.4 minutes), and he found greater success with the former. According to Money Puck, the Sergachev-Perbix pairing boasted a 57.8% Goals For Percentage (portion of goals scored by the Lightning when the pair was on the ice) and a 53.6% Shot Attempt Percentage (portion of shot attempts by the Lightning when the pair was on the ice), compared to 53.6% and 50.0%, respectively, for the Hedman-Perbix pairing.
Perbix not only showed impressive defensive pairing metrics, but he also demonstrated his offensive prowess by leading all Tampa Bay defensemen in On-Ice Goals For Percentage (portion of goals scored by the Lightning when he was on the ice) at 55.6%, including an impressive 57% at 5 on 5, per Money Puck.
Following the departure of Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta from their defensive core last offseason, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed a player to step up and help fill their skates, and Nick Perbix exceeded all expectations. The team typically takes a patient approach with their prospects, which makes it all the more impressive that Perbix earned a full-time role with the big club after only playing in 20 career AHL games. With continued development, his $1.125M cap hit through 2024-25 will undoubtedly be one of the most valuable contracts on the entire team.
Although the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t have many true rookies on their squad this year, Nick Perbix undoubtedly stood out as their best newcomer from the 2022-23 season. With solid offensive instincts and a sizeable 6’2″ and 191-pound frame, Perbix, alongside Erik Cernk, is set to solidify Tampa Bay’s right side for years to come.
A year ago, only a few Lightning fans were familiar with him. However, after signing a two-year, one-way extension, Perbix has quickly become a young cornerstone of the team, making him an essential member of the roster for the upcoming 2023-24 season.