Michael Latta isn’t exactly one of the names you’d expect to hear about in Free Agency. He’s not a top-line center, a remarkable winger, or an oft heard of veteran you add to make your top/middle six stronger.
He’s a 4th line grinder. He’s got #grit. He has heart.
Who is Michael Latta?
Latta is a 26-year-old, 6 foot, 210 lb forward that can play center or wing from Kitchener, Ontario. Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2009 NHL entry draft, Latta spent his junior career in the Ontario Hockey Leauge of the CHL, playing a season and a half with the Ottawa 67’s before being traded to the Guelph Storm where he played for two and a half more seasons.
His pro career started in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2011, the affiliate of the Predators. Latta spent two successful seasons there (28 points in 2011-12 and 35 points in 2012-13) before he was traded to the Washington Capitals as part of the infamous Martin Erat trade.
While Latta spent the 2013-14 season up and down between the Capitals and their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, he eventually earned a full-time spot on the NHL roster in 2014. He spent two seasons up and down the Capitals’ forwards lineup before Latta once again faced free agency in 2016.
He ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Kings, who immediately sent him down to their AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, before later trading him to the Chicago Blackhawks, where he reported immediately to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.
Michael Latta Pro Stats
Why sign Latta?
While his numbers may not be anything to write home about, Latta does have some talents to bring to the table. He’s an experienced, solid NHL center, something the Coyotes are in short supply of, who can also play wing, which makes him more versatile.
If you dig deeper into his “fancy stats”, there’s more evidence of what Latta brings. His career faceoff-win percentage of 49.7% is a big one, along with his average shooting percentage of 10.3% (pretty good for a guy who doesn’t score much), blocks per 60 average of 1.7, and his career plus/minus of +4. In 2015, out of 115 faceoffs, Latta won 102 of them. Not bad for a 4th liner. *
In the HERO charts shown above, Latta is compared the “archetype” of the 3rd line center and 4th line center. His shot generation is right on point for where he usually plays in the lineup and his shot suppression is much higher, the mark of a defensively-mined forward.
Latta isn’t your guy to score goals or rack up assists, but he’s the one who will win the faceoff and get the puck to the wingers who will make the plays and score. He’s your shot suppressor, shot blocker, and grinder that will steal the puck from the opposition in the corners. He’s your depth player that can play anywhere on a forward line.
He also brings playoff experience, both AHL and NHL. The Capitals are a solid team and Latta spent a lot of time under the leadership there, something more he can bring to the Coyotes.
Whether he plays on the 4th line in Glendale or spends time down in Tucson, Michael Latta brings more than just what his numbers suggest. He’s loyal, a hard worker, and plays with heart.
And he’s good with kids, which you’ll see if you give his Twitter and Instagram a follow.
*Paragraph denoted with asterisk contains information provided by sportingcharts.com