Flames Comparables: Moss and Morrison

Robert Vollman
September 29 2011 08:55AM



Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year.  The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's.

We've already looked at most of the Flames key forwards, including Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross.  This week we'll be looking at David Moss and Brendan Morrison.

David Moss, RW/LW

Calgary's cleanest player, David Moss, cousin of the Leafs' Phil Kessel, was having a tremendous season when a shoulder injury cut it short, scoring 17 goals and 30 points in 58 games, double the very pessimistic 6 goals and 15 points Snepsts projected.

Having come off a season with just 8 goals and 17 points in 64 games, you can't fault Snepsts for its pessimism.  It also didn't know that Moss would play so well with Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos on the fourth line that he'd get so many opportunities with Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen instead.

When playing on a scoring line with gifted linemates, Moss can certainly match the 20-goal, 39-point performance he enjoyed in his prime at age 27 back in 2008-09, if he can stay healthy.  Unfortunately he's averaged just 57 games in his 5 NHL seasons, and VUKOTA projects 56.

Age Player            Season  GP  G  A PTS
30 Ted Irvine         1974-75 79 14 14  28
29 Radim Vrbata       2010-11 79 19 29  48
29 Dave Reid          1993-94 83  5 15  20
31 Ron Stewart        1963-64 65 14  5  19
28 Dwight Foster      1985-86 68  4  9  13
31 Paul Fenton        1990-91 78 11 17  28
31 Scott Thornton     2001-02 77 27 17  44
28 David Bruce        1992-93 17  2  2   4
28 Tom Chorske        1994-95 42  9  8  17
32 Stan Gilbertson    1976-77 67  5  8  13

VUKOTA                        56 14 14  28
Worst (Foster)                56  3  7  10
Best (Vrbata)                 56 13 21  34
Average                       56  9 10  19

There are a handful of players like Dwight Foster that suggest Moss might fall back to the 0.25 points per game level – at age 30 that's certainly possible if he's not healthy and gets fourth line minutes only.

On the other hand, Scott Thornton and Radim Vrbata both show the upside for David Moss.  With good health, more than his usual 13 and a half minutes per game, continued or even increased power play opportunities and possibly even some time in the top-six, Moss could easily reclaim the 20-goal throne.  Otherwise, mark him down for 20 points like pessimistic Snepsts.

Brendan Morrison, C

Brendan Morrison's career was potentially rescued at age 35, getting to play primarily on the first line between a red-hot Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.  Last year's Snepsts projection put him at 7 goals and 35 points over his 66 games, a solid notch shy of his actual totals of 9 goals and 43 points.

In his prime Morrison had six straight 82-game seasons, topping 50 points every time, including a 25-goal, 71-point effort in 2002-03 at age 27 centering Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi.  Since then both his games and his points have steadily dropped off, averaging 70 games and consistently scoring 42-43 points the past two seasons.

Age Player            Season  GP  G  A PTS
36 Neal Broten        1995-96 55  6 14  20
34 Dale Hunter        1994-95 45  7 14  21
34 Bobby Rousseau     1974-75  8  2  2   4
36 Mush March         1944-45 38  4  5   9
38 Craig Conroy       2009-10 63  3 12  15
34 Murray Oliver      1971-72 77 24 27  51
34 Derek Armstrong    2007-08 77  8 27  35
34 Peter Mahovlich    1980-81 24  1  3   4
35 Joe Juneau         2002-03 72  6 16  22
36 Henri Richard      1972-73 71  7 30  37

VUKOTA                        59 10 25  35
Worst (Mahovlich)             70  2  9  11
Best (Oliver)                 70 22 25  47
Average                       70  9 18  27

Unfortunately there's little historical precedent for a dramatic improvement from the 35-40 point range – only Minnesota North Star Murray Oliver cracked 50, and that was by suddenly tripling his goal-scoring at age 34 (it came right back down the following season).

The more practical conclusion is that his offensively productive streak could finally be coming to an end, and he'll drop back to the 31 points he scored in 2008-09 with Anaheim and Dallas.  That projection could be especially true if he gives up those prime offensive opportunities this season.

Coming Up

Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano and Anton Babchuk
Tom Kostopoulous, Tim Jackman, Cory Sarich, Chris Butler and Scott Hannan
Mikael Backlund and Brett Carson
Raitis Ivanans and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. 

Rob Vollman of www.HockeyAbstract.com is a regular feature writer on ESPN Insider, co-author of Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 and 2011-12, and regular contributor to NHL Numbers, Flames Nation and Arctic Ice Hockey. Innovator of Player Usage Charts, Quality Starts, GVS (Goals Versus Salary), the Snepsts Projection System, and known for work in League Equivalencies (NHLE). Twitter: @robvollmanNHL
#1 Kent Wilson
September 29 2011, 11:08AM
Trash it!

I think Moss will beat his projection, but Morrison's seems right on the money to me.

#2 xis10ce
September 29 2011, 12:12PM
Trash it!

I would have to agree with Kent. Morrison had a steller year between the top two point getters on the Flames roster last year. I find it unlikely he will be the #1 center this year, which will significantly restrict his point per game output.

But by the same token, and meshing with the Stajan article, in two years in TO on the top line Stajan achieved 50+pt seasons.

#3 ChinookArchYYC
September 29 2011, 10:18PM
Trash it!

Just watched Moss pot 2 goals against the Yotes, and he looked as good as he ever has. It would be nice to Moss get 82 games in this year, and really crush this projection. As for Morrison, I think his real value is in the dressing room. He was the voice of reason and calm, during the first part of the year when the Flames were stinking out the joint. If his knee isn't 100% he may really struggle to come close to last years numbers.

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