Pre-season Player Projection Review

(Rob Vollman of Hockey Prospectus returns to take a look at his pre-season player projections)

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In October we used the Snepsts System to search the NHL’s vast historical database to find players with era-adjusted statistics comparable to today’s Flames, and used their average to project their performance this season.  Let’s look back and compare that with their actual results (well, minus their final game).

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Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


Remember that games played aren’t part of the projection system; all projections were made based on a full 82-game season.  Without further ado, let’s dive in with the Flames celebrated captain.

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Jarome Iginla


Worst (Langkow)              82 23 30  53

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Best (Fedorov)               82 38 51  89

Average                      82 27 37  64

Actual                       81 42 43  85


Based on our projections, we didn’t expect the two-time Olympic gold medalist to enjoy his amazing 10th straight 30-goal season, and even the optimistic folks at Behind the Net reached a consensus of 75 points, just shy of the 1000-point career mark.  Luckily Iginla fought his way past that, all the way up to the best-case, Sergei Fedorov level.  Keep this in mind next season, and focus on the best-case scenario instead of the average.


Olli Jokinen


Worst (Arvedson)             82 17 23  40

Best (Boldirev)              82 27 39  66

Average                      82 21 32  53

Actual                       78 17 37  54


While his shooting percentage did bounce back from 6.4%, a few too many goal posts stood in the way of it reaching 10%, and his consequently falling just shy of the 21-goal projection.  Otherwise Jokinen performed exactly as history suggested.


Alex Tanguay


Worst (Grosso)               82  0  6   6

Best (Reay)                  82  9 52  61

Average                      82 14 28  42

Actual                       78 22 46  68


As predicted, Tanguay’s shooting percentage did bounce back, and he did indeed exceed the average historical projection, and by more than we expected.  Of the historical comparables only two of them were on pace for the modern-day equivalent of 20 goals, and just barely.  Like Iginla, Tanguay finished at the best-case end of expectations, and perhaps a touch beyond.


Rene Bourque


Worst (Gould)                82 13 21  33

Best (Schmautz)              82 25 38  63

Average                      82 23 29  52

Actual                       79 27 23  50


While we generously hoped that Rene Bourque had a legitimate shot at the high-end, 60+point end of expectations, we’re still pleased that we got a full, healthy season out of the veteran winger, resulting in a season almost dead-on with historical projections.


Matt Stajan


Worst (Smith)                82  8 14  22

Best (Ribeiro)               82 30 61  91

Average                      82 18 36  54

Actual                       75  6 25  31


Unfortunately we grossly miscalculated with Matt Stajan, believing he was “on the brink of breaking the 20 goal and 60 point barriers” that he “could actually be Tanguay’s equal as a playmaker,” and optimistically taking the over on his 54-point projection.  Sadly he spent most of the season struggling closer to the low, Derek Smith end of expectations.


Niklas Hagman


Worst (Clark)                82  2 12  14

Best (Wharram)               82 34 39  73

Average                      82 17 22  39

Actual                       71 11 16  27


Before the season began, we figured Hagman was “bound to return to his previously-established scoring level of 21-29 points eventually – will it be this year?”  As we feared, fighting for ice-time on the left side is going to keep Hagman from hanging on to the 20-goal, 40-point level for the remainder of his high-price contract, leaving the Flames with a $3.0 million version of Mike McPhee.


Jay Bouwmeester


Worst (Smehlik)              82  4 13  17

Best (Gadsby)                82 16 44  60

Average                      82 10 27  37

Actual                       81  4 20  24


Quite frankly, Bouwmeester’s lack of offense was shocking.  We felt very comfortable that “his goal scoring would bounce back to a double-digit threat” and that the historical average projection would be accurate.  As encouraging as his defensive play has been, it’s rather unfortunate to pay $6.68 million for someone with the limited offense of a Richard Smehlik.


Ian White


Worst (Pothier)              82  3 10  13

Best (Wideman)               82 13 37  50

Average                      82  9 24  33

Actual                       76  2 22  24


He may have changed addresses a couple of time this season, but it’s still interesting to see how close White came to meeting expectations.  Despite a career shooting percentage near 5%, he hasn’t scored a single goal in his 95 shots since leaving the Flames, so a little more luck and he’d have nailed it.


Mark Giordano


Worst (Burt)                 82  4  9  13

Best (Keith)                 82  8 37  45

Average                      82  7 21  28

Actual                       81  8 33  41


We asked whether his 30 point season was “his high-water mark, or a stepping stone to an even higher level?” and boy did he answer.  Last year we felt that the comparison to Duncan Keith was overly flattering, but we may have been mistaken.  Giordano’s scoring is indeed following the same trajectory as Keith’s, albeit at two years older.  Dare we dream that a 69-point, Norris-caliber season is upon him?


Wrap Up

Looking at all 9 projections (we left out Daymond Langkow’s for obvious reasons), the Flames as a group performed almost exactly as projected, even a couple points better when you adjust for the extra 5 games.


Average                      82 16 28  44

Actual                       77 15 29  44


That’s the trick with projections.  Despite how wide a net history cast, it just barely caught players like Iginla, Tanguay and Giordano at one end, and Bouwmeester, Stajan and Hagman at the other.  Over a sufficiently large sample size they’ll usually average, which was the case this year in Calgary.  Still, it’s useful to see how players matched up to objective, historical expectations rather than our own.

Is there any interest in doing this again next year?



  • Matty Franchise Jr

    As armchair GM’s, this information is invaluable in helping us decide what to do with our team in the offseason.

    I think it is no coincidence that both Iginla and Tanguay both outperformed the average. Together they are still pretty good.

    Joker at $3M seems like a reasonable deal.

    I guess I’m a little surprised that Bork got that many points and performed at the historical average. He sure got worked by the fans this year.

    Gio is frickin’ awesome.

    I would like for the other 3 to not play here next year, or at greatly reduced salaries. Sadly, neither of those options is likely and/or possible.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I suppose it’s impossible to know for sure, but I suspect that we’d be better off with a team full of average performers (Phoenix, Nashville) than with some above average guys being dragged down by the likes of Stajan.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I really love Bourque but after his “mild” concussion he played like garbage for 2 months. I’m convinced his injury wasn’t fully healed when he returned and when it did get better, so did his play.

    Gio, what can we say about this guy? Hes amazing.

    Stajan i’m not suprised by, Jay-bo I am suprised. He played good at stretches but offensively really has been nothing what he was in Florida.

    Was anybody else annoyed by Kypreos saying that the flames have no defensive prospects??? I could be wrong but I always seem to see the guy making a comment that just goes with the flow and really has no substance/thought behind anything. His idea was to trade Iggy to defense… right… because we need more of that.

    Dion trade: Is it just me or is losing Aulie just creating a knot in your stomach too?

    • Gange

      Being annoyed at anything Kypreos says will keep you in a constant state of annoyance.

      The one thing I hated about the Dion deal was losing Aulie. He’s ready to go next year and we still have players that look like they’ll never be ready to go; Pelech and Negrin.

      • Gange

        Its hard to say with Pelech and Negrin; I haven’t written them off but at the same time it isn’t reason to be jumping over the moon.

        I’m really hoping we see TJ Brodie in the line up next year, I think he has a shot considering how Babchuk has tapered off in the last couple of months.

  • Scott

    I really enjoyed these projection forecasts. As for continuing it next year, well that’d be interesting, as with this year, everyone will either have high expectations out of Iggy, Tangs, and Langkow, with the other side looking for the bottom to fall out. From a purely fan perspective, its awesome to see where players like Iggy fall into line with some of history’s greatest players.

    Looking at Gio’s numbers, it seems like we went about his point production very quietly this year. He had great numbers and no one talked about them throughout the year! Lets hope those continue to increase!

    As for Bouwmeester, he was brutally inconsistent in his offensive aggression. I think 3 of the 4 goals he scored were when he crashed the net. I beleive he only did that a couple of times during the year. I think he focused too much on tryign to play that shutdown defensive role, which affected his offense.

  • Scott

    There are lies, damn lies, and Statistics!

    This is just to show that had Stajan and Hagman perform up to “expectations” – being average, the Flames would have won a few more games. That’s what DSutz was counting on when he brought these players to Calgary…. play to their historical average and score 20 goals and the Flames would be just fine…. too bad for DSutz.

    Maybe the new GM would do best to use these stats and comparables and find players who are trending up against the historical average. Then again, it’s still a crap shoot. You need career years from 3rd and 4th liners to win a cup.

  • Gange

    I’m not for the burnt to the ground approach, but the Flames really need to lose the deadweight on this team. That is what hurt the team through the year. Considering how the departure of Darryl impacted the team, it makes you wonder what a full year with the current roster looks like.

    If you magically found a way to lose Kotalik, Hagman, and Stajan. Replace with the proper pieces, let some of teh young ones play, who knows right? But when you lose those three its a rebuild of the third line and that is not a bad thing…

  • Gange

    “Is there any interest in doing this again next year?”

    Yes Please! I remember reading these from the pre-season and finding them very informative and a kudos to you (Rob V.) for going back to your predictions and showing where you nailed it or flubbed it.

    Just goes to show you how thin the margin was for the Flames this season and how much needed to go right for them to succeed. Even in the face of outstanding seasons from Iginla, Tanguay, Giordano and Jackman (seriously, who saw that coming) the average to below average seasons from Stajan, Hagman, Bouwmeester – as well as Kotalik – not only put them below the contender rank, but put them right out of the playoff.

    Now think how thin that margin is next year with almost none of the Flames’ players projected to be on an upswing except maybe Backlund and Brodie…

  • Gange

    Great study guys, what would be truly fantastic would be a breakdown and comparison of this season. player by player throughout the league and a cost comparison based on salaries. just a thought.

  • Gange

    Great study. It’s nice to have even more proof to how bad Stajan and Hagman truly are. Knowing now, if they could’ve contributed a bit more, we’d be on our way to the playoffs. Great to see Iggy and Tangs having great years. The people who say Iggy should go are crazy, he’s way too important to this team. I believe Tangs stays here since there’s no Keenan and loves playing with Iggy.

    Just out of curiosity is there any way to do a study like this on Kipper? I’d be interested to see that. Just a thought.