Flames Comparables: Stempniak and Jokinen



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.

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Part 1 of our series covered Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.  This week we’ll be looking at Olli Jokinen and Daymond Langkow.  Err … make that Lee Stempniak.

Lee Stempniak, RW

28-year-old utility winger Lee Stempniak, acquired for Daymond Langkow in a salary dump, is a classic do-it-all player.  He can be a depth option on the power play and the penalty kill, and can provide secondary scoring at even-strength.

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His strongest season was actually his second, when he scored 27 goals and 52 points for the St. Louis Blues as a 23-year-old in 2006-07.  Establishing himself as more of a 40-point scorer in the following seasons, he eventually moved to the Phoenix Coyotes where he caught fire, shooting 29.2% to score 14 goals in the final 18 games, setting a new career high of 28 goals, to go with 48 points.

Last year his Snepsts projection accurately forecast his 19 goals based on 29 historical matches, but  projected a little high in assists, with 26 assists – 7 more than he actually earned last year as a Coyote.

Age Player            Season  GP  G  A PTS
30 Mark Parrish       2007-08 66 16 14  30
26 Lorne Ferguson     1956-57 70 13 11  24
26 Bob Crawford       1985-86 68 10 16  26
28 Ross Lonsberry     1975-76 80 15 23  38
28 Ryan Malone        2007-08 77 27 24  51
29 Inge Hammarstrom   1976-77 78 20 15  35
27 Sergei Berezin     1998-99 76 38 23  61
26 Eric Nesterenko    1959-60 61 12 22  34
30 Anders Kallur      1982-83 55  4  6  10
28 Cliff Koroll       1974-75 80 22 27  49

VUKOTA                        69 19 20  39
Worst (Kallur)                82  6  9  15
Best (Berezin)                82 41 25  66
Average                       82 20 20  40

Stempniak’s 55 historical matches agree with this top ten, pegging him as a 40-point man with an even chance for 20 goals should he play all 82 games – having missed just 11 games in the past five seasons, it’s reasonable to assume he’ll be close.

There isn’t much downside to a player like Stempniak, whose post-rookie career low is last year’s decent 38 points, and he’s still a couple of years removed from where similar do-it-all forward Anders Kallur (the first European player to win the Stanley Cup) began his decline.

The upside is the real appeal of having Stempniak on the roster.  Just as he caught fire when he first moved to Phoenix, he could find the same chemistry with Calgary’s ample supply of comparably skilled forwards, and have a season more similar to Sergei Berezin’s – who was also traded from Toronto to Phoenix at one point. 

Of course, Berezin – who would go on to score the 10,000th goal in Montreal Canain history – struck instant chemistry with an in-his-prime Mats Sundin, consequently finishing 5th in the NHL in even-strength goals, so a 40-goal season is seriously pushing it.

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While it’s more realistic that Stempniak’s high-water mark is already set (at 48-52 points), and he’s likely to continue in the 20-goal, 40-point range, he’s really a no-risk pick-up with tangible upside.

Olli Jokinen, C

Olli Jokinen’s history with Calgary is truly bizarre.  He has to be one of the team’s most expensive players if you include both dollars and the cost of acquisition.  The Flames traded Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and the 1st-round selection used on Brandon Gormley for him, then dealt him a season later to the Rangers with a reacquired (for Jim Vandermeer) Brandon Prust for two overpriced replacement players in Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik.

Strangely, the Flames brought him back in the off-season at his maximum possible market value of $3.0 million, and ultimately had to give the Sabres Robyn Regehr to get Ales Kotalik’s contract off their hands.  You could argue that having Jokinen has cost the Flames $3.0 million per season, Robyn Regehr, Brandon Prust, Jim Vandermeer, Matthew Lombardi and prospect Brandon Gormley.

Needless to say, expectations have always been high for Olli Jokinen that it’s probably impossible for him to fulfill them, short of regaining the mid-30-goal level he consistently reached back in his prime.

Unfortunately last year Snepsts had Jokinen down for 21 goals and 53 points, with a good chance of scoring even more if his shooting percentage improved from a terrible 6.4% back to 10% (he stopped at 8.2%). and that 60 points was a possibility, but likely pushing it.  In the end, Jokinen wound up with 54 points, beating the projection by just a single point.

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Age Player            Season  GP  G  A PTS
31 Fred Stanfield     1975-76 80 14 25  39
34 Todd Bertuzzi      2009-10 82 18 25  43
33 Vic Stasiuk        1962-63 36  6 11  17
35 Ulf Dahlen         2001-02 69 24 31  55
34 Shawn McEachern    2003-04 82 18 41  59
31 Joe Carveth        1949-50 71 14 21  35
32 Steve Rucchin      2003-04 82 21 25  46
34 Kelly Kisio        1993-94 51  6 20  26
31 Dennis Maruk       1986-87 67 12 23  35
32 Mark Johnson       1989-90 63 12 22  34

VUKOTA                        68 17 30  47
Worst (Stasiuk)               82 13 24  37
Best (Dahlen)                 82 29 36  65
Average                       82 17 29  46

Jokinen’s goal posts are pretty close together, with Kelly Kisio, Shawn McEachern and Joe Carveth all show up for the second year in a row.  Let’s take a closer look at them, and remember these numbers are adjusted for scoring levels.

Olli Jokinen
1997-2009 723 206 248 454
2008-09    76  28  26  54
2009-10    82  15  34  51
2010-11    79  17  37  54

Kelly Kisio
1983-1990 521 117 225 342
1990-91    51  12  16  28
1991-92    48   9  21  30
1992-93    78  20  40  60
Shawn McEachern
1991-2000 593 167 179 346
2000-01    82  32  40  72
2001-02    80  16  33  49
2002-03    46  10  16  26

Joe Carveth
1940-1946 235 68 107 175
1946-47    51 18  17  35
1947-48    57  8  22  30
1948-49    60 15  28  43

Together Kisio, McEachern and Carveth would project 15 goals, 32 assists and 47 points for Jokinen this season, should he play all 82 games – making this one of the more probable projections.

Coming Up

Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman
Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross
David Moss and Brendan Morrison

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.

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  • Rather than roll lines relatively equally like last year, it’s possible Sutter will specialize roles this year, creating a shut-down line to make room for the scoring line (Iginla, Tanguay and probably Backlund).

    If so, Stempniak will probably find himself on that shut-down line, and possibly Jokinen too, which should prevent either of them from exceeding the average expectations.

    On the other hand, Sutter might not.

  • Section205

    Projections seem reasonable to me.

    Jokinen was decent value at $3M. I think your cost argument for Jokinen is kinda like me saying I am closely related to Kevin Bacon!

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Unfortunately, he’s right when you add it all up Jokinen has cost the franchise a lot in salary, cap, and serviceable players. Not his fault, but no matter how you slice it he cost the team a lot.

      • SmellOfVictory

        I could’ve lived with Jokinen’s price (high as it was) until the Kotalik trade. That pretty much made me hate life. And by life, I mean Darryl Sutter.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          I remember listening to The Fan on Free Agency day, when the trade came down bringing Jokinen back. Rob Kerr laughed and mocked the source as an obvious mistake. How I wish he was right.

          I don’t hate Jokinen at $3M, but I hated everything we lost in acquiring him twice, especially Kotalik.

  • “You could argue that having Jokinen has cost the Flames $3.0 million per season, Robyn Regehr, Brandon Prust, Jim Vandermeer, Matthew Lombardi and prospect Brandon Gormley.”

    No argument here.

    The epitome of asset management, indeed.

  • jai kiran

    The projections seem appropriate, but there is a reason to expect both these players to post numbers toward the higher end of the range: they are both UFA at the end of the year.

    And for Flames optimists, this has to be a year that Free-agents-to-be (Moss and Backlund too) (Hagman and Sarich in my dreams) play like the greedy bastards you always thought they were.

  • jai kiran


    This is not critique but curiosity, but has a systematic study ever been done to go back and compare the projections against obtained results to check how accurate they are?

    I ask this for two reasons. The first is that when I look down the list of comparables I see players from every decade as far back as 1949. While I understand the scoring rates are adjusted to the scoring rates of the day, I also have a hard time believing the longevity of players and their ability to sustain their level of play is the same with advances in modern training and medicine. While I get that those same advances make the competition faster I can’t believe there is no adjustment to be made there.

    Second, if these results are generated by a computer (and I say if!) then it should be relatively simple to generate a large sample size to determine the range of accuracy. For example, the top 200 forwards of each season predictions for 4 seasons would give us 800 data points as to the accuracy of the projection and let us know if there is a bias one way or another.

    • Tach,

      We did this last year, and reviewed the results – some were caught at the upper end of expectations (Iginla, Tanguay), others at the lower (Stajan, Hagman) and others were bang on (Bourque, Jokinen). In the end, as a group, the projections were bang on.

      We’ve been using Snepsts for 2-3 yeas now, and we’ve finally got enough data for a more detailed analysis of its accuracy – stay tuned to Hockey Prospectus for that.

      We’ve also tried cutting out old data, but that also cuts down your list of comparables. Would you rather have someone from 1955 whose stats followed the exact same course, or someone from 1995 whose stats weren’t as similar? Honest question. We could study which is more accurate.


  • RKD

    Predictions seems fairly accurate. We can all hope for the best but realistically the Flames are a bunch of players like Jokinen and Stempniak, middling players who could score anywhere from 30-50 points and possibly 20 goals. They lack elite talent besides Iggy (I know the-wolf disagrees with me on Iggy being elite, but that’s my opinion), and Iggy probably has maybe 1-2 years of great years left. But I’m an optimist. With this cast of middling players, Flames finish 6th. (where they were in 2004…) 🙂

      • SmellOfVictory

        I don’t think Jarome’s ever been able to be the elite forward that plays an elite two-way game. Those are the “elite of the elite” if you know what I mean. When it comes to scoring Jarome is an elite player, so in my opinion it makes him elite, but not the second degree of elite like Crosby, Datsyuk. (not Kesler, eww, lol) Does that make any sense?

        • Jarome played against the best of the best in his mid-to-late 20’s pretty regularly: he had to because there was next to nothing behind him. In the 2003-04 season, for example, he was legitimately elite. He saw the toughest minutes available and mostly kicked ass. When Darryl Sutter described his first round series against the Canucks as “one of the most dominant I’ve ever seen”, he wasn’t blowing smoke at all.

          I don’t know if it’s because he was a better two-way player then or he was just simply so good in the offensive zone that the puck went and stayed there when he was on the ice. I suspect it was the latter.

          • I agree Kent, in the 2004 playoffs he was the best player on the ice, best in the league. The shift that led to the game 5 OT winner in the Cup Final was one of the best shifts I have ever seen anyone play, helmet off, outworking everyone and getting the assist on the goal, man that brings back memories. Classic Jarome. He’s definately not the best player on the planet now, like he was back then, but in my opinion he’s still elite. Not the best of the best, but still elite.

  • RKD

    I believed Jokinen came on this team one year too late. Sutter was trying to get a #1 center desperately and I think the first time Florida wanted Dion Phaneuf and a 1st round pick for Jokinen.

    Jokinen arrived a year later, and Sutter gave up the first round pick. Jokinen arrived with excitement, scoring two goals in a 5-1 beatdown of Philly.

    Jokinen had 5 points against the Hawks 6 game elimination of the Flames. Despite Cammy outscoring Iggy that year, Cammy was a no show for the Flames in the post-season putting up a grand total of one point.

    While no one expects Jokinen to score 39 goals and put up 90 points, he can still be an effective offensive player. Last season, he struggled as an East-West player. As soon as Sutter moved him to a line off of Iggy and he started becoming a North-South player he started scoring and getting assists. I still believe he can hit 20+ plus goals and maybe 40+ assists.

    It feels like we are back at square one when last week at the Flames town hall Feaster said he is looking for a #1 centre.

  • Section205

    The first time around Jokinen cost us Prust, Lomabardi, and a 1st (Gormley). That was steep, but then again we re-acquired Prust easily and Lombardi went UFA after only 1 year and we could have signed him for nothing (if you thought he was worth $3.5M, which I did not).

    The second time around we gave up nothing to acquire Jokinen. At that time, it looked like Langkow’s career was over.

    It is folly to tack on Prust (again) and Regehr, which have nothing to do with getting Jokinen. They have to do with getting Higgins, Kotalik, Butler, and Byron.

    It is one thing to carry extra grudges, but another thing to dump them at the wrong guy’s feet.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I agree with you, there is no point holding a grudge against any player especially over issues that he has no control over. That said, the trade for Kotalik will always be tied to Jokinen and Sutter, in the minds of most Flames fans. The Kotalik trade was one of the dumbest deals I’ve seen the flames put together (think Gilmour to TO). Darryl unloaded Jokinen, in the last year of his contract, and picked up Higgins (meh) and Kotalik with 3 years and $3M on his contract. So, we may not have given up much (except Prust, who’s doing great in NY now), but it cost the team big time in cap space and salary, at a time when it was not affordable. You also remember that when big “D” picked up Jokinen the first time, the Flames had to play with a short bench for several weeks, because they were over the cap.

      • Section205

        I don’t blame the Jokinen trade for the brutal injuries in the last few games of the season that could not utilize LTIR in 08/09. When you are that unlucky at the end of the year, your season is done.

        But yes , the Kotalik deal was very dumb. Sutter overvalued Higgins and Kotalik. Sather laughed.

        As you can see, I like to play Devil’s advocate… what did it really cost the team?

        Prust was replaced nicely by UFA Jackman. Kotalik was on LTIR for 59 of his 134 days on the roster last year, so his cap hit was about $950K.

        The rest of the time he is in offensively-challenged Abbotsford as a $3M Lundmark with more skill. He was called up as our best option when injuries hit at the end of the year. In 26 NHL games he scored 4 goals plus shootout goal(s). I read that in Abby he was good teammate and it must have been good for developing forwards to play with (and practice with) a skilled guy like Kotalik.

        So it was dumb, but not that costly… until you trade a 2nd round pick to dump him in his final year. If I was a billionaire owner, I would’ve kept my 2nd round pick in 2012 and paid $2.2M salary for 140 days and trade him at the deadline for a 7th round pick in 2014.

  • RexLibris

    I just have a question about some of the comments about Flames UFAs having good years.

    Is it really in the best interests of the Flames, long-term, for their expiring UFAs to exceed expectations and have career years given that Feaster has said he is committed to this group? If players like Stajan, Sarich, Babchuk, Stempniak, and even Backlund for that matter, have an out-of-body-experience season Feaster is more likely to think he’s got a winning group and re-sign them. With Backlund, I think having a moderate year with average progression is the best bet as he isn’t expected to be the difference-maker this year and it will then ensure that he can be re-signed for less-than-top-dollar, giving the team some value down the road. If Feaster were considering a rebuild then having all your UFAs play like their hair is on fire would be of great benefit, but management has explicitly denied that such a move is in the plans.

    I’m just saying, it happened to my team with guys like Horcoff, Staois, and Pisani, and it can delude a GM into paying for a pot of gold when he’s really carrying bucket of bricks.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      “Is it really in the best interests of the Flames, long-term, for their expiring UFAs to exceed expectations and have career years given that Feaster has said he is committed to this group?”

      Yes. I don’t think he was talking about any of the upcoming UFA’s or committing to anyone but a core of 4 or 5 players. You may be right, Feaster could get all Kevin Lowe on us, and sign some of these players to long and lucrative contracts, but I see Feaster’s long term as making the Flames younger and faster. If we see “lights out” type of play from the UFA’s, they become perfect trade bait during the year, and a method to making the Flames better and younger in the long run.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I dont see that Kevin Lowe path with these UFA’s even if they have fantastic years. Personally, I would parlay that performance at the deadline & restock as many 3rd & 2nd round picks as I can. That would be like winning the lotto. Worst case would be resigning some of these older vets to 1-2 year Hannan type deals at a home town discount.

      I was pretty excited when we did that big deal with Phoenix to bring Joker in, thoughts of having potentially a bonafied number one centre had me pretty pumped. Just didnt work. I would never blame DS for that deal, it’s the Dion & Joker deals after that, where someone should have locked D in a rubber room until after the trade deadline.

      Jay may say he wont take a match & burn it down, of course he would say that. But big changes are needed & if he makes some big changes & I think Langkow & Regehr, 2 core players, thats pretty significant. Isnt that another form of burning, just instead of a match he’s rubbing 2 sticks together.