Flames Comparables: Bourque and Glencross



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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Previously we’ve covered Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman.  This week we’ll be looking at Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross.

Rene Bourque, LW

The undrafted Rene Bourque finally broke into the NHL at age 24 with the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring 34 points in his rookie season.  Once a Flame three years later, he regained that form with 21 goals and 40 points in just 58 games, before finishing 2nd to Iginla in goals (27), assists (31) and points (58) in 2009-10.

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That strong season helped secure Bourque a six-year, $20 million dollar deal, with the requisite no-trade clause.  Thanks to a very tight and accurate-looking pack of comparables, one of the more confident Snepsts projections last year called for Bourque to take a slight step back to 23 goals and 52 points, almost bang on with his 27 goals and 50 points.  While some people saw that as a disappointment, the dispassionate eye of Snepsts saw it coming.

Age Player            Season  GP  G  A PTS
31 Nick Wasnie        1934-35 13  3  1   4
31 Marco Sturm        2009-10 76 22 15  37
30 Bill Guerin        2000-01 85 40 45  85
32 Yanic Perreault    2003-04 69 17 16  33
29 Ralph Backstrom    1966-67 69 13 26  39
31 Pat Verbeek        1995-96 69 36 37  73
28 Tony Granato       1992-93 81 28 34  62
29 Donald Audette     1998-99 49 19 19  38
29 Geoff Courtnall    1991-92 70 18 27  45
28 John Anderson      1985-86 79 20 32  52

VUKOTA                        72 24 26  50
Worst (Wasnie)                72 18  7  25
Best (Verbeek)                72 37 38  75
Average                       72 23 26  49

Given how often Bourque misses games, having averaged just 66 games per season in his six-season career, we’ll take Vukota’s games played estimate rather than use the customary 82.  And over all his whopping 80 matches, Bourque is expected to score 20 goals and 44 points in 72 games, slightly less than the top ten would suggest. 

Expect Bourque’s path to continue to follow players like Geoff Courtnall and Donald Audette, who were both also in Bourque’s comparables last season, but at different points of their careers.  Their average results match both the top-ten average and even the VUKOTA projection exactly.

Optimists should instead study two other fairly comparable players – Pat Verbeek and Bill Guerin – who both establish a potential upside of a point-a-game pace this season.  With the right opportunities with well-matched linemates and power play chances, it’s within Bourque’s abilities in the best-case scenario to lead the Flames in goals and points.

Curtis Glencross, LW

Glencross surprised many by finishing 3rd on the Flames with 24 goals last season, helping him score 43 points and top his previous career high of 40 points, set in his first season as a Flame in 2008-09.  The undrafted winger’s got to an unfortunately late start, bouncing around the AHL and three NHL teams before landing in Calgary, but he’s certainly making up for lost time now.

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Despite his occasional steps across the line on the ice, it’s hard not to cheer for Glencross, who gives generously to several local charities, and even playing at a discount to stay in Calgary.  You almost have to wonder if it’s going to bother Glencross that ten people in the dressing room make more than him, with Anton Babchuk just $50,000 behind.

We didn’t include Glencross in our Snepsts analysis last year, but he had 98 matches, calling for 15 goals and 35 points in 79 games, a fair bit shy of his welcome totals of 24 goals and 43 points.

Age Player            Season  GP  G  A PTS
30 Mike McPhee        1990-91 64 17 17  34
27 Bill Touhey        1933-34 46 14 14  28
30 Ales Kotalik       2008-09 75 19 22  41
30 Ernie Hicke        1977-78 41  7 13  20
31 Kevin Miller       1996-97 69 13 16  29
27 Nik Antropov       2007-08 72 26 30  56
27 Tony McKegney      1985-86 70 10 18  28
27 Pierre Jarry       1976-77 21  7 11  18
29 Keith Jones        1997-98 23  3  7  10
29 Bob Kelly          1975-76 77 20 25  45

VUKOTA                        71 19 21  40
Worst (McKegney)              71 10 18  28
Best (Jarry)                  71 22 38  60
Average                       71 17 23  40

Again we’ll use 71 games for our analysis instead of the customary 82, given that 71 is both the VUKOTA projection for games played, and also his average number of games played in his four-season career.

Ultimately both Snepsts and VUKOTA agree on a third 40-point season, but there are also three precedents for a 20-goal season: Ales Kotalik, Nik Antropov and Bob Kelly.  On the flip side there are also three players struggling for 30 points: Kevin Miller, Tony McKegney and Keith Jones.

Glencross could easily finish anywhere in this range, it all depends on whether he can keep scoring, and fight off Calgary’s ample supply of secondary scorers for the prime opportunities with the best linemates.

Coming Up

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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.

    • Sure, why not? Tanguay jumped 32, Iginla 17, Jackman 14 – there’s bound to be someone who jumps by 20 this year.

      Possibilities include:
      – Stempniak scoring 58
      – Bourque scoring 70
      – Stajan scoring 51
      – Moss scoring 50
      – Hagman scoring 47
      – Backlund scoring 45

      It all comes down to who plays with Tanguay and Iginla, and if Sutter makes a Kesler-like line out of Stempniak/Jokinen/Somebody so that Tanguay/Iginla/Somebody get Sedin-like ice-time.

      I wouldn’t be on any single one of these, but I’d bet even money that at least one of those hits this year.

      • Heh, I was just yanking yer chain.

        Probably the only candidate for that sort of jump is Backlund. If he gets way more ice time, particularly in the top-6 and on the PP, a 20-point jump is probably pretty reasonable.

  • marty

    robert these articles are great. i agree with you kent i think that backlund will be the one to jump, possibly moss. season is getting closer and the anticipation is getting high. it seems to be either feast or famine with this team. all aboard the rollercoaster which us flame fans have become too familar with. also is ivanans/pl3 really needed? or is that a dumb penalty to mins played comparison. cheers

    • Thanks Marty. I’ve noticed that opinions are pretty mixed on this type of analysis, but it’s great to hear from those who enjoy it.

      Kent, for an upcoming poll, how about seeing which players people think is most likely to jump the most?

      • ChinookArchYYC

        Bourque and GlenX are to me, the Flames two most intriguing forwards. Mostly because no result would surprise me. Whether either GlenX or Bourque light it up or fall back miserably this season probably wouldn’t surprise any Flames fans. If Bourque actually found consistency in his game, and GlenX shows discipline in his play, it could be a very exciting season.

        Your analysis of all the players so far have been very compelling. I’d be interested in seeing a report card at the end of the of the regualar season, and see how well this system works.

        • Thanks for your kinds words – and to everyone else who took the time to include their encouragement.

          As for a report card, good news! We did do this analysis last year, and do have a report card. Check it out.


          “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.”

  • Emir

    I like the articles too, I usually don’t comment on them but t enjoy reading them. I do think baclund has a breakout season this year if he plays with Jerome and tangs. I think the points will go up simply because he is there, but also because playing top six minutes will allow him to do more ofnwhat he is capable of.

    a dark horse for a 20 point jump is P3L, he’s got what it takes to do it.

    lol what a joke, I’d love to meet a person who does think that