One thing that tends to pop up around this time of year is posts and articles about the output one can reasonably expect from the main players for the upcoming year. Of course, if you take a trip to your local messageboard you will quickly discover that expectations are usually actually quite unreasonable – in part because fans hopes spring eternal in the off-season and in part because people tend to project skaters totals outwards based on, say career totals (+10-25% or so), rather than probable role on the club.
Of course, the truth is there are only so many minutes to go around each night. You could fill an entire forward group with "50 goal" scorers, for instance, but not everyone is going to score 50 – even if they call manage to perform well.
Last year, the Flames averaged about 48 minutes of even strength ice time per night, leaving a bit over six minutes per game on the man advantage and a little more than five and half short-handed. The degree a coach parses out those minutes, and to whom, goes a long way to determining each player’s output for the year.
If there is 48 minutes of ES ice time up for grabs each night and Jarome Iginla gets about 16 of them, that leaves just 32 minutes for the other three right wingers and so on. With that in mind, I drew up a table of expected nightly ice time at both 5-on-5 and on the PP for each Flames forward:
|RW||ES ice time||ESP/60||Expected ice||expected ESP||PP ice time||PPP/60||Expected ice||Expected PPP||Total|
Assumptions (skip this if you don’t care too much about the details)
The table also contains expected scoring rates at both game states, averaged from each guys last three seasons worth of data. If there wasn’t three years worth history (ie: Backlund) I made an educated guess based on his existing rates and my own estimation of his talent level.
The estimated ES and PP ice time was based on how each guy was used last year plus an approximation of where he would land on the depth chart in 2011-12. The aforementioned 48 ES minutes was parsed out by this method, as well as 6 minutes per game on the PP (since I don’t expect the Flames to draw penalties at quite the rate they did last year).
– Averaging previous scoring rates smoothed out the outliers and regressed everyone towards their career norms. This is the reason Iginla and Tanguay fall back a tad by this method – they had slightly higher than normal results all around last year.
– The Flames "too many wingers centers" conundrum is kind of expressed here. Although the overriding depth is actually a strength of the club, the dearth of offensive opportunities eventually means the organization will likely be paying Stajan and Hagman north of $3M+ to score an expected 26 and 19 points respectively. That isn’t necessarily because they are terrible…it’s because there is only so many minutes to go around up front.Of course, if they put up that sort of production they certainly will look terrible relative to their paychecks.
– The prior point is why guys at the bottom of rotation are usually "energy players" or "checking lines": because offense is expensive to purchase and it doesn’t make sense to invest it in the guys who skate 10 minutes per night or less at ES (and 1 minute or less on the PP). The only time pricey depth of this sort becomes a real boon is when a large wave of injuries wipes out the skaters ahead of the bottom-enders on the depth chart. Of course, if you can get guys on value deals to score at decent rates with minimal opportunity (David Moss) then you are ahead of the game. Of course, those guys usually end up working their to the top of the roster and become more expensive in the long-run (Glencross, Bourque).
– I excluded unknowns like Horak, Ivanans, PL3 and other various injury call-up types. The expected ice time and point totals of those included are projected over a full 82-game season for the sake of simplicity.
– We see a number of players falling back as a matter of regression, including Tanguay, Iginla and, to a lesser extent, Glencross. Bourque falls down to 41 points because he figures to be the third line LWer right now. If he regains his form and lands back in the top-six, he’ll get more ice time and more points. Jokinen falls back a bit due to ice time and the chance he’ll score a bit less frequently with the man advantage,
– Backlund indeed projected to have a breakp-out campaign if one assumes he was going to not be the Flames 4th line center. We’ll see where he lands upon his return and if can score at a 45-point pace. One of Morrison or Stajan will likely get some of his PP minutes while he’s in the infirmary, so adjust expectations accordingly.
Overall, I think the results are fairly reasonable. They are also in the ballpark of Rob Vollamn’s comparables using his Snepsts System, so I think we’re on the right track. Clearly it looks like the Flames won’t score quite as much this season, although having six guys crack 40+ points is still a fairly decent accomplishment.