Predictions for the Flames’ 2016-17 season

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Once again I’ve run projections on the Flames’ coming
season.

Similar to previous years I have used a number of different
statistical categories to cobble together a picture of where the Flames might
end up and how the season may go for each player.

Here’s the process:

I begin by using past NHL seasons (or NHLEs as applicable)
to determine an estimate on the points-per-game for each player on the listed
roster. I then extend that to the most likely call-up candidates within the
organization who will fill the approximate number of man games required both at
forward and defense.

Next I estimate, again based on an average adjusted to
circumstance over previous seasons, the number of games each player on the
listed roster is likely to play in that season, topping it up to within a
reasonable margin with the call-up candidates mentioned above.

That gives me a rough estimate of the total number of points
the team is likely to score.

I analyze each skater’s strengths and weaknesses and try to
describe their likely and/or ideal deployment.

I then estimate, using similar methods, the games played and
save percentage for the goalies. I estimate, based on previous seasons and
adjusting approximately based on the relative strength of the defense corps,
the number of shots that each goalie will face in a game (I have noticed that
backup goalies will often face roughly one fewer shot per game than the starter
as teams may play more cautiously in front of a backup). Calculating those
shots against the estimated save percentage, I can then deduce a
goals against per game.

I then rank the estimated number of goals scored based on
where that total would land in the standings from the previous season. I do the
same with the goals against per game.

Using the goals against and save percentage, I see what
teams had that same number and record their winning percentage.

I apply that winning percentage to the number of games each
goalie is estimated to play, and calculate the points that would result.

Taking that information, the rank of goals scored and goals
against and finally making small adjustments for depth as it relates to the
potential for injury, I arrive at an estimate of where I believe the team is
most likely to finish the season. I emphasize most likely, because these are
meant to be estimates and approximations only and there are myriad unforeseen
circumstances that can affect a team’s performance.

I typically take a wide assortment of statistical categories
into account when researching each team, including shooting percentage, points
per game, games played, TOI, IPP, PDO and more recently DFF% relative to
competition (thanks to Woodguy and GMoney for their work in establishing this
metric and their help in explaining to me), and expected goals for and against.

We’ll begin with the majority of the data I’ve collected,
courtesy of Behind the Net, Corsica.hockey, BecauseOilers, Oilers Nerd Alert, EliteProspects and NHL.com. We proceed alphabetically by the player’s last name.

For goalies I use save percentage and shots per game as the
primary metrics.

This year I’ll go player by player, alphabetically,
beginning with the forwards, defense and then the goaltenders. Afterwards I’ll
review the team and the range in which I believe they could finish.

To start, though, I’m going to post the tables I’ve created
that will show all the data collected so you can see for yourself why I have
arrived at these conclusions.

DFF Flames - Excel

We’ll proceed alphabetically by the player’s last name, beginning with the forwards.

Fwds Flames - Excel

Forwards

Mikael Backlund – Ideal as a second or third
line center, shows up well across the board in IPP, sh%, DFF against all levels
of competition. I’ve estimated he plays 73 games finishing with around 38 points,
down nine from last year.

Sam Bennett – Probably one to one and a half years removed
from being a first line caliber player, but for now he is ideally
suited in a second or even third line scoring role against the
opposing teams’ middle ranged players. Estimated 75 games and 41 points, up
five from last season.

Brandon Bollig – Most of the numbers show a player whose
team does best when he isn’t on the ice. Bollig is someone who needs to prove
himself valuable on the forecheck and the penalty kill, otherwise he’ll end up
eating a lot of popcorn from the press box seats. I’m projecting 66 games
played, seven points, up three points believe it or not.

Lance Bouma – Versatile forward best used in an exclusive
checking role but still capable of outscoring the other teams’ dregs. Not good
enough to saw off the middle tier offensively, though. Estimating 67 games with
17 points, up 10 from last year off a healthier season.

Troy Brouwer – Free agent winger who has a history of being
deployed against the best the opposition has to offer… and giving up scoring
chances. He must perform well in his two-way game and play effectively in his
physical style if he is to have a positive impact for his team. Effective
offensive weapons, nonetheless. I’m projecting 82 games, recording 37 points,
down two from last season.

Alex Chiasson – Best used in a depth scoring role. Can’t go
toe-to-toe with the elite, and can get bogged down playing against (and
probably with) the dregs, but excels in a support role in a similar, if perhaps
slightly less effective way as Lee Stempniak. Estimated 77 games at 25 points,
up 11 from last season. Apparently I’m bullish on him, which means he’s
probably doomed.

Micheal Ferland – Developed nicely last year, posting some
impressive DFF numbers against the elite and middle competition, played the same
level of competition as Backlund but gave up more shot attempts against. I’m
expecting a step back this season as part of natural development, but have
estimated he runs at the same pace offensively over 71 games with 18 points.

Michael Frolik – He is what we knew him to be. Good across
the board, an excellent winger to pair with Backlund for shutdown and
puck possession duties, but equally effective away from Backlund. Estimated to
play 76 games and score 35 points this year, up three based on a few more games
played.

Johnny Gaudreau – Gaudreau looks good by most measures,
though he is now entering his third professional season and while the
offense is there, we’ll need to watch for some improvement in terms of his
possession numbers relative to an escalating quality of competition. While this
may appear to be nitpicking criticism from a detractor, it is quite the
opposite: I believe he can be better still, but to do so he needs to improve on
his shot metrics against the elite. Some of this may well change under a
different coach, one who values possession play more than Bob Hartley, but some
of it must also come from the player himself. I’ve estimated only a marginal
improvement on his ppg pace from last season and thus the same production as
last year, 80 games played with 78 points.

Sean Monahan – Despite taking another step forward last
year, Monahan has yet to prove he is a top-flight first line center
and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m of the opinion that he is
a good first line center, but an exceptional second line
center, and ideally the Flames need to find a way to add the depth necessary to
put him there, just as they need to find a way to put Backlund in a third
line role. That Monahan doesn’t get caved in against the elite, but struggles
against the middle tier suggests that his ability to control the play through
puck possession is still developing. I’m expecting a very strong year from
Monahan, along with his established high shooting percentage, and projecting 79
games with only one point less than last year at 62 points.

Hunter Shinkaruk – Playing predominantly against the bottom
tier during his short run last year, Shinkaruk did extraordinarily well in
generating offensive chances. I’m anticipating that he plays a few games in
spot duty as a call up, either by way of injury or after the trade deadline.
This is a conservative estimate and based on his needing one more year in the
AHL to develop. However, at his current pace he appears to be developing as a second
line scoring threat. I’ve projected he plays 20 games and nets six points, up three from last season.

Matt Stajan – Bob Hartley’s old whipping boy, Stajan was
often used in extreme zone starts with little offensive assistance. At the same
time, his play appears to have dropped off significantly and he has two years remaining at a cap hit of $3.125M. If the Flames can’t find a buyer this trade
deadline (when anything is possible) then I’d expect him to be bought out next
summer. That being said, I’m expecting he gets 66 games in and nets 17 points again.

Linden Vey – A useful depth pickup for the wing, an
improvement on Setoguchi, essentially. Vey can play the middle tier competition
fairly well. Assuming he plays about half a season, I’m estimating he finishes
just one point back of last year with 14 over 45 games played.

Forward Call Ups and Tryouts

Matthew Tkachuk – He’ll return to junior, almost certainly,
so I’m giving him the nine-game limit here for argument’s sake. By the same
token, he’ll likely be given every opportunity to succeed by playing with
skilled teammates, so this estimate is probably too conservative, but as a rookie
I’m projecting two points during his nine-game tryout.

Mark Jankowski – Out of sight but never out of mind, perhaps
the best things to happen to Jankowski were the 2013, 2014 and 2016 drafts.
Beginning his professional career, Jankowski will likely see some spot duty
(I’m guessing 14 games) and his maturation in the NCAA means he’ll be more
capable of acclimatizing to the NHL than some other rookies. That being said,
he projects like a depth winger or perhaps two-way shutdown center with some
offense, if the position is available. On the conservative side, I’ve estimated
14 games played and three points.

Morgan Klimchuk – Ten games, minimal chance to contribute
offensively because of spot duty, two points.

Emile Poirier – Twelve games, not likely all in one go, coaches
may be looking for development outside of offense. Three points.

Andrew Mangiapane – Should probably send Johnny Gaudreau
gift baskets every month for the next year or two as thanks for helping pave
his way into Calgary as a small player. Five games, but I think he’ll be protected
and given every chance to show what he can do as a highly-skilled player. Two points.

Hunter Smith – Spot duty expected when the Flames’ games
fall on bear-baiting nights at the rink. Six games, no points. I don’t think the
Flames will dress him with goals on their mind.

Daniel Pribyl – Some offensive pedigree and further along
than a new draft pick, Pribyl is 23 and has played several seasons overseas,
with measured success. Depending on how quickly he acclimates to the AHL, he
could be the first call up. Estimating 12 games, four points, but expect the more
he plays up to a limit of perhaps 35 games, the more productive he might
become. 

Garnet Hathaway – Showed well last year in a depth role.
Forechecked well, skated quickly. Likely a depth replacement player, but
certainly a plug-and-play type. Ten games, two points.

Austin Carroll – Coin toss between he and Hathaway. Carroll
is younger with only one AHL season under his belt. He, Hathaway, Smith and
Kanzig make up the Flames’ goon squad for call-up options. Two games, no points.

Defence

D Flames - Excel

T.J. Brodie – The numbers love him across the board. If I had
free pick of one player off Calgary’s roster it would be him. That said, I’m
expecting a small drop back in production from last year, so over 79 games
played I’ve projected him to score 39 points, down six from last season.

Deryk Engelland – The sun cannot set too soon on Engelland’s
time with Calgary. Perhaps one of the biggest limiting factors on the potential
of the Flames is a handful of players like Engelland (Bollig, Stajan, Smid and
last year’s goaltending also being culpable in this regard). Does not defend
particularly well against any level of competition, used in defensive zone
starts far too often yet has no other strong skill to recommend him for
anything else save physical play which too often comes at the cost of allowing
scoring chances against. Estimating 10 points over 67 games.

Mark Giordano – Played nearly a full season last year and
his production blossomed as a result. Defensive numbers are outstanding, though
we will observe now if age begins to become a factor. I’m estimating an
incomplete season of 62 games, but a continued ppg pace resulting in a drop of 25 points total to 31. I fully expect this estimate to be incorrect.

Dougie Hamilton – Incomplete defenseman, but young and with
a lot of offensive skill to contribute. He will need to take a big step forward
over the next season and a half to eventually grow to replace Giordano. His
offensive production appears to be nearly on par, only against much easier
competition. This will have to change, otherwise the Flames will have a superior
Dennis Wideman in Hamilton rather than the first pairing defender they
thought they were getting. Played most effectively against the bottom tier
competition but capable against the middle tier. Slight regression of seven points
to 36 points on a 73 game season.

Jyrki Jokkipakka – Capable second pairing shutdown
defender, but only just. Does not contribute anything by way of offense, but if
he can improve his defensive game, and he is still young enough, then he could
pair well with a puck-moving defender like Hamilton to create an effective second
pair. Difficulty is that neither player is independently there yet, though they
both may arrive this season or early next. Estimating same production as last
year, 12 points through 60 games.

Ladislav Smid – An old war horse who is still, despite it
all, a young man. Smid’s only area of expertise is in defending against the
bottom tier of competition, which, it must be said, he does quite well within a
limited sample size. He brings virtually no offense to the table, though, and
is not particularly adept at moving the puck well enough to provide an anchor
on a third pairing but rather needs a very good partner (in the
Flames’ case, this likely means Wideman, although the idea of those two
together does not inspire confidence). Estimating 27 games as he tries to
recover his career, one point.

Dennis Wideman – Despite Hartley’s best attempts to shelter
him, Wideman’s defensive numbers are very poor. His game may have reached a
point where he is a power play specialist and little else, which is unfortunate
when playing on a team with Giordano, Brodie and Hamilton. I’d wager he moves
at the trade deadline, therefore I’m estimating he plays 55 games and but still
posts 21 points.

Defence Call Ups and Tryouts

Tyler Wotherspoon – His career appears to have stalled and
at this stage he seems little more than a placeholder for Oliver Kylington or
Rasmus Andersson. I’m projecting he still gets eight games and comes away with one point.

Brett Kulak – I think there may be a little more tread on
his tires than Wotherspoon within the Flames organization, but only just. Were
Kylington, Hickey, or Andersson closer to NHL ready I’m not sure he would have
been signed. That being said, I’m estimating he plays 10 games with no points.

Keegan Kanzig – This will be his first full pro season in
either the AHL or ECHL. Suspect he will get a few games to see what he can do,
and upon whom he can inflict it. Two games, no points. I don’t have a metric to
project penalty minutes or fights.

Oliver Kylington – Played part of his first pro season in
the AHL last year with some success. He will need to show improvement and I
believe his skill set contributes to that happening. As a result I have him
playing four games this season, though no points.

Goalies

Brian Elliott – Fifty games as starter, 0.923 sv% and a 2.31 goals against average.

Chad Johnson – Thirty-two games as starter, 0.911 sv% and a 2.58 goals against average.

Variables

There are two significant unknowns here: injuries and Glen
Gulutzan.

Using Corsica’s database I pulled the aggregated numbers
from the Dallas Stars for the one and a half seasons that Gulutzan coached.

The possession numbers of his teams are not, in and of
themselves, terrific. However, when contrasted with the Flames under Bob
Hartley they are markedly better – below 50% but often only just. Consider,
during Hartley’s tenure, the Flames recorded a Corsi For rate of 46.41%, while
the Stars under Gulutzan’s brief tenure managed 49.48%. Gulutzan’s PDO during
that time was 100.32, meaning he was more or less getting a fair result from
that team.

So I would suspect we can conclude that, given the same
roster at Hartley’s disposal, Gulutzan should see some improved results. I
strongly doubt this team can climb its way into a playoff position, but that
also depends heavily on the play of the other teams in the division.

All told I’ve got the Flames’ players scoring approximately
564 points, and 215 of those being goals. This comes out to about 2.62 goals
for per game.

I came to the goals-scored number by analyzing half of the
NHL teams’ points scored by the roster relative to the number of goals, and
came away with an approximate share of 38% – meaning 38% of all player points
are likely to be goals.

The Flames scoring 215 goals for would put them 15th in the
league last season, a spot held by the Anaheim Ducks in 2015-16.

On the other side, I’m projecting the goaltending to allow
2.4 goals against per game.

The Flames’ expected goals for differential last season was
poor across the board. Only Smid and Backlund were on record as being able to
create a greater share of goals for their team than they surrendered, and
Brodie broke even. Smid’s numbers come from a relatively small sample size and
he played nearly half his entire ice time against the bottom tier of
competition, so we can safely discount his results.

Suffice to say, the Flames should have more to offer than
what they gave last season. Gulutzan may be able to help in that regard. The
goaltending appears to be set up to save the Flames on most nights, provided the
forwards can provide a league-average rate of scoring.

Based on the numbers I’ve accumulated, I’ve estimated the
Flames will score 215 goals for, an average of 2.62 goals per game, and allow
on average 2.4 goals against per game, or roughly 197 on the season.

Obviously that is a very narrow margin and this suggests that goals will be difficult to come by but that defense and goaltending will prove the backbone of the team. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely confident in that result as we don’t have a lot to go in when it comes to Gulutzan’s schemes and expected style of play. However, the numbers lead us in this direction, so absent anything to the contrary, I think we need to at least set this as a starting point.

Working off of teams who had identical or near-identical
numbers last season and their winning percentages in games, I’ve estimated the
Flames will finish with 92 points. This puts them right on the playoff bubble,
as last season the Bruins and Red Wings both finished with 93 points – the
latter made the post-season while the former did not.

Obviously this does not entirely account for injuries, but
the Flames do have some reasonable redundancy built into their roster at
center, goal and defense so that, outside of cataclysmic injury events, they
should be able to hit within two points of that mark.

  • freethe flames

    Of all the predictions you have made the one I hope you are the most wrong on is Bollig; if he dresses for 66 games this year the Flames will not be in the playoff hunt. This is the year someone has to step up and push him out of the lineup and he ends up playing in the AHL.

    • RexLibris

      Click on the links for either Woodguy or Oilers Nerd Alert to see the DFF data.

      But here’s the link: http://becauseoilers.blogspot.ca/2016/07/woodmoney-new-quality-of-competition.html

      IPP is Individual Points Percentage and you can grab that from hockey.analysis.com.

      How it works is this: let’s say Backlund plays 1000 minutes over a season, and during those 1000 minutes the Flames total 100 points (goals and assists) and of those 100 points Backlund got either a goal or assist on 50 of them, his IPP would be 50%, meaning he contributed to 50% of the offensive production of this team during his time on the ice.

      Essentially, it measures how much a player contributes to the total offense of their teammates during their time on the ice.

      It helps identify playmakers as well as scorers.

  • BurningSensation

    I have to say Rex, I dont buy any of this at all.

    Projecting dips for Brodie, and Hamilton, while Gaudreau, Bennett and Monahan essentially stay the same? And a 25 point fall for Gio?

    Which is to say, I guess it could happen, but outside of the Oilers its unusual to have so many precocious young talents sink rather than rise.

    • cunning_linguist

      It’s pessimistic for sure, but encouraging I guess that even with his substantial predicted drop in player scoring and assuming Brian Elliott’s SV% drops by 10 points, a playoff spot isn’t out of reach.

    • RexLibris

      I don’t begin with the point totals.

      I start by taking an average ppg rate based on the previous 3+ seasons played, then average the number of games we can expect each player to play based on the past 3+ seasons and adjust slightly (usually within a margin of 5 games or so) depending on the nature of the injury history – chronic or freak).

      Take those two together and out comes a point estimate.

      But these are estimates meant to try and smooth the peaks and valleys that every player has during the season and obviously aren’t going to be set in stone.

      Gaudreau and Monahan have been fairly consistent thus far, so arguably predicting a significant rise would be as unusual as a precipitous drop.

      The Giordano total is based off of games played. If he plays more games, he scores more. Simple as that.

      • Kevin R

        What methodology did you use to pick # of games played? Assuming Nugent Hopkins will be pegged at 60 games played & McDavid at 65 on your Oilers analysis? The regression of Gio (due to the random dart of projected games) & Hamilton has me baffled. Hamilton had to acclimatize to a new team, new travel schedule, new coach, new partners last year. He hardly had any power play time in the first 1/2 of the year. He matched his points total in about 10 more games from the year before. I expect Hamilton to have a much better first half & will bet you he will be closer to 50 points than he is to 35.

        Anyway, when I see projections of our big/best 3 D men regressing from last year & zero improvements from Gaudreau & Monahan, well, I see a lottery pick coming. Our D will be better because our goaltending will be a lot better, for that reason, I don’t see the same as you do.

      • BurningSensation

        I think my criticism is that with a younger team where many of the players can expect to improve, you have them staying the same (or even regressing), largely, I suspect, a result of your averaging previous seasons, rather than projecting reasonable development.

        For all of Brodie, Hamilton, Gaudreau, Bennett, and Monahan to remain where they are – or get worse, seems to me to be highly unlikely.

        And dont get me started on Giordano losing 25points, or Bollig playing 66 games.

        All in all, this has the feel of ‘worst case scenario’, the goalies both regress in save%, Giordano misses a quarter of the year or more, and none of the pups start to bark like dogs – and even in this scenario we would still be sniffing at the playoffs.

        So I’m curious about what a more pollyanna version would project out as;

        – a slight increase in production from Gaudreau, Hamilton, Brodie and Monahan as they entrr their prime

        – a bigger increase for Bennett (15-20 points) as his icetime and pp time swell

        – save %s that drop by 5% rather than %10

        – a ‘hold steady’ year from Giordano

        None of which is unreasonable to predict

  • al rain

    I have to admit that I skimmed over a lot of your methodology, but then it seems like you did the same thing when you admit to guessing (Giordano will be injured for… 25% of the season!).

    Whatever. The biggest factors (trades, injuries, coaching style, breakouts, even puck luck) pretty much defy predictions. Let’s play some games – first up is your Oilers.

  • Brent G.

    Rex,

    Will you be doing this same exercise with the Oilers? I have a big stakes bet with my buddy on which team will finish higher in the standings.

    Also, I think we will see Johnny take another step this year and finish around 85 points. Totally splitting hairs but seemed a little off to me.

    • RexLibris

      Yes, although that will be posted on Oilers Rig and because of the combination of length and format will be rolled out in three parts. Likely a little later, maybe after the World Cup of Hockey. The analysis is complete, just unpublished.

      Same methodology applied for Oilers, Flames and the Canucks (not yet sure when the Canucks one will come out, I’m working on that).

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    I know I always give it to you guys about Hamilton , but I think he could be better in a defensive role and a little tougher against the opposition in front of the net.
    Having said that about his defensive game , how come nobody used to complain about the lack of offense from a guy like ,let’s say , Rod Langway

    ,but always raved about his defensive prowess?

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        I agree it’s hard to find offensive defensemen but you can’t teach toughness, some just don’t have it in them. Toughness is a natural trait.

        • Styxx

          Again…toughness is easy and cheap to find but top 2 skill is very hard & expensive to acquire (see Oiler’s current search for an offensive RHD).

          So why do you devalue a skill player and want him to be “tough”. In building a defence corps I think I would take any of the following player examples, none of whom are particularly known for toughness (as measured by Hits & PIMs?), versus a “tough” defenceman: Neidermayer, Orr, Lidstrom, Suter, Giordano, Josi, Ekholm, Brodie, Vatanen, Lindholm, Karlsson, Pietrangelo, Klingberg to name but a few.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            Not devaluing anyone, just saying that Hamilton with his size could use a little toughness or edge to make him a more complete player

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            Respectfully disagree . He played very tough in the playoffs with St. Louis last year. You can’t give up the blue paint like Hamilton often did last year where Pietrangelo fought for every square inch.

          • OKG

            Pietrangelo saw 8.46 high danger chances against per 60 @ 5-on-5 when on the ice. The Blues had 7.29 HDSCA60 when he was off the ice.

            Hamilton saw 8.93 high danger chances against per 60 @ 5-on-5 when on the ice. The Flames had 8.21 HDSCA60 when he was off the ice.

            Tell me again how Pietrangelo is the bastion of defensive perfection while Hamilton was Justin Schultz 2.0 (that’s what you Oilers fans are calling him, isn’t it?)

            Oh Did I mention one guy among these two was playing most of the season with Kris Russell – it was not Alex Pietrangelo?

          • EhPierre

            I agree. If Hamilton can just be a bit more tougher, he’d be a much better player than he is already. He’s young so hopefully he rounds up his game sooner rather than later

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      I think you have to find balance on every pairing. Gio is the tougher of the two when paired with Brodie, so I don’t expect Brodie to knock a player in his butt. Brodie is a puck-mover and excellent defender by positioning and stick work. Finding Dougie that Gio-type to balance is key. He had Chara in Boston to handle the physical stuff.

  • Macindoc

    Given that Backlund didn’t have an elite shooting percentage last year, I can’t see him falling back 9 points. Bollig will not play 66. Chiasson estimate is far too optimistic, almost doubling last season’s production. You may be right about Gaudreau, I think he has already shown us what kind of player he is, having more development time than most top tier players prior to his 1st full season (look at how Tarasenko leveled off in his 3rd year rather than showing further progression). Monahan, on the other hand, should take another step forward, based on his age and improving conditioning. Due to age and being passed on the depth chart, Stajan likely takes a step back (not to mention that Hartley tended to play veterans he trusted like Stajan, Bollig and Engelland preferentially over younger players, while Gulutzen has shown no such tendencies). Janko will not play 14 games due to the impact on his contract status; it will either be 9 or less or 20 or more. Primly will hopefully play more than 12. Can’t see any reason to project a fall back year for Brodie, at his age he should continue to progress. You’re probably right that you’re wrong about Gio. Hamilton, at his age, should continue to show progression, not regression. It is exceedingly unlikely that Smid will play 27. Hope Wideman does a lot better than 21 points but is traded at the TDL. Don’t think Kylington gets called up at all so we don’t burn a year of his ELC, and they want him to have another full year of seasoning anyway.

    I think that even if your individual player estimates are correct, the Flames should make the playoffs. You are forgetting that Gaudreau, in particular, scores a disproportionately high number of points in OT. The Flames should continue to have an excellent OT record, and combined with the positive goal differential you have projected would likely have the Flames in a playoff spot (winning a disproportionate number of games with a small goal differential means that you would win more games than expected for the season’s overall goal differential; for example, if you won 60 games by 1 goal each and lost 20 games by 2 goals each, you would have an even point differential but 40 more wins than losses).

    • RexLibris

      Good points, all.

      And I think the Flames get close to that playoff cutoff line. Whether they make it or not might be a coin toss and too hard to say absolutely right now.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    The only way J Hockey gets 78 points is if he sits out the first 10 games of the season without a contract…

    Randomly picking who misses 25% of the season is a little bogus. But if we had to choose… Let’s pick the Flames best defenseman.

      • BurningSensation

        I already read everything you put out

        As mentioned elsewhere above, do you project healthy seasons for McDavid and The Nuge? Your system would seem to require both play much less than full slate.

        • RexLibris

          I think Monahan has reached a level of expected play with regards to points but now look for him to improve the level of competition against whom he can accumulate those points.

          He’s moving out from under the shadows of Backlund and Stajan and as a result may face more difficult assignments. Hartley stuck to ZS’s like a religion and I’m assuming that Gulutzan is less fervent in that deployment strategy.

          Gaudreau is in a very similar boat. His possession metrics are very poor albeit on a poor possession team. I’ve balanced an expected improvement in that area under Gulutzan against tougher opposition assignments.

          In previous years I have cautioned people not to get too hung up on points or games played, but focus on ppg. That is, for all intents and purposes, the stat with the greatest degree of predictability. If Giordano maintains his expected ppg pace, then if he plays more he’ll score more.

          Finally – you read EVERYTHING I put out? Heavens, man, what bet did you lose?

  • Kensington

    Wow this made for great reading but with a million variables possible over a season only slightly better then a pure guess IMO. I think J.G. scores in the top 5 of the NHL this year. Mony to score a few more points. The second defense pairing is the key to the season for me, If Dougie finds a partner that works well with him we are much more likely to be playoff bound. I think we will see D.W. have a great season and be that 2nd line D man that we need, its his last chance to stay in the league. GFG!

  • Hockeyfan

    IMO, that’s all.
    Pleasant surprises – Brouwer, Chiasson, Bennett, Jankowski, Hamilton, Ferland, Elliott.

    Holding steady – Gio, Tj, Backs, Monahan, JG(I hope), Engalland, Frolik.

    Still or start folding – Wideman, Bouma, Stajan.

    if all are signed, i see a huge improvement over last year with a wildcard for sure. Once in, i will stick my neck out and say round 3. Trash away!

  • OKG

    I can’t see a team that scored 237 and 229 goals with mostly the same roster, and now with better netminding (more empty net insurance goals) suddenly falling down to 215 goals. The only real loss is Jiri Hudler and the likes of Bennett, Tkachuk, Shinkaruk can likely mitigate that loss (Gaudreau/Monahan actually had better GF as a pair without Hudler). Ferland was also snakebitten last season, I expect him to be in the 15G / 15A range. Colborne and Brouwer are a wash.

    236 GF
    198 GA
    +38 G.D.
    Pacific Division champs.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Not a fan of most of those predictions. All I hope for is the Flames to make the playoffs, as well as the Jets, Habs, and Sens. The Oilers will be close, but I don’t think they make it. The Leafs and Nucks will be far back. I like the playoffs more when Canadian teams are in. Didn’t like last year’s playoffs very much.

  • Misterbator

    While I commend your effort, this blog punctuates why there is such a large faction of fans that reject statistical analysis as a forecasting tool.

    For me, I much prefer following the season to find out what happens, that’s the fun in it.

    The biggest reason I just can’t dig into your predictions? Because it’s a bore. Feels like a copy paste from last year to this year which always leaves no room for a surprise or any kind of anomaly to the applied formula.

    Why do I love hockey? Because of the drama, the story.

    Between league parody, advanced stats,and statistical analysis ad nauseum, I am left feeling nonplussed.

  • piscera.infada

    Between league parody, advanced stats,and statistical analysis ad nauseum, I am left feeling nonplussed.

    You’re looking for “parity”.

    It’s pretty simple though. If you don’t like the statistical analysis, you don’t have to consume it. For those who enjoy the analysis, it adds to the drama and the story.

    Regardless of how erroneous I feel some of the conclusions Rex draws are, it doesn’t mean his analysis is inherently banal.

    • Misterbator

      Grammatical miscues aside, I am fully aware that I need not digest information that I find “banal.”

      My point was that within the rigid construct of statistical analyses it can be difficult to make projections that are the least bit exciting.

      Therefore, the blog isn’t interesting to me. My opinion, which I am fully entitled to possess.

    • Misterbator

      ” For those who enjoy the analysis, it adds to the drama and the story.”

      Please explain to me, as if I were a first grader, how projections based on stats from the year before, resulting in roughly the same totals(or story) adds to the drama of the upcoming season?

  • Robs

    Great article Rex. As the doldrums of nothing happening in the hockey world comes to an end it is great to have an educated article to have something of value to discuss.

    I don’t agree with some (as you pointed out with Giordano’s point drop, you will probably be wrong) but enjoy reading how you came to your analysis and then your “leaping off point”.

    Thanks for an interesting, educated article to get some good discussion going!