Oilers Point Projections: The Rest

Robert Vollman
October 31 2012 11:25AM

It's time for our third and final piece of looking at different statistical ways to project how many points each of the Oilers will score.

If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards.  We followed that up with a look at the defensemen and finally we'll take a look at the remaining, secondary forwards.

Teemu Hartikainen

One of the many young players that the Oilers are using carefully, 22-year-old Teemu Hartikainen has 10 points and 45 shots in 29 NHL games, which works out to 28 points over a full NHL season.  His 74 points in 117 AHL games work out to about the same 25 points in a full NHL season – and our statistical engines put him just a touch higher.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 17    2    3    5
VUKOTA    35.5  6.5  7.8 14.3
Best      82   28.5 29.5 58.1
Worst     82    0.0 14.1 14.1
Average   82   14.8 15.2 30.0

Of his ten closest matches three scored 20 goals and four were between 30 and 35 points.  If he gets some power play time, as he did in his first season, he could fall into that range himself. 

Will he get the opportunities to score this year?  Having briefly used him as a top-six forward last year (albeit with an offensive zone slant), the Oilers at least appear to be open to the idea.

Magnus Paajarvi

21-year-old Magnus Paajarvi has 259 shots in 121 NHL games, but just a 6.6% shooting percentage.  His 25 points in 34 AHL games last year work out to just under 30 points in a full NHL season, which is exactly where our statistical engines place him this year.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 41    2    6    8
VUKOTA    58.8 10.9 13.4 24.4
Best      82   29.0 10.7 39.6
Worst     82    5.9  6.2 12.0
Average   82   12.7 16.3 29.1

Five of the ten closest historical matches were between 30-33 points, including two other young players from the early 80s who began their career in similar fashion – with a strong teenage rookie season followed by a bit of a sophomore slump.

One was a very small but rugged winger who would play 20 NHL seasons, top 40 goals four times and win a Cup with Dallas: Pat Verbeek.  The other was an even smaller forward known for his exceptional defensive play, Steve Kasper.  He started off as young and strong as Paajarvi, then stumbled with injuries for two seasons before regaining a form that would last six more years. 


Paajarvi GP  G A PTS
2010-11  80 15 19 34
2011-12  41  2  6  8

Verbeek GP  G A PTS
1983-84 79 13 19 32
1984-85 78 10 13 23
Next    76 17 19 36

Kasper  GP G A PTS
1981-82 73 13 21 34
1982-83 24  2  4  6
Next    27  2  8 10

Paajarvi has been getting some secondary power play time, but struggled with the fourth lowest offensive zone start percentage among Oiler forwards last year (albeit against depth competition).

Ryan Jones

Claimed off waivers from Nashville, 28-year-old Ryan Jones has scored 17-18 goals in his two seasons in Edmonton, but his assists have varied from 7 to 16.  He's had a consistent even-strength scoring rate of 1.3-1.5 points per 60 minutes over the years, and has been a depth power play option (especially since coming to Edmonton), where he occasionally does quite well.

He's been deployed quite differently since coming to Edmonton. Never used on the penalty kill before, now he's a top option.  While he's always thrown hits, he was actually a penalty-drawing machine until he wore the copper and blue.  And while his possession numbers have always been negative, previously he was getting balanced ice-time against below-average competition while last year he got the much tougher assignment mostly in the defensive zone and against second-line opponents.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 79   17   16   33
VUKOTA    67.4 14.0 13.3 27.3
Best      82   22.9 16.5 39.4
Worst     82    4.4 10.9 15.3
Average   82   12.2 15.3 27.5

Four of his ten closest historical matches were on pace for between 28-32 points.  Jones' closest historical matches were at the low end – James Black and current Colorado coach Joe Sacco. 


Jones   GP  G A PTS
Career 255 50 37 87
2011-12 79 17 16 33

Black   GP  G A PTS
Career 261 46 40 86
1998-99 75 16 15 31
Next    49  8  9 17

Sacco   GP  G A PTS
Career 185 33 32 65
1994-95 41  9  7 16
Next    76 11 12 23

Acquired by the Capitals, Black was the same type of two-way hole-filling winger as Jones, but whose NHL career would unfortunately include only two more part seasons – the same thing that could happen to Jones with all the young talent pushing for ice-time. 

As for Sacco, he was playing for the Mighty Ducks at the time, in the middle of a good five-season stretch here he played the two-way hole-filling Jones role before winding out his career many years later as a defensive-minded fourth liner for the Islanders, Capitals and Flyers.

Eric Belanger

Top penalty killer and elite faceoff man Eric Belanger, who turns 35 this December, suffered a very unfortunate season, scoring 16 points and -13 after back-to-back 40-point seasons in Minnesota, Washington and Phoenix, preceded by six seasons in the 33-37 range. 

You could say that Belanger was the victim of Edmonton's potentially league-worst depth lines, scoring on just 5.9% of their shots, down from 10.1% that Belanger's linemates posted the year before (of course, Belanger himself dropped down to 3.4% from a career average of 10.5%).

Belanger's scoring is unlikely to bounce back – he's been gradually losing his power play time and although he remains usable, he's treated as a depth option only.  At even-strength he's used in the defensive zone more often than any other Oiler forward, but fortunately had the Quality of his Competition ease up from first or second lines to mainly below-average competition.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 78    4   12   16
VUKOTA    62.5  6.5 11.6 18.1
Best      82   12.8 24.8 37.6
Worst     82    1.9  7.6  9.5
Average   82   10.6 16.8 27.4

While six of his ten closest historical matches managed 30 points, that didn't include his closest historical match, Rob Niedermayer, who was another defensive-minded center, playing for the Anaheim Ducks at this stage of his career, even winning a Stanley Cup.  Niedermayer had already made the transition to a low-scoring defensive line pivot, a role he played very well for four more seasons.


Belanger GP  G   A  PTS
Career  794 138 217 355
2010-11  82  13  27  40
2011-12  78   4  12  16

Niedermayer  G   A  PTS
Career  854 149 242 391
2005-06  76  15  14  39
2006-07  82   5  11  16
Next     78   8   8  16

Ben Eager

One of the many causes of Edmonton's weak depth lines, Ben Eager (listed at 240 pounds) throws a lot of hits but takes way too many penalties, about 1.5-2.2 per 60 minutes – two or three times what he draws.

Despite being used against competition so weak that Thrasher, Shark and Oiler goalies have had save percentages of .945 and .944 these past two years when he's been on the ice, Ben Eager has chronically negative possession numbers – even when he was used exclusively in the offensive zone like he was in Chicago.

Offensively he's had a consistently even-strength scoring rate of 1.4-1.5 points per 60 minutes in three of the past four seasons (nothing wrong with that), leading to 13-17 points a season.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 63    8    5   13
VUKOTA    55.5  6.7  6.4 13.2
Best      82   14.7 18.0 32.7
Worst     82    2.5  2.5  5.0
Average   82    6.9  9.1 16.0

His closest historical matches both scored a measly four points, both Dallas's former Edmonton-born fourth-line pivot Brian Sutherby, and Swedish 1980s-era depth two-way winger Anders Hakansson of the Los Angeles Kings – neither of whom carried the baggage of excessive penalization with them.


Eager    GP  G   A  PTS
Career  386  42  40  82
2010-11  68   7  10  17
2011-12  63   8   5  13

Sutherby GP  G   A  PTS
Career  409  39  47  86
2008-09  59   8   7  16
2009-10  46   5   4   9
Next     51   2   2   4

Hakansson    G   A  PTS
Career  292  32  32  64
1983-84  80  10  12  22
1984-85  73   8   9  17
Next     38   3   1   4

Darcy Hordichuk

Darcy Hordichuk has scored 2-5 points a season for six straight seasons, in which he has averaged four to six minutes of what can only charitably be called hockey per game. 

Hordichuk throws over 20 hits per 60 minutes, which is absolutely insane, and while he obviously takes too many penalties at least he can draw them too.  Usually last in Quality of Competition in his team, Hordichuk was used mostly in the defensive zone in Vancouver, but more offensively in Edmonton.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 43    1    2    3
VUKOTA    44.3  2.1  2.9  5.0
Best      82    4.3  8.6 12.9
Worst     82    1.7  0.0  1.7
Average   82    4.1  4.5  8.6

Five of his closest historical matches scored 10 points, probably for teams that didn't have a wealth of 20-year-olds that could make far, far better use of that ice-time.

Lennart Petrell

28-year-old Lennart Petrell, another one of Edmonton's horrible depth liners last season, scored 161 points in 350 games in Finland, which works out to about 15-20 points in a full NHL season. While the historical system requires more data, the VUKOTA system predicts a slight scoring boost this year.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 60    4    5    9
VUKOTA    55.3  5.1  6.5 11.6

Although he is probably no better than a random AHL call-up, Petrell does have some value - he throws a lot of hits and doesn't take many penalties. He also blocks a lot of shots and can occasionally be helpful on the penalty kill.

Anton Lander

At least the final terrible depth liner is young enough to developing into someone useful: 21-year-old center Anton Lander. 

Though occasionally useful as a secondary penalty-killing option, unfortunately last year Lander was terrible at faceoffs (43.3%), scored just 6 points (thanks in part to a terrible 5.1% team shooting percentage when he was on the ice), and had atrocious possession numbers despite some of the most sheltered ice-time in the entire league.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 56    2    4    6
VUKOTA    54.5  4.7  5.8 10.5  

Again, the historical comparison system needs more data to run a projection, but the VUKOTA engine predict a slight uptick.

Next Time

That's it!  We'll check back in at the end of the season (if applicable) to see how everyone did relative to these expectations.  Thanks to OilersNation for giving me this guest spot, thanks to all of you for reading, and I hope you found it interesting.
 

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Rob Vollman of www.HockeyAbstract.com is a regular feature writer on ESPN Insider, co-author of Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 and 2011-12, and regular contributor to NHL Numbers, Flames Nation and Arctic Ice Hockey. Innovator of Player Usage Charts, Quality Starts, GVS (Goals Versus Salary), the Snepsts Projection System, and known for work in League Equivalencies (NHLE). Twitter: @robvollmanNHL
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#1 dessert1111
October 31 2012, 12:57PM
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Yet more evidence why Lander, Petrell, Eager and Hordichuk should not be playing in the NHL right now. Unless Petrell has really turned it around with his recent offensive spurt overseas, and maybe Lander will develop a couple years down the road. But frankly I'd rather not see any of those four play a game for the Oilers this/next season.

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#2 Oilfan69
October 31 2012, 11:56AM
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that Hordichuk sure can throw a FIST

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#3 David S
October 31 2012, 11:57AM
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Disagree. Petrell used properly is far more than "a random AHL call-up". For god sake man, you have Darcy "Two minutes every third game" Hordichuk, Ben "Useless is putting it mildly" Eager and Eric "The black hole" Belanger on the roster.

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#4 David S
October 31 2012, 12:16PM
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Ghost comments FTW!

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#5 Rama Lama
October 31 2012, 04:26PM
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Good overview on projections, but past performance is not allways indicative of future performance.

The other " softer factors" such as how you are deployed or utilized by the coach is in my opinion even more important.

Case in point Linus Omark, Patrick Thoreson, and now Magnus......if he is played on the top two lines he will blow past the 30 points he is projected to get.

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#6 Rocknrolla
October 31 2012, 07:41PM
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Thanks Rob, great job on the 3 articles. Cant wait to see how they compare once we get hockey going Dec 1 (crosses fingers and everything he can).

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#7 NewAgeSys
November 03 2012, 01:07AM
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Laddy smashes personal best goals scored with 15 and takes the next step as a #1 defender.And is then spotted on Whyte Avenue breakdancing to Micheal Jacksons Smooth Criminal the night after he scores his 15th into an empty net,this solo dance goes viral on social networks and starts a retro-breakdanceing craze amongst young Edmontonians.

Way to Go Laddy,nice work so far,moma2 says to send every one of those hot pucks you are scoring with overseas home and keep it on ice--I am gonna need proof to back up all my bragging on your behalf!!

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