July 18 2014 09:20PM
Taylor Hall is Edmonton’s top winger and best player. How does he compare to the best in the West, and how many goals can the Oilers expect from him next season?
An Explanation of the Series
It’s summer, which is both awful for a writer like me (nothing’s happening) and great because it represents a chance to dig into some things I wouldn’t get a chance to look at in busier times. The idea here is to create the best projection we can for the 2014-15 Oilers, starting with goals for.
To do that, I’ve looked in three areas.
The first area is “Games and Usage”, where I’ve tried to create a reasonable number for games played based on history and also to project even-strength and special teams usage in the coming season.
The second area is “Goal-Scoring Curve.” We know a player’s offence waxes and wanes based on his age, so I’ve used a rough NHL aging curve (it’s based roughly on the work of Gabriel Desjardins and Eric Tulsky, which found that players tend to peak around age 24-25) along with the results of the last four years to project an average shots-for rate at both even-strength and on special teams (via ExtraSkater.com). Shooting percentage also gradually declines, but because it fluctuates dramatically from year-to-year I’ve just used a flat average rate based on the last four seasons. The drop is gentle enough that this shouldn’t be too significant.
Finally, in “Comparables” I’ve compared the projected goal-scoring total to the number posted by the equivalent player (i.e., for Taylor Hall the winger who gets the most ice time) on the eight Western Conference playoff teams last year.
One further note here: in all cases, we're ignoring empty-net goals.
Games & Usage
Hall has missed 46 games to injury over the course of his career, which equates to losing 13 games over an 82 game season. With that said, he’s been healthier of late, missing only seven games last season. I’d split the difference and say 72 games played is a reasonable expectation for 2014-15.
Because Hall played for the Oilers last year, it’s pretty reasonable to project last year’s minute-per-game numbers at even-strength (16.45) and on the power play (3.17). He also played 22 seconds per game on the penalty kill, but as he’s averaged between 1-3 seconds per game the last few years in the discipline I’m inclined to ignore that.
Hall’s shot rates at even-strength and on the power play over the last four years are as follow:
One interesting note there – Hall’s even-strength shot rates fell off dramatically last season. I’m inclined to think that a) it was a result of a sub-optimal Oilers’ five-on-five strategy, and b) the coaches will figure it out this season, which will get Hall back on track.
At even-strength, we’ve projected Hall to play a little over 1,180 minutes next season. Using our estimated shots/hour rate, that works out to 209 shots. As Hall has shot at an 8.9 percent clip at even-strength over his career, that works out to 19 goals at even-strength.
On the power play, we’ve projected Hall to play slightly less than 230 minutes next season. Using our estimated shots/hour rate, that works out to 52 shots. Hall has shot at a 20.4 percent clip on 157 power play over his career; given the small size of the sample and the fact that the NHL average last season was 12.2 percent, I’m inclined to split the difference and guess that he’ll fire at a 16.4 percent clip. That equates to 9 goals on the power play.
- Anaheim: Corey Perry (43)
- Colorado: Ryan O’Reilly (28)
- St. Louis: Alex Steen (32)
- San Jose: Patrick Marleau (33)
- Chicago: Patrick Kane (29)
- Los Angeles: Marian Gaborik (11)
- Minnesota: Zach Parise (27)
Dallas: Jamie Benn (33)
Average: 30 goals.
Our eight comparables averaged 30 goals from their most-used wingers (29.5 if we average all eight; 30.3 if we toss the top and bottom results) last season. It’s a pretty formidable list, and Hall’s expected 28 goals puts him right in the middle of it.