Thinking on Robin Brownlee’s “Lucky 13” exercise, I realized that it’s more than a contest between the readers and the writers, the bloggers and the professionals, or whatever other distinction one chooses to make. It’s also a chance to see how the readers of Oilers Nation view their team at the dawn of the season.
Not counting the writers here at Oilers Nation, 93 readers submitted picks for Brownlee’s contest (giving us an appropriate total of 99), and I’ve compiled those picks to give us a composite view of where fans think this team will end up.
It turns out we are an optimistic bunch. A very optimistic bunch.
I’ve generated some goal-scoring totals for the Oilers, based on the point totals projected by our readers for Oilers players. I did that by taking the average ratio of points to goals for the post-lockout Oilers (2.75:1) and the average percentage of goals scored by the top-nine forwards and top-four defencemen (80%) to generate a team goal-scoring total, like so:
(Total points projected ÷ 2.75) ÷ 0.8 = Total goals for.
Based on that formula, some fun facts:
The average reader expects the Oilers to score 296 goals this season – a figure that would have ranked 2nd in the NHL last season behind Washington, and a 90 goal improvement over last year’s Oilers.
The average team last season scored 227 goals. Exactly three of 93 readers (Chris, Steve Smith and m@s f@s) have the Oilers projected to be a below average goal-scoring team this coming season; the other 90 project them to be above average. And of those three, m@s f@s just barely squeaked below the average number by including Alexandre Giroux in his projection and omitting Sam Gagner.
And, leaving aside the formula for a minute, it turns out that the writers (for the most part) haven’t been immune to that optimism. Four of the six prognosticators featured in the article (Brownlee, Gregor, baggedmilk and myself) predicted an above average goal-scoring team, and Wanye only missed the cut because he seems to feel the NHL is about to enact a rule allowing three assists on every goal. Only Lowetide forecast a team relatively similar in goal-scoring ability to last season’s squad; i.e. near the bottom of the league. When we go back to the formula and base projections off total points, all six writers project the Oilers to be an above average goal-scoring team, because we’ve all been guilty of overestimating the total number of assists handed out (although in fairness not one writer’s projections were higher than the average fan’s).
I suppose the lesson here is that we’re all a little overly optimistic, but I suspect that’s the case for the fans of every team in the league at the start of October.