At Random: The Guessing Game

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – whether you’re a fan or a media person, the surest way to look like a fool is to try to predict point totals for NHL players in any given season. Most of us are really bad at it, no matter what “system” we use as our crystal ball. I’ve watched hockey for a long time, and I suck at it.

I know, I know, there are always a handful of people who say, “I called it,” whether they actually did or not. Most of us are wrong most of the time. That’s okay because it’s fun and it’s part of the game. Online websites, endless publications and countless hockey pools exist for no other reason. Nothing better than razzing a pal when you are right, or closer to being right, than he is.

With 2019 NHL training camps not that far down the road now, the sites and magazines in the guessing game trade are in full swing and making their projections. We had a reader for tomorrow’s Oilersnation Monday Mailbag ask how many games we think Edmonton Oilers rookie Evan Bouchard might play for the big team this season and how many points he might get. Sure.

Rather than even fire up the patented Bronte 5000 points-figure-outer as I usually do, I used a pair of dice to come up with games played and points Bouchard will get. I’ll be wrong, of course, but so will 99 per cent of people who hazard a projection – which is a guess, no matter how complicated we try to make our particular system sound.

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Mar 18, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (98) during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the projection outfits, The Sports Forecaster, has Jesse Puljujarvi scoring 26 goals and amassing 48 points this season. Who wouldn’t be happy with that? I know coach Todd McLellan would be. They’ve got Connor McDavid with 50 goals and 120 points. They’ve got Leon Draisaitl at 33 goals and 83 points. They have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 29 goals and 79 points and Milan Lucic with 49 points, which would be a welcome bounce-back from his second-half disaster of last season.

Now, I don’t know how TSF comes up with its numbers, but it’s probably fair to mention they had Puljujarvi with 59 points last season, so they were a $5 cab ride off on him. They had McDavid with 97 (he had 108) and Draisaitl with 81 (he had 70), so they missed by the same kind of margins you and I often do. I’m sure they were bang on with some, as you and I occasionally are, but I’d have to buy a subscription to know for sure.

Sticking with the five players I just mentioned, I don’t see 120 points being out of the question for McDavid, although 50 goals sounds a touch overly optimistic right now. I think TSF is too high on Draisaitl and RNH, even if the latter plays the entire season on McDavid’s wing. It’s probably easier to project points-per-game because that at least smooths out the factor of games missed, but what the hell, points it is.

I’ve got my “system” in place so here’s what I see for the five players I’ve mentioned. Your guess is as good as mine and theirs, so take a look at what I’ve come up, tell me how wrong I am and then provide me your numbers on the same players. We’ll tuck those away until next April. As for Bouchard, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what I came up with.

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Connor McDavid: 46-70-116
Leon Draisaitl: 27-47-74
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 32-39-71
Milan Lucic: 20-25-45
Jesse Puljujarvi: 18-15-33

On the money? Out of my mind? You tell me.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Abagofpucks

    If you think Mcdavid getting to 50 goals is too optimistic i gotta wonder whats in the water you drink . Sure the possibility is there that he wont but hey your entitled to your opinion.


    Do you guys think Oilers should try out the “Three Headed Monster” line up where they split up all their centers. They would have one of the best center depth in the league and could easily contend against teams like pens or leafs. This is how I think the line up could look like if they take this approach:
    Lucic- Drai- Pulju
    Caggiula- Brodz- Kass

    Crosby has been known to play with average or below average wingers all his career and has still put up points so why can’t Mcdavid do the same? This line up shows a stronger team imo than piling all three centers in top 6. What do you guys think?

    • The issue is the unproven wingers, not so much the centers. The center depth of the Oilers is unusually good for them, however they’ve watered down their wingers something awful.

      I still don’t understand why Jessi (and others) have to earn first line but Rattie just gets it? What am I missing there, that Rattie has paid his dues in the AHL?

      • OiLNATION

        Yes the wing is the Oilers biggest weakness forsure. I feel rattie is only on the top line as a placeholder so Pulju and Yamo can develop instead of being rushed to top line minutes. Plus Rattie did pretty well top line as well.

    • LAKID

      Nuge is a better center than Drai so putting him on the third line is only hurting the lineup. Lucic on the second line is a joke and only drags down Drai and kills Jesse’s potential. The three headed monster is Lucic,Talbot and Caggiula.

  • Gull

    McDavid pots 60 next year. In the last 33 games he scored 26 goals (February 1 to end of season) That is 67 goals over a full year; he didn’t score in the last three games.

  • Abagofpucks

    I just dont see rattie on the top line id rather see PJ there unless that little guy turns heads this year.
    And i would like to see Rieder with Leon this year atleast to start, see if he can handle that. Lucic is the big question mark this year, where does he really fit

  • OriginalPouzar

    At first blush, one would think 50 goals is optimistic (although not out of the question) for McDavid as his primary instict is, and I’m sure will always be, to pass the puck.

    With that said, the 41 goals McDavid scored is impressive for a pass-first player but even moreso when one remembers that he really didn’t start increasing his goal scoring until the last 3rd of the season. It’s like he just decided he wanted to score more goals. He finished the season at 1.34 G/60 at 5 on 5 but, for the last 20 games of the season, he was scoring goals at a rate of 2.15 G/60 and 2.3 G/60 in the last 10 games.

    Those rates seem a bit unsustainable but this guy is so good that, if he wants the Rocket Richard, he’ll win the Rocket Richard.

    Not to mention, he’s almost assured to produce more on the PP this year as the PP will be better by having Viverios alone. McDavid had 84 even strength points last year, 16 more than 2nd place and more than any other person this century.

    At the same time, he was not great on the PP (I think he was somewhere in the 70s as far as PP scoring leaders). Part of that is on the PP as a group but part is on him as well. I’m sure he cites the PP as one of the areas of his game that he wants to improve and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t produce materially more on the PP this year.

  • jesse says yep

    Gonna be a big year for the young guns! This is the season where we have our young guys break out. Finally!
    JP will crack 45 pts and end the year as a serious threat and pile up the points for a playoff push.
    JK will be pushing him from close behind and finish with 15 G 15A
    Yamo will beat out Rattie and score 20G on McDavid wing.
    Nurse will beat his point totals again this year and finish with 40 pts after scoring 10G being the third man in the zone on rushes.

    McDavid 55G 70A Is there really any reason to doubt what this man can do?
    Nuge 20G 50A Yamo and Connor are going to push his Assists through the roof
    Drai 30G 40A Power play Beast
    Looch 20G 20A
    Sekera, Klef, and Larsen will be back to 2016/17 form and prove to be a top 10 top 4 along with Nurse.
    Talbots bounces back to his norm .915 GAA under 2.50
    But then again I have been drinking a bit this week……….

  • Bills Bills

    I would be stoked to see those numbers. Although I don’t think McDavid scoring 50 is a stretch at all. If he wasn’t sick in the early part of the season, I think he would have been challenging Ovi for the Richard. On top of that he says he has been working on his shot again this summer. Goalies across the league should be worried.

  • Daryl Katz

    Not that far off with the first 3 but Lucic at 20 goals when he barely made it to 10 last year is being optomistic! He’ll be lucky to get to 15 !

    And I hope to God that Pool can contribute more than a measly 18 goals and 33 points but as lost as he’s looked the last couple of seasons even that might be a stretch !

    • So you put more weight in a miserable final 46 games (one goal) than in what he’s done over the span of his career? That’s OK if you think the wheels have fallen off and he’s into a steep decline, but I don’t see it that way.

  • crabman

    All look like possible point totals. I hope you are wrong with Puljujarvi and he has a big breakout season but to expect it before he shows he is ready to break out might be foolish. That said I’m willing to look foolish and predict Puljujarvi gets 25G-22A for 47points. that’s a heart not head prediction.
    The Nuge, and Draisaitl predictions will all depend on Nuge’s health and who gets to play with McDavid. A healthy year spent mostly with McDavid and Nuge could score 70-80 but I wouldn’t be suprised to see him get 55 if he misses 15 games and loses gis spot on McDavid’s wing.
    Draisaitl is good for 70 and if he clicks on the pp and plays 60-70% of gis time with McDavid I think Draisaitl could put up 85.
    I see Lucic at 40 points. 20-20 and would be content.

  • Oilerz4life

    With the NHL style of game changing, McD suprises everyone by going full Gretzky and scores 63 goals with 128 assists for a 191 point season, before he and Draisaitl go full playoff bonanza and win the Stanley Cup at home in Edmonton.

  • Hockycrazed

    Connor : 40-70-110; Leon : 25-50-70; RHN : 40-20-60; Lucic: 10-5-15; Jesse: 25-15-40. Out of the remaining assists from Connor, his right winger, whoever it turns out to be should score the rest. Ryan, if playing full year along side McDavid, will benefit the most and score a career high 40 goals. Lucic will start out the year playing left side with Draisaitl, and flop, not a knock on Lucic, just his speed (based on what he did 2017-2018 season, bad year notwithstanding) on ice are not in par with his linemates, he is more suited to play on the third line, which he will after probably 10-15 games. Whereas, Puljujarvi playing on the second line with Draisaitl (presumably a full year) will have a break out year and score 25 goals. McDavid should not have any problem scoring 40 goals, but oppositions will play extra bodies on him this year, making it impossible to push over 40 (until Connor figures out a way to break through).