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.
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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.

GUESSING GAME

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.
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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.
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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.
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