As we wait for the game against the Coyotes to begin, let’s consider two players over the past two seasons. Both are gritty, have good size, and are well-known and often mentioned as Top-10 players. Here are the numbers:
Player A
2008-09: 45GP – 28G – 21A – 59 PTS, +10
2007-08: 82GP – 40G – 66A – 106 PTS, -8
2006-07: 82GP – 56G – 54A – 100 PTS, +23
Player B
2008-09: 45GP – 15G – 22A – 37 PTS, +4
2007-08: 82GP – 41G – 44A – 85 PTS, -23
2006-07: 82GP – 49G – 57A – 106 PTS, -11
Player A is clearly superior to Player B. Outside of a slight difference in one season, he’s been a far better offensive performer, and his +/- totals are well ahead of Player B. Yet everybody, bizarrely enough, thinks that these two players are identical in ability, despite the fact that the statistics don’t support it at all.
The reason that everybody regards these two players as identical talents is because they are one player. Player A is Vincent Lecavalier, specifically his point totals against his own division, pro-rated over full seasons. Player B is Vincent Lecavalier against the rest of the NHL, pro-rated over an entire season.
I haven’t gotten into the effect of the various divisions on player performance, but it is something that we as Oilers fans should be wise to. We’ve seen the effect on Erik Cole, and it isn’t an illusion. The Southeast is the worst division in the NHL, by far, and it isn’t surprising that some of the league’s top goal- and point- scorers can be found there. It’s something that GM’s should keep in mind before making trades, at any rate.
It’s something Oilers fans should keep in the back of their mind as they watch their team play the Coyotes and fantasize about what a new addition to the lineup could do to help the cause.