2011-12 Season Preview Part 6: Projections

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 12: Brian Gionta #21 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates a goal by teammate Travis Moen #32 of the Montreal Canadiens just 24 seconds into the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 12, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Gionta provided the primary assist on the goal. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

After we've looked at how these players have performed in the past, we can use this knowledge to make some rational predictions about how well they will perform in the future. Firstly to project how the depth chart will shake out and who will play what kind of minutes against what kind of opposition on a per game basis. From previous history he can guess that there will be about 6 minutes of 5 on 4 and 4 on 5 special teams time per game, that top six forwards will play 13-14 minutes of 5 on 5 time per game and dwindles down the depth chart until the bottom players play 9 minutes or so, and that no player is going to go over 4 minutes on either special teams.

These numbers don't have to add to 60 per game as there are also the unpredictable amounts of less common ice time (4 on 4, 4 on 3 etc) and that there will be injuries forcing players to play more minutes than they would in a full lineup.

 

Centers

5 on 5

5 on 4

4 on 5

Plekanec

13

3

3

Gomez

14

2

2

Eller

12

0

0

White

9

0

0

Tomas Plekanec and Scott Gomez are the big minute players down the middle, Plekanec gets used so much on the special teams that his ES has to be cut back slightly so Gomez is the biggest minute player there. Lars Eller has such little special teams time (as David Desharnais is the 3rd center there but helps carry the load on even strength. I believe Desharnias will end up playing 3rd line RW so either Ryan White, or someone like Andreas Engqvist will cover the unimportant bottom line minutes.

Left Wing

5 on 5

5 on 4

4 on 5

Cammaleri

14

3

0

Pacioretty

14

3

0

Kostitsyn

13

2

0

Moen

10

0

3

The deepest forward position offensively,the top three guys are all genuine top-six players and will get commensurate ice time. Mike Cammaleri and Max Pacioretty in particular figure to be mar scorers on both even strength and the power play and Andrei Kostitsyn is no slouch either. This is also the weaker defensive position than right wing, so the ice time is skewed to power plays instead of penalty killing, with Travis Moen the only representative there.

 

Right Wing

5 on 5

5 on 4

4 on 5

Cole

14

1

1

Gionta

14

2

2

Desharnais

11

1

1

Darche

9

0

0

Erik Cole's offensive value is clearly at even strength and that's where he'll spend almost all of his time as he is down in the depth chart for special teams. Brian Gionta's usage will mirror Gomez who he will spend almost all his time with. Desharnais gets a minute boost from special teams time and Matheiu Darche his passed over for uses beyond depth offense.

Left Defense

5 on 5

5 on 4

4 on 5

Markov

17

4

2

Gill

16

0

3.5

Spacek

15

2

0.5

Andrei Markov is the big minute man as befits his talents, with major powerplay time to make full use of his brilliance there. Hal Gill is the heavy PK player as well as likely to log significant evens strength time if paired with Subban. Jaroslav Spacek become the utility player. Spacek's role could also be supplanted by Alexei Emelin if he adjusts well to the NHL game but making projections on him is difficult. How recent addition, Chris Campoli figures in is difficult to project at this point as a third pairing defender on a team with 5 third pairing defenders.

Right Defense

5 on 5

5 on 4

4 on 5

Subban

17

4

2.5

Gorges

17

0

3.5

Weber

14

2

0

P.K. Subban is the other big player like Markov (with more PK responsibilities) and Josh Gorges is used much like Gill. Yannick Weber gets the lowest minutes although his stat line will benefit from some secondary power play time. Just like Spacek and Emelin, Weber may be replaced by Rafael Diaz and coming out of training camp Diaz appears to be more favoured.

 

Point projections:

With an idea of how the players have performed previously in their careers and a decent idea of the kind of ice time they will receive, projecting how much they'll score becomes arithmetic. Working from average games lost to injuries last season, a typical starting player plays about 72 games per year, so the projections will assume 72 games. Finally, the rate stats from 5 on 5 and 5 on 4 will be the only ones used in the calculation but only make up of 88% of an average team's offense last season a quick and dirty correction factor will be applied across the board to make up for the lost short-handed and non-standard situation goals like 4 on 4, 4 on 3 and empty net situations. Veterans are projected according to their past for years, new players by their previous season, except Pacioretty's power play production which is based on the past three years to improve the sample size.

Forwards

5 on 5

5 on 4

Total

Adjusted Total

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Cammaleri

15

33

8

18

23

51

26

58

Plekanec

14

30

6

18

20

48

23

55

Pacioretty

10

29

9

17

19

46

22

52

Gionta

15

31

4

9

19

40

22

46

Cole

15

33

3

5

18

38

21

43

Gomez

6

28

2

10

8

38

9

43

Kostitsyn

13

28

5

8

18

36

21

41

Desharnais

8

25

5

10

13

35

15

40

Darche

7

17

0

0

7

17

8

19

Eller

8

16

0

0

8

16

9

18

White

3

12

0

0

3

12

3

14

Moen

3

9

0

0

3

9

3

10

Defensemen

5 on 5

5 on 4

Total

Adjusted Total

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Markov

4

22

5

20

9

42

10

48

Subban

4

18

8

18

12

36

14

41

Weber

2

13

0

8

2

21

2

24

Spacek

2

13

1

6

3

19

3

22

Gill

2

12

0

0

2

12

2

14

Gorges

1

9

0

0

1

9

1

10

 

This method predicts Montreal to have no high end offensive forwards but plenty of scoring depth, with 6 20 goal scorers (which is actually quite rare in the modern NHL) and 10 40 point players including two defensemen.

Projections over a more standard 82 game year season

 

Forwards

5 on 5

5 on 4

Total

Adjusted Total

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Cammaleri

17

38

9

21

26

58

30

66

Plekanec

16

34

7

21

23

55

26

62

Pacioretty

11

33

10

19

21

52

24

60

Gionta

17

35

5

10

22

46

25

52

Cole

17

38

3

6

20

43

22

49

Gomez

7

32

2

11

9

43

10

49

Kostitsyn

15

32

6

9

21

41

23

47

Desharnais

9

28

6

11

15

39

17

45

Darche

8

19

0

0

8

19

9

22

Eller

9

18

0

0

9

18

10

21

White

3

14

0

0

3

14

4

16

Moen

3

10

0

0

3

10

4

12

Defensemen

5 on 5

5 on 4

Total

Adjusted Total

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Goals

Points

Markov

5

25

6

23

10

48

12

55

Subban

5

21

9

21

14

41

16

47

Weber

2

15

0

9

2

24

2

27

Spacek

2

15

1

7

3

22

3

25

Gill

2

14

0

0

2

14

2

16

Gorges

1

10

0

0

1

10

1

12

 

When making an actual prediction for next season some obvious tweaks are necessary. For example, Eller is likely to outperform a low producing first season, especially since he looks to have at least 1, possible 2 offensively capable wingers with him for most of the season which will push his numbers upward, while Gionta has tending to move more towards goal-scoring than play-making while in Montreal (the Gomez effect) while keeping overall point scoring fairly constant, so expect 28-31 goals in a 52 point year.  Desharnais' totals were over a short period and may be inflated, so perhaps a somewhat lower overall total of 35-40 points is more reasonable. Pacioretty seems to be a solid talent but projecting a 60 point season from a player yet to break 30 seems overly optimistic, then again given his talent level demonstrated last season it's not out of the question either.

What becomes clear from running these numbers is that Montreal's players production numbers will be sharply dependant on who gets the most powerplay time. Any of the top six players can be expected to end up with 30-40 ES points but there can be a 10 point swing just from being on the 1st or second special teams unit.

From the first few games, Spacek appears to be no longer an option on the power play and his production may suffer accordingly.

For newcomers Rafael Diaz and Alexei Emelin there is no NHL data to make predictions of off so their previous seasons NHL equivalencies will have to suffice. By that metric Diaz paces for a 9 goal 31 point season while Emelin paces for 13 goals an 29 points. While this speaks well for their offensive potential, it is doubtful that either player will receive sufficient ice time to rack up those kinds of numbers this year.

 

Stats from this and previous entries in this preview series are from NHL.com, behindthenet.ca, stats.hockey.analysis.com, and hockeydb.com.

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