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TSN's Fantasy Projections: Where do the Habs rank?

TSN's Scott Cullen put out a projection of the offensive output of the top 300 players in the NHL for the upcoming season. How does he think the Habs will do?

Tomas Plekanec is projected to be the Habs' top offensive forward, just as in 2009 to 2011
Tomas Plekanec is projected to be the Habs' top offensive forward, just as in 2009 to 2011
Christopher Szagola-US PRESSWIRE

With the lockout over and a new season upon us, it seems its time for prognostications on what's going to happen over the course of the shortened schedule. Beyond the most basic questions (who makes the playoffs, who has a chance at the cup), these discussions tend to revolve around who will score how much.

TSN's Scott Cullen put out his projections yesterday. From his history, I'd surmise that these are a product of some kind of predictive formula based on past performance. While such predictions are often laughably wrong in hindsight, it may be productive to look at them to see what a relatively unbiased source thinks of Montreal's offense.

I've decided that games played projection is a fools game given the random nature of injuries so the numbers here are going to be presented on a per game basis. To put the per game rates into familiar context, I have them pro-rated for a full ordinary season and the average number of games played by an established player (72 per 82 last I calculated).

Gpg Rank Gp82 Gp72 PpG Rank Pp82 Pp72
Tomas Plekanec .32 17 26.2 23.0 .79 24 64.8 56.9
David Desharnais .15 78 12.3 10.8 .57 53 46.7 41.0
Scott Gomez .10 81 8.2 7.2 .48 70 39.4 34.6
Lars Eller .19 69 15.6 13.7 .45 73 36.9 32.4

The TSN projections like what Plekanec can do, rating him near 20th in the league for both goals and points from a center, and a point pace between that of his higher and lower recent seasons (~55 to ~70). It also likes his goal scoring more than he has done in recent years, perhaps Plekanec's strong history for getting shots on net or his 21 goals in 32 games in the Czech league is a factor in the prediction. Mikko Koivu, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards and Jordan Staal are the centers with close comparable point projections from TSN, the sort of players beneath the games elite but quality offensive players.

The rest of the centers are projected as lower 2nd line, upper 3rd line scorers by league wide-standards. Desharnais is projected to be a supporting role 2nd line center, similar to Mueller, Turris and Brassard.

Eller and Gomez come in behind Desharnais, grouped with the likes of Ott, Sutter, Horcoff, Goc and Burmistrov, essentially high quality 3rd centers. Eller is projected to hold steady in goals from last year but find much more assists, not that unreasonable considering what his linemate situation was, but perhaps over optimistic on who his wingers will be. The Gomez projection is essentially a reversion to 2010-11, which is effectively the average from the 59 point man of the year before that and the 11 in 38 man the year after.

GpG Rank Gp82 Gp72 PpG Rank Pp82 Pp72
Erik Cole .33 19 27.1 23.8 .62 40 50.8 44.6
Brian Gionta .32 26 26.2 23.0 .54 51 44.3 38.9

A pair of veterans on right wing are rated as essentially equal goal scorers both above league average for a top sixer but outside the top end. Gionta is projected downward from his pair of 29 goal years in his first two Montreal seasons on Gomez's wing while Cole is expected to revert down to where he was before he potted 35 in his inaugural MTL campaign. A projected dearth of assists brings their point totals into the middle of the 30-60 group at right wing. TSN sees them as good goal scorers with little else on offense. Cole is projected to be in the neighborhood of Okposo, Versteeg, Kulemin and Samuelsson in points while Gionta is with Atkinson, Antropov and Kennedy. Both are with Havlat, Alfredsson, Hossa, Horton and Pommiville on goals however.

GpG Rank Gp82 Gp72 PpG Rank Pp82 Pp72
Max Pacioretty .37 13 30.3 26.6 .74 21 60.7 53.3
Alex Galchenyuk .25 47 20.5 18.0 .59 44 48.4 42.5
Rene Bourque .29 31 23.8 20.9 .56 49 45.9 40.3

Left wing is projected as the Canadiens best scoring position relative to the rest of the NHL, with 3 in the top 50 in both goals and points. Pacioretty leads the pack with goal scoring just outside the position's elite, but like Gionta and Cole his ability to get assists is considered to be worse. He is projected as a much coveted 30-30-60 winger and the top scoring Habs forward relative to position. He's comparable to Hall, Lucic, Landeskog and E. Kane in TSN's estimation.

In another reason to suspect use of a formula in the formulation of these numbers, Galchenyuk's projection is very close to his OHL scoring rate converted by the standard OHL NHL Equivalence of .30. He is projected as essentially a league average 2nd line winger like Umberger, Laich, and Brown. He's very close to fellow rookies Huberdeau and Granlund and behind only Yakupov and Tarasenko for rookie forwards in projected scoring.

Bourque is considered by the projection to be a good candidate for a bounce back year, returning to above a 20 goal per season pace but still a fringe 2nd liner in terms of points. Grabner, Morrow and Glencross are his comparables here.

All things considered, I'd think only one of Galchenyuk or Bouque would get the offensive opportunity to score like a top sixer this season, so one could see this as the either/or option for 2nd left wing.

GpG Rank Gp82 Gp72 PpG Rank Pp82 Pp72
Andrei Markov .12 30 9.8 8.6 .62 9 50.8 44.6
P.K. Subban .15 9 12.3 10.8 .49 32 40.2 35.3

Closing out the projections are the defensemen, with 2 of the Habs' blueliners making the top 63 cut. Markov is rated as one of the top 10 point per game defenders, I assume based on what he was prior to his injuries (he is rated to only play half the season though). Streit, J. Schultz(?), Shattenkirk and Chara being his comparables in points per game. Subban doesn't get the same respect in terms of points, but is ranked as one of the top goal scoring defensemen as befits one of the top 5 shot producing defensemen of the past two seasons. Ekman-Larson, Goligoski and Del Zotto have the closest profiles in goals and points.

In goal, Price is projected to a .918 save percentage and 2.46 goals against average in 40 games played, his games and save percentage resembling Ward, Miller, Smith and Lehtonen. He is essentially ranked behind the top 5 but likely in the top 10 for value in goaltending considering games played and save percentage. Lundqvist, Quick, Rask, Rinne and Smith being the only goaltenders projected to have better save percentage with comparable workloads.

From the comparables, I have assembled a team of Bizarro-Habs, completely different players that would presumably be offensively equivalent.

Taylor Hall Jordan Staal Matt Read
Jonathan Huberdeau Kyle Turris Devin Setoguchi
Marcel Goc Shawn Horcoff Brenden Morrow

Mark Streit Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Cam Ward

In summary, TSN's fantasy predictor projects Montreal to have a center group that is deep but not that high scoring and weak in getting goals with a winger group that is pretty good a goalscoring but less so in terms of total offense and a pair of solid offensive defensemen. They have a wealth of .25-.35 goal per game forwards (6) but no one that is among the game's best in scoring from their position. Overall they look to be somewhere in the 3rd quartile (16th-23rd) in terms of scoring from the top half of the lineup. They also project this group to be backstopped by a well above average but not elite starting goaltender.

Now have at you EOTP commentariat. How accurate does that sound?