Friday, September 9, 2005

The Unknown...

I grabbed a copy of McKeen's hockey yearbook and decided to add up all of the projected goals from their prospective depth chart, which, with a steaming cup of Neo Citran, is my way of having "fun" after work on a Friday night.

As we all know the Oilers actually were a pretty good offensive team in 2003-2004 and were ninth in scoring with 221 goals (GA was 208, 16th in the league).
McKeen's made the following goals-scored predictions for most of the Oilers, although a few were left out (ie. Schremp, Ulanov). For those I just threw in the numbers from 2004. I, for one, would be surprised if Schremp made the team, so I actually would expect a Todd Harvey/Jani Rita (along with Todd Harvey/Jani Rita goals scored) on left wing with Stoll at Centre where he naturally belongs. Just because he looks like a confused preying mantis on the ice, a lot of people have Cory Cross pegged not to make the top 6, but I'll leave him in anyway. As it stands, he's still the better NHL defenceman than Matt Greene, who would put up similar numbers anyway.

Ryan Smyth - 25 goals Shawn Horcoff - 20 goals Ales Hemsky - 16 goals

Raffi Torres - 21 goals Mike Peca - 17 goals Radek Dvorak - 22 goals

Ethan Moreau - 18 goals Marty Reasoner - 9 goals Fernando Pisani - 14 goals

Jarret Stoll - 11 goals Rob Schremp - 4 goals George Laraque - 5 goals

Chris Pronger - 16 goals Steve Staios - 5 goals

Cory Cross - 7 goals Jason Smith - 7 goals

M.A. Bergeron - 6 goals Igor Ulanov - 5 goals

Total goals with this lineup would be 228, although doesn't include players on the fringe of the roster (which I assume evens out to about the same anyway), leaving a goals-for range of 220-240. Of course, this time of year is always a hopelessly optimistic time, with many fans assuming that a Raffi Torres will simply score 20 goals again just because he did it before. The time seems right for Hemsky to have a big year but young, talented players often fail to meet expectations (the Sedins come to mind, or how about Jani Rita ever since we've had him?). Ulanov was a surprise in 2004, and same with Staios to a lesser extent, so they could easily score half the goals they had two years ago.
What about Horcoff? Peca? Who knows.

Goals For and Goals Against are probably hockey's most important statistic. A good stat helps you make mathematical predictions that bear out to reality, and GF/GA one of the few hockey stats that has proven to be reliable in predicting a team's win/loss record at the end of the season. In 2003, the Oilers had 89 points; the predicted pythagorean points total, based on GF/GA, was 92, just 3 points off.

If the Oilers can maintain their GF and we assume their GA will get better in 2005 (goodbye Salo, hello Pronger) than we can assume they'll make the playoffs and maybe even challenge for more. What do you think: will team scoring remain consistent? Is there any player that could maybe break out for 30 goals?

Ahh, the sweet sedative buzz of NeoCitran. Off to bed!


Mike said...

Smyth may get 30 goals again -

I don't think we'll see 21 from Torres again, I bet 10-15 is more like it, although you never know.

I'm suprised at the prediction of 6 goals from MAB - he got 9 last season in 54 games with limited ice time. If he's not a regular on at least the second PP unit behind Pronger, I'd be very disappointed with his progress, personally. If Schremp plays 82 games and only gets 4 goals, that's a failure too. I'm with you, I doubt he sticks with the team, but you never know. (And if he does, I doubt it's as a centre between Stoll and Laraque... maybe the wing on that line.)

Guys like Smyth, Moreau, Pisani - they're all fairly predictable. That's part of what MacTavish loves about them: they're consistent as anything.

The season will depend on guys like Hemsky and Horcoff playing to their potential, I think, with the real team keys being Smyth, Pronger, and Peca. (They'll potentially still be playoff contenders even if Horcoff and Hemsky only pot 20 goals between them, but if those other three have a bad season, that's it.) They'll need at least average seasons from others like Moreau, Dvorak, and Pisani - the so-called wily vets - as well as Smith and Staios.

I had more but it has since flown my mind.

mike w said...

Thanks Mike (too avoid confusion, readers will note I'm "Mike W").

I agree with most of what you say. Bergeron was my second favourite player for the Oilers, and I even yelled at my newspaper when I read he was sent down to the farm. McKeen's has him with 21 assists too, but he's too a sneaky defenceman, and probably forever offensive since he can only be paired with big, stay-at-home types because of his small size.

From what I heard on the radio, Schremp was a standout at the rookie game, but we'll see how he does during the preseason. It's more likely that Todd Harvey would pot 4 goals in his place.

I think last year was a blessing in that not many players had off years (smyth doesn't count since he had to play centre, Isbister was disappointing, and Oates was an experiment), so I hope things stay the same.

I think the real wild cards are the players that will somewhat have to overplay their natural abilities again: Pisani, Staios, Horcoff, Cross, maybe Moreau, offensively speaking.

And of course, if Conklin plays mediocre, we're screwed.

Mike said...

I think at the time Bergeron was sent down, it was kind of a wake-up call: I don't believe he was really playing all that well when he was sent down. His offence was there, but he was making too many mistakes defensively. Sure, he covered for himself well - his work ethic can't be questioned - but it was just a matter of time, really. I think he played a lot better afterwards.

I'm saying this with the benefit and handicap of a couple of years worth of hindsight, of course, but that's just my recollection from the time.

I think the most surprising goal-scorer the last season was Cross, honestly: he seems to me to be an underrated PP defenceman. hockeydb doesn't break goals out into PP, ES, or SH, but from memory 4 or 5 of his 7 03-04 goals were on the power play, and at least a couple of them were one-timers off the faceoff. Centre wins the faceoff, puck draws back to Cross, one-timer, and it's in the net.

... I have to get to work now, but maybe more later. :)