Beginning to Predict the 2011-12 Season

It’s getting close to the beginning of the season which means it’s about time to start predicting what will happen next season. In case you didn’t know, season projections is kind of like Christmas to bloggers so this time of year is really special to people like us. There’s something about going through your team’s roster thoroughly and trying to predict the future that gets bloggers like me excited. The in-depth projections will be coming over the next few weeks but first, we’re going to look at who on the Hurricanes roster this coming season were relatively lucky or unlucky and if they can expect it to change at all.

To do this, we’re going to look at a few specific stats. First, we’ll take a look at their on-ice shooting percentage to see if the team was getting lucky in terms of scoring goals. Next is on-ice save percentage, which is the team’s save percentage when a certain player was on the ice. Lastly, there’s PDO which is the sum of the player’s on-ice shooting and save percentage and it represents the overall luck a player had in a certain year. 1000 is generally considered the mean for this stat. In other words, if a player’s PDO is way above 1000, then it means that he got lucky at least one end of the ice and there’s a good chance that it will eventually regress to 1000 sooner or later while a PDo of less than 100 means that a player has been receiving some poor luck and that brighter days are ahead. At least that’s what applies to most players. The elite ones will likely have their PDO’s remain high for a long time while truly awful players will see their PDO stay below 1000 for awhile. Let’s take a look at who got the best and worst fortune for the players on the upcoming Canes roster:

 

Note: I also included the player’s shooting percentage last season and compared it to their career average. A league average on-ice shooting percentage is generally around 8.5% from what I understand and the average save percentage at even strength is .920. Cells that have been highlighted in red show that a player got lucky last year in that area and we can expect their production to come down soon, while green means they got unlucky and may have a better season next year. Also, it should be noted that most players shooting percentages tend to decline as they get deeper in to their 30′s, which means that their production will likely stay the same or get worse. I also did not include some players like Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk , Jerome Samson, etc. because they didn’t play in enough games for me to make a judgment using this. All data courtesy of Behind The Net.

Brighter Days Are Ahead For….

  • Chad LaRose: His on-ice shooting percentage was abysmal and the goalies weren’t exactly stopping a lot of pucks when he was on the ice, so you can expect his goal total to increase a little and for him to not be a -21 next season. I don’t think he’ll score that much, though because his career shooting percentage has only been about 8.4% and he’s probably going to be stuck to the third line to start next season. He’s also never broken 20 goals in his career so that kind of shows that he’s never really been much of a goal-scorer so I wouldn’t expect that to change.
  • Alexei Ponikarovsky: I keep saying this but if he gets first line (or even third line) minutes then he will see his goal total increase from last year and considering that he only netted five last season, that shouldn’t be hard to do. His on-ice shooting percentage was well below the league average and his shooting percentage was over 5% lower than his career average. Yes, shooting percentages decline as a player gets older but Poni is only 30 and was a 20-goal scorer only two seasons ago. I’m not convinced that he’s finished and believe that he will have a better season next year. He kind of got lucky defensively, though but I’m more concerned with what he can do at the other end.
  • Pat Dwyer: Suffered from a low on-ice shooting percentage but he isn’t relied on for offense and shot the puck a lot more last season than he usually does, which is probably why his shooting percentage last year was lower than his career average. His on-ice save percentage was a little above average, too but not so much that I think it will effect his play next year.
  • Eric Staal: Shooting percentage wasn’t terrible but the goaltending was less than stellar when he was on the ice, which might explain why he was a -10 last season.
  • Anthony Stewart: Surprised me, as well but the luck hasn’t been with Stewart in his own end and his on-ice shooting percentage was about average last year. Wouldn’t expect an offensive outbreak.

 

Cautiously Optimistic (aka Players Who Got Lucky and Could See a Decline):

  • Jeff Skinner: No career shooting percentage to help base this prediction on but I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say that a shooting percentage of 14.4% and PDO of 1025 is going to come down eventually. Skinner was regarded as “the best pure goal-scorer in the 2010 NHL Draft,” though so maybe we’ll see him keep shooting at this rate and even if it drops down to something like 10-12%, then he’d still be at least a 20 goal player, especially if he keeps getting powerplay time.
  • Jussi Jokinen: Everyone saw a regression coming after his 30 goal, 18.8% season in 2009-10 and guess what? It happened, and there’s a good chance that it could keep happening because his shooting percentage was still pretty high in the grand scheme of things but in about the same area as his career average. Was 2009-10 an aberration for him and will he keep regressing or was this most recent season closer to his true talent? His 30-goal season being abnormal is likely true but I’m hoping he can play like last year for the rest of his contract. He’s 28 so a major drop-off in production shouldn’t happen too soon but it will eventually.
  • Brandon Sutter: Speaking of aberrations…Brandon Sutter’s 21-goal season appears to be just that and the 14-goal season he had last year where he posted a 9.7 shooting percentage is closer to his “true talent.” We’re only looking at three seasons here so that could be up in the air. He was also worse defensively than his +/- suggests…but that was obvious when seeing his scoring chance numbers.
  • Tomas Kaberle: How did he get lucky? The goalies bailed him out at even strength big time last season but his shooting percentage was well off from his career average….but he’s also in his 30′s so there’s a good chance that his shooting percentage may keep declining. I’ve already written about what I expect from Kaberle this season, but I’m hoping for a little more production on the powerplay from him.
  • Tuomo Ruutu: Generous on-ice shooting percentage helped him out a little last season, but I wouldn’t expect his counting numbers to change that much when looking at how he shot the puck compared to his career.
  • Derek Joslin: PDO will probably come back down to earth and his +/- will suffer.

 

The fact that three top forwards are going to expect declines is not a good sign at all but Ruutu’s decline will likely be more associated with his underlying numbers since he mainly got lucky with his on-ice shooting percentage and the team around him shot better than average when he was on the ice. His shooting percentage last year was about in line with his average so expecting the same amount of goals aout of him isn’t out of the question. There’s also a chance that Skinner’s regression won’t occur for another few years if he’s as good as advertised and Maurice continues to shelter him correctly. There’s also a few guys here who are depended on for secondary scoring like Chad LaRose who can have better seasons but what concerns me there is that LaRose never was much of a goal scorer and his increase in production may not be a lot but hey, I’ll take a 15-19 goal season from him without any complaints. I am hoping we can get the Toronto Ponikarovsky in Carolina so much and the numbers appear to be pointing in our favor…but it doesn’t always work like that, unfortunately. I’ll end this by saying that these are not final predictions, but I’ll be using this information and a lot more when I make projections for all of these players over the next few weeks. Pretty excited about this.

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