Yesterday we took a prolonged look at the historical projections for the Carolina Hurricanes top-six forwards to get an idea of what to expect from them in the upcoming season and today, we will do the same for the team’s other forwards. As of right now, many of the Hurricanes bottom-six forward spots are unknown and it’s even tougher to figure out who will make the team when you consider that there will be no training camp or pre-season. We know that players like Chad LaRose, Jiri Tlusty, Patrick Dwyer, Tim Brent and maybe a couple others are likely guaranteed spots on the team but there are still a few fringe players who could end up spending most of the year in the AHL. The good news is that Rob Vollman has historical projections available for any player who has played at least one game in each of the last two seasons*, so most of Carolina’s roster is in the database.
Remember, these historical projections are meant to set a high and low point for the upcoming season and are not a final projection, so it’s important to take that into consideration when you go over the numbers. This is just the first step in setting my personal player projections and those should be up sometime later in the month. These projections are meant to give us a general of what to expect and set the high and low points.
After the jump, we will look at the projections for the team’s depth forwards.
* Jeremy Welsh, Justin Faulk, Riley Nash and a couple others are not projected because of this.
Best: Eddy Beers (1983)
Worst: Norm Gratton (1975)
Putting Tlusty in the “depth forward” class might be unfair because he finished the season in the top-six and spent most of the year playing a significant role on the team. He could end up playing in the top-six again but with the roster the way it is right now, I’m not sure if there will be a place for him there to start the season unless he outperforms someone like Jussi Jokinen. Tlusty was able to take advantage of his ice-time last year, resulting in a career season in both goals and points so the question on everyone’s minds right now is whether or not he can repeat what he did last year. If Tlusty’s historical matches are any indication, it appears that last season was no fluke and he could be in for another good year.
All but two of Tlusty’s closest matchest scored at least 35 points in an 82 game sample, so if Tlusty is able to follow in the footsteps of most of these players then I’m sure the Hurricanes will be fine with that, especially if he spends most of the year as a third liner. The high point for Tlusty would be for him to have a season similar to years Eddy Beers, Pierre Jarry or Tyler Arnason had listed above, which would put Tlusty at 50+ points for the season. If Tlusty stays outside the top-six all year, the chances of him having that kind of production are slim but if you look at the cases individually, you can see some similarities to Tlusty.
Last season was essentially Tlusty’s third “full” season in the NHL and his first season playing over 70 games and he was only 23 years old for most of the season. Beers’ first full season in the NHL came at the same age and he had a 26 point season in 41 games. Jarry also played his first 70+ game season in the NHL when he was 23 and he recorded 37 points in 74 games while Arnason had 39 points in 82 games as a 23 year old, which was his first full NHL season. So other players who broke into the NHL at a similar age to Tlusty have been able to build off their rookie season and there is a chance for Tlusty to have a big year based on history.
With that being said, I don’t think an Eddy Beers-like season is going to happen because a player taking that kind of leap forward is just highly unlikely in today’s NHL. That and Tlusty is going to need ample time in the top-six and the powerplay to acheive that kind of season and I don’t think that the Hurricanes can guarantee him that unless an injury or roster movement happens. I think it’s more likely that Tlusty ends up in the 30-40 point range again next season, which is in line with the average from all of his historical similarities.
Tlusty played about half of his total career ice time in last season alone, so it’s hard to get a complete grasp of what kind of player he will be in the long-run. He had sketchy underlying numbers but his shooting percentage wasn’t astronomically high, so I’m hesitant to believe that last year was a fluke for him and that it’s safe to think he can put up at least 30 points this season. I’m not expecting a huge breakout, though.
Best: Bob Kudelski (1993)
Worst: Bill Collins (1975)
Over his entire career, LaRose has typically been a 28-31 point player and since he just turned 30, the general belief is that he isn’t going to see his offensive output improve that much within the next year. Add in the fact that he spent the majority of last season in the top-six with ample powerplay time and it gets even tougher to believe that Rosey will get above 20 goals or 35 points. Although, it’s worth mentioning that he missed 15 games last year and scored a respectable rate of 1.50 even strength points per 60 minutes, so he may have had a higher point total if he played a full season but I still think 35-37 points would have been his ceiling.
The thing to remember with LaRose is that he shoots the puck a lot but he has never been the best finisher, as that is indicated by his low career shooting percentage of 8.7%. This means that the amount of ice-time he gets will probably determine what his scoring line looks like. He is going to take a lot of shots but not a large proportion of them will result in goals, so if he plays in the top-six then he will have a greater chance of pushing 20 goals than he will if he stays on the third line. As of right now, LaRose is slated for the third-line so his year may follow the path of Ted Irvine’s from the list above.
LaRose’s comparable players are a bit more optimistic, though as some of his similar players broke the 20 goal/40 point mark in an 82 game sample with the high mark set at Bob Kudelski’s 1993 season. The chances of his reaching that seem kind of low when you look at Kudelski’s career history compared to LaRose’s. The difference between Kudelski & LaRose is that Kudelski always shot at a higher percentage than LaRose did over his career, so that had a direct effect on his goal & point total. Once Kudelski started to play more minutes, he got more opportunities and connected on more of his chances because he was a good finisher. LaRose always has plenty of opportunities but he has never been that good of a finisher, so I doubt he has a year like Kudelski’s 1993 season. Given the average and what we know about LaRose right now, I expect him to finish the year with 30-35 points in an 82 game season. In other words, it will be business as usual.
Best: Boyd Gordon (2011)
Worst: Adam Mair (2010)
Dwyer suffered a huge drop-off in offense last season and my guess is that it was due to the intense workload the Hurricanes forced upon him last season and bad luck. He played tougher assignments than he ever has before and while he performed well defensively, he ended the season with only 5 goals, 12 points and the lowest even strength scoring rate on the Hurricanes. I am expecting him to see a bit of a rebound next season because I don’t think he will continue to shoot at only 4.2% and he could see some different assignments with his usual linemate, Brandon Sutter, traded to Pittsburgh.
When I say that Dwyer will “rebound,” I don’t mean that he is going to score 15 goals and 35 points because that probably won’t happen. However, I do think that he will have some better offensive numbers and he could have a season similar to what Boyd Gordon had with the Phoenix Coyotes last year. Gordon had the second “highest” similarity score to Dwyer and it’s easy to see why if you look at their career numbers. Gordon, also a defensive stalwart, had a terrible season offensively the previous year and it was mostly due to a 3.9 shooting percentage. That went up the next season and Gordon has a much more respectable scoring line. Dwyer may see the same thing happen to him and he could have 7-9 goals instead of only five like last season. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like much but it isn’t bad for someone like Dwyer whose main job is limiting chances at the other end of the rink.
Of course, some of Dwyer’s other comparable have much less of a positive outlook for him as both Adam Mair, Ryan Carter, Kris King and David Steckel are also on the list and Dwyer could end up with that kind of scoring line if he sees no shooting regression or a reduction in ice-time. I think both are possible but I’m a tad optimistic with Dwyer, so I’m going to say he ends up with above 12 points next season if he plays 82 games.
Best: Rem Murray (1998)
Worst: Andre Roy (2003)
If anyone is due for regression or a reduction in ice-time, Tim Brent might be near the top of the list. He is coming off a terrific season but I just don’t think he will continue to shoot at 16.9% in the long run. It’s just not a safe bet. Brent not only got the benefit of shooting luck last season, but he also spent a good amount of time manning the point on the powerplay and it’s doubtful that he spends a lot of time there next year. Therefore, I’m expecting a reduction in overall points from him and I’m expecting him to stay as the fourth line center for most of the season.
Most of Brent’s historical similarities all seem to agree that he wil finish the year with less than 10 goals with one glaring exception in Rem Murray, who put up 39 points with the Edmonton Oilers in 1998. Murray shot at 18.1% on 116 shots on goal that year, so he had the ball bounce his way more than a few times that year, so the only way for Brent to reach that plateau is to shoot the puck more often and continue to strike gold like he did last season. Will it happen? It is possible but not likely.
Brent has finished the last two seasons with at least 20 points so he might be able to do it again but it also wouldn’t surprise me if his offensive production took a major drop off next season either.
Best: Bruce Crowder (1984)
Worst: Mike Crombeen (1983)
Nodl also suffered a bit of rotten shooting luck last year, ending the season with only 3 goals, 7 points and a 4.5 shooting percentage on 66 shots. He played similar minutes to Dwyer in that he was trusted with a lot of defensive assignments, so that definitely limited his opportunities but Nodl hasn’t exactly been known for his offense. He scored 11 goals the previous year in Philadelphia but he is still a player who is more trusted for his defensive play than anything else.
As far as projecting next year goes, Nodl’s historical comparables show a lot of different things. Mike Stapleton had a career season in 1993 after not doing much offensively in the previous six years. He was 27 at the time and saw his shooting percentage spike from 5.1% to 11.8%, so that helps explain where some of that production came from. You also have players like Sjostrom and Kaleta who have spent the majority of their careers in the bottom-six and score 10-15 points per season. Also on the list is Daniel Winnik’s 2009 season, where he scored only 4 goals and racked up most of his 19 points from assists. How well his teammates shoot is something that’s beyond Nodl’s control but he is probably going to end up with a low assist total no matter what if he plays on the fourth line like he is projected to as of right now.
Overall, I think Nodl is due for a better season offensively but I see him putting up numbers similar to Dwyer since those two could very well end up on the same line or playing in similar situations.
|30||1997||Shaun Van Allen||80||4.0||15.6||4.1||16.0||20.1||3.3||0.245|
Best: Paul McDermid (1990)
Worst: Arron Asham (2007)
Stewart is another player who I am expecting some regression from as he shot at 14.1% last season and really didn’t do much to drive the play forward at all. Despite that, some of Stewart’s matches do not predict that much of a point drop-off from him next season and there are a couple that see him improving if he plays the entire year. I think the issue for Stewart is going to be playing time because with the new additions to the forward corps, there are going to be players fighting for ice-time and I think Stewart will be one of them. He was on the fourth line for the majority of last season, was in Muller’s doghouse a couple times and was even put on waivers in February. I think those are telling signs that Stewart needs to improve a lot this season or he could find himself in the press box on most nights.
This makes the upcoming year difficult to predict for Stewart based on historical similarities alone because it’s unknown just how much he will play next season. My thought is that he will be in and out of the lineup and will likely end up with less than 10 goals and fewer than 20 points.
Up next, we will look at the defensemen and then some of the fringe players.