Five Hard to Project Players

steve laidlaw

2014-09-20

GustavNyquist

 

Rob Vollman tells you what to expect from these five hard-to-project players.

 

 

Will Tyler Seguin win the scoring race? Will Gustav Nyquist lead the Red Wings? Can we expect a bounce back season from Chris Stewart, or break-out seasons from Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg?

 

These are just five of the players whose scoring totals are hardest to project, based on an analysis of every major expert’s scoring projections, including Dobber himself. Each of these five players are expected to fall anywhere inside ranges that are at least 20 points wide. Can modern hockey analytics help narrow that down a little bit?

 

I’ve put a lot of thought into how some recent advances can help establish a player’s scoring expectations, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

  • "Without You, With You" (WOWY) analysis helps determine how a player’s scoring changed with different linemates. This data is available at Hockey Analysis.
  • A player’s scoring can be boosted by being used more often in the offensive zone and/or against secondary opponents. That data can be found at Behind the Net, or you can build a Player Usage Chart at Hockey Abstract.
  • Sometimes you can tell if a player went on a lucky hot (or cold) stretch by looking at his shooting percentage, and those of his linemates, which is also available at Behind the Net.
  • I developed a system to find the 10 players throughout history with the most similar era-adjusted career scoring arcs, and see how they did the next season. The full results are available for purchase in the Dobber store, and you can build your own manually using Hockey Reference’s Season Finder.

 

While we will be pursuing five tangible goals, the more interesting aspect of this analysis is actually how analytics can be applied, and not so much the results. Indeed, if you disagree with my own interpretation, you’ll be free to use the data to pursue your own, while always keeping in mind that analytics is just one perspective anyway.

 

And remember, by definition there is no consensus among the experts on any of these five players, so as long as your own opinion falls anywhere within each broad range, then there’s no reason to worry if it differs from mine. Let’s begin!

 

Tyler Seguin, Dallas

 

While most projections involve Dallas’ first line center remaining at the point-a-game level or below, some analysts have Seguin pegged for much more. One publication projects 42 goals and 94 points, which would set the franchise single-season scoring record, while another has him down for a league-leading 110 points. Is he worth gambling a top-five pick?

 

Seguin has an enormous offensive upside, especially when playing in the offensive zone alongside Jamie Benn. Last year he spent almost 85% of his even strength ice time alongside Benn, where he scored all but three of his points. That’s unquestionably the key to Seguin’s scoring success. Seguin finished fourth in the league in points and shots, f