Cage Match Tourney – Forward Fallers for 2016-17

Rick Roos


Which forward will decline in 2016-17? Vote on these candidates now…


Welcome back to the DobberHockey Summer Cage Match Tournaments, where last week your votes resulted in Seth Jones being named the defensemen most likely to break out in 2016-17, narrowly beating Colton Parayko in what turned out to be a neck and neck battle!

Do yourselves a favor and note how things turned out, since the voting is likely to correlate with how these defensemen will be valued for 2016-17 by fellow leaguemates. And make sure not to overpay for those who received the most votes, or consider selling high on them if you think they won’t live up to lofty expectations.


This Week’s Tournament – Which forward will see his scoring drop the most from 2015-16 to 2016-17?

Now that we’ve covered both forward and defensemen breakouts, it’s time to pull a 180 and focus on which forwards (this week) and which defensemen (next week) are most likely to see the largest drop in scoring from 2015-16 to 2016-17. Note that just like last week, we’ll have only one bracket/round in each of these final two tournaments. Before we get to voting choices (which again will be in alphabetical order), let’s quickly go over two very important rules.

Rule #1 – You should base your vote on PERCENTAGE drop in scoring, not pure points lost

What I mean by this, is you should cast your vote for the forward whose 2016-17 scoring output will represent the biggest percentage reduction as compared to his 2015-16 output. So let’s say you think Patrick Kane will score 89 points in 2016-17 and Lee Stempniak will score 42. That would mean Kane’s production would have dropped by 16.0% (i.e., 17/106) versus 17.6% for Stempniak (i.e., 9/51). So if your vote came down to just those two players, you should cast it for Stempniak even though Kane’s drop in scoring – in terms of pure points – was nearly twice as much as compared to Stempniak’s.

Rule #2 – All “real world” factors should be taken into account

If you think a player will miss time in 2016-17 (e.g., due to injury, rest, being scratched, suspension, etc.), you should factor that into your voting decision. By the same token, if a player is a good bet to play each night, go ahead and assume he’ll suit up for 80+ games (and, thus, provide a full season of production). In a similar vein, a player’s team matters (such as how potent its offense might be) as does a player’s spot on the depth chart, how much ice time he’ll get, etc. In short, instincts about how “real world” factors will shake out are relevant and should be tied into your voting decision.


Voting Choices

Loui Eriksson (2015-16 = 63 points in 82 games)

On the one hand, Eriksson was one of only five forwards to score 71+ points per season during a stretch of three straight seasons, so 63 points wasn’t unprecedented. Then again, that stretch was 2009-2012, and Eriksson posted these 63 points at age 31 after only 84 in 142 games (48.5 point full season pace) in his prior two Bruins seasons. And let’s not forget Eriksson was an impending UFA when his scoring touch magically returned, and now finds himself playing for the Canucks, a team which did little – other than signing Eriksson – to improve after finishing 29th last season in goals scored.

Ryan Getzlaf (2015-16 = 63 points in 77 games)

Although at first Getzlaf might be hard to peg for a decrease in production, one key is he tallied more than half his season total in just November and February (35 points in 27 games). Is the real Getzlaf still that elite player, or is he increasingly more like the one who only managed three points in 14 games in October and April? With totals of 87, 70 and 63 in his three previous seasons (coincidently in 77 games each campaign), it’s hard to predict a rebound, especially at age 31.

Jarome Iginla (2015-16 = 47 points in 82 games)

Here are stats for Iginla’s last five full seasons: 86, 67, 61, 59, 47 (points); 43, 32, 30, 29, 22 (goals); 289, 251, 209, 189, 182 (SOG). Plus, at age 39 it’s difficult to see him staying healthy, let alone commanding top ice time. Need more reason for concern? Look what happened to some other players who had Iginla-caliber careers: Mike Modano (46 points in 80 games at age 38; 30 in 59 games at age 39); Jeremy Roenick (33 in 69 games at age 38; 13 in 42 games at 39); Luc Robitaille (51 in 80 games at age 37; didn’t play at 38; 24 in 65 games at 39).

Jaromir Jagr (2015-16 = 66 points in 79 games)

Amazingly, in his age 43 season Jagr alone posted nearly as many points (66) as Teemu Selanne and Mark Messier combined (70 in 140 games) in theirs. But the math seems to be against Jagr besting father time again at age 44, as only one other NHL 60+ point scorer had a lower average ice time per game last season and Florida shot 11.90% at 5×5 while Jagr was on the ice (highest among all 260 forwards who played 750+ minutes at 5×5 last season).

Jussi Jokinen (2015-16 = 60 points in 81 games)

Although ten years younger than Jagr, Jokinen actually might be more at risk of seeing his ice time reduced in favor of younger Panther forwards. Also, Jokinen’s production following his two prior 57+ point campaigns was 96 points in 151 games, for a combined full season scoring pace of only 52. Moreover, Jokinen’s 5×5 team shooting percentage was also extremely high last season (10.06% – 18th out of the same 260 forwards).

Patrick Kane (2015-16 = 106 points in 82 games)

The reality is, no back-to-back 100+ point campaigns have occurred this decade. Plus, with Kane there’s concern about injuries, as his combined 130 games played in 2013-14 and 2014-15 attest. Beyond that, we also can’t discount the benefit – now most likely gone – of the chip on his shoulder Kane played with after a tumultuous 2015 offseason. And although his own skill likely helped, Kane too had a very high 5×5 team shooting percentage (10.08% – 17th among 750+ minute forwards at 5×5).

Mikko Koivu (2015-16 = 56 points in 82 games)

Last season’s 56 points was Koivu’s highest output since 2010-11; but arguably more amazing is 2014-15 and 2015-16 represented the first time in his entire career he played 80+ games in consecutive seasons. Beyond that, Koivu’s 12.1% personal shooting percentage marked only his second time in double digits, and his SOG rate has been dropping (2.64 in 2012-13; 2.26 in 2013-14; 2.23 in 2014-15; 1.72 last season). Koivu’s 5×5 team shooting percentage (9.42%) was also high enough to be of concern, putting him 33rd among 260 forwards who played 750+ 5×5 minutes.

Evgeny Kuznetsov (2015-16 = 77 points in 82 games)

Masked by his admittedly impressive season-long output, is the fact that Kuznetsov only scored 13 points in his last 31 games (two in 12 playoff contests after 11 in his last 19 regular season games). Moreover, teams will likely make him more of a focal point in 2016-17, further hindering his ability to produce ala last season, especially with him likely continuing to skate with second liners. And Kuznetsov too benefitted from very high team shooting (9.94% – 20th among 260 forwards who played 750+ 5×5 minutes last season).

Brad Marchand (2015-16 = 60 points in 77 games)

It’s difficult not to be skeptical about a breakout season at age 28, especially for a player whose current deal expires at the end of 2016-17. What’s more – there are serious sustainability questions, what with Marchand’s SOG skyrocketing from 180 in 2014-15 to 250 last season and his PPPts plus SHPts more than doubling versus his total from either of the previous two seasons. Lastly, more so than perhaps any other player on this list, Marchand is always at risk of missing multiple games due to suspension.

Kyle Palmieri (2015-16 = 57 points in 82 games)

There are three big concerns with Palmieri – him having tallied just three less points in 82 games last season than he did in his prior 128 games for Anaheim, his personal shooting percentage of 13.5% last season (after averaging 10.9% over his career before arriving in New Jersey), and, perhaps most alarming, that he received a point on 87.9% of the goals scored at 5×5 while he was on the ice, which was highest among all 260 forwards who played 750+ minutes at 5×5 last season.

Artemi Panarin (2015-16 = 77 points in 80 games)

Last season saw Panarin not only click with Patrick Kane, but also post unheard of totals for a first year player his age while – with 20 points in his final 12 games – bucking the infamous “rookie wall” despite never having played even 65 games in a prior pro season. But like Kane and others on this list, Panarin benefitted from puck luck, as his 9.20% team shooting percentage at 5×5 easily put him within the top 20% of all 750+ minute forwards. Moreover, an amazing 73 of Panarin’s 77 points were tallied with Kane on the ice. Therefore, although it’s very unlikely Chicago would separate Kane and Panarin, the reality is things worked out seemingly just about as perfectly for Panarin as they could’ve last season.

Corey Perry (2015-16 = 62 points in 82 games)

Despite being eight years younger, Perry’s last two seasons are reminiscent of Iginla’s sharp but steady decline, as Perry has gone from 82 points, 43 goals, and 280 SOG to 62 points, 34 goals, and a mere 215 SOG. And unlike teammate Getzlaf, Perry didn’t have even one redeeming month of point per game production, further evidencing his ongoing decline. Even more concerning is Perry had such a poor 2015-16 despite 24 PPPts, which tied for the second highest single season total of his career.

Tomas Plekanec (2015-16 = 54 points in 82 games)

At Plekanec’s age (34 in October), signs are pointing to his skills starting to erode (dropping from 60 points 248 SOG in 2014-15, to 54 and 189 last season) and his role with the team shrinking (18:41 ice time per game, down from 19:09 in 2014-15, and 19:46 in 2013-14). Plus, if past trends are any indication, he can go on prolonged year-to-year slumps, as exemplified by his four year full season stretch from 2009 to 2013 that saw his scoring go from 70 to 57 to 52 to 43.

Mike Ribeiro (2015-16 = 50 points in 81 games)

When you’re as one-dimensional as Ribeiro –85.9% offensive zone starting % at 5×5 last season, easily highest in the league and placing him first overall for the second time in three seasons – it’s a problem if suddenly you can’t generate enough offense. Last season’s 50 points, including only seven goals and a mere 76 shots in 81 games, plus the team’s acquisition of Ryan Johansen, seem to signal Ribeiro will be looked upon far less this season.

Daniel Sedin (2015-16 = 61 points in 82 games)

At first, Sedin’s 61 points doesn’t look concerning; however, 37 came in his first 38 games, meaning he only posted 24 in his final 44 contests. Plus, he fired more SOG last season than in any campaign since 2008-09, while also skating in all 82 games (marking only the third time in the past six full seasons he’s played more than 73 contests). In short, pretty much everything that could’ve gone right did.

Jason Spezza (2015-16 = 63 points in 75 games)

Betting against Spezza boils down to four factors – his history of injuries (he’s played 75+ games in three straight seasons for the first time ever), his need to be part of PP1 to stay productive (he’s averaged 25 PPPts per season with Dallas), his low ice time (no NHL 57+ point scorer had a lower average TOI), and his personal shooting percentage of 16.3% last season, the second highest rate of his entire career.

Lee Stempniak (2015-16 = 51 points in 81 games)

Last season Stempniak came from nowhere to post 51 points, especially considering he’d posted only 62 in his previous 144 games spread over two seasons and four teams. Now that his performance earned him a two year, $5M deal, we have to wonder if the same motivation to produce will exist this season. Plus, he too benefitted from puck luck, notably a 9.55% team shooting percentage at 5×5 (25th highest among 260 forwards who played 750+ minutes at 5×5).

Joe Thornton (2015-16 = 82 points in 82 games)

Were it not for the ageless Jagr, Thornton’s point per game season at age 37 would have received even more fanfare. Yet Thornton too benefitted from some likely unsustainable good luck last season, notably his 15.7% personal shooting % (higher than he’d shot in nearly a decade). What’s more – his SOG rate was actually the lowest of his career while his PPPts output was higher than it had been since 2010-11.

Blake Wheeler (2015-16 = 78 points in 82 games)

When a player who turns 30 this month tallies 78 points after only once previously posting above 64, alarm bells go off. While Wheeler’s SOG have climbed two straight seasons, that has to end somewhere, as does his increasing TOI (averaging a full minute more per game in 2015-16 versus 2013-14). Plus, although Wheeler has never been a PPPts guy, he did post his second highest total in that area last season, and received a point on 80% of the goals scored while on the ice at 5×5 (18th among the 260 forwards who played 750+ minutes at 5×5).

Justin Williams (2015-16 = 52 points in 82 games)

Hidden by his 52 points is the fact that as the season wore on, Williams faltered, with only 18 in his last 35 games while often receiving fewer than 20 total shifts. Despite that, he still benefitted from excellent luck (45th highest team 5×5 shooting percentage among 260 forwards who skated 750+ minutes at 5×5). With Williams being a 2017 UFA, Washington likely will transition him out of a predominantly top six role, making more room for younger players.

Click Here To Vote


How Voting Will Work, and Voting Deadline

Like last week, this is the finals – there’s no next week for these guys, so either you vote now or your voice won’t be heard. In order to make this more fun and to hopefully provide more useful takeaways, I’m allowing you to vote for multiple players, although I also encourage you to pick just one if you feel confident in doing so.

Here again is the voting link. Voting will be open into Monday August 15th, so cast your ballot before it’s too late. While you’re there, please use the accompanying forum thread to discuss why you voted the way you did. So far there have been outstanding comments in the tournament threads, and I – as well as your fellow DobberHockey-ites – would love for that to continue this time around.

See you here next week, when we shift to declining defensemen for our last (as of now…..) summer Cage Match tournament!




Apr 03 - 19:04 CAR vs CBJ
Apr 03 - 22:04 ANA vs L.A


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