Goldipucks and the Three Skaters: Pavelski, Seguin and Skinner
After a special Bubble Keeper edition a couple of weeks ago, it’s back to business as usual with a regular installment of “Goldipucks and the Three Skaters.” For first time readers, or those needing a refresher, this column is a play on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story, except instead of there being three bowls of porridge I’m covering three skaters and declaring one too hot (i.e., doing unsustainably better than he should), another too cold (i.e., doing unsustainably worse), and a third “just right” (i.e., producing where he should be). I also assign each a 1-10 rating, indicating just how hot (rated 7-10, where 10 is the most unsustainably hot), how cold (rated 1-4, where 1 is the most unsustainably cold), or how “just right” (rated 4-7, where 5.5 is the most “just right”) he is.
This week’s trio of skaters is Tyler Seguin, Joe Pavelski, and Jeff Skinner. Can you correctly deduce who was too hot, too cold, and “just right” for 2018-19? Give it your best guess then read on to check if you went three for three!
After hitting the point per game mark in each of his first three seasons in Dallas, Seguin dipped to 78 points in 82 games for 2017-18, and then last season although he did manage to post 80 points that still wasn’t quite a point-per-game output. At this stage of his career, is Seguin a 75-80 point player? The data I’m seeing says no; and in fact, he might be poised for 85-90+ points to be his new normal for at least the next few seasons.
Seguin’s 334 SOG in 2018-19 was just one below his 335 from 2017-18. What’s interesting is that level of SOG does not necessarily mean he’s a shoo-in for great production. Since 2000-01, forwards who had 334+ SOG at least twice include Alex Ovechkin, Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk, but just as many – Olii Jokinen, Jeff Carter, and Zach Parise were several notches below those studs in the production department.
The key for Seguin is how unlucky he was with his shooting. His 9.9% personal shooting percentage was below the 11.3% career mark he had entering 2018-19. Additionally, his shooting distance, which had been 32-33.7 feet in the seasons from 2014-15 to 2016-17, was 30.7 feet, or almost identical to the 30.6 feet from 2017-18 when his shooting percentage was 11.9%. So right there bad luck likely cost Seguin at least a couple of goals, and maybe up to a handful. What Seguin also had in common with his 2017-18 campaign was crossbars and posts hit. From 2014-15 to 2016-17 he had an average of 9.5 combined posts and crossbars, whereas in 2017-18 he tallied 14 and last season he had 15. There too is a further reason why his scoring last season (and in 2017-18) was unsustainably below the point per game level.
There’s also PPGs, as only once in his Dallas career had Seguin tallied fewer than 11, and last season he had only nine. It was also just the second time in his Dallas tenure that he shot less than 11% on the PP, as he had 85 PP SOG which yielded those nine PP markers, for a PP shooting percentage of 10.6%, which is lower than his combined 12.1% PP shooting percentage in his prior Dallas seasons.
In addition, Seguin last season saw his highest percentage of Dallas PP Time at 69.9% and his overall TOI was the second-highest of his career at 20:45, to go with an offensive zone starting percentage of 56.6%, or the highest since his first year as a Star. So he’s taking the ice more, and when he does it’s in mainly in the offensive zone.
Lastly, Seguin’s 8.46% team shooting percentage was the lowest of his Dallas career, whereas his 73.4% IPP was barely above the 71.3% average during his Dallas tenure. So basically, he was as unlucky as he’s ever been in terms of team shooting percentage, and his IPP, though higher than his norm, would not have balanced out that bad luck.
All things considered, Seguin’s 2018-19 was TOO COLD. He’s firing plenty of high-quality shots on net but getting unlucky in terms of ones being saved and ones hitting the post or crossbar. He also was unsustainably unlucky regarding PP goals and in general with respect to team shooting percentage. All told, Seguin should finish with 85 points in 2019-20 if even some of his luck takes a turn for the better, and he could even hit 90 if all his ships are righted. Accordingly, he gets a rating of 2.75 to account for what should be a 5-10 point scoring improvement in 2019-20 and beyond.
In what might be a first for Goldipucks, I’m doing teammates in the same column, as Pavelski is a Star now as well thanks to a new three-year deal signed on the first day of free agency. We already know Pavelski won’t be “too cold” since that honor went to Seguin. So surely Pavelski should at least maintain his 2018-19 production in seeking to justify his price tag? Not so fast…..
Much of what indicated that Seguin was due for an increase in production instead suggests the opposite for Pavelski. For one, in scoring 38 goals Pavelski hit one post and one crossbar – that’s it. And although it’s true that since 2014-15 Pavelski also had one other season where he just one crossbar and one post, his cumulative per season post plus crossbar average from 2014-15 to 2017-18 was 6.25, so right there he lucked into roughly a handful of extra goals.
Also, last season Pavelski scored 12 PPGs on only 46 PP SOG, for a shooting percentage over 25% on the PP. That also was too high based on past data, where cumulatively over the previous four seasons he had 45 PPGs on 268 PP SOG, for a PP shooting percentage of 16.7%. Thus, here too Pavelski might have gained up to a handful of unsustainable goals.
Father time is also working against Pavelski. By potting 35+ goals in 2018-19, Pavelski became one of just three other players to do so at age 34 since 2000-01. For age 35 forwards, the number dropped to three, each of whom averaged more than three SOG per game. If we look at those who accomplished the feat at an age older than 35, we find just six more and the lowest SOG per game rate among them was 2.98. This is key since last season Pavelski averaged just 2.5 SOG per game, his fourth consecutive campaign below the three per game rate. So based on this factor as well, the odds are not in Pavelski’s favor to pot close to 35 goals in 2019-20.
There’s also the reality that the vast majority of goals scored by forwards are wrist shots; and of the 38 goals scored by Pavelski last season, just 14 came via wrist shot. Of the 13 players who had more total goals than him in 2018-19, only four had fewer than 22 via wrist shot, the lowest being 18. And of the 27 other forwards who had over 30 goals last season, just two had fewer than 14 via wrist shot. While Pavelski’s ability to pot goals via other means shows his versatility, those types of goals are harder to replicate and thus this becomes still further reason to believe his goal total will shrink in 2019-20.
As for advanced stats and ice time, I won’t dwell on them too much since Pavelski will be on a new team this coming season. But one thing that bears noting is his IPP, which was 65.3% for the second season in a row after averaging 69.0% over the prior four seasons. That seems to show Pavelski is losing his nose for scoring, which could carry over to Dallas.
While I don’t see Pavelski being DOA for Dallas, the data from 2018-19, particularly with respect to his goal-scoring, shows he was TOO HOT last season. For 2019-20 I’d expect a goal total closer to, if not even below, 30 and probably a comparable number of assists, giving him a point total closer to 55. Accordingly, I’ve assigned him a rating of 8.25.
Now that we know Skinner will remain in Buffalo, the question turns to what we should expect from him in his second season there. Will we get the Dr. Jekyll version of Skinner who had 41 points in 42 first-half games, or the Mr. Hyde version who slowed to a mere 22 points in 40 second-half contests? The answer is neither, as signs point to him being a version in between those extremes, meaning he should finish with similar scoring for the 2019-20 campaign as he had in 2018-19.
Forgetting his scoring ups and downs, his SOG numbers were remarkably consistent, as he had 66-70 each quarter. That led to him finishing with 268 SOG, which was actually a bit lower than in his two final seasons in Carolina. So chances are he won’t see much if any gains there, which in turn means his SOG rate should lead to him finishing in roughly the same point range.
Something else to consider about Skinner’s SOG is he has now had five seasons by age 27 in which he fired 250 SOG but didn’t score 65 points despite playing in more than 70 games in each of the five seasons. In the history of the NHL, only one other forward (Brian Rolston) had even four seasons in which he met the same criteria (i.e., 250+ SOG but under 65 points while playing in over 70 games), and Rolston ended up playing a total of 17 seasons and only once scored above 65 points. So the fact that Skinner has fallen into a pattern of high SOG but not high scoring at this young of age might well signify that his sub-65 point scoring is by and large here to stay.
Looking at other data, Skinner had 16 PPPts last season, which for him was quite strong considering he’s now had as many seasons of PPPts below ten as above, and never has tallied more than 20. Lack of PP Time was not to blame, as he was out there for 61.8% of Buffalo’s man-advantage minutes after never having seen the ice for even 55% of his team’s PP Time. Given that Skinner didn’t exactly light the stage on fire with the man advantage, but also the team didn’t add anyone who would seem to pose a threat to his PP “spot,” I’d expect him to get roughly the same number of PPPts again in 2019-20.
Looking at advanced stats, Skinner’s IPP, which had been 71.4%+ in four of the previous five seasons, dropped all the way to 58.9% in 2018-19. Unsustainable bad luck? Maybe a little; however, it’s more likely a function of the fact he was playing with weaker linemates while in Carolina but this past season was skating alongside the best and brightest on the Sabres, as evidenced by his 9.42% team shooting percentage, which was the second-highest of his career. Chances are this pattern will repeat itself, although perhaps with his team shooting percentage dropping a bit but his IPP rising to compensate.
Overall, Skinner’s 2018-19, although a roller coaster in terms of when he got his points, was JUST RIGHT with respect to the overall scoring output. For 2019-20 I’d bank again on him getting about 65 points, so he gets assigned a nearly right down the middle rating of 5.25.
Mailbag questions needed
I’m always in need of questions about fantasy hockey for me to answer in my monthly mailbag column. There are two ways for you to get your questions to me – (1) email it to [email protected] with “Roos Mailbag” in the subject line, or (2) send me a private message at the DobberHockey Forums with your question (my username is “rizzeedizzee”.
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