Frozen Tools Forensics: Hot starts and sustainable point paces
Here are the top 50 players in scoring, ranked by their current pace to end the season. The Pace tool is available in the Frozen Tools Report Generator. Since scoring has increased overall from an average of 3.01/g per team in 2018-2019 to 3.08/g this season, we should see quite a few players reach 100 points and/or 50 goals. We have to go back to 2005-2006 to see a time when scoring was this high (3.08/g).
Last season, there were six players who reached 100 points and two players who had 50 goals or more. This season, we have eleven players on pace to reach 100 points and six players on pace for 50 goals.
If anyone on this list can stay above 150 points, it will be Connor McDavid, but I don’t think he will do it this year (though I’d love to be proven wrong). There are a few indicators that don’t point in that direction for him yet. He is on pace for 65 power play points and 24 power play goals. His PDO is high at 106.3 and his 5-on-5 shooting percentage is high at 14.14. He is on pace for 55 goals and 96 assists, but even he should come down to more realistic numbers of around 45-50 goals and 80-85 assists.
Leon Draisaitl is on pace for 55 goals and 96 assists. After 50 goals and 55 assists last season, it’s not so outrageous to see him riding this wave with McDavid so far. I think he could keep his goal pace, as he has only one power play goal so far this season after putting up 16 last year. It’s the projected 96 assists that will take the biggest hit as the season progresses, as I can’t see him sustaining that with his high PDO (107.2), high pts/60 (5.0) and three-year average of around 57 assists. I can see him maintaining his goal pace and coming in with 65-70 assists at most.
Brad Marchand had what I would have thought was his career year last season, when he reached 100 points for the first time at the age of 30. I did not think he would be on pace for 138 points after his first 22 games of 2019-2020, as I figured he would regress back a little to 85-95 points this season. The good news for skeptics is that his pace is likely to be unsustainable. His 5-on-5 shooting percentage is at 16.67, well above his usual 8-10. Throw in a high PDO of 106.5 and an overall shooting percentage of 26.3, and I think it is safe to say that he will not get to 56 goals and/or 138 points. Admittedly, I was wrong in my pre-season thoughts and I do believe he will get above 100 points again now.
David Pastrnak is on pace for 75 goals (after a previous high of 38 in 65 games last year) and 134 points. Unlike Marchand, his shooting percentage at 5-on-5 is only slightly high at 12.64, but his power play production is skewed high as he is on pace for 41 goals with the man advantage (which is not likely to happen). I’d like to think he will get 50 goals and also attain his first 100-point season.
John Carlson is on pace for a 27-goal and 96-assist season for 123 points. Not to be content with his prior two seasons of 70 and 68 points, Carlson is hoping to get into Bourque, Coffey, Potvin, Leetch, Macinnis and Orr territory — 100 points or more in a season by a defenceman. The last time it was done was in 1991-92 by Brian Leetch. Carlson will probably come down to earth, but he does have a chance to join that elite club this season.
If you go back to this same point last season, Nathan Mackinnon was on a very similar pace to this year. He had 33 points after 22 games, compared to 32 points after 22 games this year. He is on schedule to get 48 goals and 71 assists, which would shatter his career high in both categories. The biggest difference for me between this year and last for Mackinnon is that he is doing it without Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog (both injured) for the most part. I have little doubt that he can maintain his pace this time around as he just drives play no matter who is with him. When his line mates are healthy, it could give him an extra spark in the second half of the season.
Andrei Svechnikov has increased his production greatly in only his second season in the NHL at the age of 19. He had his moments in his rookie season and had 20 goals and 17 assists in 82 games. He has been bumped up to the first unit of the power play and is getting better line mates at regular strength. That has translated to a great start and he is currently on pace for 37 goals and 52 assists. He will be in tough to maintain his shooting percentage of 18.2, but he is the real deal and should exceed 65-70 points at the very least.
Cale Makar is on pace for 26 goals and 67 assists in his rookie season! He has a 16.3 shooting percentage, which is considered high for forwards, and he seems to be getting better every game. Coming from college, the grind of an 82-game season should take its toll eventually and he should slow down. Even if he only gets 65-70 points, what a season.
Other notables who will be challenged to maintain their early pace are:
Travis Konecny – On pace for 86 points, career high is 49 points.
Dougie Hamilton – On pace for 86 points, career high is 50 points.
Ryan Strome – On pace for 82 points, career high is 50 points.
Anthony Mantha – On pace for 79 points, career high is 48 points.
Consider that the highest point totals this century were Nikita Kucherov and his 128 points last season and Sidney Crosby with 61 power player points in 2006-2007. The highest goal totals were Alex Ovechkin with 65 goals in 2007-2008 and Ilya Kovalchuk (yes, he was good at one time) with 27 power play goals in 2005-2006. I could see one or two players exceeding a few of these achievements this season.
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