Goldipucks and the Three Skaters: Makar, Buchnevich & Garland

Rick Roos

2021-07-07

Welcome back to Goldipucks and the Three Skaters, a play on words of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. Instead of there being three bowls of porridge though, I cover three skaters and declare 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). In addition, I also assign each a rating of 1-10, indicating how hot (rated 7-10, where 10 is the most unsustainably hot), cold (rated 1-4, where 1 is the most unsustainably cold), or “just right” (rated 4-7, where 5.5 is the most “just right”) he is.

Many of you are in Salary Cap leagues; or even if you're not in one or more, a player's salary should be something to which you pay attention, as it often will influence factors such as playing time and deployment. With that in mind, this week all three players – Cale Makar, Pavel Buchnevich, and Connor Garland – are RFAs, so figuring out which one was too hot, which was too cold, and who was just right is all the more important. As eager as you are to read on, take a moment to lock in your guesses as who gets which label and then see if your crystal ball was correct.

Cale Makar

How did Makar improve upon a rookie season that saw him produce at a 72-point pace? Just by upping that to the point per game level, putting his cumulative scoring rate over his first two seasons at 0.93, third best of all time among d-men. With Colorado poised to remain an offensive juggernaut and Makar to be the go to guy for blueline offense, could it be we've seen him only scratch the surface, with even bigger things on the horizon? Most likely not; and in fact to expect point per game scoring again would appear to be a stretch.

What sticks out most in terms of Makar having overachieved is his SOG rate, which is 2.22 per game thus far. While by no means low, that's nowhere near the levels of d-men who've produced numbers – at any age – similar to what Makar has done in his first two seasons. In fact, if we look at 180 instances since 1980-81 of defensemen at any age scoring at a rate of 0.85 points per game (i.e., a 70-point full season pace), only 19 had a SOG rate lower than 2.22 per game, with just four coming in the past ten seasons. In contrast, exactly half of the instances were by those who averaged 3.0+ SOG per game when they met the criteria.

If we look at just the 70 instances of those who, like Makar in 2020-21, played 40+ games and scored at a point per game or better, his 2.4 SOG for per game for 2020-21 ranks him fourth from last, with the three below him being players who never again had a point per game season, and only one of whom scored at a 65+ point or better pace again in their career. Based on Makar's SOG volume to date and these comparables, he appears to have unsustainably overachieved in producing at a po