Ramblings: Thoughts on Norris, Sharangovich, Tolvanen, and Hagel – July 28

Michael Clifford

2022-07-28

The Sophomore Slump is something we're all familiar with. That a young player might struggle in their second year in a pro sports league is a notion that intuitively makes sense – teams and players have had time to adjust to a new (likely superlative) talent and now the talent has to respond. It is a real thing in the NFL but I haven't found extensive studies on this for the NHL, just anecdotal, small-sample results. Whether real or not, some players will improve their production in Year 2, and some won't.

But I don't really want to talk about Year 2 players right now. The 2021-22 rookie crop was discussed extensively all through the season and it feels redundant. What about Year 3 players? Is there a junior slump? I can't imagine there is, but someone should look into that.

Anyway, let's go through some guys whose rookie season was the 2021 COVID campaign. That was a weird bubble year and their follow-up campaign was a stopping-and-starting 2021-22 season. It's been a unique way to start an NHL career and it might be worth looking at progression and how they might fare next year. As always, data from Frozen Tools or Natural Stat Trick with cap information from Cap Friendly.

Josh Norris

It has been two good seasons, production-wise, for Norris to start his NHL journey. Posting 52 goals and 90 points in his last 122 games, Ottawa's top centre has paced for 35 goals and 61 points per 82 games since the start of the Bubble Season. We should mention that he's shot 19.4% over those 122 games, which should be unsustainable. But the question is whether he's a 15% shooter or an 11% shooter. The former could still lead to monster scoring seasons, the latter not so much.

One significant note here is his power play scoring. Over 42% of his career goals have come with the man advantage, and that's a very high bar. For reference, Alex Ovechkin was just over 44% from 2013-2016, which was the highest share in any three-year stretch for his career. For a more recent example, Leon Draisaitl has gotten 42.6%