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remkin

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3 minutes ago, KJUNKANE said:

rem, you now have 1 more factor to plug into your estimate, Marcus Krueger, although not a prolific scorer. 

 

Well if he replaces McClement, seems like a wash.

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This is a big offseason for us. Next season may be the biggest. Yes I know this season hasn't started but I believe this season really drives how the next 3-5 years of the franchise goes.  

 

The big question this offseason: do we add another top forward?  I say yes because we need to get that push into the playoffs and build the fan base THIS year. The cap hits grows close to the max over the next 2 years.  Which it wont if fans aren't in the building. PK will go cheap.

 

this season's cap hit:  60.5 million.  I say shoot for JVR or Bozak from Toronto.  They need to move an extra body or two. We might be able to sell them on McKeown being a top 4 to be.  Add in a winger like McGinn or Nordstrom maybe. Push the cap to ~ 65 million. That should make us a 100 point team, even in our crazy conference.  I'm going to use JVR as a place holder for a top 6 winger going forward, enter in who you wish.

 

Next offseason: How did Fleury do?  If top 4 ready, move Hanifin and TT to get a top center like Mackinnon.  Im going to use him as the example but isn't absolute. Plenty of options. I believe Fleury will be. We won't be able to afford 5 high paid defenders later on.  Bring back all the other defenders, Lindholm, and Ryan.  Try to get Lindholm, Pesce, & Slavin on a Faulk deal, long and low. TVR 3 to 4 years 3-3.5 AAV. Ryan 1 year.  Bring back JVR? If yes, 3 years. Slide Aho to center. Trade J Staal for defender prospects (you'll see why).  

 

expected cap hit 64 million if we don't make the playoffs with 3 youth making the team.  PK might be more willing to spend 70 to keep JVR with 2 youth spots if we make a good playoff run. Although we may not be able to keep JVR, cap wise.

 

2019:  a bunch of questions: have we made enough money to keep everyone?  We would be pushing 72 million with JVR or 66 without him (that is conservative contract numbers). Skinner, Aho, and Fleury needing new contracts.  Would have to let Williams and Kruger go.  That includes 7 ELCs on the roster.

 

After that it gets really crazy:  Bean, Faulk, a couple of the ELCs would need new contracts.  We run out of cap real quick. Probably have to make a decision on which 4 defenders stay and which are moved.  But this all comes down to, do we have the money?  Money will get tight in 2018 if we do not have the financial support to re-sign everyone.  I push for the need to make extra money now because we will be spending it the next 2.  We could be hard pressed to keep a solid playoff team if we don't up fan support, NOW! 

 

In Franchise we trust until then.  Don't want to be him over the next 3 years to decide who stays and who goes (especially if we are still playing it cheap).

 

P.S My intention wasn't to create that move is stupid type thread.  Mackinnon and Staal's salaries are almost negligible.  We are going to need at least 1 ELC and 1 under 3 million contract on D 2019 and on to afford it all.  

Edited by gocanes0506

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Welcome to the House of Tolstoy GoCanes!

 

This thread is open to anyone who wants to blog a bit, or just drop a long post on the boards.

 

Again, there is no requirement to put your long post here, but it allows those who find long posts irksome to just not come in here, or to do so when more in the mood.

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1 hour ago, remkin said:

Welcome to the House of Tolstoy GoCanes!

 

This thread is open to anyone who wants to blog a bit, or just drop a long post on the boards.

 

Again, there is no requirement to put your long post here, but it allows those who find long posts irksome to just not come in here, or to do so when more in the mood.

 

Thanks couldn't let you have all the fun in here.  I wanted to stress how important this year is when looking at the next 3-4 years.  We have ELCs to help balance the books but Im not sure if PK will add 20 percent to the payroll without full seats.  We really need to be strong over the next two seasons while payroll is below 65 in order to afford the above 70 days.  Acquiring one more center that could get us to 100 points and look like a strong team after the west coast swing will do wonders for fan support.  A struggling team during the west coast swing will make it look like the team is status quo and fans will stay home. We'll see.

Edited by gocanes0506

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Yeah I agree.

 

If the team comes out of the gates strong, there will be buzz even without another big move.

 

But the buzz with a big move and a strong start could be pretty amazing.

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23 hours ago, remkin said:

Yeah I agree.

 

If the team comes out of the gates strong, there will be buzz even without another big move.

 

But the buzz with a big move and a strong start could be pretty amazing.

Well just the Williams signing made some buzz at the Rookie scrimmage.  We did something, without doing something stupid.  We might actually do something early for once.

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So I got to thinking about our depth at forward. It seemed that while we don't have that 100 point guy, we really have a lot of 40 point guys. So I did some research and found that at least in the East, we appear to be the deepest team in forward scoring depth.

 

We now have 8 players who actually produced 40 points last season, and one who was on pace to get close. Skinner, Aho, Rask, J. Staal, Lindholm, J Willy, Stempniak, and Teravainen all did it, and Ryan was on a 36 point pace.

 

So I thought I'd look at other Eastern Conference Teams after the trades and UFA movement and count how many current roster players put up 40 last year, and how many were on pace, or close enough to reasonably expect 40 this year (added those guys in with the parentheses).

 

Here's the list:

 

Carolina 8 (9)

Toronto 7 (8)

NYR 7 (8)

Columbus 6 (7)

Pittsburgh 5 (6)

Buffalo 5 (6)

NYI 5 (6)

Tampa Bay 4 (6)

Detroit 4 (6)

Boston 4 (6)

Washington 4 (5)

New Jersey: 4 (5)

Ottawa: 4 (5)

Montreal 4 (4)

Philly 4 (4)

Florida 3 (5)

 

Thoughts:

 

1. Obviously forward depth is only one factor. Top end scoring, D, D scoring, and goaltending are also key. Pittsburgh and Washington, for instance have enough super high end guys to blow away depth teams. They also have one elite offensive D man each, and good goaltending.

 

2. You can have at least good regular season on depth and goaltending alone. The NYR really don't have the uber top end guys, nor an all star D, but put up 102 points. In a way, they could be a sort of model for what we could do this year. (NYR of last year, not this year).

 

3. Toronto has the high end forwards and forward depth. They may not keep all of it past this year, and aren't the best D team, but they could be really good this year. Columbus also looks very good. I look for them to be a very tough team to beat.

 

4. Most pundits are calling for the return of Florida, but where is their offense going to come from? They don't have the super high end guys or the depth. I'd predict them to be in trouble (two of their top point getters: Jagr and Jussi, are gone). Montreal has a similar problem, though they do have Pacioretty and of course Carey Price. Still, MTL may struggle.

 

5. Some might say that we won't actually have 9 guys put up 40 due to not enough goals to go around. But that depends on our goal total. We had 7 guys actually do it last year, and J Williams is almost a lock. Ryan is the longer shot, but scored on a 36 point pace last year. I think we do have it this year.

 

6. If 3 guys can get just a touch more elite, we almost can't miss with this depth, our D, and assuming decent goaltending. I see Lindholm, Aho, and J Staal as the candidates for that. Skinner is already elite on goal scoring, so maybe just 2/3 pushing up will do it.

 

7. We've looked good in depth years ago as well, and it didn't pan out because guys fell way off of their previous years. This is always a possibility. Still, this year, our guys are mostly young with logic suggesting more upside if anything.

 

I think that our depth at forward, built despite years of using our first round picks on defense, speaks to the frame that Francis has built. We have a young, strong, good and improving D, we have a #1 goalie, and we have the framework of a very deep group of forwards. Then we have a very deep pool of prospects built through the draft and a few trades.

 

We need at least one, ideally two guys to move into elite production at forward. Skinner is there in goals, so if Lindholm and Aho move there, we're a lot closer than we might think. In the system we do have a couple of guys with that kind of potential: Gauthier, Necas and maybe Roy (longer shot Kuokannen).

 

It will be interesting to see if any of our guys step to that next level, or if we end up going outside for it, but to be cup contenders, that's all there is left to find, IMO.

 

Edited by remkin

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This is my time of year for a long post reflecting the unbridled optimism for the team around this time of year. It is also time for me to type something long. It's in this blog area, clearly marked as a blog or long-form piece so people don't have to read it if they prefer not to. This is long. It covers thoughts from lots of different, sometimes overlapping angles. But it adds up to why I think we are finally back in the playoffs.

 

I've thought this before however, so of course, take it all with that grain of salt. But this one feels more solid somehow. I guess we'll see.

 

Last Warning: This is what some might call over-analysis. If that is a concern I suggest stop reading here because it definitely is that. It's not for everyone.

 

The Big Caveat: Pretty much ever year around this time, I wish our GM had gotten "one more piece", typically some sort of forward. This year is no different. The one piece that just about everyone out there agrees we don't have locked down as we start the season is the very top of the pyramid: 1C. Could be that guy is in our midst: Rask, Aho, Necas, Kuokanen. I'd add Lindholm as a possibility, but it is a big unknown at a key position. Would have been nice if Francis had found some way to fill that slot, but barring a last second, or "partway through the year" deal for Duchene, it appears that for that position at least, and this year at least, we are going to see what we have. I think that could keep the cup out of our hands, but we should be able to cross the playoff transit even given that limitation. Why?

 

Because we have essentially every other box checked off from 2-12 up front, 1-6 on the back, and hopefully goalie and back up goalie. If we had that true 1C and lost no other top 8 forward, we'd be as close to a lock as any team in the game to make the playoffs with a good chance to go deep. But even without that, we have enough to get in. Even in this very tough Metro.

 

I divide this quest for the playoff thing into Macro and Micro. Macro is the overall points (and the surrogate markers: goal differential, goals, goals against) vs. the rest of the east, and the whole team working as a unit. Micro is within the team itself: each individual player.

 

So my take starting with the macro.

 

Part I: The Macro

 

A: The conference: who we might beat out:

 

I am far more concerned with us hitting the macro numbers than trying to predict where each team will finish, so I'll start by getting thoughts on the other teams out of the way. Washington and Pittsburgh are historically the class of the Metro. Pittsburgh is bound to have some sort of two cup hangover, and Washington has lost some key pieces. But these teams had 118 and 111 points respectively, so they have a long ways to fall if they are to open the door for us. It is certainly possible, but not likely, so I have them taking the top slots or at least beating us out in the standings. Columbus is, IMO, for real. However, they are not going on a record setting winning streak again, and that is bound to cost them at least a few points They finished with 108 and I could see them closer to 100. In fact that trio could all get closer to 100. This could be interesting if we vault the way I think we might, but I'll put them in ahead of us.

 

To me there are 4 teams that might drop out: Montreal, Ottawa, Boston and NYR. MTL has had a rough off-season losing Markov and Raduloff without really replacing them. Price has been a bit injury prone and if he goes down for any length they are in big trouble. Boston has a 40 yo Chara, and as a balanced team, if either end of their balance falters.I keep thinking of them as average, but they have two ppg players and a couple of really good forwards after that, and a good goalie. Still they got in by one point last year. NYR. This is the best example of a deep team with few superstars putting up lots of wins. But they lost Stepan, and Lundquist keeps not getting younger. I keep thinking they will falter, but they had 102 points and were a plus 36 goal diff, which backs them up as the #4 team in the East last year. Hence the real problem: 1-4 were all in the Metro. And finally the team I really think falls: Ottawa. I know they had a deep run, but talk about smoke and mirrors. Despite their admitted trapping and limiting points against strategy, at some point you stop winning OT and one goal games. Also, historically a lot of team's best players get a bit sick of their stats being suppressed and the system gets not as tight. Also the long playoff run can have an effect. They are prone to fall. Not to the bottom, but out of the playoffs.

 

On the other side, Tampa is the most obvious "back in" team. Even with all of their injuries to critical players, they just missed and had a plus 7 goal differential, the best in the East to miss. The other team that I see as a most obvious riser: The Canes. I really don't see any of the other cut line or bottom dwellers outpacing us this year. The NYI are a media pick, and when you have Tavares, anything is possible, but they have made some questionable moves and adding the Oiler cast-off Eberle probably isn't enough. They have Josh Ho-Sang showing promise and Andrew Ladd may bounce back a bit, but I'm just not seeing it. Philly has eternal goalie issues, and Patrick is a rookie so too soon for him to break out. Florida is a common pick by the national media, but they lost 97 points and 46 goals, and this on a team that even with that, didn't score enough to get in. Florida to me is the biggest no of the teams some have back in. That is a mess there. Detroit needs to rebuild, Buffalo has too far to go, and NJ has even farther.

 

So my playoff teams: Atlantic: Tampa, Toronto, Boston Metro: Pittsburgh, Washington, Columbus. NYR, Carolina, with both WC from the Metro.

 

B: The Numbers:

 

I am bigger fan of this approach. Hit the right numbers and barring an historic anomaly, you're in.

 

The general goals:

Points: 95 almost always: 98 to lock.

Goals Against: 215-220

Goals for: 225-230: #12-15 offense roughly. (Can get in with less, but need lots of goaltending/defense).

Goal Differential: +11 gets you in every year except one in the West and every year in the East. +15 is a lock.

 

Points Low Goal: 95: Only one year in the last 5 did this not make the cut. 2 conferences, 10 standings, only in the East in 14-15, 98 points was the cut. However, that was the tank-a-thon year, Buffalo and Arizona averaged 55 points. The points they left on the table likely bumped up the cut line.

 

98 points is the no miss line. Get to 98, get in.

 

Last year we had 87 points. We fell 8 points shy of the "almost always gets it done" goal which was 95 points (second highest point total needed historically last 5 years). So, we need to find at least 8 more points this year. We need one more win per 20.5 games or about month and a half.

 

In the end it's all about where those 8 points come from.

 

One place is to win 4 more close games. We were worst or near worst in one goal losses, OT losses and SO losses all one goal games.

 

Right off the top. One goal games, OT games, and SO games can all be affected by goaltending. And in fact it can (and has) been argued the goaltending alone can find us those 4 wins/8 points. And the fact is, it can. Particularly top tier goaltending. The difference between top 5 goalie and our goalies was a goal every two games. That would do it by itself even with no more goals for. But the difference between our goaltending and say #15 goaltending is a goal every three games. We'd still need a few more goals more than likely.

 

So we need one extra win per 20 games. Not giving up 1 goal every three games. We just need one of those to be a winner every 6.5 times we save that one goal. With so many one goal games, we should be able to get very close just on goaltending.

 

Goals Against: 215 to 220: Last year: 236

 

This will likely come down to goaltending, discussed above, but the defense is generally gauged by limiting shots against, then goalie by how many of those are stopped. This is overly simplistic, since quality of shots and ability to finish those shots can be much more important than total number. But gotta gauge D separate from goaltending somehow. Last year we were #5 in shots against per game. So it really comes more down to limiting quality of shots per game. Here we could see big improvements from Faulk and Hanifin. Slavin and Pesce were about as good as anyone. Faulk plays a high risk style of challenging defense. He dropped back a bit more at the end of last year and did not get turned around, beaten badly or beaten on a challenge in the neutral zone as much. If Faulk and Hanifin are even players, we should be in great shape. TVR will be an upgrade on the right side bottom pair. We'll have to see how Fleury does, but if he faulters, Dahlbeck is passable on his proper side.

 

So, a solid D improvement from Hanfin, and even some from Faulk, combined with better goaltending should get us 4 more wins.

 

Goals For: 245 is a lock for any team that is not abhorrent on defense and goaltending. But that's also elite offense. Top 5-10 depending on the year. So a bit high of a goal. However, with better goaltending and an already good D and PK, 230 should be enough. Last year only 3 teams who scored 230 goals missed. 230 GF was the #15 team last year. I really think we blow past that this year, but that's the number I think will get it done.

 

Canes last year put up 215 goals. Only one team made it with that few (Ottawa 212, but they play a lock down game and had a top 5 goalie. And still barely made it).

 

 If we can find just one more goal per 5.5 games, we are there.

 

One way to up the goals for is to improve the PP.  Last year we had the #21 PP. Get that to #14 and that's 12-14 more goals right there. That is almost enough by itself. We draw a lot of penalties, so if we get the PP up to top 8 or so, that would be enough by itself.

 

The other way is the team game clicking and individual players improving. I am going to have a separate part on individual improvement and player contributions under the Micro. But in the Macro it would be the team, with another year in BP's system, are now playing it better, and faster. The team game will produce more high quality chances that even last year's individual player talent level would have converted.

 

Goal Differential: +10. Last year: -21.

 

Plus 10 teams have made the playoffs every year of the last 6, and all but one of the last 10.

 

We need to gain 31 on our goal differential. Moving to league average goaltending gets us 25/31. Adding 15 goals to goals for would be an improvement of 40 on the goal differential, which would put us at +19. That correlates with pretty close to 100% chance of making the playoffs.

 

I think we will do better than that. In the micro I try to predict each players delta goals from this year to next. I just don't see how that does not add well more than 15 goals. We should gain 10 goals from Justin Williams vs the #9 forward from last year not counting other offense he creates, just goals.

 

So:

Goaltending to league average gets us most of the way there (given all of the close losses and OT/SO losses, possibly all the way there).

More goals will likely come from several improving players, but just J Willy will add almost enough extra.

The defense will improve as Faulk plays the back 2/3 of the ice a bit better and Hanifin is better all over.

A couple more goals could come from the D w/ TVR/Hanifin/and even Fleury putting in a few more than their counterparts last year (and possibly Slavin too).

PP improvements and running the system better will also produce more goals.

 

The goaltending and Justin Williams should close the goal differential by 30 of the 31 needed goal diff, but as I suggest below, we should get more than that from other players.

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Part II: Micro:

 

Micro focuses on each player and what is my opinion of what to expect from them. In descending order of points last year. I then try to predict the delta in goals from that player vs. last year for the same slot in the lineup. For most players that's just comparing last year to projections for this year. For J Williams that's comparing him to the lowest producer in the top 9 projected to a full season. Again this is delta goals scored by the player.

 

Jeff Skinner: 63 points, 37 goals: 79 GP.

 

Skinner had a very fine season. He was #32 in the league in Points, and #6 in goals. He was very healthy. He played in all but 3 games. His PPG dropped a touch to #43, still excellent, but pointing out that to repeat this he will have to stay healthy. A big if in this game.

 

I think he has improved his all around game and what's scary good is that he pretty much got back to his rookie season in points, so there is upside there. If he stays healthy he could up the assists, but expecting him to match or exceed 37 goals is pretty lofty.

 

I would project him down in goals to 32, and up in assists to 35. Still about the same in points, but fewer goals, assuming he's healthy. Missing say 10 games project that down to 28 and 33.

 

Best Bet: down. He just had such a good year, that dropping in goals a bit, is just more likely. Net effect maybe 5 fewer goals from him would split last year and the previous year.  Minus 5.

 

Sebastian Aho: 49 points, 24 goals, 82 GP.

 

It is amazing that Aho actually ended up second on the entire team in points and goals. Especially the goals because he only scored two goals in his first 19 games, and both in one game. So 18 of first 19 games with no goal.

 

If one projects his goals/game from that point on, over a full year, you get to 29 goals. But he should be better right?

 

Heck yes. He should also collect a few more assists. Still, it is just so hard to actually project 30 goals onto him in his second season. Yet that is not at all unreasonable. This is a star in the making, and if he stays healthy, 30G-35A is not out of the question.

 

Like with Skinner his health will matter. He played every game last year. So basically adding a few more goals per game and assists per game, but taking a few injury games, I'm projecting him around 26 G and 29 assists or 53 points. Plus 2. If he plays all 82 games again, he'll blow past that.

 

Victor Rask: 45 points, 16 goals. 82 GP.

 

The way Rask finished it is amazing that he was our #3 forward. Another guy who played all 82 games. Rask did it with a blazing start. And then after a while just gong silent for a long time. I don't know if it was an injury, but Rask is for me the hardest guy to predict. To start the year he was over a ppg. But he also had long stretches mid year with no points.

 

Rask has a very wide spectrum of possible play. At his best he played and produced like an elite 1C. At his worst, he was a 3rd or even 4th liner.

 

The safe bet is always in between. I have seen a little of Rask in preseason, but very little. He didn't really get much ice time. So that makes it even harder. Rask has a long history of coming back from the off-season better than his previous year.

 

I will project him to 20g and 50 points. I really think that will be doable with good linemates and in this system. He is another one who could go much higher. I would not be stunned if he put up 70 points, or if he put up 40 points. Plus 4.

 

Jordan Staal. 45 points, 16 Goals: 75 games played.

 

Jordan is a great example of hidden potential points in this team. He has, historically played with less than huge point producing wingers. If he gets with good wingers and if Kruger takes a little top line match up D play away from him, Jordan could surprise. Jordan Staal has the potential to score 35 goals.

What? I'm not predicting it, just saying he's pretty much done it already. In 2011-12 he scored 31 goals in 68 games including playoffs. That's a 37 goal pace for an 82 game season. Further, two years ago, he had about 4 months where he was a ppg.

 

I'm not saying that he is likely to cash in like that, but 20 should happen and 25 is not a stretch.

 

I think projecting him to 22 goals is really not crazy with good wingers and less D responsibilities. Plus 6.

 

Elias Lindholm: 45 points, 11 goals, 72 GP

 

Now we're getting to the guys I'd bet money on improving. If Lindholm stays healthy, he could push for 70 points. What?

 

From Dec to the end of the year, over half the season in sequence, he scored at a .82 ppg pace. That was the most recent play. BUT not until March did goals start going in for him. Lindy is not a 35 goal guy, but he is a 20 goal guy. He put up 17 goals as a 19 year old. If he puts up 9 more goals and stays on the .8 ppg pace, he'll hit 70 if he plays 82 games.

 

But he may miss some games and may not keep that torrid pace up on assists. But I'll give him 18 goals and 64 points. Plus 7.

Here it is worth pointing out that if he sets guys up, they will beat their projections for goals.

 

This guy and the next one have the biggest improvement likelihood IMO.

 

Teuvo Teravainen: 42 points, 15 goals, 81 GP.

 

TT plays a very high skill game. As he goes and corrals that skill more and more, he just gets better. His preseason has been eye-popping. He is a master on the PP too.

 

It is a well described phenomena that guys can struggle for their first year in a new system. Combine this with him being still only 23 and his upside is serious. Like so many, he played nearly every game, and if he falls short it will be injuries. IMO nothing else will keep him from beating last year's numbers, possibly by a lot.

 

I see him already shooting more in pre-season, and 20 goals is a minimum. But he will always be a set up man first. This is yet another guy with 60 plus point potential if it all came together for him, maybe even more. I project him to 55 points and 22 goals this year. Like Rask, Jordan, Lindholm, and Aho, TT has 60 plus point upside.  Plus 5.
 

Lee Stempniak: 40 points, 16 goals, 82 GP.

 

The key about Lee is him being present. On the one hand, we kept him from the expansion draft. On the other hand he has a mysterious injury that could be a problem. If he's present he's good for 40-50 points and 16-19 goals. But he played all 82 games last year and he's already slated to miss the start of this year.

 

Very hard to project if he isn't healthy.

 

I'll project him down. His slot will be filled by someone with some ability and at least 10 goals, so I'll project him to 32 points and 13 goals. Minus 3.

 

Justin Williams: 48 points, 24 goals, 82 GP.

 

Now we get to the guy who is a pure addition. J. Williams will put up 20 goals like clock work if he stays healthy. His worst year in the last 4 was 18 goals.

 

He is just a well oiled machine that plays a remarkably consistent game. He makes people around him better. Now the projections on him are not compared to himself, since he is a pure addition. He is adding to whatever our #9 forward projected to do over 80 or so games. That was Brock McGinn who produced at 10 goals pace over 82. J Willy adds assists and intangibles too , and as such it is conservative to make him plus 10.

 

Derek Ryan: 29 points, 11 goals, 67 GP.

 

Derek Ryan is yet another guy with hidden upside. First, he only played 67 games which skews things. But second, he was a rookie last year, and still finding his NHL game. He started slow (first 9 games) and had a bad run in Feb (8 pointless games). Yes, it's data mining, but if we assume that due to being his first year, he might improve...if you drop his start and his bad Feb, he was on a 44 point pace (16 goals). That is pretty decent for a third line center, especially in a team full of good wingers and D.

 

Full season projections for 67 games actual production last year: 13 goals, 35 points.

Best 50 games projected out over an entire 82 game season: 16 goals, 44 points.

 

Ryan has looked pretty good in pre-season, and will play with talent. Averaging above would project a 15 goal, 40 point season. I think that is very doable.

I'll project 15 goals 39 points. Plus 4.

 

Those are the top 9 forwards.

 

The most exciting thing is the upside potential for just about all of them is much higher than my projections. I really feel that only Skinner, Stemper, and Justin Williams likely don't have a ton of remaining upside individually (but we get JW's upside over McGinn because he's a pure addition). Any of the other 6 could break way past last year's production. The big caveat is health. We got a lot of games from our forwards last year.

 

But if relatively healthy, I project a net of plus 30 goals from our forwards.

 

Defense:

 

Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin will play better on the D side of the puck. Why? Because they did at the end of the year, and Hanifin has in pre season. Faulk is more iffy because Peters seems to insist on playing him with Slavin which means Faulk vs top lines, which I am not loving. But Hanifin will, I'm telling you. Still, this part is really about finding more goals, so I want to look at 1-6 and goals.

 

Justin Faulk: 37 ponts, 17 goals, 75 GP.

 

Faulk has put up that number of goals/game for two seasons, and has put up 15 goals or more for 3 straight seasons, so this is not flash in the pan. He was actually on a higher goals/game pace two years ago, so 17 goals is pretty likely again with at least 75 games played. To be conservative, though, I'll drop him to 15 goals. That is probably more worst-case, but I'm expecting 30 from the forwards so I need to.

 

Like with many forwards, he could do more. 20 goals is possible if he plays 80 or so games. But -2.

 

Jacob Slavin: 34 points, 5 goals, 82 games played.

 

Our defensive beast upped his goals and assists considerably year to year last year and could well be expected to bump again. It is hard to predict goals from defensive defensemen though. If he scored 7 goals he'd have been the #47 D man last year, which is pretty high. Even though I love to think improvement, I'll keep him at 5 goals. EVEN.

 

Noah Hanifin: 29 points, 4 goals, 81 games.

 

Interestingly at 29 points he was already the #55 most offensive D man in the NHL. That would be top 2 for the bottom team. I just have to think Hanifin gets at least a few more goals and more assists. If not just from more ice time, plus improvement. He sees PP time and is shooting more.

 

I've been conservative with the first two, but I'm going to say 6 goals for Hanifin. Plus 2.

 

Brett Pesce: 20 points, 2 goals, 82 games.

 

Clearly a shut down specialist. Still, young players tend to at least improve a little on offense. And he had 4 goals in 69 games his rookie season. But he's not on the PP. I'll stay conservative and say 3 goals, but he could hit 5 given his rookie pace. HOWEVER, for this exercise, he has to be compared with the number 4 producer last year: Ron Hainsey who hit 4 goals here and Pittsburgh. This is a minus 1.

 

Trevor van Riemsdyk: 16 points 5 goals 58 games

 

That was a 7 goal pace last year. But the year before was 3 in 82 GP. Still he was 24 and D men peak closer to 29.

 

Split the difference and 5 goals. Seems high, but he did it last year in 58 games. Lets say 4 goals is pretty safe. This is compared to Pesce's 2 goals in the 5th best goal D slot, to that's plus 2.

 

Hayden Fleury/Klaus Dahlbeck: Dahlbeck put up 2 goals in 43 games.

 

it gets tricky in this last spot except that it's all upside. We got Dahlbeck's 2 in 43, but zero from Tennyson in 45 games and zero from Murphy in 27 games (quite the elite offensive D man (sarcasm). So from all of our bottom D men, in 115 games we got 2 total goals.

 

We have to get at least 4 goals from this combined end point group: plus 2.

 

So, I am projecting just 3 more goals from the D for the year. Could it be way more? Yes. This is pretty conservative.

 

So the math:

 

Goals for:

 

Forwards: +30

Defense:   +3

Total goals for: +33

 

Goals against:

Team save % from .901 to .911 (median): .01% more saves: average game 28.3 shots against last year x 82 games: -23 goals.

Since goals against improvements ADD to the goal differential, this would be plus 23.

 

Based on this, this team projects to have a +56 goal differential better than last year's -21, or a net +35.

 

That would be about the #4 team in the Conference. And it is possible.

 

Some factors that could pull this down:

 

1. We were incredibly healthy last year. If we lose a stud for a prolonged period that would affect things a lot.

2. Someone will probably regress who is expected to improve. I have a lot of guys I'm expecting more from this year. Someone usually falters.

3. Darling struggles or gets injured.

 

We need to want to hit +15 goal differential at least, so I have a buffer of 20 goals differential. We can lose some on goaltending, and some on scoring and still be there.

 

I think if this team stays healthy and hits is full potential, we could be even better. If it all just hits. That's what Columbus did last year. If a couple of guys just have break out years even more on goals than I have for them, and others hold up their end. we could break out even higher.

 

Also, I have left out 4th line scoring, assuming it will be about the same. But our increased depth may find some more goals there too.

 

I'm going to predict thought that we hit or beat +20 and make the playoffs, and project us closer to plus 27 and close to 100 points. Yes, I mentioned unbridled optimism.

 

OK I'm done. I welcome comments. They don't have to be long ones.

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