How likely is it that the Oilers top the Pacific division this year? Where do they stand relative to Anaheim, San Jose or Calgary?
For the past few seasons I’ve run projections on likely outcomes for players and teams, beginning with Edmonton, then expanding to include the Flames and Canucks.
This year I decided to run projections on the Oilers, Flames, Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Canucks, Coyotes and Golden Knights.
What I typically do is use previous seasons’ numbers such as games played, points-per-game and so on to find a reasonable average, weigh that against where the player is in their career arc (age) and then try to draw a line along what seems to be the most rational, unbiased expectation of potential performance.
Once I add all that up I use the totals to arrive at a rough estimate of team performance based on Goals For and Goals Against. Put those numbers into the overall league standings and see where that would put the team over the previous three or four seasons.
Previously I had adopted some of the WoodMoney numbers, aka Dangerous Fenwick or DFF, to try and get a better handle on player performances. With the release of that data onto a public forum I have included that information again here, looking at where a player’s best results (relative to the amount of time they played – that’s important) occurred.
Because of the amount of information, I’ve broken this into several parts beginning from the bottom of the projections and moving up. Today we’ll begin with the Los Angeles Kings.
Los Angeles – 207 goals for, 187 goals against. (10th in the Western Conference, 5th in the Pacific)
Carter – Great depth center who had a strong season last year but is not necessarily a sustainable performance.
Kopitar – Had a down year, but the play with the puck was just as strong. Like Thornton, an excellent puck-possession center who dominates all levels of competition.
Pearson – Skilled forward who plays well against all levels of competition.
Brown – Offense is descending into 3rd line range, possession play is still strong across the board though suspect this is a result of systems.
Toffoli – Skilled forward who, like Pearson, has strong possession numbers across the board. Good roster redundancy to help Pearson.
Lewis – Offense suggests 4th line role.
Dowd – A slightly better, younger, Trevor Lewis. Damning with faint praise.
Gaborik – A shadow of his former self, the Kings are contractually wedded to the player for the time being. Scoring at a 3rd/4th line rate and less reliable in possession play.
Shore – Another in a growing list of Kings’ players with duplicate, bottom-tier skill sets.
Clifford – See above.
Cammalleri – Another bet on an ageing skilled forward, Cammalleri is into the 2nd line range of offense.
Nolan – The end of that aforementioned list of 4th line plugs.
Andreoff – An appendix to the above list.
Kempe – More on that appendix.
Doughty – Excellent defender deployed as such, against not only the best but the second wave as well.
Muzzin – Posts less offense than Doughty, but has better possession results, demonstrates a very solid pairing with Martinez.
Martinez – He and Muzzin represent a possible 1st pairing replacement duo in the event the Kings move Doughty.
Folin – Insufficient data.
Gravel – Depth defender.
Forbort – Doughty’s partner last season, the numbers suggest he’s a capable defender but not in Doughty’s class.
LaDue – Insufficient data.
Quick – Starting goaltender recovering from serious injury, Quick is good but his reputation benefits from the old Sutter system. Have to see what changes Stevens implements.
Kuemper – Debatable backup.
Campbell – Likely the future starter in LA for better or worse (goalies can take a long time to come into their own), will have to take the job from Kuemper but provided Quick remains relatively healthy he shouldn’t be exposed to too high a workload too soon.
The Kings are still a defense-first team, though partly that is because for the life of me I can’t see where the offense is going to come from on this roster. Carter bailed the team out during Kopitar’s down year last season, and Peter Budaj kept the dream alive while Jon Quick was on the shelf, but it still wasn’t enough to make the playoffs. John Stevens will have this team fighting the good fight, but I doubt it’s enough in a division where Calgary and Edmonton are now relevant, the Ducks are dominant and the Sharks can still find a way to sneak out enough wins over a season.