With the regular season over and everyone biting their nails to the quick waiting for the playoffs to start, there's no better time to look back on the regular season and reflect.Matt Duchene for the rookie scoring title), and some players, due to injuries or just plain old slow starts, had less than stellar projections.
Here's the final data:
Zach Parise - The early projection had him on pace for 38-57-95. Mid-season projection was 35-59-94. Final results were 38-44-82. The projections were actually pretty close, just going to show how consistent the boy is. I knew from the start that he wasn't going to live up to the projections because his goals to assists ratio are usually pretty close to a 1:1, and it was his 6-9-15 start that threw off the long term projections. The totals were less than last year (45-49-94), but as John pointed out in his season preview, teams were going to focus on him a little more... and the downside to having a career, breakout year, is that it's even harder to do it the following year.
Still. If someone from the future had dropped in in October '09 and said that Zach would finish with 38 goals and 82 points, I think most fans would have taken it.
Travis Zajac - The early projections had him on pace for a ludicrous 82 points, based on his tremendous 6-7-13 start. The mid-season projections had him set to produce a much more realistic 21-42-63, and as we come to find out, a pretty accurate projection (actual totals: 25-42-67). Like Parise, he is consistent throughout the season. Zach, however, skyrocketed to the top of the proverbial mountain last year and has plateaued. Travis is, instead, slowly getting better every year (last season: 20-42-62).
Additionally, Travis played in all 82 games (again); reduced his PIM's from 29 to 24, took more shots (210 to last years 185); and increased his shooting percentage (11.9 this year, 10.8 last). His Faceoff % did go down a smidge (52.9 this year, 53.1 last), and he's only a +22 instead of a +33 like last year at this time, but overall, I think Zajac has shown considerable growth over the last four years, and I look forward to finding out just where his ceiling is.
Jamie Langenbrunner - Started out with an early projection of 13-44-57, due to his 2-7-9 start. Mid-season projected 19-49-68. He finished 19-42-61. I'm starting to think there's something to these mid-season projections, as even at the time, no one thought he'd finish with so many more assists than goals, and not break 20 goals... but here we are.
Brian Rolston - Early projections: 19-13-32. Mid-season: 30-21-51. Final: 20-17-37. Started slow, heated up right before the mid-season projections, throwing them off, and then disappeared; disappointingly finishing much closer to his early projections than his mid-season ones. On the plus side, I guess: 7 of his 20 were on the PP.
Dainius Zubrus - Early: 13-25-38. Mid-season: N/A (I didn't include him, so he was either hurt or doing too miserably to bother). Final: 10-17-27. In 51 games. Fleshing it out to the potential 82 games, he'd have put up 16-27-43, which would have been, by far, his best season as a Devil. Based on his play since return from his fractured patella, it is easily believable that it could have been.
David Clarkson - Early: An extraordinary and unbelievable 19-38-57 due to his torrid start (for him) of 3-6-9. Mid-season: 16-19-35. Fleshed out at the time to his max GP potential of 70 games: 21-24-46. Final result: 11-13-24 in 46 games. A full 82 game season would have been 20-23-43, by far a career year (finished 17-15-32 in all 82 games last year). Let's just hope he can avoid the injury bug next year and properly break out!
Rob Niedermayer - Early: A mind-blowing, incomprehensible 13-32-44. Mid-season: A much more realistic 12-16-28. Final: 10-12-22. For what it's worth: John Madden's numbers 08-09: 7-16-23 and a -7. 09-10: 10-13-23 and a -2
Patrik Elias - Early: N/A. Mid-season: 26-35-69. Final: 19-29-48 in 58 games. 82 game projections: 27-41-68. He came out of the gate from injury playing very well, but lost some more time with the concussion and didn't really start picking his game back up until the Kovalchuk trade. Since finding their legs together, Patty has been pretty amazing. I guess that's what happens when teams have to worry about Ilya so much...
Andy Greene - Early: 6-19-25. Mid-season: 12-39-51. Final: 6-31-37 to lead all defensemen. He exploded there in the middle of the season, and that threw off those projections pretty badly, but even if he'd produced the 25 points the early projections suggested, I think most fans would be happy. To finish with 37 is pretty impressive for a guy who started the year as the 7th Defenseman.
The question this off-season will be: can he keep it up, or should Lou try to trade him while his value is high?
So, overall, the projections weren't nearly as far off as I thought they'd be. Not surprisingly, the larger data pool at mid-season tended to be a more accurate predictor than the much smaller sample size after 13 games, but I still have to admit a certain surprise at how close some of the projections actually were. Is it due to a consistency of the players on this team or is it a quirk of statistics that I'm unaware of?
Thoughts? Issues? Concerns?