How much production can the New Jersey Devils expect from Petr Sykora?

One of the biggest question marks remaining for Devil’s fans is whether or not Petr Sykora will be offered a contract. Yesterday Matthew Ventolo took a look at the pros and cons of offering a contract to Petr Sykora. Today I’ll take a look at what we can expect from Sykora if he does get offered a contract.

Now, there are all of the unknowns, injuries, line mates, conditioning, but assuming Sykora stays healthy and in good shape, what kind of year can we expect of him? I will compare him to a few players who have reached 35 years old in the NHL and a few players who came back to the Devils organization after stints elsewhere.

 

 

Petr Sykora last played three full years at the NHL level from 2006 through the spring of 2009. He averaged 0.678 points per game, only 0.05 off of his career 0.724 PPG. I don’t know about you, but I for sure would enjoy Sykora on my team those years. The question becomes: can we predict if Sykora will return to this form in the 2011-2012 season?

Petr Sykora’s last three full years in the NHL

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2006-07

Oilers

NHL

82

22

31

53

40

2007-08

Penguins

NHL

81

28

35

63

41

2008-09

Penguins

NHL

76

25

21

46

36

 

There is one player who is a bona-fida lock to play in the NHL this season after a few years in the KHL. When he puts on a Philadelphia Flyers jersey this October, Jaromir Jagr will become the active point leader in the NHL. Now I am not saying Sykora and Jagr are on the same level, they are not, they just have similar time off at the NHL level.

Jagr played in the Czech and Russian league during the lockout and came back with a stellar year posting 123 points. Jagr was not injured like Sykora was, but he still spent a year away from the NHL, like every other player that year. I also took a look at the year Jagr turned 35, as Sykora will this season.

Jagr’s 2006 – 07 Season (35 years old)

Season

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2006-07

New York Rangers

82

30

66

96

78

 

Jagr had a great season and posted a 1.171 PPG, just short of his career 1.256PPG. This year Jagr will be entering the league after three years off in the KHL, and Sykora could make the Devil’s roster and come back after one year abroad. Will Sykora be able to keep his production up at the age of 35?

We can also look at three players who came back to the Devils after spending time on other NHL rosters. The three players who may draw close comparisons to what Sykora is facing if he makes it onto the Devil’s roster are Bobby Holik, Brendan Shanahan, and the crowd pleaser: Brian Rolston.

Bobby Holik:

Season

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2005-06

Atlanta Thrashers

64

15

18

33

79

2006-07

Atlanta Thrashers

82

11

18

29

86

2007-08

Atlanta Thrashers

82

15

19

34

90

2008-09

New Jersey Devils

62

4

5

9

66

 

Bobby Holik turned 35 around the 2005-06 season and managed to keep his production constant for three years until he came back to the Devils. The three years leading up to signing with the Devils, Holik had 0.421 PPG compared with 0.568 career PPG.  In the 62 games he played in 08-09, he had 0.145 PPG, a substantial drop off.  Holik then had injury problems, mainly a concussion, but he was 38 years old.  If Sykora’s return is anything like this, I would hope the Devils see it coming; there are too many young players who can put up at least double digit points this season.

Another recent comeback Devil was Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan sat out the first half of the NHL season waiting to come to terms with the Rangers.  Then, when no one saw it coming, Lou worked his magic and signed Shanahan to the tune of $800,000.  Shanahan turned 40 during his final season with the Devils and even attempted to come back for the 2009-10 season.

 

Brendan Shanahan:

Season

Team

Lge

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2005-06

Detroit Red Wings

NHL

82

40

41

81

105

2006-07

New York Rangers

NHL

67

29

33

62

47

2007-08

New York Rangers

NHL

73

23

23

46

35

2008-09

New Jersey Devils

NHL

34

6

8

14

29

 

Again we see a player who comes back to the Devils, and has a mediocre season.  Shanahan’s PPG was 0.851 leading up to the move to the Devils, and 0.412 during the half season played with the Devils. Shanahan did have valuable leadership and all that jazz, but for $800,000, the Devils did not get what they paid for.


Last, but certainly not least, is Brian Rolston who came back to the Devils for the entirety of the 2008-09 season. Rolston actually turned 35 the year he returned to the Devils, just as Petr Sykora will be if he makes the roster. Rolston had 0.838 PPG during his three years in Minnesota, which dropped to 0.500 PPG upon his return to the Devils.

Brian Rolston:

Season

Team

Lge

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2005-06

Minnesota Wild

NHL

82

34

45

79

50

2006-07

Minnesota Wild

NHL

78

31

33

64

46

2007-08

Minnesota Wild

NHL

81

31

28

59

53

2008-09

New Jersey Devils

NHL

64

15

17

32

30

 

Brian Rolston did not have a break from the NHL like Sykora did, but his production did decrease with his return to the Devils. This leaves even more speculation as to what Sykora will be able to do. If Sykora makes the roster, I think we can expect about 15 goals and 20 assists from him.

After reviewing a few players who have gone through a similar process as Sykora, I find it hard to be optimistic about Sykora making the roster. I would hope the Devils have learned from the past and really, I mean really, evaluated Sykora. If Sykora does make the roster, then I hope he is willing to buck the trend and help the Devils come out of the gates scoring.

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