Looking At Point Projections for Veteran Forwards, Part 1: Goals

Last year, several Devils had great seasons. IIlya Kovalchuk finished as the 5th highest scorer in the league, while Patrik Elias tied for 10th in league scoring with Erik Karlsson. Other players had great years- namely David Clarkson and his 30 goal season. With point projections, we can take a look at how they will perform the following season. In addition to the afformentioned trio, I plan on looking at three other veteran forwards on the Devils- Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus and Steve Bernier.

I have two different methods for goals. The first method came courtesy of John, who set me up with this handy chart. He created "what if" scenarios with the player's shot totals from the 2011-2012 season and the players' shooting percentages since the lockout. I varied this slightly- I took the player's average shooting% over the last 5 seasons, and then averaged it with their career shooting percentage to factor in regression. Here are the results of this method.

Player

avg Sh% over 5 yrs

expected sh%

shots/82GP in 2011-12

expected goals

Kovalchuk

14.54

14.42

330

48

Elias

11.9

12.15

166

20

Clarkson

9.34

9.46

234

22

Zubrus

12.04

11.97

109

13

Zajac

9.44

9.87

137

14

Bernier

7.13

9.36

59

6

With this method, the only player that sees a significant increase in his goal totals is Kovalchuk (37 to 48)- mainly due to the fact that he shot around 12% in 2011-12, rather than the expected 14.42%. Most of the other players suffer a pretty large drop in their goal totals due to their lowered shooting percentages.

Of course, there are some problems with John's method. With the exceptions of Kovalchuk and Clarkson, the majority of these players actually had lower shots/82GP in 2011-12 than they did in other years. To remedy this, I averaged the players' shots/82GP over the last 5 seasons and calculated the goal totals with the 5 year average and the expected shooting % from the previous chart.

Player

expected sh%

avg s/82 over 5 years

Expected Goals

Kovalchuk

14.42

294

42

Elias

12.15

224

27

Clarkson

9.46

184

17

Zubrus

11.97

125

15

Zajac

9.87

172

17

Bernier

9.36

118

11

This method has some flaws. For instance, David Clarkson's numbers suffer quite a bit with this method, as he projects to have a lower amount of projected shots, thus leading to less goals. I feel the numbers are a bit more accurate than the previous method just because a lot of players recorded relatively low shot totals. Considering that Zach Parise, who had a large majority of the Devils shots last year decided to leave for the Wild, the rest of the team should see an increase in shots themselves because Parise isn't there to take them himself.

Player Totals

Ilya Kovalchuk- Method 1: 48 Goals, Method 2: 42 Goals

I'm pretty confident that Kovy will hit the 40 goal mark this season, and I feel pretty confident with both projections. If he can continue to get pucks on net at the rate he did last year, he should see an increase in his production because his shooting percentage should increase (his 11.9 shooting% was the lowest of his career).

Patrik Elias- Method 1: 20 Goals, Method 2: 27 Goals

Elias' shooting % last season was one of his highest in his career. However, he didn't shoot the puck an awful lot last season- only 164 times. If he can shoot the puck more, he should be able to maintain his goal totals from last season, assuming that his shooting % will drop. He should at least be able to score 20 goals.

David Clarkson- Method 1: 22 Goals, Method 2: 17 Goals

I'm more confident in Method 1 than I am with method 2. Because Clarkson's shot totals have been increasing every year, the second method is somewhat inaccurate because he'd be taking less shots than he has over the last two seasons. If he's able to maintain his shot totals or improve on them, he should be able to score at least 20 goals. If his shooting percentage doesn't drop however, another 30 goal season might not be out of the question.

Dainius Zubrus- Method 1: 13 Goals, Method 2: 15 Goals

I've noticed that Zubrus doesn't shoot the puck alot. If he does shoot the puck a bit more, he should be able to score around 15 goals. Assuming he doesn't, 13 goals seems accurate.

Travis Zajac- Method 1: 14 Goals, Method 2: 17 Goals

Method 2's goal projection seems more accurate than the first because Zajac will likely take more shots this season, and he won't be bothered by injury for most of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if he hit the 20 goal mark though.

Steve Bernier- Method 1: 6 Goals, Method 2: 11 Goals

Considering he's going to be shooting the puck less in his role as a 4th liner, he's probably not going to see such a huge increase in his shot totals. 6-8 goals seems reasonable, assuming he's able to get 70-80 shots on goal. If he is pressed into 3rd line duty due to injury/struggling players on the 3rd line, 10 goals might not be out of the question.

While I can't predict the future, this is possibly the most reasonable way to look at a player's potential statistics. Maybe someone benefits from a high shooting percentage this season and puts up career highs. Or maybe the team goes through another bout with bad luck and low shooting percentages. It's too early to tell, but these projections should provide reasonable expectations for the veteran forwards next season.

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