When I say six million dollar man, which New Jersey Devil pops into your head? The first name to come to the front of your mind is most likely Ilya Kovalchuk. But the original $6 million dollar man for the Devils was Patrik Elias. He proved that he was worth the money in 2006 and still earned his keep in 2012. A big reason the New Jersey Devils made the post season was the dominance of Elias. After the jump I'll look at Elias' consistency and whether or not he can keep it up for another couple of years.
Elias is 36 years old and is still topping the league in points. Last season Elias was second on the Devils in scoring and more impressively, 10th in the NHL in points. Elias had 26 goals and 52 assists for 78 points. Elias was scoring at a point per game pace and may be able to keep this pace up.
If you look at Elias' points per game throughout his career, you can see that he had a few spectacular years and averages 0.84 points per game throughout his career. A player that averages .84 points per game over 14 seasons are rare in the NHL. Players that are consistent at a high level can play for a long time. Look at Teemu Selanne/ Jaromir Jagr / Mike Madano. These are all recent players who have cracked 1,300 games played. Elias is currently at 1042 games played. The Devils may be able to get 3 or 4 more productive years out of Elias.
Below is a graph of Elias' Points per game(Blue), Goals Per Game(Green), and Assists Per Game(Red):
(Click on it to make it bigger)
So what can we expect from Elias next season? If you look at the trend lines (lines that smooth out the distribution of points compared to the average) you can see that Elias has already hit his prime in every scoring category. I assumed that players get better until they hit a prime and then they begin to lose some of their skill. Therefore the trend line is a second level polynomial that shows where Elias "hit his prime". In Elias' case he hit his prime in the 2005-06 season. You can assume that next year Elias will have slightly fewer points. Elias' goal total may start to decrease at a fast rate, but his assists will stay fairly consistent.
Also, Elias has the intangibles that would make him a good person to have in the locker room and all those characteristics that fall under "off the ice attributes".
So what do I believe? I believe Elias will continue to put up 50+ points for maybe 3 more years before his skills and speed have eroded to the point where his point production to the 20 to 30 point range. At that point he will be taking much less ice time. At that point, he is not far from having his number raised to the rafters at the Prudential Center.
How many years do you believe Elias has left in the tank? Will he maintain this high level of play for a few more years or will he begin to decline at a rate where the Devils may not be able to use him in a year or two? Thanks for reading!