Thursday, June 21, 2012

Snepsts Caps projections

Rob Vollman released the Snepsts projections for next season. Snepsts uses era-adjusted statistics (including GVT) to find close comparables to the player in question and uses those comparables' performance to set the bar for the current player. It's along the same lines as Hockey Prospectus' VUKOTA (which is the hockey version of baseball's PECOTA), but sacrifices sample size for accuracy.

Here's what it projects for next season. All figures are rounded. The information after the goals-assists-points totals are Snepsts' closest comparable found and the year of that comparable performance.

Ovechkin: 31-37-68 (Heatley 2009)
Backstrom: 21-49-70 (Juneau 1994)
Laich: 16-24-41 (Bourne 1984)
Johansson: 12-20-33 (Zanussi 1980)
Perreault: 18-20-38 (Lacroix 1997)
Chimera: 12-14-26 (Zamuner 2001)
Hendricks: 6-14-20 (Podein 1999)
Ward: 9-16-25 (Cooke 2008)
Brouwer: 17-18-35 (Lindgren 2000)
Beagle: 3-5-8 (Boll 2011)
Green: 8-19-26 (B. Stuart 2007)
Carlson: 9-27-36 (B. Stuart 2003)
Alzner: 3-10-13 (Doak 1972)
Hamrlik: 4-14-18 (Lumme 2002)
Erskine:  2-6-18 (Huscroft 1997)
Schultz: 3-10-13 (Houda 1990)

Crosby: 51-76-127
Malkin: 36-48-84
Stamkos: 43-49-93

The total of the 10 forwards and six defensemen comes out to 174 goals. That's barely 2 goals a game. Luckily, I think there are some underestimates here:

Green--each "comparable" has a "sim" score, which denotes how close the match is (smaller is better). While most players had a match with a sim score in single digits, Green did not. I think it's fair to think he produces at least a handful more goals than the eight here.

Ovechkin--I'm optimistic. I think he hits 35 regardless of coach, thanks to an improved power play, and with a good coach hits 40. There's another handful or so. Ovechkin was another player who didn't exactly have a close comparable, like Green. Given that coaching likely deflated Ovechkin's numbers, I think the search registered worse comparables than he deserved (which is saying something, considering the comparables include Heatley, Kariya, Robataille, Hawerchuk, Nilsson, and Tkachuk).

Johansson--the kid has shown so much scoring ability already, and he's not even strong.

I suppose I should also mention what I think are overestimates (excluding players in the single digits):

Perreault--he won't shoot over 20% again.

Luckily, that's it.

Add that up and we have 180-185 or so. Short of adding two 30-goal scorers, this picture makes the team's offense next season seem destined to crave mediocrity. I think it's fair to guess this team adds ~30 goals scored from free agency (speaking of raw production, not GVT here: that's three third liners). That brings us up to 215, which would have ranked 15th this season, three fewer than the real Caps scored (that seems better when you consider Semin isn't counted here).

McPhee had better hit a home run with this new coach. If the coach can be worth 30 goals or so, suddenly you're looking at 240 goals and a top-5 offense. It doesn't have to just come at even strength--take the Caps from 26th to 8th in power play goals for and you've improved the offense by nine goals, vaulting it into the top ten. Throw in a couple of shorthanded goals and ten more even strength goals and you're almost into the top-5. Small improvements in multiple facets of the game should do the trick.

If the goalies hold up their end of the bargain and there are no Green- or Backstrom-esque injuries again, this team looks to be in decent shape for next year. Yes, there are significant roster holes to fill, there is no coach, and the pipeline will not produce another impact NHL talent for a couple of years minimum (unless Grigorenko falls all the way to 11th). But before being great, teams generally have to hit the "good" threshold, and McPhee should be able to do that pretty easily. That won't satisfy me, but it will keep me watching since a "good" team can be a single (albeit major) move away from becoming elite.

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