There's been a lot of discussion and questioning lately about how the Flyers will net their goals in 2009-2010 after parting ways with key scoring RWers Joffrey Lupul and Mike Knuble in a trade for Chris Pronger and a cap crunch loss to Washington, respectively.
I figured I'd delve a little bit deeper into the issue, and see just how significant our scoring problem is. My hypothesis before doing any research is that I feel our guys will be able to replicate the scoring primarily internally, by some players stepping up / gaining more experience / being healthy. Those're all big risks, though, so here goes nothin.
If the analysis & statistics don't interest you (and they're all admittedly very rudimentary stats, and thus have big percentage of error expectation), I recommend skipping to the end, conveniently labeled "Conclusions" in bold.
First, let's look at the primary scorers who will not be wearing Flyers OJ&B this year.
Joffrey Lupul Career Stats:
Lupul is a guy who, despite inconsistency, is still just about a 30 goal scorer. This year, 30 goals or thereabouts is likely -- we can give him a range of 25-35 goals, most likely being ~30 (give or take 2 goals). The guy has a ton of offensive potential, and there's no real reason to expect regression.
Projected (Pessimistic): 28 goals
Next, we lost RW Mike Knuble.
RW Mike Knuble's Career Stats:
GS last year: 27
Knuble's been scoring fewer and fewer goals per game since 2005 (and, really, .4 goals per game in '02-'03 was about equal to his high of .41 goals per game in '05-'06, not to mention in a lesser offensive era). The trend is obvious:
- '02/'03: .4
- '03/'04: .25
- '05/'06: .41
- '06-'07: .38
- '07/'08: .35
- '08/'09: .33
That's by no means bad. It's quite good. My only point is that we can expect further decline from Knuble this year -- it was even obvious last year as the season went on that his legs were giving out.
Projected GS '09/'10: .31 goals/game, for a total of 25 GS
Net Goals Lost (Projected): 53.
Current Situation: 2008/2009 Total GS = 260
2009/2010 Situation: 260 - 53 = 207
Now for the additions:
RW Ian Laperriere
Past 4 years:
What we can expect:
I'd be pleasantly surprised to see Laperriere score double digit goals again, let alone 21 goals. He's a defensive specialist at this point, although he does not shirk duties offensively. Given ~75 games played, and a better offensive team around him, I think we can expect a modest increase in GS.
Projected GS '09/'10: 10 goals
D Chris Pronger
Pronger Stats Last 4 years:
Pronger can't be expected to be Mike Green or even Zdeno Chara offensively, although his passing skills perhaps surpass both of those two players. Regardless, his goals scored probably won't be much different -- he puts up around 12 goals every year like clockwork, give or take a couple goals. We'll be a bit optimistic with his projection.
Projected '09/'10: 12 goals scored
Aside from that, we have not added too much. Given only these variables, the Flyers could be expected to score 229 goals this year (53 - 22 = 31, and 260 - 31 = 229).
We won't even discuss the defensive influx -- hopefully, a lot fewer goals will be going into our net this year compared to last year.
But we will discuss other important factors:
A) Danny Briere
I cannot understate the importance of a full healthy season from Danny. Career stats:
Goals per game for the last 4 years: .42.
If we see a full healthy season from Danny, that's 34 goals. I think he will be healthier this season, but 34 seems a stretch.
'09/'10 projected: 30 goals scored
B) RW/C Claude Giroux
Claude's game really came on towards the end of the year. He scored 17 goals in the AHL last year, and 9 goals in the NHL, for 26 goals in 75 games played. True, the NHL GS is not the same as the AHL GS, but that's to be expected for a rookie -- I don't think 26 goals is a stretch for Claude this year. After all, he scored 9 in 42 games last year as a rookie, so 20 in 82 is almost expected if he doesn't improve at all -- and already, in the playoffs, improvement was evident. I'll be cautiously optimistic with Claude, and say that he equals Knuble's GS production from last year.
'09/'10 projected: 27 GS.
Suddenly, we've now added 37 more goals to the net output, bringing our projected total from 229 to 266.
If we go even more cautious on Briere (let's say, 25 GS) and Giroux (say, 23 GS), that brings the total down to 257.
Caveats: It may be unfair to expect Jeff Carter to remain a 45+ goal scorer, but then again, Coburn can be expected to put a couple more in net (ditto Carle), and Darroll Powe might even net 2 or 3 more this year. Hartnell having another 30 also seems optimistic, but it's possible. All things considered, as is the Flyers seem fairly likely to put in at least 250 goals.
We've taken an offensive hit compared to what we would have if Knuble & Lupul were still Flyers, but I expect that the net effect on GS will be relatively low -- we still should put in around 255, give or take around 10-15 goals, and that is a fairly pessimistic projection. Last year, we put in 260 with Lupul & Knuble. This year, we oughta be able to replicate with full seasons from Briere & Giroux.
'08/'09 GS: 260
'09/'10 Projected GS: 255, +/- 10
We are, on the whole, about the same offensively as of right now as our net team effort was last year. This is assuming a whole lot of things you can't assume (no regression or injuries, for example), but it's also neglecting any positives (maybe an offensive breakout from a player or two or three -- why shouldn't Gagne, Giroux, and Richards each put up 35 goals, for example?), so on the whole I'd expect our GS to be within that 255 area.