Last year, along with years prior to that, the Philadelphia Flyers had some elite scoring depth. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Kris Versteeg, Nikolay Zherdev, Ville Leino, Simon Gagne, a young James vanRiemsdyk, Mike Knuble, Joffrey Lupul. Ten of those guys have scored 50 points in a season in the past 3 years, which is the minimum that a first line winger should score. Just last year we had nine of those twelve players and could have potentially had at least seven or eight of them this year. As we have all seen recently, the Flyers chose a different strategy. Richards is in LA, Carter is in Colombus, Versteeg is in Florida, Zherdev could be in Russia, Leino is making two times his value in Buffalo, Gagne joined Richards in LA (along with about ten other former Flyers), Knuble is in Washington for another year, and Lupul is in Toronto. Gone are 8 of our most recent 11 50-point (first line) players. Is it realistic to say that we are still have solid scoring depth?
Below is a table of all of our scorers over the past three years. This includes the likes of all current roster members who have a chance of putting up 50 points along with the guys who played a major part and have left in the past 3 years. If the player was not in the NHL, their correct conversion to show their NHL equivalency has been calculated. The AHL equates to .44, Major Junior equates to .30, the KHL equates to .83 and the NCAA is .41. The last column for each year on the right is the expected points given the player plays a full 82-game season using their point-per-game ratio.
The article linked previously in the post takes the point totals of the top-90 and the 91-180th in the league (30 teams, 1 top line, 3 members of a line) to show the minimum number of points that a first line and a second line player should get. For the 2010-11 season the 90th scorer had 49 points (so did Scott Hartnell) and the 45th scorer had 60 points. That means that anyone who scored 50-60 points is a below-average to an average first line player. Anyone with more than 60 points is considered an above-average first line player, or an “elite” player---according to my terminology for the rest of the article. Second line players (players ranked 91-180 in total points) scored 34-49 points. In 2008-09 we had 4 elite scorers (Richards, Carter, Gagne, Hartnell), another average first (Lupul), and a second liner (Knuble); not to mention Danny Briere’s .86 P/G in less than 30 games and Claude Giroux’ .64 P/G in only 42 games (Danny would be elite and Claude would be a 2nd liner given their P/G production).
The following year in 2009-10 (Stanley Cup Run) we had two top-tier guys (Carter and Richards), another lower-level top guy (Briere), and four second liners (Gagne, Giroux, Hartnell, JVR); in addition to Ville Leino who didn’t bust out until the playoffs. Last year in 2010-11 there was more of the same with four elite forwards (Giroux, Richards, Carter, Briere), another two lower-level top liners (Leino, Hartnell), and two more second liners (JVR, Versteeg); not to mention our enigma: Nikolay Zherdev.
The following table is a list of the teams in the NHL (ATL should obviously be WIN) and how many players they have that are elite, regular first, total first, second line, and total top-6’s for THIS UPCOMING YEAR. I went to NHL.com and copy/pasted the top 180 point getters from last year, changed their team to their current team and analyzed the information.
***The table is based off of last year’s stats for this coming years roster. I know that logic is kind of flawed but that shouldn’t change that data that much.
Last year’s Flyers would have dominated this chart with 4 elite forwards (almost two full standard deviations above the mean), 2 lower-level first liners (one-half standard deviation above the mean), 6 top-line players (double the 3.0 average and almost two full standard deviations above the mean), 2 second-line players (a one-half standard deviation below the mean), but a whopping 8 top-6 forwards tied with three other teams for the most and 1.5 standard deviations above the 5.9 mean.
So now the question becomes ‘If the Flyers just lost five of their 8 top-6 forwards, where is the production going to come from?’ The first column is the evenly weighted three year point per game average. The second column is weighted 3/2/1(3x last year, 2x Stanley Cup year, and 1x three years ago) and the last column is my prediction for this upcoming year.
|Player||AvgNHLPts||3/2/1 Wt Avg||Pred Pts|
JVR-Giroux-Jagr: If these three guys play together and have anything close to chemistry, there is no doubt in my mind that Claude Giroux will be a PPG player. JVR and Jagr will both top the 60-point mark if they are healthy and playing with Claude. I’ve said it before that if JVR can play half as good as he did in the playoffs (literally) he can be a 30 goal scorer. He had 6.5 shots per game in the playoffs while shooting 10%. 7 goals in 11 games. If his shots go from 2.3 (last year regular season) to 3.5 and he plays in 80 games at a 10.7% (he shot 12.1% last year) that is 30 goals. If he goes to 4.0 shots per game at a 12% rate that is 38.4 goals. I know that 11 games is a small sample size but JVR dominated. I’m not asking for 6.5 shots a game---that’s ludicrous--- 3.5 shots a game for someone coming off of a playoffs averaging 6+ is very doable. Add Jagr into the mix and you have one of the top lines in hockey and for the first time since the lock out the Flyers will finally have an undisputed top line.
Hartnell-Briere-Voracek: What did Ville Leino bring to Harts and Danny to make that line kick? He was tremendous with the puck and he could really dish. Enter: Jakub Voracek. He’s a stud, 21-year-old playmaker who wasn’t surrounded by talent like he will be if he plays on this line. Jake is bigger than Ville, younger than Ville, has more potential than Ville, and he is in a huge contract year---like Ville was. His 46 points last year were down from his 50 as a 20-year-old but I’m thinking he tops 50 this year in his 22-year-old season. Briere, if healthy, should be a lock for 60. Scotty will keep trucking along, falling down, and banging in garbage for his usual 50 points. Danny Briere will have some extra incentive now that our depth chart has him listed as our #2C and not #4C. He should also have an “A” on his chest come October for the first time to start a season.
Talbot-Schenn-Simmonds: There is debate as to what this third line will be and if I’m the Flyers I start the year with these three. It may not be the best “shut-down” line but it is a serious energy line. Talbot and Simmonds are proven NHL-level grinders. Talbot has played every role in the NHL except a top-line scorer and should excel in orange and black. Simmonds had 40 points only two years ago right before coming back down to earth with only 30 last year but his physicality and speed should help him win the Philly Phaithful over pretty quickly. I think Talbot could jump from his 3-year average of 19 to a more respectable 25 and Simmonds could hit the 35 point mark for the second time in his short career. Then there is the golden child. Brayden Schenn. The next Mike Richards. His NHL equivalencies have him getting 30, 41, and 48 NHL points over the past three years. Is it realistic for him to come in and improve or even reach that 48? If he were in a top-6 role with PP time---absolutely. He’s lit it up everywhere he’s played including on the big stage at last year’s U-20’s. He had 18 points in the tourney, breaking a Canadian record of 17 held by Lindros and Gretzky. He had 7 points in 7 AHL games last year, 59 in 27 junior games, and most recently he destroyed his rookie counterparts with a hat trick and a pretty assist in the rookie camp scrimmage showing that he truly was playing at a level above those guys. However, he’s not going to play in a top-6 role. He won’t get much PP time. He will be asked to play a more defensive role. I think that if he stays healthy and is on that third line he could and should rack up 35 points next year.
Andreas Nodl: The notion when we gave up Powe was that Nodl was ready to step into Powe’s 4th line, PK, grinding role, and I’m not sure that’s the case. I think that Talbot and Nodl will compete for that 3rd line spot with Schenn and Simmonds. He’ll be the first guy to be placed into the top-9 if there is an injury and he should be able to put up 25 points in a 10th forward role.
Here’s our top-9 by predicted point:
Four elite. One lower-level top-liner. Three second-liners. Our scoring depth will be there yet again. The Flyers---from a point perspective did not and are not “rebuilding”---just re-loading.
Just for kicks, here's my predictions for some former Flyers:
|Player||AvgNHLPts||3/2/1 Wt Avg||Pred Pts|