The NHL Elite

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For many years, I have considered an elite offensive players as one who could post more than a point per game played. But, as score g has declined since the last lockout, there are fewer and fewer players who are able to hit that mark causing me to reassess what we should expect from an elite player in the NHL.

As recently as the 2013/14 season there were 13 players who finished above the 1.00 mark.

In 2014/15, that number has dropped to 8 and this season is much the same although there are another 4 players within the range.

TOP P/PG Players 2015/16

  • Patrick Kane – 1.29
  • Jamie Benn – 1.10
  • Connor McDavid – 1.03 (small sample size)
  • Tyler Seguin – 1.03
  • Evgeni Malkin – 1.02
  • Sidney Crosby – 1.02
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 1.01
  • Erik Karlsson – 1.00

  • Johnny Gaudreau  – .99
  • Joe Thornton – .97
  • Joe Pavelski – .97
  • Niklas Backstrom – .97

At, .94, Alex Ovechkin doesn’t make the grade but with 41 goals on the season I think we can give him a pass and declare him an elite player.

Moving the Goalposts

Obviously, 1.00 P/GP in the current NHL is too high a bar since you will note, of the 12 players listed above. 3 play for the Washington Capitals, 2 for the Dallas Stars, 2 for the Pittsburgh Penguins and 2 for the San Jose Sharks leaving only 3 players on other teams in the league.

It appears that, if we move the goalposts to .80 PPG in the modern NHL, we may have the issue surrounded.

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And?

There are really no glaring omissions from this ranking but there are a few noteworthy items.

A very slow start to the season has impacted Jakub Voracek in very dramatic fashion. Last season, Voracek scored .99 P/GP but it should also be noted that he has been climbing higher in the scoring rate for the past couple of months.

Two seasons ago, Taylor Hall posted 1.07 P/PG but since then is .72 and .80. Has the league figured him out and knows he will just rush up the left side and fire a generally harmless low percentage shot on goal?

Seeing Johnny Gaudreau at .99 P/GP  after a .80 in his stellar rookie season is a revelation. Despite playing on a team that is near the bottom of the standings, Gaudreau has emerged as the premiere LW in the WC outside of the dominant force that is Jamie Benn.

Patrice Bergeron is quietly having an exceptional season. After posting .68 P/GP last season and winning the Selke Trophy, he’s kept up his defensive dominance and his scoring has jumped to .90 and he looks like a sure bet to score 30 goals and 70 points this season.

And finally, I can’t say enough about what Jaromir Jagr is accomplishing in Florida and his golden years.

His .82 P/GP on a low scoring Panthers team is remarkable at his age and it appears he has the ability to play a few more seasons at a very high level.

All hockey fans should hope so.

Rating the Stars

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**** I thought I would update this post since I’m being called out by name over at Lowetide’s Fanboy Site ®****

SEISMIC SOURCEsays:

Off topic, but just returned from reading DSF’s site. Its killing him that Hall is playing so well.

Fact of the matter is, Hall is performing EXACTLY as I expected he would when Draisaitl’s 15 minutes of fame faded into oblivion.

Also of note, as I’ve mentioned for weeks, Hall doesn’t produce on the road when other teams can shut him down.

Hall has only 13 points in 21 road games this season….that’s only .619 PPG on the road.

Just for comparisons sake…Tyler Seguin has 25 points in 21 road games this season…that’s 1.19 PPG on the road.

One of these is not like the other.

Many teams have now reached the half way point of the season and we’re starting to see some risers and fallers in the statistical rankings.

Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been out in from of the pack for almost the entire first half and I think it’s unlikely that changes much going forward.

Normalized for games played, here’s how the top 10 forwards look by the PPG measure:

Patrick Kane 1.43

Jamie Benn 1.27

Tyler Seguin 1.22

Vladimir Tarasenko 1.03

Blake Wheeler 1.03

Johnny Gaudreau 1.03

Joe Pavelski 1.03

Taylor Hall 1.00

Evgeni Malkin 0.97

Daniel Sedin 0.95

Most of the above names have been pretty consistent but a couple have been moving up rapidly after slow starts to the season.

Joe Pavelski has scored 8 goals and 13 points in his last 10 games and, with the return of Logan Couture from injury, I expect Pavelski will keep up that pace.

Likewise, Malkin has scored 5 goals and 11 points in his last 10 and should pass a couple of others on the list in short order.

At the other end of the scale, Taylor Hall has scored only 2 goals and 7 points in his last 10 GP with 3 of those points coming in 1 game against the Jets.

You may recall, I predicted a few weeks back that Hall’s production would tail off as Leon Draisaitl’s unsustainable 33% shooting percentage would normalize which it has done in a big way (now 13.2% and dropping like a stone).

Oiler fans should also be concerned that Hall just doesn’t score much on the road…getting only 1 goal and 5 points in his last 10 road games.

Unless that somehow changes, Hall will drop out of the top 10 very quickly

The Snipers

Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in hockey so players who put the puck in the net at a significant rate hold the most value to me eye.

Here’s how that looks in GPG.

Jamie Benn .585

Patrick Kane .575

Vladimir Tarasenko .575

Alex Ovechkin .568

Tyler Seguin .561

Joe Pavelksi .541

Mike Hoffman .528

Tyler Toffoli .487

Evgeni Malkin .473

Johnny Gaudreau .447

Obviously, any player that is on both of the above lists is a tremendous offensive player and deserves to be at the all star game.

The Bobby Orrs

The modern NHL game relies to a very large degree on fast, mobile defensemen who can move the puck and contribute to the offense.

Erik Karlsson is having just a ridiculous season with 1.05 PPG and I’m beginning to believe he should win the league MVP award.

Dallas Stars phenom John Klingberg isn’t far behind at .902 but he’s cooled off a bit lately and Brent Burns, at .919, has passed him.

I’d keep an eye out for Justin Faulk at .750 and Tyson Barrie also at .750 to  keep moving up as the second half unfolds as well as the Flames TJ Brodie who is returning from injury and has been coming on strong at .689.

 

 

 

 

Snap Shots

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It’s a quiet day in the NHL with only one game on the schedule but, man, I’ve watched a lot of hockey already.

It’s very early days but some observations…

  1. OT 3 on 3 is a hoot and a far better way to decide a hockey game than the shootout. That it also rewards skill players with points that count on the resume is an added bonus which is some compensation for the ways officiating is allowing the best of the best to be stifled again.

2. Way too much attention has been focused on Connor McDavid early in the season…you have to hope that the TV commentators lose some interest in the topic as the season progresses. McDavid has shown some speed but, so far, has been pretty ordinary.

3. Speaking of rookies…Artemi Panarinin (Hawks) and Oscar Lindberg (Rangers) have excelled in their first 3 games, each scoring 4 points. As I told you earlier, Vancouver Canucks rookie defenseman Ben Hutton has been an early season revelation…not only picking up 2 assists in his first 2 games but has also been the Canucks best defenseman through those two contests. The big smooth skating D is exactly the prototype of a puck moving defenseman who clears his own zone easily and makes a tremendous first pass to a streaking winger.

4. The Canucks youth movement is already paying dividends with Bo Horvat, Ben Hutton, Jared McCann and Sven Baertschi all playing exceptionally well. They’re all great skaters and have added speed and youthful enthusiasm to a “stale” Canucks lineup. Jake Virtanen is still on the roster but has yet to play a game although I think the Canucks will insert him in an upcoming road trip against the big teams in California.

5. Johnny Hockey has picked up right where he left off last season with 1G 3A 4PTS in his first 2 games. I expect he, and his line mates Jiri Hudler (3PTS) and Sean Monahan (2PTS) will flirt with 1PPG this season. Yes, they ARE that good.

6. Speaking of scoring…Patrick Kane appears to have been shot out of a cannon this season with 3G and 3A in his first 3 games. He appears to be motivated by his offseason difficulties.

7. Another players to keep an eye on is Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog who appears he may have taken his game to a new level. He’s always been a great 2 way forward but is now riding some ridiculous percentages to 3 goals and 5 points in his first 2 games. No doubt he will drop off somewhat but that kind of boring has a way of boosting a players confidence and leads to a great season.

8. The lack of any scoring at all is the story for the Edmonton Oilers. All they have to show for their efforts thus far is a goal credited to Ryan Nugent Hopkins on a play where he didn’t tough the puck. I watched Taylor Hall very closely in last night’s game against the Predators and, while Hall was credited with 8 SOG, 7 of them were from the outside and had virtually no chance of going in…seems he might still be trying to game his Corsi while avoiding the tough areas of the ice.

9) Speaking of Corsi…or SAT as the NHL likes to call it…here are your easy season Top 10.

Leo Komarov TOR +28

JVR TOR +26

Eric Staal CAR +25

Travis Harmonic NYI +25

Jake Gardiner TOR +23

John-Michael Liles CAR +23

Calvin De Haan NYI +22

Elias Lindholm CAR +22

Brett Kulak CAL +21

Brandon Dubinsky CLB + 21

Hmmmmm.

10. Watch out for the Florida Panthers…seriously.