Projection Canucks Scoring: Depth Forwards

Robert Vollman
November 01 2012 09:21AM

It's time for our third and final piece of looking at different statistical ways to project how many points each of the Canucks will score.

If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards.  We followed that up with a look at the defensemen and finally we'll take a look at the remaining, secondary forwards.

Mason Raymond

The statistical community was once big on Mason Raymond and his great possession numbers, but they took a mysterious plunge last year despite playing in the offensive zone more than usual (against his usual secondary competition). 

His scoring took a plunge too – the key to getting back closer to his career 2009-10 season is in getting his power play time back (which won't happen in Vancouver).  Raymond's a secondary penalty kill option and has gone 5 for 20 in the shoot-out over recent years.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 55   10   10   20
VUKOTA    59.5 12.5 14.6 27.1
Best      82   24.2 42.5 66.7
Worst     82    8.2  9.4 17.6
Average   82   16.0 20.4 36.4

Three of his ten closest historical matches scored 20 goals or more, and four were in a tight band between 24-28 points, where he is likely to land unless he gets some time with the man advantage.

Andrew Ebbett

Listed at just 5'9”, Andrew Ebbett is one of those point-a-game AHLers who could have been useful in the NHL with a little more size and/or opportunity.  As it is he's played for five teams in the past three seasons, and missed most of last year with foot and collarbone injuries.

Ebbett first broke into the NHL at age 26 in fine style, scoring 32 points in 48 games for Anaheim in 2008-09, but has just 26 points in the 112 games since.  Part of the reason is getting buried on the depth lines, where his linemates haven't shot better than last year's 6.5% since that big season.  Still, he is capable of scoring at a nifty 2.0 points per 60 minutes in the right situation, one that he's quite unlikely to get in Vancouver.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 18    5    1    6
VUKOTA    36.0  5.5  5.1 10.6
Best      82   26.4 13.6 40.0
Worst     82    5.8 10.8 16.6
Average   82   11.8 16.1 28.0

Six of Ebbett's ten closest historical matches were in a tight band of 29-35 points, but that would take a full season and at least semi-regular top-six and/or power play opportunities.

Manny Malhotra

Unquestionably the league's poster child for playing tough minutes so that others can rack up the scoring, 32-year-old Manny Malhotra, veteran of 13 NHL seasons for the Rangers, Stars, Jackets, Sharks and Canucks, isn't very likely to rack up the scoring.

Malhotra consistently scores beteen 1.4-1.5 points per 60 minutes, but lost four minutes of ice-time last year, which also included all of his power play time, where he actually wasn't bad at all.  Tellingly, his total shots dropped to just 60 after seven years taking 102-116 shots. 

Even without that offense he remains invaluable to the team on the penalty kill, at the faceoff circle, and in the defensive zone, where his 13.2% offensive zone start (and against top competition) is quite ridiculous.  Furthermore he's among the league's best in each of those capacities.  Unfortunately none of that bodes well for his scoring.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 78    7   11   18
VUKOTA    62.1  6.3 10.1 16.4
Best      82   19.7 24.5 44.2
Worst     82    2.3 10.7 13.1
Average   82    7.9 14.8 22.7

Of his ten closest historical matches four were between 13-16 points, and five were between 23-29 points, and in this case we're definitely leaning more towards the former than the latter.

While this is mostly based on his usage, it's also based on the performance of his three closest historical matches, fellow defensive specialists Kent-Erik Andersson, Lou Nanne and Greg Gilbert.

Coming over from Sweden as an established veteran, Andersson was a highly esteemed defensive player for the Minnesota North Stars, and a key part of their Cup finalist team in 1981.  Traded to the Rangers, Andersson played two more good years before returning home, and likely represents the best-case scenario.

Nanne, another famous defensive-minded North Star, got his NHL shot when the league first expanded.  He managed a couple more years on a truly awful team. Gilbert, who like Nanne went on to coach in the NHL, was a long-time Islander but had moved on to Chicago at this point, and paints a more realistic picture of Malhotra's scoring potential somewhere in the mid-teens.


Malhotra GP  G A PTS
2010-11  72 11 19 30
2011-12  78  7 11 18

Andersson GP  G A PTS
1980-81   77 12 17 29
1981-82   70  6  8 14
Next      71  6 14 20

Nanne   GP G A PTS
1973-74 76 9 19 28
1974-75 49 5  7 12
Next    79 2 12 14

Gilbert GP G A PTS
1989-90 70 9 18 27
1990-91 72 8 12 20
Next    50 5  4  9

Maxim Lapierre

Acquired at the 2011 trade deadline, his third team of the year, Maxim Lapierre led the post-season in penalty minutes.  Since then the 27-year-old has carved out a niche for himself in Vancouver as a useful checking line center, above average at faceoffs, who can carry defensive-zone minutes against the depth lines, throws a lot of hits without taking more penalties than he draws, and helping out as a depth option on the penalty kill.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 82    9   10   19
VUKOTA    64.3  6.8  7.7 14.5
Best      82   16.6 19.6 36.2
Worst     82    3.7  7.7 11.4
Average   82    9.2 11.3 20.5

The best historical match for Lapierre is certainly former Canuck Jerry Butler.  Bouncing around several teams, Butler became a Canuck in early 1980 with Tiger Williams in the unfortunate Bill Derlago/Rick Vaive deal.  Butler enjoyed one more strong season then two weak ones, the last of which was for the Jets.  Like the majority of Lapierre's closest historical matches, he fell in the 19-24 point range.


Lapierre GP  G A PTS
2008-09  79 15 13 28
2009-10  76  7  7 14
2010-11  78  6  6 12
2011-12  82  9 10 19

Butler   GP  G A PTS
1976-77  80 10 17 27
1977-78  82  7  8 15
1978-79  76  6  6 12
1979-80  78  8 10 18
Next     80  8 11 19

Zack Kassian

Acquired for Cody Hodgson late last season, 21-year-old Zack Kassian threw a few hits, and got a tiny bit of power play time, but the one partial season isn't enough for the historical engine.  VUKOTA pegs him for 13 points in 50 games.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 44    4    6   10
VUKOTA    49.3  5.3  8.0 13.3

When a player plays primarily in the offensive zone AND against depth competition (as measured by their average shot-based plus/minus), we say that a player is “sheltered.”  Usually sheltered players include rookies and enforcers, but occasionally older offensive-minded players who failed to develop a defensive game (and, unless unusually gifted offensively, are usually on death watch).  At the moment Kassian falls in to this oft-misunderstood category.

Dale Weise

Claimed off waivers from the New York Rangers, 24-year-old Dale Weise suffered through the type of ridiculous offensive zone start percentage (20.6%) that can only be found in Vancouver.  Fortunately it was against depth line competition or he might really have gotten bombed.

Offensively the hard-nosed Weise has just 8 points and 57 shots in 78 NHL games, and his 111 points in 194 AHL games work out to just over 20 points in a full NHL season.  Unfortunately our statistical engines consider that more of a best-case scenario.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 68    4    4    8
VUKOTA    58.1  4.6  4.3  8.9
Best      82    9.7 12.5 22.2
Worst     82    4.7  1.0  5.6
Average   82    5.2  7.7 12.9

While you might not expect someone like Weise to have a close historical match, we found that Chris Murray was another physical depth-line winger in the mid-90s.  Murray bounced around five teams in his six-season NHL career, which ended early at age 25.


Weise   GP G A PTS
2010-11 10 0 0 0
2011-12 68 4 4 8

Murray  GP G A PTS
1994-95  3 0 0 0
1995-96 48 3 3 6
Next    64 5 3 8

Aaron Volpatti

Born in Revelstoke 27 years ago, Aaron Volpatti was used much like Dale Weise but unfortunately missed most of the season with a shoulder injury.  Volpatti throws even more hits than Weise, but also takes too many penalties – a big no-no when you're just trying to eat up crappy depth minutes while the stars catch their breath.

Offensively Volpatti has 3 points and 23 shots in his 38 NHL games, and just 13 points in 61 AHL games.  In the unlikely event that his NHL career proceeds much further, don't expect more than one point every eight games or so.


          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 23    1    0    1
VUKOTA    36.6  4.2  4.3  8.5
Best      82   15.9 19.4 35.3
Worst     82    0.0  1.6  1.6
Average   82    3.7  6.6 10.3

Next Time

That's it!  We'll check back in at the end of the season (if applicable) to see how everyone did relative to these expectations.  Thanks to TD for giving me this guest spot, thanks to all of you for reading, and I hope you found it interesting.

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Rob Vollman of www.HockeyAbstract.com is a regular feature writer on ESPN Insider, co-author of Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 and 2011-12, and regular contributor to NHL Numbers, Flames Nation and Arctic Ice Hockey. Innovator of Player Usage Charts, Quality Starts, GVS (Goals Versus Salary), the Snepsts Projection System, and known for work in League Equivalencies (NHLE). Twitter: @robvollmanNHL
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#1 sara
November 14 2012, 06:59PM
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Thanks for the detailed info on Aaron Volpatti!!

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