We are always projecting how a player will turn out, but is there an accurate formula? Some superstars reach and maintain their potential right away like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, while others take much longer before they become a productive scorer.
How long does a player need to play before we get a true sense of how productive he will be? Is it three years? Four? Five? Depends on the player, but there are many cases that re-affirm why teams need to be patient because many of today’s top point-producers didn’t become legitimate scorers instantly.
Marc Savard re-signed with Boston on Tuesday but it took him seven full years to become a top-end scorer. He did score 65 points in his fourth year, but it was in his 7th season he became a bonafide scorer racking up 97 points. He has followed that with seasons of 96, 78 (missed eight games) and 88 points. Savard was a 4th round pick in 1995, but his first 65+ point season happened eleven years later when he was 29.
Martin St. Louis was never drafted and it was in his 6th professional season when he scored 70 points in Tampa Bay. The next season at 29 years of age, he scored 94 points and was another example of a player not reaching his prime until his late twenties.
Jarome Iginla played five seasons before he cracked the 30 goal and 70 point barrier. His best three-season stretch has been the last three years when he has tallied 94, 98 and 89 points at the age of 30, 31 and 32.
Brendan Morrow’s first five seasons were 33,44,35,43 and 49 points. He then played 19 games in the CHL during the lockout before returning with a 65 point season in the NHL, and it wasn’t until his 8th season that he surpassed 30 goals and 70 points with 32 goals and 74 points at 29 years of age.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin didn’t surpass 40 points until their 4th season, (Henrik 42, Daniel 54) and it was in their sixth year when they hit 70 points. Henrik’s last four years have been 75, 81, 76 and 82, while Daniel went 71, 84, 74 and 82. They weren’t 55+ point players until they were 25 years old.
Patrick Marleau’s tallied 32, 45, 40, 52 and 44 points his first five years. The next two years he had 57 points and it was in his eighth year (after lockout) that he became a 34-goal-86-point man. He had a strange 10th season dipping down to 48 points before bouncing back with a career-high 38 goals. Marleau played as an 18-year-old, but he was 26 before he tallied more than 60 points.
Henrik Zetterberg is considered one of the games best players, but he didn’t become a proven scorer until he was 26. He was drafted 210th overall in 1999, but his first year in Detroit was 2002/2003 when he was 23. Three years later he exploded with 85 points.
TOP TEN PICKS AREN’T GUARANTEES
Many top-ten first rounder forwards never become 80-point players, and even their best seasons still occur after many years in the league.
The top ten in 1993 had varying degress of success. First overall pick, Alexandre Daigle is remembered more for his nurse outfit than his on-ice exploits. The Human Rake is a legit star, Chris Gratton was taken third and he had two 62-point seasons, but ended up averaging 16 goals and 40 points. Paul Kariya was an instant star scoring 50 goals in his first full season. The 5th pick, Rob Niedermayer had one 20 goal season, but he is basically a 34 point checker. Viktor’s Kozlov’s best season was his 6th when he was 26 years old and he racked up 70 points, but he couldn’t maintain that. He played 897 regular season games before he registered ONE playoff point. Former Oiler, Jason Arnott taken 7th, is a rare exception. He scored 33 goals as a rookie, but hasn’t surpassed that since. He’s had twelve 20+ goal seasons, and is considered a consistent, but not spectacular, player.
Radek Bonk was the 3rd pick in 1994 but the best season he could produce in five years was 16 goals and 35 points. His next three seasons were his best at 60, 59 and 70 before he became a solid defensive player who averaged 24 points a year his final four seasons in the NHL.
Shane Doan was taken 7th overall in 1995 and his most productive season, 78 points, was his 12th season when he was 32. He did score 30 goals two years early and it took him five years to surpass 50 points.
J.P Dumont was taken 3rd in 1996 and his 459 points is the most of any player taken that year. The past three seasons at the age of 29, 30, 31 he scored 66, 72 and 65 points. Those are his most productive seasons.
David Legwand was the 2nd pick in 1998, but after nine years he is barely a second line point producer. He didn’t score 20 goals or produce 50 points in any of his first six seasons, and his 7th season with 27 goals and 63 points is his best to date. He plunged back to 42 and 44 point seasons, and this year he has 14 points in 26 games. At this point he has averaged 15 goals and 41 points in nine seasons.
1999 had eight forwards drafted in the top ten, but outside of the Sedins, none have lived up to their draft spot. Patrik Stefan (1st), Pavel Brendl (4th), Tim Connolly (5th) Kris Beech (7th), Taylor Pyatt (8th) and Jamie Lundmark (9th) aren’t what you’d consider top-ten picks. Connolly has been plagued by injuries, so he gets a bit of an asterisk.
Scott Hartnell was taken 6th in 2000 and scored two goals and 16 points as an 18-year-old. His next five seasons produced totals of 41, 34, 33, 48 and 39 points. Yet somehow the Flyers signed his to a six-year, 24 million dollar deal. In his eighth year he scored 30 goals and 60 points and he was 26.
These are just a few examples of top-picks who never become big scorers, or star players who took seven or eight years before becoming top-end scorers. The point is while many potential stars become proven stars instantly like Dany Heatley, Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne and Ilya Kovalchuk the odds are many will take six or seven years before, if ever, they become proven scorers.
No one can realistically project what type of scorer Gilbert Brule, Sam Gagner or Andrew Cogliano will become based on what they have done to date, because the odds are that their first three seasons won’t reflect what type of scorers they become.
ICE WOMEN OF THE WEEK
With the Oilers hitting the Sunbelt state this coming week, I thought it would be fitting to showcase former Tampa Bay Ice Women, Aleesha, who I’m guessing has heard many offside comments in her time, but all I can say is good work.
Earlier this week TSN.ca had a poll asking readers to vote on who was the greatest Montreal Canadien ever. What the hell was the point? Of course Maurice Richard won. I’d expect an asinine poll like this to happen in a classroom, not on major website. Who did you think would win, Patrick Roy? I can’t wait until they ask who was the greatest Oiler of all-time?
There could be some great debate if you asked who was the greatest Leaf, Canuck or Flame? Those results would be interesting. For my money I’d say Tim Horton, Pavel Bure and Al MacInnis.
LEADERS THROUGH THE WEEK
Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.
21: Marian Gaborik
19: Patrick Marleau (five this week)
18: Dany Heatley (none this week), Alex Ovechkin
17: Sidney Crosby (five this week), Steven Stamkos and Jarome Iginla
15: Dustin Penner, Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Milan Michalek and Ryan Malone
32: Joe Thornton (six this week)
25: Brad Richards and Ryan Getzlaf
24: Tomas Kaberle
23: Martin St. Louis and Paul Stastny (five this week)
22: Mike Green
21: Nicklas Backstro and Nik Antropov
20: Vinny Prospal and Ryan Kesler
39: Thornton (six points this week)
33: Marleau, Crosby, Corey Perry and Anze Kopitar
32: Heatley and B. Richards.
30: Ovechkin, Parise, Penner, Henrik Sedin, Stastny, Getzlaf
***Anze Kopitar had no points this week, and only has one in the past two weeks. Do you think he misses Ryan Smyth???***
+17: Matt Carle and Parise
+16: Pavel Kubina
+14: Nik Antropov
+13: Chris Pronger and Ryan O’Reilly and Ovechkin
+12: Travis Zajac and Jay Bouwmeester
+11: Alex Goligoski, Tobias Enstrom, Brian Pothier, Jonathon Toews, Curtis Glencross and Penner
*** Rod Brind’Amour still leads for the Green Jacket with an atrocious -19. Rick Nash was +5 this past week and now sits at -6.***
9: Heatley and Gaborik
7: Stamkos and Teemu Selanne
6: Kovalchuk, Milan Hejduk, Scott Hartnell, Rich Peverley and Andrew Brunette
5: Sixteen players tied including Penner and Iginla
104: Stephane Robidas
100: Ryan Callahan
94: Cal Clutterbuck
90: Chris Neil
89: Dustin Brown
87: Matt Greene
84: Ryan Malone and Scott Nichol
82: Brooks Orpik
81: David Backes and Brendan Morrow
114: Parise (first week all season Ovechkin doesn’t lead)
113: Ovechkin (only one shot this week, but was hurt)
107: Jeff Carter and Nash (seventeen shots this week)
104: Henrik Zetterberg
101: Sidney Crosby
100: Dustin Brown
96: Radim Vrbata
95: Michael Cammalleri and Vinny Lecavalier
****Lecavalier only has five goals on 95 shots. ****
This has nothing to do with hockey, but Jesper Parnevik’s former Nanny is Elin Woods, and Parnevik was not happy with Mr. Woods’ transgressions that came to light this week.
“I would be especially sad about it since I’m kind of — I really feel sorry for Elin — since me and my wife were at fault for hooking her up with him. We probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I would probably need to apologize to her and hope she uses a driver next time instead of the 3-iron. It’s a private thing of course…"But when you are the guy he is, the world’s best athlete, you should think more before you do stuff … And maybe not just do it, like Nike says."
I love how Parnevik puts in the Nike dig at the end… Awesome.