Leafs Point Projections: The Rest

Robert Vollman
October 29 2012 04:51PM

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

Nikolai Kulemin

How does Nikolai Kulemin drop from 30 goals and 57 points to just 7 goals and 28 points?  While we can't be completely sure, we do know that losing over two minutes of ice-time per game, almost all of it on the power play, taking just 1.5 shots per game instead of 2.1, and scoring on just a terribly unlucky 6.5% of them instead of a lucky 17.3% are all things that certainly wouldn't help.

Fortunately there are just as many reasons why we can expect the 26-year-old Kulemin to bounce back partway this season.  Prior to the NHL, his 84 points in 142 games in Russia work out to about 40 points over a full NHL season, which is within a point of what his 152 points in 303 NHL games work out to.  Also, the two most popular statistical models place him between 35-37 points.

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 70    7   21   28
VUKOTA    66.9 14.0 20.9 34.8
Best      82   25.4 31.3 56.8
Worst     82   10.3  3.6 13.9
Average   82   15.7 21.2 36.9

Finally, his closest match easily topped 40 era-adjusted points - another Soviet-born winger who broke out with not one but two strong seasons in the mid-90s before his own mysterious shooting percentage tumble from several years at or above 20% to just 6.7% in 1997-98.  In total Andrei Kovalenko had three more seasons (for four teams) at the pre-leap level – the same is reasonable to expect from Kulemin.

Kulemin GP  G  A PTS
Career 303 68 84 152
2010-11 82 30 27  57
2011-12 70  7 21  28

Kovalenko   G   A  PTS
Career 394 104 121 225
1996-97 74  29  26  55
1997-98 59   6  18  24
Next    74  19  22  41

Of course, a lot of Kulemin's offense will depend on him continuing to get an offensive zone boost, and he'll need more power play time and some good linemates.  He also faced the highest Quality of Competition among Leafs forwards last year – normally it's more second-line quality.

Just to wrap up the picture on Kulemin with a few assorted notes, he has gone 6 for 18 on the shoot-out, has been a secondary penalty killing option for the past three years, throws a few hits, and has solid possession numbers.

Keith Aucoin

Listed at only 5'9”, newly signed Keith Aucoin turns 34 on election day, and is unlikely to have a major offensive impact on the team. 

Despite being an AHL scoring machine – his 777 points in 673 AHL games work out to about 43 points in a full NHL season – Aucoin has managed just 37 points in 102 NHL games over parts of seven seasons.  Still, his even-strength scoring rate is a consistent and strong 2.5 points per 60 minutes, even in years when he played just 9-12 games.  Of course, that required sheltered, offensive-minded ice-time (although not very much of it).

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 27    3    8   11
VUKOTA    39.9  4.0  8.5 12.5
Best      82   16.1 32.5 48.6
Worst     82    3.6 10.0 13.6
Average   82   10.9 18.2 29.1

Of Aucoin's ten closest historical matches, two were very close to 20 goals, four managed 20 assists, equally as many didn't even manage 20 points.  Over a full season (which he is unlikely to get) Aucoin could probably score 25-30 points.

Nazem Kadri

Nazem Kadri's 81 points in 92 AHL games work out to around 35 points at the NHL level, taking his age into consideration (just turned 22).  His 19 points in 51 NHL games so far work out to just over 30.  Based on historical precedent there's a roughly even chance Kadri will score 10 goals and 20 assists.

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 21    5    2    7
VUKOTA    38.0  6.9  8.0 14.9
Best      82   10.3 33.3 43.6
Worst     82    3.5  7.2 10.7
Average   82   10.5 18.6 29.1

The good news is that Kadri has gone 3 for 7 on the shoot-out, and has great possession numbers (thanks to sheltered ice-time in the offensive zone against depth competition), draws a strong 1.6-2.2 penalties per 60 minutes, and has enjoyed excellent .941 and .938 save percentages behind him – not common for a Leaf!

The bad news is that his even-strength scoring rate has been 1.4-1.6 points per 60 minutes, which is short of the top-six level, and has been terrible in his secondary role on the power play.  Though listed as a center, took just 15 faceoffs last year, and wins very few.

Jay McClement

Elite penalty killer May McClement averaged 28 points a season in his five years in St. Louis, but just 20 and 17 in the two seasons in Colorado since then.  Since leaving the gateway city his even-strength scoring rate has been just 1.0 points per 60 minutes, and last year was his first season under 100 shots since his rookie season.

Much like in Colorado, McClement is unlikely to get the opportunity to score points in Toronto.  He played under 14 minutes per game his first three seasons, then three just under 17, but back under 14 last year.  His possession numbers are terrible, but that's thanks to the lowest offensive zone starts on his team every year, as low as 34.3% last season.  At the very least, fortunately coach Joe Sacco recently downgraded him from facing the absolutely top-line guys to more depth competition, an approach that is hopefully adopted by Randy Carlyle as well.

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 80   10    7   17
VUKOTA    65.2  7.5  8.3 15.7
Best      82    9.1 21.5 30.6
Worst     82    4.1 10.4 14.5
Average   82    8.6 12.3 20.9

Six of his ten closest historical matches managed 20 points, including his closest historical match: Kevin Adams, another defensive-minded and penalty-killing center for the Leafs, back in the late 90s.  He moved on to Columbus, Florida and finally Carolina where he won the Stanley Cup. 

McClement  G  A PTS
2009-10 82 11 18 29
2010-11 80  7 13 20
2011-12 80 10  7 17

Adams   GP  G A PTS
2000-01 78 11 18 29
2001-02 77  6 11 17
2002-03 77  9  9 18
Next    73 10 12 22

Ian Laperriere and Rich Sutter are two other close (albeit more rugged) historical matches that lend even more confidence to that 21-23 point range.

Matthew Lombardi

An established 50-point player when he received (at least) his second major concussion, which cost him the 2010-11 season, Matthew Lombardi is now a third-liner only.  Acquired with Cody Franson in a Nashville salary dump in the 2011 off-season, Lombardi has served as a secondary penalty killer and had bad even-strength possession numbers despite an offensive zone boost and playing depth lines only.

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 62    8   10   18
VUKOTA    53.8  8.1  9.7 17.8
Best      82   14.5 22.9 37.5
Worst     82    4.2  5.9 10.2
Average   82    7.5 12.4 19.9

Five of his ten closest historical matches were between 16 and 19 points, including former Leaf Billy Harris.  A first overall pick by the Islanders, Billy Harris became a Leaf at around the same age Lombardi is now.  He also wasn't the same after a serious injury (to his shoulder), and didn't last much longer.

Lombardi GP  G  A  PTS
Career  508 97 157 254
2011-12  62  8  10  18

Harris   GP  G   A  PTS
Career  826 172 254 426
1982-83  76   8  13  21
Next     71   6  10  16

Matt Frattin

Matt Frattin played mostly in the offensive zone against third-line competition.  He got a tiny pit of power play time, but wasn't yet trusted on the penalty kill.  The historical comparison system needs more than a single season of NHL data to run a projection, but the VUKOTA system has him pegged for just over 21 points in 57 games, or about 30 in a full season.

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 57    8    7   15
VUKOTA    57.4 10.4 10.4 20.8

Colton Orr

Quite possibly the league's worst hockey player, Colton Orr is ahead of only John Scott and Cam Janssen among active players in points per game (minimum 100 games) with 20 points in 378 games.

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year  5    1    0    1
VUKOTA    33.9  3.3  2.9  6.2
Best      82   12.8 17.0 29.8
Worst     82    2.6  2.6  5.1
Average   82    6.4 11.3 17.7

His closest match is Wayne Van Dorp, a thug winger for the Oilers, Penguins, Blackhawks and Nordiques over 20 years ago.  He played one final NHL season where he earned a modern-day equivalent of 6 points, which the statistical engine unfortunately stretched out to 18 points in 82 games.

Orr     GP G A PTS
2010-11 46 2 0 2
2011-12  5 1 0 1

Van Dorp GP G A PTS
1989-90  61 5 3 8
1990-91   4 1 0 1
Next     24 2 4 6

Mike Brown

Another one of Toronto's near-worthless players, Mike Brown has scored between 4-8 points per season playing against the league's depth lines, pitching in as a secondary penalty killer until last season.  Brown throws a lot of hits, but has terrible possession numbers - although at least has the excuse of being among the bottom-three in offensive zone start percentages both years in Toronto.

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 50    2    2    4
VUKOTA    46.0  3.9  3.8  7.8
Best      82   10.1 20.5 30.6
Worst     82    3.8  0.0  3.8
Average   82    5.6  8.5 14.1

Amazingly two of Brown's closest historical matches scored ten goals.  Seven of the ten were between 9-15 points.

David Steckel

Arguably the league's best faceoff man, taking advantage of the fact that refs are about as lax on enforcing faceoff rules as they are on shootout rules, David Steckel is the type of great moneypuck player that can make a team successful. 

While not an elite penalty killer, Steckel is still quite solid, the big man can throw a lot of hits, and will fight new arrival Jay McClement for the “honour” of the lowest offensive zone start percentage on the team.

Unfortunately there's not nearly as much to be said about Steckel's offense.  With an even-strength scoring rate that drops every year, Steckel scores just 12-19 points per season, thanks in part to a team shooting percentage of just 5.4-5.5% while he's on the ice (over the past two years).

          GP    G   A   PTS
Last Year 76    8    5   13
VUKOTA    58.7  5.9  5.4 11.3
Best      82    7.7 11.7 19.4
Worst     82    0.0  0.0  0.0
Average   82    4.0  6.9 10.9

Though not as large, Dan Hinote is perhaps Steckel's closest historical match. Hinote, source of many of my bad puns and also known for his defense and penalty-killing, played most of his career in Colorado (where he won the Cup), but was in St. Louis at this point.  Hinote played one more season for St. Louis then one in Sweden, then retired.

Steckel  G  A PTS
Career  385 32 40 72
2010-11  76  5  6 12
2011-12  76  8  5 13

Hinote   GP  G A PTS
Career  394 32 43 75
2005-06  73  5  8 13
2006-07  41  5  5 10
Next     58  5  5 10

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 Cam for giving me this guest spot, thanks to all of you for reading, and I hope you found it interesting.

More of Rob Vollman's work


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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