This is Dire Straits. There are times in life when you absolutely know something is fresh and new, and their “Sultans of Swing” was such a thing. Amid the disco beats, Chicago riding Peter Cetera’s formula to #1, the folkie hangers-on and Rod Stewart selling out by the single came a song that defied radio format. Sultans of Swing was like opening the windows on the first really nice day of spring.
“Reasonable Expectations” for Dire Straits at that time was maybe the Beatles 2.0. Seriously. The band’s story (wikipedia has it all wrong, giving credit to some Warner A&R person in NYC when the song was broken as a demo by a man named Charlie Gillette on Radio One London who also gave the world Graham Parker) added to their unqiue sound meant sky’s the limit. As their career rolled out it was less than that but a world without them would mean a less enjoyable 30 years past.
In the reasonable expectations series just completed, I have the Oilers scoring and giving up about as many goals as Philadelphia did a year ago. There’s still time for them to improve that number (trade for Jay McKee, don’t play Deslauriers) and even if they don’t change a thing you’d have to pick them for the playoffs (I have them third in the division currently but won’t predict it until early October).
I wanted to take a minute and talk about these predictions. They are NOT my personal preferences laid out over the roster, if that were true Horcoff would win the Hart and Gagner would win the scoring championship. No, these are guesses based on established level of ability, player comps and what they did in a specific year (Hemsky’s group take off, for instance) and how the coach might use the talent available to him.
Let’s take Sam Gagner as an example. Here’s his actual 07-08 and my prediction for this season:
- 07-08: 79gp, 13-36-49 (.620)
- 08-09: 78gp, 18-35-53 (.679)
I’ve had a few comments (here an pm’d at HF) regarding that prediction and it isn’t a stretch to say it was the most questioned in the group (Smid’s career path aside). Let me give you an idea about how I came to this conclusion.
The last two “phenom forwards” Edmonton has employed out of the draft (or one season removed) were Jason Arnott and Ales Hemsky. For fun, let’s run their first two seasons and see how much progress each made:
- 78gp, 33-35-68 (.872)
- 42gp, 15-22-37 (.881)
- 59gp, 6-24-30 (.508)
- 71gp, 12-22-34 (.479)
Development isn’t in a straight line, there are bumps and benchings along the way. Injury is also a major concern and consistency is a moving target. Almost bigger than all of that is maturity.
So that’s why I have Gagner (almost) running in place. For the record, I think his maturity and pure skill level make it likely he’ll exceed “reasonable expectations” but that’s an intangible and intangibles are what we’re trying to get rid of in doing this exercise.