When The Whip Comes Down

I’ve been thinking about the Edmonton Oilers and the importance of a breakout season for young players. The Oilers are a summer away from giving out big paydays to Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano and it occurs to me that if both do well it could be a very expensive (plus Grebeshkov and a few others) rfa season.

I think the odds favor both having career seasons (up to this point) as coach Quinn has a history of getting more offense from his charges and the PP has to be better with coach Fleming in charge. How much should we expect from these fellows? Below is a list of 5×5/60 numbers from various young NHL players aged 19-21 (Gagner and Cogliano’s age last season):

  1. Sidney Crosby (21) 3.00
  2. Phil Kessel (21) 2.82
  3. Bobby Ryan (21) 2.47
  4. Jakub Voracek (19) 2.46
  5. Jonathan Toews (20) 2.40
  6. David Perron (20) 2.32
  7. Niklas Backstrom (20) 2.22
  8. Milan Lucic (20) 2.21
  9. Jordan Staal (20) 2.05
  10. Anze Kopitar (21) 1.99
  11. Michael Frolik (20) 1.94
  12. Patrick Kane (20) 1.90
  13. Bryan Little (21) 1.87
  14. Patrick Berglund (20) 1.83
  15. Guillaume Latandresse (21) 1.80
  16. Kyle Okposo (20) 1.71
  17. Peter Mueller (20) 1.70
  18. Sam Gagner (19) 1.69
  19. Andrew Cogliano (21) 1.69
  20. James Neal (21) 1.67
  21. Mikael Boedker (19) 1.60
  22. Martin Hanzal (21) 1.55

I may have missed one or two and did cut off the GP at a certain level, but these are most of the really good forwards who played in the NHL last season at ages 19, 20 and 21. A few questions:

  1. How many of the 19-year olds ahead of Sam Gagner (read: Jakub Voracek) on this list played either softer minutes or had superior linemates?
  2. If we know that the Hawks kids numbers a year ago (Toews was 2.17, Kane 2.32 in 07-08) can we expect a similar range for the Oilers kids next season?
  3. How much of the gap between the Oilers kids and Kessel/Lucic belongs to Marc Savard?
  4. Is Bryan Little overrated?
  5. How underrated is David Perron?
  6. Is there anything in these numbers that suggests Gagner or Cogliano will take a step forward this season without far superior linemates?

It looks to me like many of the young men on this list are riding shotgun with famous NHL forwards.

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