Each fall–before the season–I write a series called “reasonable expectations.” The idea is to put into words and numbers a line in the sand that represents a solid projection. Take out the bias, the emotion and then find a number.
I’m not certain that it benefits a great deal but there is a certain amount of value (I think) in seeing if the results have been achieved or surpassed by individuals.
A quick point: this isn’t an outer marker projection or even a hopeful one. The idea for the project is the following: should a player better his projected number, we can agree that said player has been better than expected.
Let’s take a look.
- Dustin Penner: Projected-81gp, 35-35-70 (.864). On pace: 82gp, 26-26-52 (.634). Penner is shy of the projection but it’s hard to call him a dissapointment. Healthy and leading the club in points, the difference in the projection versus reality probably has a lot to do with injuries to Hemsky and Horcoff along with a dismal powerplay. Quality NHLer.
- Taylor Hall: Projected-74gp, 20-20-40 (.541). On pace: 82gp, 26-25-51 (.622). Ahead of schedule and tracking very well. I think it’s really important to note that he’s on pace to have a better rookie season than Steven Stamkos. I’m not saying he’s a better prospect, but he’s a very, very good one.
- Ales Hemsky Projected-60gp, 18-48-66 (1.1). On pace: 65gp, 18-40-58 (.892). Not far off the pace, the PP appears to be the culprit here. #83 remains the straw that stirs the offensive drink but he has company. Hopefully he has a healthy 2nd half and it remains completely possible for Hemsky to exceed a point per game.
- Sam Gagner Projected-80gp, 16-37-53 (.663). On pace: 82gp, 18-30-48 (.585). Just off the mark so far, the young man was on target until the injuries arrived. He’s 5 points off the pace and has a good chance to deliver his first 50-point season at age 21. I remain convinced he belongs to the Damphousse/Gilmour family.
- Jordan Eberle Projected-72gp, 12-17-29 (.403). On pace: 70gp, 17-26-43 (.614). Way ahead of the projection, I probably underestimated reasonable. Still, credit where due this young man is the real deal and in many ways has had the most impressive season among Oiler forwards.
- Magnus Pääjärvi Projected-66gp, 12-18-30 (.455). On pace: 80gp, 10-22-32 (.400). Off the pace but enjoying a nice run currently. Although he trails the other two famous rookies in performance this season, you can see this guy is going to have an important role soon. Impressive player.
- Shawn Horcoff Projected-68gp, 13-29-42 (.618). On pace: 61gp, 15-23-38 (.623). A solid match in both performance and health, Horcoff is such an important part of the team. It’s obvious Shawn Horcoff is a quality player.
- Andrew Cogliano Projected-82gp, 10-20-30 (.366). On pace: 82gp, 11-18-29 (.354). Another good match, Cogliano doesn’t take any nights off and had a nice run there before tailing off as the All-star break approached. Renney sees something in him, and I think Cogliano has played quite well this season.
- Ryan Jones Projected-69gp, 10-12-22 (.319). On pace: 82gp, 18-6-24 (.293). This is a solid match, Jones is scoring more than projected but his point total is in line with expectations. I keep wondering if he’s going to be a Dave Hunter/Dave Lumley or a Don Ashby/Ray Cote.
- Linus Omark Projected-25gp, 5-5-10 (.400). On pace: 53gp, 7-15-22 (.415). Another good match, Omark has all kinds of talents we could only know once we saw him play the game. A much wider range of skills than I’d ever given him credit for, he’s still going to have to work hard to stay ahead of all these younger wingers.
- Gilbert Brule Projected-75gp, 18-22-40 (.533). On pace: 67gp, 11-3-14 (.209). You have to feel for this guy. He was coming off a good year and scored the first goal of the season. Now? No one even asks when he’s coming back. Incredible.
- Liam Reddox Projected-None. On pace: 45gp, 0-18-18 (.400). I didn’t project him to play this season. I feel shame. What a wonderful player, I hope they don’t send him down this week but know they will.
- Zack Stortini Projected-66gp, 4-7-11 (.167). On pace: 65gp, 0-8-8 (.123). Man he’s had a bad time of it. HS on opening night, the coach keeps saying things like “Zack gives it a darn good try” like he’s some kind of mascot pretending he’s a player and his most recent fight drew an alarming reaction from the fanbase. You know, he’s not close to being the worst hockey player on this team, right? Right?
- JF Jacques Projected-25gp, 1-1-2 (.080). On pace: 60gp, 6-0-6 (.100). Man. Man o man o man. Boy. Whew. Lordy. Holy crap. Man.
- Colin Fraser Projected-75gp, 8-14-22 (.293). On pace: 82gp, 3-1-4 (.049). I thought he’d be better, but then again I’m sure he did too. Fraser has half a season to show a pulse; if he doesn’t, I suspect he’ll be playing for OKC next season. A free agent MIA.
- Ryan O’Marra Projected-24gp, 1-3-4 (.167). On pace: 42gp, 4-9-13 (.310). He plays better in the NHL than he does in the minors. I think the Oilers love him.
- Steve MacIntyre Projected-36gp, 0-2-2 (.056). On pace: 47gp, 0-3-3 (.064). A nice match.
I think the big stories are Hall and Eberle outrunning their numbers on a sagging team. There’s a lot of talent here, if they can get the PP straightened out there might be some veterans who can post better than expected numbers for the year.