Reasonable Expectations (Forwards: A Mid-Season Glance)

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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?
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.

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