ONCE MORE TO THE WOOD SHED

Some things show up in a regular rotation, I guess they roll around in people’s minds and then take on a life of their own. Take Jordan Eberle and his projected point total. Man there’s been too much written on that subject. Allow me to add to the pile.

A word reasonable expectations. RE is designed to take all of the bias out of an argument and plant us in the ‘field of normal’ where we can safely discuss what is reasonable. In his latest article at Cult of Hockey, David Staples re-opens the Jordan Eberle point total discussion, linking to my RE on Eberle and also discussing Tyler Dellow’s estimate (which is similar to my estimation and can assure you was done independently of my own RE).

A few words about David Staples. David takes a lot of heat from many people, but I’m not one of them. Staples has enjoyed an interesting and varied career in the newspaper business and I’d guess he’s seen and heard enough during that time to both write several interesting books and check himself into a sanitarium. Credit to him for being a productive member of society.

I’d like to take one item from the article:

  • David Staples:  All that said, there is a certain class of players — I refer to refer to them as the NHL’s super snipers — who defy the general trend. They put up high shooting percentages year after year.  Steve Stamkos is the most outstanding example of this kind of player. In the last three years, Stamkos has shot 17.2, 16.5 and 19.8 per cent. Does anyone expect Stamkos to crash to 10 or 11 per cent? I doubt it.

Here’s the trouble I have with David’s statement: we didn’t and don’t have three seasons of “established levels of ability” in one league from Eberle in order to project him into the stratosphere. He doesn’t have shooting percentages of 17.2, 16.5 and 19.8 in the NHL over three seasons. We have two NHL seasons, an AHL half season and his final junior season in order to project him.

I’m not on the “shooting percentage” train as much as others, for me its all about the Bill James established level of ability. Allow me to use NHLE for Eberle’s final junior season and this AHL season (using the AHL metric we used last night):

  • Eberle at 19 NHLE: 82, 22-24-46 .561ppg
  • Eberle at 20 NHL: 69, 18-25-43 .623ppg
  • Eberle at 21 NHL: 78, 34-42-76 .974ppg
  • Eberle at 22 NHLE: 82, 33-33-66 .805ppg

That’s using .3 for his final WHL season and .55 for this AHL season as per Desjardins and Tulsky, respectively. Now, let’s go back to my RE: 75, 24-31-55 .733 looks reasonable along the current line, that’s not a crazy wobble from his current number and gives greater weight to his 21-year old season than the rookie NHL season and his final year junior.

RE talks about reasonable. That’s always been the point. When we discuss this, I understand that it feels like it is personal, but it isn’t. Honest. I love Jordan Eberle’s game, its the crowning glory in the MBS draft record and you know what I think of MacGregor.

Jordan Eberle is a fine young player. I think we should be thrilled with him if he scores 55 points. That I believe to be reasonable. If he scores 90, music!

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31 Responses to "ONCE MORE TO THE WOOD SHED"

  1. regwald says:

    But what do you think his career shooting % will be ?

    just kidding …

    I would like to call you out on your 55 pt target, but I do feel you are being reasonable …

  2. daryl says:

    I agree with your assessment. I believe other folks are getting caught up in a couple of items:

    1. focusing on the word “expectation” instead of “reasonable”
    – I have great expectations for Eberle. Maybe no 90, but above 55. I’d be pretty jazzed with 70. Those are my expectations of him, but if you do the analysis, why would that be considered reasonable? If a random player scores 20 points one year and 60 the next, some peoples expectations might be 100 (based on the curve), 40 (based on the average), 60 (try to repeat last year), or even 20 (crash to the previous year). All those could be considered expectations, and we’d probably have a good debate about it if we knew who the player was. What is REASONABLE for this player? I like your analysis, and would need to look at years prior to these two as well as other stats for him and the team before presenting any number that would not be termed an OPINION of my expectations.

    2. Interpretation of Reasonable
    The Stamkos example is a good one – no one is saying a 20% shooting percentage is unreasonable and he’ll crash back. That’s a total red herring IMO. If a player posts numbers like Stamkos year over year over year, “reasonable” trends up pretty close to that number for him. Its those guys with career shooting percentages of 5 who post a 15 that will have their reasonble numbers curtailed.

  3. Wolfie says:

    The funny thing about projecting players from the AHL to the NHL is that some players take their offence with them and some leave it behind. I think we can err on the high side with Eberle because he will be afforded the same opportunities at the NHL level as he’s getting in the AHL. Opportunity isn’t the only reason why Eberle should continue to have success once the NHL returns. He is able to create space for himself in the NHL and that has been magnified in the AHL.

    I think Gabe’s projections are fantastic but I also know that they are an average. I think that in using Gabe’s formulas it drags Eberle’s numbers down to the average. I don’t think Eberle is average and I don’t think anyone else here does either. In my opinion anything less than 60pts in a season would be disappointing from either Eberle or Hall. Almost no one scores 90 anymore so if Eberle one day manages to reach that milestone he’ll be in the conversation for the Hart trophy.

    The more Eberle shows us the more it says that he’s an above average shooter and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  4. the_Fab_5 says:

    I think people wanna know “why” is 55 points reasonable? Is there a part of his game that shows less offense?
    Hall has never had a 55 point season yet you projected “reasonable” for him at 66 points (if I remember)

    To me, Eberle is a PROVEN contributor to offense so to expect a 20 point drop is unreasonable to me

  5. LMHF#1 says:

    Isn’t the point of being the player analyst type to be ahead of the curve rather than knowing the same as everyone else though? I get the 3 years, but at that stage, everyone can see what you’ve got.

  6. spoiler says:

    LT, if you are trying to be reasonable, why are you using Tulsky and .55? What good reason is there to use that number? Even Tulsky can’t provide one, nor has reasonable debate been allowed on the subject. Not like you to jump on the first bus that comes along.

  7. daryl says:

    the_Fab_5,

    How is Eberle “PROVEN” to the point that saying a 20 point drop is unreasonable? He’s off the pace of last year using AHL equiv numbers that I think may not pass muster this year.

  8. blackdog says:

    Why do you hate Jeff Petry and Jordan Eberle.

  9. Wolfpack says:

    blackdog: Why do you hate Jeff Petry and Jordan Eberle.

    Don’t forget Smid. :)

    Eberle has always reminded me a lot of Ray Whitney. Whitney topped out a couple of times at 77 points but he never even broke 60 points in a season until he was 25 or something. I understand realistic expectations but regardless, I could not help but be disappointed in a 55 point season if Eberle was healthy all year.

  10. the_Fab_5 says:

    daryl,

    he’s also leading the whole AHL in points…is that not good enough? has he not proven AT EVERY LEVEL that he’s basically a PPG player? wasn’t his shooting % unsustainable?

    what about Schultz? what was his projected AHL total based on his NCAA season? I bet he’s blowing the doors off that

    what about Hall, wasn’t he supposed to score buckets of goals and get min. assistsin the AHL? seems the opposite

    stats only tell half the story

  11. VOR says:

    Some of the posters here are raising excellent points. Spoiler, Wolfe, etc. are right that we need to challenge both the idea that averages apply to individuals and challenge statistical analyses that present averages without ranges and distributions. Most do not even give us a median.

    Let me give an example. There seems to be a growing consensus that you should not waste draft choices, at least not early rounders on third line player types. You can always pick them up in trade or free agency. The correct strategy is always to take the scorer since it is failed scores who end up in this role.

    I took all the guys who played third line minutes in the NHL last year and looked at first their draft pedigree then their scoring in year of draft. The average draft ranking for third line players who were drafted is 65. The average goals in the year of draft is 29. So the averages tell us the way to get a third liner is to take a mediocre scorer high in the third round. Then be patient since on average 66 percent end up with a different team than drafted them.

    The range for draft ranking of NHL third liners is 2 OV to 265 OV. The range for scoring is from 58 to 9. Then there are the 6 guys doing this job who were never drafted. I hope that shows why the averages alone don’t tell the tale.

    That said, while LT usually is a bit too conservative his over all ability to nail it with his reasonable projections series is well established. Even if his mathematical arguments lack a sound basis his gut instincts have to be respected. He deserves great credit for being able to damp down his own obvious hopes and dreams and stay rooted in the likely not the possible.

  12. jp says:

    spoiler:
    LT, if you are trying to be reasonable, why are you using Tulsky and .55? What good reason is there to use that number? Even Tulsky can’t provide one, nor has reasonable debate been allowed on the subject. Not like you to jump on the first bus that comes along.

    Not sure if there are any specifics to back the .55 number up, but I assume the rationale is that with lots of NHLers in the A this year it’s a stronger league than usual. Due to this the established Desjardins number of .46 (or .47 or whatever it is) is too low, and should be bumped up some. .55 sounds “reasonable” to me, but obviously is still something of a guess (as it always is to a large extent).

    In general I love what the RE series tries to do. There are very good reasons for thinking that Eberle may regress some from last years point total, it’s just a question of how much (he could still improve on it too of course). I personally think/hope Eberle will score somewhere in the 65 pts range when there’s NHL hockey again, but that doesn’t take anything away from the RE. The whole point of the RE is to TRY to project future results based on past results but also taking into account luck and the possibility of a players role changing. Tempering unreasonable expectations for players that are based too heavily on recent performance, luck and saw him good/bad. It’s a great exercise, and I think we do benefit from it.

  13. Protagonist says:

    I know this is sort of off topic but it’s been sort of bothering me and it’s loosely related to the subject of shooting percentages: Is Magnus Pajaarvi a taller Andrew Cogliano?

    I ask this because I’m remembering the quote where Eberle said something to the effect that he’s not one of those players that screams down the wing and shoots it on net or other low-percentage opportunities. That got me thinking that it’s exactly what Andrew Cogliano does, and the same thing that we’ve seen Magnus do throughout his career. Both are also solid defensively, with good instincts and work ethic, and both have wheels to spare. I think you can make a case for both having relatively stone-ish hands as well, which leaves not a lot to separate them other than a passport and 3 inches.

  14. dessert1111 says:

    I like the RE series and agree on most points, but can’t say I do on Eberle. I think 55 would be an unreasonable number, based on what we know. So for me at least, I’m not disagreeing on the terms you’ve outlined — I understand reasonable, I really do — I just don’t agree with what you assess to be reasonable in this case, which is perhaps the same issue that other people are having.

    That being said, I appreciate the series and the arguments you’ve put forth: they are something to think about, even if we don’t come to the same conclusions.

  15. Woodguy says:

    The lockout must be near the end because Smid sprained his knee.

    Smid back in Oil Country

    Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ladislav Smid has left Czech Extraliga team Liberec after sustaining a knee injury.

    Smid, 26, returned to Edmonton to have the knee examined, though the Oilers made it clear Smid was looked at by local doctors, not the team’s medical staff.

    The injury has been diagnosed as a sprain and there is talk Smid could return to the Czech Republic following the holiday break.

    Smid had discovered an offensive flair prior to the injury. In 22 games for Liberec he scored 2G-12A-14PTS — solid production, considering his single-season high for points in the NHL is 15.

    LInky: http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2012/12/19/injury-notes-edmontons-smid-leaves-czech-team-minnesotas-spurgeon-recovering-well/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Even when there are no Oilers, you can still say “Oh those Oilers”

  16. Ducey says:

    blackdog: Why do you hate Jeff Petry and Jordan Eberle.

    Petry beat out Cody Wild. Eberle beat out MAP and Trukhno.

    God help the guy who beats out Gernat (who looks like he will be back mid Jan)

  17. Lucinius says:

    Except that its Smid.

    C’mon.

    Any day that he doesn’t impale himself on his stick is a good day.

    The man has the survival instincts of a dodo bird. Its a miracle he hasn’t had career ending injuries every single year he’s played.

    I’m a huge fan of Smid, but yeah. Sprained knee? Shit, I’ll take it. I half expect to read a report that he died of complications of banana peel on the floor.

  18. DeadmanWaking says:

    Clearly “reasonable” is a wide target for Eberle given these seasons. While 55 is reasonable, 60 is certainly not unreasonable.

    Without including the current-season NHLE, what would the number be? I’d find it pretty hard to justify putting forward a higher number ignoring his current NHLE when he’s leading the AHL scoring race, regardless of his current scoring pace.

    Spezza (who won the AHL scoring race in a lock-out year around the same age) goes 80, 32-85-117 (1.46) on the Binghamton Senators then 68, 19-71-90 (1.32) the next season back in Ottawa for a Spezza-NHLE of 0.90.

    We already know Eberle’s game is not exposed moving up to a higher level. This argues that 0.55 is awfully conservative for the high tail.

    I get 60. This is completely meaningless, however, if I don’t predict anything else. One can only measure skill against an entire portfolio of reasonable predictions, year over year. There’s a lot of us around here harassing the driver with back-of-the-headrest projections.

    I’ve only followed Staples for about a year over at Cult. I wouldn’t have guessed he was a controversial figure from his recent writings. I can usually distinguish Bruce, Staples, and Willis in less than a paragraph without seeing their bylines. Willis has started to relax a bit lately and occasionally comes across more like Bruce than he used to, without becoming in any way a Bruce clone. (In my books, Bruce emulation is good emulation.)

    There is something vaguely brusque or gruff in Staples’ writing that does sound like a man who recalls being shot at in a war zone from more than one direction at the same time.

    Oh, look: Jordan Eberle Named Top Canadian World Juniors Player of the Past 40 Years

    Now I get 65.

  19. hunter1909 says:

    I don’t follow scoring trends, but Eberle looks set to be next year’s break out player to bet to win on an each way bet; along with Hall, RNH/Yakupov/Justin Schultz.

    When was the last time Oilers had 5 elite players all under 23 years old?

    Eberle strikes me as having a Dany Heatley type trajectory. What kind of car does he drive?

  20. FPB94 says:

    I think a lot of people forget how young some kids are, how life is. I’m with your prediction LT (been a while heh?), I think he’l regress a bit… cause shit happens in life. He’l have a fine year, but I guess like they say in baseball ”he’s due” for some wabbling (even tough relatively to his age it’l be nothing).

    If he just continues to skyrocket then we’ll know just how great Jordan Eberle is. If not he’l be just one damn good hockey player.

  21. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    QOT is a huge factor here. How much better would Harti’s numbers be if he played serious ES minutes and #1 PP alongside RNH, Hall and Schultz?

    One guy will stand out when playing in a league inferior to his ability. Each of these guys is playing considerable time with 3 other such talents.

    All of the numbers are inflated. Good thing too as that is a reasonable expectation of this group playing together in the A.

  22. spoiler says:

    Let me clarify my stance on the .55 NHLE for this season, and maybe someone smarter and statsier than me can add to the discussion, like VOR above.

    Last time I checked (and it’s been about a month) AHL scoring was projecting to be higher than past recent years. If overall scoring is higher, there are more points available for everyone.

    If AHL scoring is up, and everything else is generally equal, then NHLE actually comes down. I know this might seem counter-intuitive, but really it is not.

    AHL points is the denominator in Gabe’s NHLE function. If it increases then the number it generates is obviously going to be smaller.

    I think a claim could be made that the injection of NHL players might lead to a two-tiered NHLE. For example, the NHLE for Eberle and Pitlick would be different due to Pitlick being forced down the roster and away from scoring situations. I also think a claim could be made that a thus far AHL player like Hartikainen, who, if he was to play with NHLers all season in the A, would actually have an exaggerated NHLE.

    But one thing I feel fairly certain about, is that if the A has had increased scoring, a blanket NHLE of .55 is totally incorrect, and certainly shouldn’t be applied to top level players in the A this year, like Eberle. Pitlick, maybe.

    What say you folks?

  23. rickithebear says:

    Lt:
    Your resistance to sustainable shooting % is refected in your belief all shots are the same.

    You know an analysis of shot location and type yeilded a large variance in shot success.

    look at the video of eberles goals:
    To the net in tight. it is quite amazing!

    When you are taking 15% to 20% shots, a 17% shooting % is not unexpected.

    After reviewing the videos, t
    he corsi is flawed group
    will gladly take an admitance that there is a difference
    as an early Xmas present. ????????????

  24. maudite says:

    All I can think of everytime I read an article on Eberle is that I almost hope they trade him somehow. Not that I want him traded but I think the entire city would revolt and we might finally clear out the whole management team. Tough sacrifice but in the long run it likely pays off lol.

  25. stevezie says:

    maudite,

    I understand your frustration, but you’re basically saying, “I hope we get a terrorist attack so we can be galvanized enough to prevent terrorist attacks.”

  26. wuthering says:

    So if the Sedin twins, who both have been near the 100 point mark recently, signed AHL contracts, their reverse NHLE AHL point totals would have to be around 180 points–if one were to try and predict a return to their previous NHL totals. This seems pretty far-fetched; though maybe I’m missing something? The AHL is a very good league with pretty good goal-tending. .55 seems pretty low.

  27. FastOil says:

    For me the thing to remember is that very few players post really high scoring rates season after season. Only the truly elite (those with the skill and commitment to live hockey 24/7) do that, and they are few and far between. Imagine the effort that takes.

    Most “top” players are along these lines if you look through NHL counting stats yearly. Health, luck, TOI, QOC vary for nearly everyone based on these same things and management choices for them personally as well as the others on the team. We don’t see many Gretzky or Lemieux type players that can simply overwhelm the the other best players in the world.

    I think it is safe to say that Mr. Eberle is a very good, very talented, and committed player, who I am happy to have on the Oilers. The main thing for me is that I anticipate he will be productive and will find ways to score when it counts.

  28. VOR says:

    rickithebear,

    Where you shoot from is only one small variable in whether or not you score. I know you can’t see that. I gather you have never played hockey seriously. In my fifties and years away from my prime as goaltender if it is just me and Ebs on the ice and he can only shoot from one of your mythical points on the ice, no puck movement, no dekes, he isn’t going to score until I get tired. Really man, do you have any idea how good even the worst AHL goaltenders are?

    So things that are more important than where you shoot from:

    -where the goaltender is, generally speaking an empty net is somewhat easier to score on than when Devan Dubnyk has come to the top of his crease and you can’t even guess where the flipping net is anymore
    -what the angle is – it is much harder to score when you are square to the goaltender – thus Lidstrom floating along the blueline changing the angle
    -how well the goaltender has judged that angle (despite what you think goaltenders do actually move)
    -how much you have made the goaltender move before taking that shot – probably the single most important part of the equation
    -whether the backcheckers have all picked up their man – 2 on none is really much harder than 2 on 2 to stop
    -whether or not the goaltender is screened
    -how hard the shot is moving
    -does the puck have motion (I get people who have never faced a 100mph slapshot don’t get that it is still easy to stop, a 75 mph wrist shot where the player partly fanned and it has been tipped twice is about a thousand times harder to stop)
    -is the goaltender screened (yes I know I already said it) – goaltenders have been known to scream at D-men who stupidly get in the way of shots they don’t need to – it is bad enough when they let the opposition do it it is just moronic when they do it
    -does the goaltender have to cross the crease to make the stop
    -what the goaltender had for breakfast that day
    -how tired the goaltender is
    -how many guys are parked in the crease
    -how many shots the goaltender has faced that game and that week and that month and that year and throughout their career
    -skill of the shooter (Eberle doesn’t score because of where he is but because of who he is. In motion he is pure poetry, that in close top shelf move is super human, very hard to go roof from there)
    -opportunity cost (Ask Craig Simpson if getting cross checked in the back repeatedly is fun. If the opportunity cost is too great then scoring is nearly impossible.)

  29. lihui815 says:

    LT: A couple different things.

    1. I don’t think that Eberle’s lack of a body of work should be held against him. I have seen various people argue that Eberle cannot be compared to Stamkos since Eberle has not had three seasons of consistently high shooting percentages. While I agree that Stamkos cannot be used to justify that E will not regress, I don’t agree that this is a good argument that E will regress either. At this point we simply do not know.

    2. If the argument is that in the absence of more complete individual information, it is useful to assume that all players, E included, will be more likely to be similar to the average player than an outlier like Stamkos, so for the sake of making a numeric prediction E’s achievements are tempered by what’s expected for the average player (possibly influenced by the fact that he was a late first rounder and whatever other pattern he happens to fit), then I can buy the 55 pts. But I have yet to read anything to make this argument explicit. Mostly I have seen the implication that because E has not had a long career, his past achievements must be unsustainable, which is as much a fallacy as ignoring league average shooting % and the law of large numbers.

    3. I think a point should be made that the “expected” prediction is not all that meaningful without a confidence interval, and I think it’s misleading though likely that the assumed confidence interval is about 90% within a 10 pt range centered around the expected value. Actually, it’s more likely that most people don’t consider confidence intervals at all but will instinctively discredit a prediction if it’s say 15 points off. This is silly because folks discuss prospects all the time using terms like “solid but low ceiling” or “high risk high reward” all the time without explicitly realizing what they’re saying about a kid’s expected output versus their likely range of output. I think it would be a lot more illuminating, not to mention make a lot of people feel better, if you can clarify that while Eberle may suffer a much lower expected value in points (as a percentage of his points last season) compared to Stamkos, he also enjoys a much larger possibility for over-achievement (alas, also for underachievement). I’m just pulling reasonable sounding numbers without doing any analysis, but lets say Stamkos and Eberle have respectively 95 and 55 as their expected point productions, then it’d be more clarifying to add that with 80% confidence Stamkos will score between 90 to 100 pts, and with 80% confidence Eberle will score between 45 and 70 points (the probability distribution also doesn’t have to be symmetrical).

  30. daryl says:

    the_Fab_5,

    I’m way impressed with Schultz, don’t get me wrong. Did you have what he’s doing so far this year as your “reasonable” expectation of him? I sure didn’t. Based on the performance so far this year, is your reasonable expectation of Schultz for next year in the NHL a PPG? Mine still isn’t.

    LTs reasonable for Eberle is still .733 PPG – that’s effn good IMO and I don’t think its unreasonable.

  31. Bruce McCurdy says:

    I started watching Eberle at the U-18s before Oilers drafted him, and I’m trying to remember a time since then that he merely “achieved” let alone “under-achieved”. Maybe that day is right around the corner, but it’s pretty hard to see it from here. Whatever level of competition — U-18, U-20, World Senior, WHL, NHL, AHL — all he does is pump in the goals and points. It’s uncanny, but it’s also consistent.

    @DMW: Thanks.

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