Crunching Numbers: 2011-2012 Player Projections


Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Gus projected Nikolai Kulemin as Toronto’s top scorer for the upcoming season in his 2011-2012 Maple Leaf player projections. Now it’s time for me to share my projections, but I’ll be taking a bit of a different approach. In an effort to make this as systematic as possible, I’m going to use a makeshift formula that I’ve created myself to take into account a few determining factors.

I’m going to start by placing value on a player’s last three years of production, with the more recent years worth more than the earlier years. Year 1 will make up 20% of the total, Year 2 will make up 30% of the total and Year 3 (the most recent year) will make up 50% of the total. This helps take into account a player’s improvement while also buffering for the possibility of overvaluing a career season.

If a player is 27 years of age or younger, I will assume a natural progression and increase their production by 10%.

If a player is between the ages of 28 to 32, they are likely in the peak of their career and their production will remain constant.

If a player is 33 years of age or older, I will assume a natural decline and decrease their production by 10%.

Let’s use Phil Kessel (23 years old) for example.

Year 1 (2008-2009)= 70 GP, 36 G, 24 A  x 20% = 14 GP, 7.2 G, 4.8 A

Year 2 (2009-2010)= 70 GP, 30 G, 25 A x 30% = 21 GP, 9 G, 7.5 A

Year 3 (2010-2011) = 82 GP, 32 G, 32 A x 50% = 41 GP, 16 G, 16 A

Previous Production: 76 GP, 32.2 G, 28.3 A

Applying the 10% Correction:

Projected Production: 76 GP, 35 G, 31 A

Applying the same mathematical steps, here are my player projections for the key offensive players for the 2011-2012 Maple Leaf team:

Phil Kessel: 35 goals and 31 assists for 66 points in 76 games played

Tim Connolly: 15 goals and 35 assists for 50 points in 66 games played

Mikhail Grabovski: 24 goals and 30 assists for 54 points  in 74 games played

Nikolai Kulemin: 25 goals and 25 assists for 50 points in 78 games played

Joffrey Lupul: 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points in 51 games played

Clarke MacArthur: 21 goals and 32 assists for 53 points in 80 games played

Dion Phaneuf: 11 goals and 27 assists for 38 points in 73 games played

John Michael Liles: 7 goals and 33 assists for 40 points in 71 games played

So there it is.

A few thoughts:

Naturally the games played will significantly affect a player’s point totals and it’s very possible that this formula has taken freak injuries too much into account. Only Clarke MacAthur is projected to play 80 games while in reality 4 out of those 6 forwards played 81 games or more last season.

The numbers for Kessel, Connolly, MacArthur, Grabovski and Liles look spot on to me.

Phaneuf and Kulemin could be a little undervalued here as both players improved significantly during the course of the season and produced much better numbers in the second half.

Would love to hear your thoughts.