Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Setting Them Up To Fail

Oh hi, didn't see you there.  Bet you didn't expect this; me? Writing? Crap?  Guess you did expect that last one.  Today I was setting upon a chair, as I am wont to do while at work, and was thinking about how freakin' fantastic last year's rookie crop really was.  3 guys topped 30 goals, 4 more topped 20, 10 in all topped 40 points, 29 had over 20.  Compare that with last years rookies, no 30 goal scorers, 4 had 20, only 5 over 40 points, 21 over 20. Good stuff right?  Right.  But then, being the eternal pessimist I am, also known as a Buffalo Sabres fan, I started thinking about who exactly set themself up to fail.

Then I started thinking about this and couldn't quit laughing.

Ok, back on track.  Let's take a look at the top 15 rookie point getters from last season; just look at the graph (that will probably be terribly formatted).



 Player
Team
 Pos
 GP
 G
 A
P
1
Jeff Skinner
 CAR
 C
82
31
32
63
2
Logan Couture
 SJS
 C
79
32
24
56
3
Michael Grabner
 NYI
 R
76
34
18
52
4
Tyler Ennis
 BUF
 L
82
20
29
49
5
Derek Stepan
 NYR
 C
82
21
24
45
6
Jordan Eberle
 EDM
 R
69
18
25
43
7
Kevin Shattenkirk
 COL, STL
 D
72
9
34
43
8
Taylor Hall
 EDM
 L
65
22
20
42
9
Brad Marchand
 BOS
 C
77
21
20
41
10
Cam Fowler
 ANA
 D
76
10
30
40
11
P.K. Subban
 MTL
 D
77
14
24
38
12
Bryan Bickell
 CHI
 L
78
17
20
37
13
John Carlson
 WSH
 D
82
7
30
37
14
Magnus Paajarvi
 EDM
 L
80
15
19
34
15
Jamie McBain
 CAR
 D
76
7
23
30

Oh it's so bulgy, it's like a moose.  Anyways; top 15 in point scoring among rookies there.  Now let's look back to the rookie crop from 2009-2010 where Tyler Myers won the Calder.




Here we've got the 2009-2010 rookie stats juxtaposed against the 2010-2011 follow up campaign.  LEGEND: If the box is yellow the number is greater than the rookie season, if red, then it's less, if blue, then it's identical. Got it? Good.

You can see a lot of the top tier forward prospects, those whose ice time increased or maintained top line status, saw their numbers continue to grow with their development.  Duchene, Tavares, Benn, Anisimov, Bozak, and Kane all saw their numbers increase with the jump to greater ice time with greater linemates.

Where is there a slump?  Outside of Erik Karlsson, the defensemen languished with their increased role and ice time.  Hell, Del Zotto found himself in Connecticut part of the season.  Without being protected by some vets, and in Myers and Del Zottos cases, sometimes flat out exposed, really saw a shift in their production.

More in depth? OK.  Tyler Myers was slated on the 1B pair with Henrik Tallinder during his rookie season, not necessarily playing night in and night out against the oppositions greatest talent.  In fact, Myers' "Quality of Teammates" fell from .182 to .078, while his Quality of Competition stats still stayed above 0 (one of only 2 Sabres defensemen in 2011 with such numbers).  In addition to that, he regularly got  PP time, which was diminished when the Sabres brought in Jordan Leopold as a free agent.  So, look at that, increased responsibility, with weaker teammates, and less PP time, means less results.

Let's take it one more year back.



So here again we see a pretty similar set of circumstances where folks fell back to earth from their rookie year to their sophomore campaign.  Let's specifically just take a look at what happened to Patrik Berglund from 2009 to 2010.

Remember in 2008 - 2009 the St. Louis Blues traded for Alex Steen (for some reason) about a quarter of the way through Berglund's rookie season, creating a crowded dot for the centers in St. Louis, not to mention creating a competition between Berglund and fellow rookie TJ Oshie while Paul Kariya was out with concussion issues.   Oshie won that battle; moving up in 2009 - 2010 to a line with David Backes and Paul Kariya (almost 40% of the time) while Berglund remained on a lower line with Andy McDonald and David Perron.   Also fun to note; Berglund played about 15-20% of his rookie season alongside Brad Boyes who's production dropped from 72 points to 42 during this same time frame.

So I think you get the picture here.  There's a couple of reasons why rookies who seemed so promising are really actually being set up to fail (easy to see in hindsight right?).

1. Decreased ice time due to circumstances uncontrollable (Free agent signings, return from injury)
2. Quality of Competition increases
3. Quality of Teammate decreases
4. Coach's Call

(Well that makes it sound really freakin' simple)

So when you take a look back at the top rookies of 2010-2011, who's poised for a step backwards?

I've got 3 in mind right now.  Michael Grabner, Derek Stepan, and PK Subban.  Why? Boom.

1. Michael Grabner - Grabner had a fantastic run, playing in all situations for the Isles.  So where's the issue?  A full season of Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Okposo pushing him.  Even at only 15 minutes of ice time per night, with the Isles back healthy, Grabner might not get those same opportunities as he did last season after being pulled off waivers.  Not to mention the fact that he doesn't play with Tavares.

2. Derek Stepan  - The Rangers Center situation suddenly got very crowded after July 1.  With Brad Richards and Brandon Dubinsky ahead of Stepan on the depth chart, and comparable statistics to Boyle and Anisimov, there won't be nearly as much ice time to go around, and it won't be with Gaborik or Callahan.

3. PK Subban - I'm far more sure of the above than this selection, but I still think Subban will take a step back.  With Hamrlik and Wisniewski heading out of Montreal, Subban's ice time is certainly going to rise from 4th amongst the D corps.  But, with that, Subban will see his quality of competition rise quite a bit against other teams top lines, so we could definitely see a Tyler Myers effect on his numbers.  Throw in the return of a healthy Andrei Markov, and what that means for Subban's powerplay time, and you've got yourself a recipe for a step back.

Think about it.
 
Fact: BanginPanger is not meant as an insult to the one and only Darren Pang, nor do I claim to be him. The views and opinions presented on BanginPanger are of my own, and no other namesake of the site, the NHL, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, or anyone else.