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Avalanche point projections, part 1

Recently, there was a discussion on the HF boards about Paul Stastny's point totals in the upcoming season. That one was followed with a thread on predictions for the rest of the Avs. If you saw my Stastny prediction, you know my opinion is a bit, well, different from the rest of the faithul. I guess as long as I'm pissing people off, I might as well go whole hog and break down my thoughts on the rest of the team.


When I do projections, I look at the 3-year averages of the player and project them out to an 82-game season. For established players in a relatively consistent role (say, Joe Sakic), these numbers are generally pretty accurate. With less-established players (youngsters like Stastny) or guys with undefined roles (Svatos), this becomes a bit tougher. Other factors - like projected playing time - come into play as well.

For the record, my best guess on lines in the fall is

  • Sakic, Smyth, Brunette

  • Stastny, Wolski, Hejduk

  • Arnason, Laperriere, Svatos

  • Guite, Richardson, Rycroft

Defensive pairings have less effect on a player's stats (but time on the powerplay is a huge factor). So, I'm basically just looking to see who the top 6 are (in this case, Hannan, Liles, Leopold, Clark, Skrastins & Sauer).

I'll do this in two (maybe 3 parts). Here's the Top 7 - the guys I think have a good shot at breaking 50 points.

Joe Sakic
Projected: 35 G, 58 A, 93 Pt, +8, 55 PiM
2007: 36 G, 64 A, 100 Pt, +2, 46 PiM
3-year: 34 G, 58 A, 92 Pt, +8, 53 Pim

Sakic's numbers are very consistent. Over the last 3 seasons, his goal totals have been 32, 34 and 36 while his assist totals have been in between 55 and 64. Last season's assist numbers were a bit of a spike over his average, so I don't think he'll quite repeat there, but the drop-off won't be much.

Milan Hejduk
Projected: 37 G, 35 A, 72 Pt, +15, 30 PiM
2007: 35 G, 35 A, 70 Pt, +10, 44 PiM
3-year: 33 G, 38 A, 71 Pt, +15, 31 PiM

Hejduk has scored exactly 35 goals twice in the last three seasons, so I think it's a safe bet to have him in that range again. His 3-year average is 33 goals and 38 assists, and my projections keep pretty close to these numbers.

Andrew Brunette
Projected: 23G, 48 A, 71 Pt, +5, 32 PiM
2007: 27 G, 56 A, 83 Pt, -8, 36 PiM
3-year: 22 G, 43 A, 65 Pt, +1, 32 PiM

Brunette had a career year in '06-'07. Even assuming he stays on the top line with Sakic (a line I think will be bolstered with Ryan Smyth), I don't know that he'll quite reach the lofty 83-point plateau of last year. That's not to say 71 points would be a disappointment; it would still be the 2nd highest point total of his career.

Ryan Smyth
Projected: 40 G, 30 A, 70 Pt, +7, 70 PiM
2007: 71 G, 32 A, 68 Pt, +2, 52 PiM
3-year: 34 G, 35 A, 69 Pt, +3, 65 PiM

Smyth is a bit tougher to forecast. He's coming to a new team and he's had some injury trouble and consistency issues in the past. He doesn't get many assists, so his point totals are largely driven by his goal totals - and those numbers will tend to fluctuate from year to year more than assists. He really could range anywhere from 50 to 80 points, assuming a healthy season (he's actually average 76 games played over the last 3 years). Like most Avalanche fans, I envision Smyth fitting in well with Colorado's offensive system, so I'm putting my projections on the optimistic side.

Wojtek Wolski
Projected: 32 G, 34 A, 66 Pt, +4, 18 PiM
2007: 22 G, 28 A, 50 Pt, +2, 14 PiM

This is my most aggressive projection, considering he scored 50 points last year. Wolski had some issues with consistency (especially in the effort department), but still showed a lot of promise. In the first half of the season, Wolski was on pace for 60 points. He tailed off substantially in the second half, largely due to a concussion after a cheap shot from Calgary's Craig Conroy. With that in mind, I don't think 66 points is much of a stretch...and a big breakout season of 80+ points would not shock me.

Paul Stastny
Projected: 20 G, 45 A, 65 Pt, +6, 48 PiM
2007: 28 G, 50 A, 78 Pt, +4, 42 PiM

I've heard a lot of people use the word "consistency" when explaining why Stastny will match (or top) his rookie-year point totals. And consistency is exactly the reason why I think Staz will drop a bit. Last year, Paul Stastny was consistently a 10-point-per-month player...which would give him abput 65 points for the season. The one exception was his monster 19-point February in the middle of his consecutive point streak. Without that hot streak, Stastny ends up with a point total in the high 60s instead of the high 70s. It's important to remember that 65 points from a 2nd-line center is nothing to sneeze at; if Stastny can reach that mark, the Avalanche will likely be in excellent shape. I do feel that 75-80 points is a bit out of his reach...for now.

John-Michael Liles
Projected: 17 G, 38 A, 55 Pt, +4, 36 PiM
2007: 14 G, 30 A, 44 Pt, E, 24 PiM
3-year: 13 G, 31 A, 45 Pt, +4, 34 PiM

I believe this will be a career year for Liles, and not just because he's looking to get paid next summer (he'll be a UFA). A lot of pieces are in place for Liles. He's (hopefully) fully recovered from the broken foot that slowed him last year. He stands to get a ton of minutes on the powerplay - a unit that has been improved with the addition of Smyth. This team should score in bunches with the man advantage, and Liles stands to get a sizeable chunk of those points.