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The Wolski Experiment

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We now are 32 games into the Wojtek-Wolski-as-center era, which means we now have some decent statistical data to help us evaluate the change.

Wolski's first game at center was January 4th, and, for the most part, that's where he's been at even strength ever since. Here are The Baron's stats at left wing (as in, through January 2nd):

37 GP 7 G 12 A 19P, -7, 20 PiM, 1 PPG, 1 SHG, 0 GWG, 63 SOG, 26 Hits.

And here are his stats since the change:

32 GP 7 G 12 A 19P, -2, 6 PiM, 1 PPG, 0 SHG, 3 GWG, 76 SOG, 23 Hits.

Other than the game winning goal, those numbers are pretty damn similar. To be completely accurate, I should have waited 5 more games before doing this, but I doubt the numbers will change much. (Actually, I was planning to do this article in a few days, but the comments for B&SG's Wolski Shootout compilation forced me to fire it a little early).

With the normal "small-sample size" warnings in place, here's what the numbers say: Wolski was on pace for a 43-point season at left wing. Since the move, he's now at a 48-point pace. I think we can all agree that Double Dub is a better player at center - he seems to be able to help more defensively, and he appears to be having more of an impact on the game on a regular basis. Scoring-wise, though, there's been no change.

For all his shootout flair, Wolski has been consistently "fair" in his point production. He scored 50 in his first season, 48 in his second and now is on pace to score 45 or so this year. Now, Wolski is still just 22, but after 231 NHL games it's looking more and more like 50-points a season just the way it's going to be, regardless of what position he plays. Now, 50-points is not terrible...but it's not going to set the world on fire either. As of this writing, 140 players have more points than Wolski.

Over the last couple of days, I've been tossing around the idea that maybe The Baron isn't meant to be a Top 6 forward, as 45-50 points isn't completely optimal for the top 2 lines. And, honestly, Wolski's defense, poise and offensive output would make for an excellent anchor for the 3rd line, something the Avalanche haven't had in years. But I've decided that that was a little extreme, especially in the salary cap era. Wolski is, and will continue to be, a bonafide #2 center. However, it's looking less and less like the move to center will be triggering a change in Double Dub's point production. And, of course, he owns in the shootout no matter what they list his position as.