Taking a cue from Thomas Drance's recent series over at PlayNow Sports, I decided to project the Kings' goal totals for this season. Thomas undertook the task of projecting Vancouver's goal totals last season by plugging some numbers into a spreadsheet. He did amazingly well and just about nailed the total number of goals Vancouver would score last year (he projected 247 while they managed 249).
Numbers for individual players were not as accurate (as you might expect), but this season he tweaked his methodology a bit to account for goal scoring outliers (i.e. a spike in shooting percentage) and also took into account prospect's AHL numbers combined with Behind the Net's equivalency data. Mostly though, the methodolgy for coming up with these numbers is actually quite simple. Basically you take a player's goal scoring rate (preferably a sample of at least ~3 seasons) and apply it to whatever you estimate their ice-time to be for the upcoming season.
I decided it might be fun to try this for the Kings and keep track of it as the season progresses. I needed to make a lot of assumptions based on how I thought Darryl Sutter might deploy his players this season. Luckily this didn't require too much guesswork since Dean Lombardi brought back last year's team intact and I spent a lot of time analyzing Sutter's deployment strategies a season ago.
Let's take a look at the results:
2013 Los Angeles Kings Goal Projections: Forwards
|Player ||Proj. Games Played||Proj. EV Goals||Proj. PP Goals||Proj.Total Goals||Proj. 82 GM Season Goals|
- These projections assume that Sutter is going to again go with four forwards on his first power-play unit as he did the majority of the time last year.
- My projections are bullish on Jeff Carter. This is even when I made a slight adjustment to his numbers to account for his power play shooting percentage outlier last season (to read about how I did this check out Thomas' article on the Sedins). Also last season, Carter suffered from not being able to get shots off at the rate he had been able to in the past. He also had the lowest EV SH% of his career. If those numbers bounce back, as these projections assume they will ( a safe assumption because his shot rate took a hit with Columbus and returned to closer to normal with LA), Carter should have a great year.
- On the other hand, these projections are a bit bearish on Mike Richards. It's looking more and more like Richards is no longer a 30 goals-a-season player. His projected power play numbers took a hit when you adjust his outlier 09-10 campaign where he potted 12 goals and had a 20% SH% on the PP. His career norm SH% on the PP is just 12%. His numbers could take a further hit when you account for the fact that he will probably again spend a lot of time playing the point on PP's.
- Anze Kopitar's career numbers are incredibly consistent. Look for him to have yet another season of being right on the cusp of a 30 goal rate.
- Dustin Penner's numbers will be largely affected by his power play time. Last year he didn't get much of a sniff on the PP unit and this year the team is again stuffed to the gills with top 6 talent. If he can find more PP time look for him to pot goals at 20+ pace.
- Simon Gagne was a difficult player to project. In order to figure out how many games he might play this year, I took the percentage of games he's played over the last 3 years and applied that rate to this season. It was also difficult to predict how he'd be deployed. These numbers assume that he'll play mostly in the bottom 6 when healthy and have a significant amount of time on the PP.
2013 Los Angeles Kings Goal Projections: Defensemen
|Player ||Proj. Games Played||Proj. EV Goals||Proj. PP Goals||Proj.Total Goals||Proj. Full Season Goals|
- Drew Doughty should be on pace to have the 2nd most productive goal scoring pace of his career. Will that be good enough for Norris consideration?
- My projections think Voynov will improve slightly over his pace from a season ago. This is one place where I disagreed with my own projections. I think Voynov has a good chance to out-pace these numbers given that he is an immensely talented, still developing young player who could see an even bigger role with Greene lost for the season and Mitchell being iffy.
- Alec Martinez could be on the cusp of a career year. Not only do these projections say his goal scoring will improve, he's also been the league leader in possession numbers over his career. In addition, his "puck luck" was atrocious last year. If those numbers bounce back, look out.
- I used the same methodology to come up with Willie Mitchell's games played as I did with Gagne's. I have a feeling that 40 games may be too optimistic, but I think this number is a safer bet than taking a shot in the dark.
- I left out Matt Greene after today's unfortunate news that he might be out for the year. Bodnarchuk's numbers are also a stand-in for "replacement level player".
2013 Los Angeles Kings Goal Projections: Team Totals
|Team SO Winners ||Team SH Goals||Team EV goals||Team PP Goals||Team Total Goals|
- The NHL counts shootout winners as "goals for". The NHL does this because it is run by morans. To get this projection I just took the Kings average over the past 5 years and applied it to this season.
- I did the same thing with shorthanded goals since these results are largely driven by luck.
- My estimate that the Kings will score 98 even strength goals would put them at 167 goals over a full season. that would have been good for 7th in the NHL last year.
- 34 power play goals would put them at a 58 goal full season pace. That would have been good for 2nd best in the NHL last year. This was definitely the area of my projections I worked hardest at. I poured over the numbers again and again because they kept coming up high for the power play. I came to these numbers using the most conservative estimates for individual power play time that I could manage. Also, I made sure that there weren't any other outliers other than Richards and Carter that needed to be accounted for. A full season of Jeff Carter and a bounce in luck could make the Kings' PP a force to be reckoned with this season.
- That brings us to a total of 141 goals. Over a full season that would be good for 241. Last year that would have put the Kings in 3 way tie for 5th in the NHL. In actuality, they were pretty far from that number a season ago. They finished in 29th place with 188 goals. Will the Kings offense bounce back in the dramatic fashion that these projections suggest?