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36 Days to Go: Tanner Pearson Looks to Make a Leap

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He had 36 points last year. It’s all set up for him to fly past that in 2016-17.

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game Three Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The countdown to the 2016-17 season continues, with 36 days to go.

In 2015-16, Tanner Pearson finally got a full season under his belt. An injury stole half of his 2014-15 season, one in which he’d scored twelve times and looked like the most dangerous goalscoring threat on the team in numerous games. So we highly anticipated what 82 (or so) games of Pearson would produce. The answer? 36 points.

Disappointing isn’t the right word to use for Pearson’s output, but it certainly felt like that wasn’t his ceiling last season. And with Pearson doomed to eternal comparisons with Tyler Toffoli, 15 goals and 21 assists just seems... fine. Not great. Consider the following, though:

  • 36 points was in the top five among Kings forwards last season, and it would have been enough to crack the top six in point-scoring among Kings forwards in every year since 2010-11.
  • Aside from Anze Kopitar, Pearson’s four most common linemates were Marian Gaborik, Nick Shore, Trevor Lewis, and Dustin Brown. Goals dried up with those four on the ice last year; each had a Goals For/60 of 1.75 or lower. (Pearson’s was 2.37.)
  • It would’ve been almost impossible for Pearson to shoot 17.6% as he did in 2014-15. His 10.9% was respectable, but it meant an inevitable drop in goals.
  • Pearson was a 23-year-old in his first full season. I forget this, but I shouldn’t.

All in all, 36 points shouldn’t have been a disappointment, but merely a step in his groeth. So what’s a reasonable expectation this season? I think the minimum expectation is an improvement on 36 points, given better linemates and the departure of Milan Lucic. Pearson should play in the top six all year. You have to imagine he won’t play less than one minute per game on the power play again. It’s all set up for Pearson to surpass the output he had last year, if he can break out and be one of LA’s top four scorers, the Kings would be in terrific shape.

Tomorrow: goalie talk? Goalie talk.