Desharnais, Cole and Pacioretty: What Might We Expect From Them Next Season?

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So, we can see that the scoring from the “two and a half men” line was about par for a good top offensive unit, one of the best of the middle group last season but they were also one healthiest. So probably about average for that group all told.

April 5, 2012; Raleigh, NC, USA; Montreal Canadiens center David Desharnais (51) carries the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC center. The Hurricanes defeated the Canadiens 2-1 in the shoot out. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE

So if this line was good enough to hang with the top even strength offensive lines in the league last year, the question immediately becomes, is that a sustainable state of affairs.

Firstly rises or declines due to age:

Player

Age

Pacioretty

23

Desharnais

26

Cole

33

Prime age for a goal scoring winger is 23-28 typically. Pacioretty should be just about entering his peak years right now. Likewise Desharnais is in his prime as a play-making center. However, neither is young enough to expect any kind of big step forward next year. What you see is probably what you get for those two. However, Desharnais has really only played one NHL season. Its conceivable he could make more of an adjustment to the big league next season and post an improvement in play.

The one concern is Cole, he’s not at the age where an immediate drop-off in play is necessarily expected but he is old enough that it wouldn’t be a big surprise if it did. You could consider him a wild card but I wouldn’t factor in a significant decrease in level of play for him next season. He’s ageing but not ancient.

Since we are primarily concerned with goals for at even strength it would makes the most sense to look at first the components that goes into their goal scoring rates, shots per unit time and shooting percentage to see if there is anything unsustainable about their scoring. Shooting percentage tends to be volatile over the course of a single seasons so its the most likely culprit to deceive us about a player’s talent while shot rates are largely down to talent and circumstances.

Goals

Saved Shots

Min/G

Games

Shots/15 Min

Shoot%

Pacioretty (11-12)

28

204

14.46

79

3.05

12.07

Pacioretty (10-12)

33

290

14.06

116

2.97

10.22

Pacioretty (08-12)

38

402

13.03

202

2.51

8.64

Cole (11-12)

24

161

14.51

82

2.33

12.97

Cole (08-12)

66

477

13.66

284

2.10

12.15

Desharnais (11-12)

11

57

13.94

81

0.90

16.18

Desharnais (10-12)

15

93

12.45

124

1.05

13.89

Pacioretty’s 10-12 seasons are so much better than his 08-10 years that I’m hesitant to even consider his first two seasons, whereas he’s been largely the same player in his last two years. Pacioretty’s ~3 shots per 15 minutes rate appears to be well earned over that time, his increase from ~2.80 to ~3.05 from 10-11 to 11-12 can pretty safely be chalked up to development and usage. Pacioretty’s 5 on 5 shot rate is phenomenal, which should reflect a very good goal scoring rate going forward. Pegging his personal shooting percentage is harder. ~12% is probably too high, its way above what he’s done before and he shoots so much that its hard to credit him with so much goal scoring talent that he can be an above average finisher as well as an elite shot producer. Even his 10.22% over the past two years seems a little high to credit for him. At the same time, his career shooting is polluted by two very low shooting seasons where he had not developed into his full talents. 9%, which is basically average for a top six forward seems a good compromise number for future projections.

Cole’s shooting percentage was basically in line with previous history and his shots shows a slight up-tick we can credit to usage factors. Making projections based on a 2.2-2.3 per 15 shot rate and 12% shooting percentage seems reasonable. 12% at even strength is a very strong personal shooting percentage, but Cole has a large enough track record with it that he seems to own it.

Desharnais presents an interesting case because he seems to refuse to shoot the puck. ~1.0 shot per 15 on an offensive line for a forward of any talent is incredibly low. So much so that the suggestion he has an unnaturally large personal shooting percentage. Still, 13.9% is very high and was achieved on a very low sample size of shots, even more so for a single season’s 16.2%. So a degree of regression from Desharnais must be expected.

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Tags: 2012 NHL Off-season David Desharnias Erik Cole Fancy Stats Habs Max Pacioretty Montreal Canadiens NHL First Lines Tomas Plekanec

  • DP222

    why wasn’t Desharnais’ name listed? He is the centerman for that line.

    • Stephan Cooper

      There was a typo from a previous draft left in (now corrected). Its now listed by top even strength point scorer. That did a better job of showing at glance what line we we’re talking about.