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

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Mar 12, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty (67) during play in the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Using this data I will construct two projections on scoring rates for next season. One the more conservative, based on the infered to be reasonable 9% shooting for Pacioretty and 12% for Desharnais. The other with their two seasons average of 10% and 14%. Both projections will then be extended for a season’s worth of games, both the full year of 82 games and a shortened 72 game season based on typical yearly games lost to injury for NHL players. The participation of the team’s defensemen are also simulated based on two defensemen taking .75 shots per 15 minutes with a 3.7% shooting percentage based on results from last years defense group in Montreal.

Optomistic Shooting

Shots/15 Min

Shoot%

Goals/15 Minutes

Goals/82 Games

Goals/72 Games

Pacioretty

3.00

9.00

0.27

21.40

18.79

Cole

2.30

12.00

0.28

21.88

19.21

Desharnais

1.00

12.00

0.12

9.51

8.35

Total

6.30

10.57

0.67

52.79

46.35

2 Defense

1.50

3.70

0.06

4.40

3.86

Total + D

7.80

9.25

0.72

57.19

50.22

Realist Shooting

Shots/15 Min

Shoot%

Goals/15 Minutes

Goals/82 Games

Goals/72 Games

Pacioretty

3.00

10.00

0.30

23.78

20.88

Cole

2.30

12.00

0.28

21.88

19.21

Desharnais

1.00

14.00

0.14

11.10

9.74

Total

6.30

11.37

0.72

56.75

49.83

2 Defense

1.50

3.70

0.06

4.40

3.86

Total + D

7.80

9.89

0.77

61.15

53.70

Interestingly, these projections have the team on ice shooting percentage to be between 9 and 10%. Average is about 8% and changes in team on ice shooting are usually more a matter of chance than skill. However, two high percentage players on one line appears to push up the expected percentages by a significant degree.

From these results I can come to a general conclusion about the kind of even strength offense to be expected from the 67-51-72 line if they remain together at even strength next year. I project that between things going relatively right on shooting and injuries to a more middling amount of good fortune the line will score between 46-57 on 5 on 5. Factor in some 4 on 4 play and empty net goals (say 3-7) and we have a high end of being around 60 goals. From this we can surmise that in a decent to middling year this line scores on par to above with some of the league’s lesser 1st lines (40-49 last year), while in a good year they score like one of the good first lines (54-66 last year).

I am pessimestic about them managing 66 again, I feel two many things went right for them in 11-12 for that to be regularly repeatable. However an improvement in the overall team might push this line into more favourable circumstances which might allow for a repeat. Also a signficant improvement in Desharnais’s shot rate and goal scoring could also push the trio back up the ranks.

Another thing that could be done is replace Desharnais with a better goal scoring center. Tomas Plekanec is a 2.07 shots per 15 player that shoots for around 9%. That would be worth about 3-6 goals per 82 games on even strength to the line and makes the chances of 60 even strength goals more likely. Any shot boosting effect Desharnais may have is likely matched by Plekanec who has a much stronger puck possession game.

As a whole, its likely that this line will not repeat being the 3rd best even strength first line of the 20 sampled next year. It is however likely they could remain a credible top scoring line, just not a particularly good one.

Apr 07, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty (67) celebrates his goal with teammates left wing Erik Cole (72) and center David Desharnais (51) during the second period against Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE

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