We live in an interesting time when it comes to evaluation and projecting talent in the National Hockey League. The analytics movement is moving ahead at full speed, with many teams creating entire departments to support and draw conclusions from them. This is great for the game of hockey and competition in general. It means teams are constantly trying to improve by getting that little extra edge.
As much as analytics offer us though, we can’t lose sight of the human element of decision making. I’m talking, of course, about the gut feeling. Sure, analytics tells us a lot about what kind of output you’ll get out of a player, but what does your gut tell you about him? This style of evaluation and projection dates back generations and is responsible for many terrible, and sometimes great, decisions in sport.
I don’t want to lose the skill of listening to my gut, so I decided to flex that muscle. Here are point projections for all the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings based on nothing more than my gut feeling.
Dylan Larkin: 31 G, 50 A, 81 P
Dylan Larkin will take another step forward this year, venturing into the 80-point territory. This will be a team-leading 81 points and will mostly come due to Larkin’s already impressive play making and Anthony Mantha‘s improved ability to finish. He’ll hit the 30-goal marker this year, but finish one goal shy of his total last year. Between 81-points and getting the C, it will be a career year for the young D-Boss.
Oh right and – I mean – you can’t mention Larkin without saying #GIVELARKSTHEC!
Andreas Athanasiou: 35 G, 25 A, 60 P
Andreas Athanasiou shocked some with his breakout performance last year, but most were justified in their defense of him and calling for more ice time. As Athanasiou has done every season, he will continue to impress by adding a few more goals and hitting the 60-point marker. I just get this feeling he won’t be playing on a line with big finishers, so he’ll have to do most of the finishing off passes from guys like Valterri Filppula and Frans Nielsen.
Anthony Mantha: 33 G, 28 A, 61 P
Attention: breakout season incoming for Anthony Mantha! This guy’s looked better and better every season, but hasn’t seen the big strides most have expected from him. Until now. I can’t explain it, I just have this feeling that Mantha’s going to have a monster season. He’ll join Larkin & Athanasiou in the 30-goal club and boost his assists to bring his point total to just over 60. One more prediction based on nothing: at least 10 of those goals will come on the power play.
Tyler Bertuzzi: 26 G, 28 A, 54 P
Lil’ Tyler Bertuzzi will play most of his season on a top line with Larkin and Mantha, so naturally the points will follow. He’ll over-perform and put up 26 goals, most of which will be beauty feeds from Larkin. The young winger was two points away from 50 last year, so hitting that milestone isn’t unreasonable.
Frans Nielsen: 12 G, 27 A, 39 P
Frans Nielsen’s 40-point seasons are behind him. I see him putting up two more goals than he did last year due to an improved power play, but he’ll continue his slow decline into being too old to keep up with these young kids.
Valterri Filppula: 12 G, 16 A, 28 P
Well, they definitely didn’t bring Valterri Filppula back for his scoring. Last year, he played for the New York Islanders and put up 17 goals, 14 assists and 31 points. This year, he’s on a worse team with less scorers. Can’t quite find the words, but something about this situation tells me he won’t thrive offensively.
Darren Helm: 8 G, 9 A, 17 P
Darren Helm’s 32-years-old and is going to be relied upon more and more defensively as the younger kids take over the offensive responsibilities. A couple of his goals may be shorties, but I’d be surprised if he hit the 20-point mark this year.
Justin Abdelkader: 7 G, 11 A, 18 P
Ahhh, Abby. We’ll play the ole “Will Justin Abdelkader get 20 points this year?” game all season with you. My gut tells me no, but stranger things have happened.
Luke Glendening: 7 G, 12 A, 19 P
I have a soft spot for Luke Glendening, but I can’t help but feel his scoring last year was a little flukey. I just feel that he’s another year older the competition is getting stronger. He’ll regress in both goals and assists, but still be relied upon heavily in penalty kill and other defensive situations.
Michael Rasmussen: 6 G, 8 A, 14 P
I know the team keeps saying that “the roster is wide open for anyone to take a spot”, but I can’t help feeling that Michael Rasmussen is going to start the year in Grand Rapids and then spend most of it there. He may get a couple of call-ups due to injuries or to finish out the season, which is where his little scoring will come from, but based on his reserved play last year, I just have this gut feeling that he’ll be in the AHL.
Filip Zadina: 9 G, 6 A, 15 P
Similar to Rasmussen, I also feel like Filip Zadina will spend most of his season in Grand Rapids, but he’ll be far more impressive on his call-ups, adding 12 points to his total from last year. Most fans, myself included, desperately want Zadina on the roster full-time, but I just have this feeling in my bones that the team will want him to spend a little more time dominating in the AHL.
Evgeny Svechnikov: 7 G, 10 A, 17 P
Evgeny Svechnikov is a real wild card because he hasn’t played hockey in like two years. Seemingly always injured, it’s going to take some time for him to get back into the swing of things, so he’ll probably start the season in Grand Rapids and earn a full-time call-up sometime before Christmas. Still, it’s going to be tough for him to crack the top-6. Nevertheless, 7 goals and 17 points would be impressive for the young Russian who’s had minimum exposure to the NHL.
Mike Green: 7 G, 18 A, 25 P
Step right up and spin the “how-many-games-will-Mike-Green-miss-due-to-injury” wheel!
Seriously, Green missed half of last season with various injuries. Is it going to be better? Probably not, which is why I think his point total will float around where he was last year, though I’ve added a couple goals for him because of this improved power play that I keep talking about. It’s just a feeling I have.
Danny DeKeyser: 5 G, 18 A, 23 P
Danny DeKeyser somehow became one of the team’s best defensemen last year and I feel like he’ll continue to do so this year. If he’s really paired up with Filip Hronek on the top line, I can see him notching a couple of extra points as the young Czech finds the back of the net.
Filip Hronek: 12 G, 20 A, 32 P
Speaking of Hronek, he showed signs of breaking out last year so I feel like he’s really going to this year. No Red Wings defenseman scored more than five goals last season, but I’ve got a good feeling about Hronek. He’ll get lots of power play time, which will help pad his stats a little bit, and his confidence will grow as the season progresses. My gut tells me the Red Wings will have a 30-point defenseman this year.
Jonathan Ericsson: 2 G, 2 A, 6 P
Trevor Daley: 4 G, 8 A, 12 P
It’s nothing to write home about, but I do feel like Trevor Daley was weighed down with injury last year. The guy makes terrible decisions in his own end, but his point total should improve slightly this year. Not enough to lift the team in the standings, but maybe enough to be an intriguing trade deadline acquisition for a young team looking for a veteran presence as they go into the playoffs.
Patrik Nemeth: 3 G, 8 A, 11 P
I know nothing about this player except for the fact that he’s playing on a worse team this year. I don’t think he’s going to be any kind of offensive phenom.
Dennis Cholowski: 10 G, 10 A, 20 P
With Green, Ericsson, and Daley rotating out due to various injuries, I feel like Dennis Cholowski will get more and more NHL time as the season goes on. If he gets some of those sweet, sweet power play minutes, then he’ll thrive even more. I also think he’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder for starting last year in the NHL and finishing it in the AHL. That kind of adversity will do wonders for a kid. I just have a feeling he’ll get those 20-points.
Niklas Kronwall: 1 G, 4 A, 5 P
Yes, I think Niklas Kronwall will be back this year, but I think he’ll get very very limited playing time. The one goal he scores will be the final of his career and he can ride off into the sunset. Thank you, Kronner. We’ll miss you.