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Senators Who Could Regress Back to the Mean

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Some Senators players were lucky, and some were unlucky. There's a good chance they will revert back to career norms.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When someone says the term “regression to the mean,” most people think it has to be a bad thing. However, examples of regressing to the mean aren’t always a player that’s super lucky who falls back down to earth. Regression can also happen when someone who has been unlucky reverts back to how they have always played.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at four players who could/should regress to what they usually are. Firstly, let’s start with players who should regress in a bad way after enjoying a successful season:

Zack Smith

You must’ve figured Smith would be in here considering he’s on the cover, but also because Zack. Smith. Scored. 25. Goals. There is absolutely nobody that predicted that before last year began, and you’re lying if you say you did.

Expecting him to score 25 again would be naive, although it’s not like Ottawa needs him to have that sort of production again. His shooting percentage (that lead the league) last year was a whopping 20.7%, which you can point to and say he’s an efficient shooter, or you can say that he had a lot of luck.

Both can be true at the same time, because he actually has a pretty good shot, but his career high in goals before this was just 14. So it’s really hard to see him having another career year at the age of 28 considering he’ll be getting third line minutes and most likely won’t be with Mark Stone.

Scoring at an extremely high rate of essentially 1/5 shots is very hard to sustain, especially because we aren’t dealing with someone like Steven Stamkos. On the whole, Smith’s career shooting percentage is 10.2%, and that’s about where it should be for the upcoming season. He averages 13 goals a season, and honestly that sort of production would be totally fine. Reach 15 goals and I’ll be happy because we know he can be an effective third line player.

However, don’t be surprised if he goes through a long slump just like he did in 2014-15.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Pageau is the best. Who doesn’t love Pageau? He’s a lovable character on and off the ice, but he also took his game to another level last season. And while it’s nice to dream on him continually getting better to evolve into more of a second line centre, we should pump the brakes for one second.

Don’t get me wrong, he looked like a much better player in the second half of the season. However, there are a few reasons to believe why he may not get as many points this year. Firstly, just like Smith, he shouldn’t be playing with Mark Stone unless there is an injury to Kyle Turris or Derick Brassard. While playing with Stone, the two of them posted a 54.9 CF%, but when Pageau was separated, his CF% was a paltry 42.4%. Hopefully Smith had something to do with that lines success and it wasn’t all Stone’s doing.

Secondly, Pageau lead the league in short-handed goals with seven. Now wait, why is that a bad thing? It isn’t, and it’s very impressive. However, we cannot expect Pageau to score just as many short-handed goals this year, because they’re usually pretty random events on the penalty kill. So I don’t know if 20 goals is something realistic and I think he could land in the 12-15 range, much like Smith.

Another similarity he shares with Smith is that although he may regress his point totals a bit, he can still be a useful bottom-six player. The Senators shouldn’t need him to be amazing, and around 35 points should qualify as good enough.

Kyle Turris

While the first two players might regress in a negative way, Turris is the opposite. He is the most obvious player that should be able to bounce-back, and I’m quite confident he can get back to his old self.

It’s pretty clear that Turris’ game did not decline, it’s just that he was hurt for a good chunk of the season and was playing when he should not have been. In his first 26 games, he recorded 22 points and looked like he was going to set career highs. Then he suffered a brutal injury against the New York Islanders, although he tried to play through it for the next two months.

After that injury, he had just 8 points in his last 31 games, and was pointless in 15 consecutive games before being shut down. It doesn’t take a doctor to realize what happened with Turris, and there’s plenty of hope that he can get back to being a 60-point centre again.

Before that injury, he had 144 points in his last 190 games, which averages to 62 points in 82 games. So I’d bet on him being much better in 2016-17.

Clarke MacArthur

This feels weird to include his name here, but technically MacArthur had the worst point per game average of his career...0.00. Of course he played only four games, but if you want to look for a player that should be better than he was last year, here’s your man. He missed almost the entire season, so it’s hard to be much “worse.”

I don’t want to pretend I know Clarke’s health situation, because none of us have any idea. But if he truly is concussion symptom free, then Ottawa will be getting a good player back in the lineup. So there’s some positive regression for the Senators. It definitely helps that MacArthur has posted the third best relative corsi on the team since 2013 (+2.6%), as Ottawa’s possession struggles were very real last year.

Erik Karlsson

Let’s face it: 4th in the league in points with 82 clearly isn’t good enough (for some people). He should be able to single-handedly make this team good again and regress back to winning Norris trophies.