Continuing revisiting our Sterling Predictions, today we look at two: predicting Bobby Ryan’s point totals (over/under at 40), and who would lead the team in goals. In that vein, we look back on our predictions.
Q: We asked if Bobby Ryan would hit 40 points, and 5/8 were correct by saying he wouldn’t. However, even noted pessimist Trevor overpredicted at 34 points -- Bobby only hit 33. However, he was on pace for 44 points if finger injuries hadn’t kept coming back. Do you think Ryan would’ve hit 40 points if healthy? Do you think he still has a place in this team’s top six come next year?
Trevor: The thing with Ryan is, whenever he’s fully healthy, he can actually be quite a good player. It’s just that whenever he gets on a roll, he finds a new finger to injure. So he probably would have gotten over 40 points if healthy, and although he’s a flawed and overpaid player, he still has a place in the top-six. I’d just like to see an upgrade somewhere else like at the 2C spot.
Colin: Considering his pace, yes, I think he could’ve definitely hit 40, although he’s now missed games on nine occasions in the last four seasons due to an injury to his wrist/hand/finger. Considering the history, it’s hard to believe he’ll suddenly be able to go through all of next season untouched. He still has a place in the top six behind Mark Stone, although Colin White should start being able to challenge him for that spot pretty soon.
Ary: I think Ryan would’ve hit 40 points if healthy, but like Colin mentioned, I don’t know whether we can expect him to be healthy given the frequency of his injuries. If the Senators manage to trade Ceci instead of extending him, I think they have money for Karlsson, Stone, and Ryan. Sure, he’s not worth anywhere near his $7.25M, but as a playmaking winger, he can be a solid contributor to Ottawa’s top-six next season, and potentially their top-nine in a couple years once Chlapik, White, and co. are ready for full-time minutes.
NKB: A lot of scoring in the NHL is based on the opportunities you are afforded -- whether that’s your line-mates, your time on the power play, or your deployment, there are some players who are put in more advantageous positions than others. Only the truly elite consistently score without that kind of help. Bobby Ryan, unfortunately, is being paid like he’s one of those elite players that can score no matter where he plays and no matter who he plays with. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, and he’ll definitely need a healthy helping of top six minutes and power play time if he wants to crack 45-50 points next season. In a perfect world, Ottawa wouldn’t be paying Ryan the kind of money they are to not be a difference-maker but given how difficult it’ll be to move his deal and how thin they are on the wing, I think he’ll be a top 6 player next year whether his play has strictly earned it or not.
Spencer: If you forget about his injury history and his contract, he’s a top 6 winger. He has a lot to contribute in that role but the problem is he never seems to be healthy - as pretty much everyone else has stated. That being said, I’m not sure how many more years he has in the top 6 given his footspeed isn’t fantastic. But my answer is yes he would’ve hit 40 and yes he has a place in the top 6 next year.
Ross: I don’t like this “if he’d been healthy” business. He wasn’t. He hasn’t been for years. It’s unfair to look at his sports hernia injury and his finger injuries and draw conclusions, but at some point if he keeps injuring fingers, he’s either doing something wrong, or he has weak fingers, or he’s rushing back from injury. I think he has a spot on this team’s powerplay when healthy, but with how many games he’s missed to injury (and how many he’s played while still obviously injured) I don’t think this team can afford to plan for him to play 70 games in the top six.
Q: We asked who would get the most goals on the team, and the answer was technically Matt Duchene (27 goals), though for goals in a Sens uniform, he tied with Ryan Dzingel (23). Mark Stone’s 0.345 goals/game is slightly ahead of Duchene’s 0.338 for most productive in a Sens uniform (though both trailed Patrick Sieloff’s sterling 1.00 goals/game). Mike Hoffman was the pick of everyone except Ross, who picked Kyle Turris. Do you think that Mike Hoffman was unlucky this year, was he deployed poorly, or have we just overestimated him for years? What’s holding him back from hitting 30 goals and leading this team in goals?
Trevor: There’s no chance that we’ve overestimated Hoffman because lots of people were quick to call for a trade when he wasn’t doing so well. He still had 56 points, which is slightly below what he is--a 60 point player. I guess it’d be nice to see him hit that 30-goal mark, but it’s hard to complain when he also gets 34 assists. He isn’t quite as dominant as Mark Stone is and has hit his ceiling as a player, but he’s still easily a cheap first line left winger.
Colin: Mike Hoffman’s all-situations shooting percentage last season was 8.6%, down from his previous career average of 11.6%. Had he shot at that rate this season, he would’ve hit 30 goals for the first time in his career. Also to be considered is that the last time he shot below 10% in a season was in 2010-11, his rookie season for the Binghamton Senators. Hoffman probably had the best season of his career, in terms of his dominance on the power play and being able to generate shots at a high rate. It just so happened to be a season where his shooting percentage fell down a couple notches.
Ary: There’s no doubt in my mind that Mike Hoffman is a first-line winger. If we just go by all-situations points, his 56 ranks 76th among all NHL forwards this season; a solid place if you consider that there are 90 “first-line” spots throughout the league. Hoffman’s the team’s best powerplay threat, led the team in shots (a regular thing), but shot 3 points lower than his career average. When things go wrong for the Sens, both fans and the coaching staff (on multiple occasions) demote Hoffman, but this year, I saw a player who was more consistent defensively, but got a bit unlucky. He still played around a quarter of his minutes with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Tom Pyatt, as Guy Boucher tried to get that line to gel like he thought they did last year, but I hope he’s learned that Mike Hoffman deserves a consistent spot on the wing of Matt Duchene. If that’s where he starts next year -- as he should -- expect the goals to flow for Hoffman.
NKB: There are a couple of things at play here. The first is that 30 goals is a lot of goals, and only 32 players scored that many this year. Getting to 30 would be a major accomplishment for anyone, even noted goal scorers like Hoffman. The second, boring, part of my answer is that he got a bit unlucky this year. Hoffman had a career high number of shots but only scored on 8.6% of them when his career average SH% is 10.8%. If he’d shot his career average, he’d have scored 28 goals and I don’t think we’d be having this conversation. Ultimately, Hoffman is a bit of a victim of inflated expectations, I think: He appeared out of seemingly nowhere and scored 27 goals in his first real NHL season. Tempting as it was to believe that he’d still have room to grow, Hoffman was already 25 that season and probably close to his peak. He is what he is: a 25 to 30 goal scorer with a wicked shot. That’s not a bad thing, but I don’t suspect he’s ever going to score 40.
Spencer: Hoffman was a victim of a lot of things this season - a drop in shooting percentage and having to erroneously play on a “checking line” are the biggest that come to mind. I’m not sure if Hoffman can hit 30 - as has been noted, it’s not an easy mark to hit. That being said, I bet an entire year playing with Matt Duchene would do the trick...
Ross: I’m with most of these people, in that scoring 30 goals is hard. I think we did overestimate Hoffman, in that people seemed to think he was among the league’s elite goal scorers. Instead, he’s just a very good goal scorer. Being a consistent 20-goal scorer, with a bomb on the powerplay and a threat on the rush, is nothing to scoff at. He’s still a valuable player, but I don’t think he’ll ever hit the heights of 40 goals we were hoping for two years ago. So yes, I think we overestimated him, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad player.