By Bob Trask – With the regular season now over, Canadiens’ fans are left to looking forward to the draft lottery, the NHL Draft itself, the free agency period and any potential trades that might help the team grow into a contender. The trade season itself won’t kick into high gear until the playoffs are over with some transactions potentially occurring during the draft and others happening once the destination of various free agents is known.
While the Canadiens wait for these key dates to arrive, they will be taking stock of what they already have in the organization, identifying strengths and weaknesses. One area where the team lagged was offensive production so it is worthwhile to examine what the production from existing players going forward could be.
The Younger Generation
For younger players like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Ryan Poehling, Jake Evans and Rem Pitlick, estimates of future production are harder to predict because they should be still on an upward trajectory. Management has to be hopeful that everyone in this group will improve their offensive performance.
Their respective peformances from the recently completed season and extrapolated over a full 82 games was as follows:
- Nick Suzuki – 61 pts
- Cole Caufield – 53 pts
- Rem Pitlick – 46 points
- Jake Evans – 33 points
- Ryan Poehling – 24 points
Keep in mind that these are not the expectations for next year. Hopefully the entire group can improve on their individual totals.
The veterans have a much larger sample size on which to base expectations going forward. For a variety of reasons, some performed approximately as expected while others did not. We can take a closer look at some of these players
Christian Dvorak – Dvorak produced at a pace that would see him put up 48 points in 82 games or 7 more points than his career average of 41. Next season a realistic goal for him would be in the range of 45 points.
Jonathan Drouin – Drouin was also on pace to put up 48 points which is almost exactly his career average for 82 games and like Dvorak, a realistic goal for him would be 45 points.
Mike Hoffman – A late season surge saw Hoffman reach a 43 point pace over 82 games, a far cry from his career average of 57 points. It is hard to guess which Mike Hoffman will appear next year and a goal for him might be 50 points.
Josh Anderson – The big right winger was on pace for 38 points over 82 games which is slightly above his career average of 36 points. Anderson has seemingly untapped potential and could reach 40 points or more under Marty St. Louis.
Brendan Gallagher – Gallagher had one of the most frustrating seasons in his career and was on pace for 35 points over 82 games – a far cry from his career average of 49 points. This off-season, he should benefit from a longer recovery period, allowing his body to be far more ready for the upcoming season. But his role could also change under St. Louis. With a huge discrepancy between his performance last season and what he has averaged over his career, it is difficult to guess what might happen in the upcoming season. For Gally, a season where he puts up 40 to 45 points could be a good estimate.
Paul Byron – Byron has averaged about 33 points per 82 games over his career but this year, for a combination or reasons, that pace slumped to 21 points. Kent Hughes probably can’t count on Byron for more than 25 points over a full 82 games. Given his recent injury history, anything close to 82 games also seems to be stretch.
Joel Armia – Armia is a big winger who is tough to knock off the puck, has excellent puck skills and a hard shot but all of these attributes have only resulted in an average of 29 points per 82 games over his career. Armia’s tool box leaves us all salivating but this year, when a strong performance would have really helped the team, his pace fell to 19 points per 82 games.
As Kent Hughes continues to look at ways to bolster the team’s offensive production, he will be taking a look at how much potential for improvement and/or a rebound exists among players currently on the roster. In taking that approach he can begin to identify ways in which to address the scoring needs of the Canadiens. Parts of the solution may already exist in the organization but parts of it may also lie with players who will be added over the summer through the draft, trades and free agency.