Reasonable Scoring Expectations: Left Wings

Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)

Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)

As discussed in the first piece in this series on scoring trends among centers, due to decreased scoring around the entire NHL as goalie save percentages rise, it is imperative we adjust scoring expectations accordingly. As such, it becomes important to set realistic expectations for each position.

As before, the 2008-11 numbers were compiled over at Pension Plan Puppets.

Left Wing
1st Line 2nd Line 3rd Line
Good Average Poor Good Average Poor Good Average Poor
Points 74 58 50 42 37 29 24 19 14
Goals 34 27 22 19 16 13 11 8 6

 

And now my findings:

Average G Average A Average P
Elite 1 LW 33.9 42.5 74.7
Avg 1 LW 25.8 32.9 58.9
Low 1 LW 21.9 27.8 49.4
Elite 2 LW 18.6 23.8 42.4
Avg 2 LW 16.1 20.2 36.7
Low 2 LW 13.7 17.2 30.9
Elite 3LW 11.2 14.3 25.6
Avg 3LW 9.4 12.3 21.8
Low 3 LW 7.2 9.3 16.8

 

So, there’s basically no change with Left Wings, compared to centers who had a noticeable drop over the same period. Oddly enough, the uptick in scoring for third line Left wings might actually be attributed to the lack of enforcers in the modern game. As pure fighters are getting waived, teams are going with three skill lines and a fourth checking line that doesn’t give up as much in talent. As such, the third left wing role has evolved to fit with the evolution of the game.

 

So, where does leave the Flyers? Michael Raffl might be one of the most under-appreciated left wings in the NHL right now.

 

Via Own the Puck

Via Own the Puck

 

Raffl’s possession game and goal scoring is of a solid first line rate. His 21 goals this past season even qualify him as a low end top line LW despite getting third line minutes. With Berube out and Hakstol in, Raffl may just get the minutes he’s earned. And, if the assist number regresses and he maintains his goal scoring rate, 25-30 goals and 17-22¬†assists isn’t unheard of. Raffl will truly blossom into the top line Left Wing he is. The Flyers don’t need to trade for a top Left Wing, he already exists and his name is Raffl.

As an aside, the Flyers are free to extend Raffl’s contract on July 1, and it would be wise to lock Raffl up now, before his numbers skyrocket and he gets a giant payday instead. If the Flyers can sign Raffl for 3.5M for 3 years, they’d have one of the best UFA deals on a top line forward in the league. If they wait, Raffl might command something in the 5M range in 2016.

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