The New Guy: Projecting Eric Belanger's 2011-12

A big offseason pickup for the Edmonton Oilers was Eric Belanger.   Barring the wacky, I feel pretty confident that Belanger will start the season as the 3C who will be counted on to win more faceoffs than lose.

What can we expect to see from Belanger over the course of 82 games?

COMING FOR YOUR FACEOFF DOTS. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

Forty points!

That’s how many points (13G-27A) put up last season with the Phoenix Coyotes. Should he find himself between two talented Swedes, it’s very possible Belanger could meet or exceed that mark in 2011-12.

Along with 40 points (and a +11) Belanger led all centres on Phoenix’s 2010-11 squad in faceoff percentage win at 55.3%, edging out Martin Hanzal by 5%.  That’s an enormous number.  It becomes even more enormous when you put it next to the numbers of Edmonton’s centres in 2010-11. The closest member of the 2010-11 Oilers to Belanger’s campgain was Gilbert Brule, who had a 53.3 win percentage in 41 games.  No other Oiler regular was closer.

Along with the whole ‘he’s a great faceoff guy’ line, Belanger is no klutz with the puck either.  Please review the above goal against the team from Calgary, where one (1) Jay Bouwmeester was unable to catch up to Belanger’s wheels.  At a cap hit of $1.75M a year for three seasons, this is a signing that management hit right out of the park.

SWEDES SUPREME

Should Belanger start on the 3C as I suspect he would, he should be between two very gifted puck handlers in Linus Omark (5-22-27 in 51GP) and Magnus Paajarvi (15-19-34 in 80GP).  Both Paajarvi and Omark could very well reach or break the 40 point mark in this coming season.  Imagine a third line where everyone has 40 or more points.

Come off the cloud.  It’s a very real possibility.

THE PREDICTION

14G-28A for 42 points over 82 games.  Just over .5 points a game, and just over 53% in faceoff win percentage.  Belanger is an immediate upgrade to the Oilers in almost every way imaginable.

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