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Regression To The Norm: Predicting Ales Hemsky's 2012-13

Ales Hemsky’s name is sort of a lightning rod among Oiler fans. There are those who see a near .8 point per game guy, a flashy forward who needs just half a step to blow by like the wind.  The other side of the Oiler looking glass would see Hemsky as a liability, one who spends too much time out with injuries, and would rather ship him off for varying levels of return.

Many thought that Ales Hemsky was a goner this past trade deadline, including myself.  So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard the club gave him a two year extension at $5M a year.

There’s absolutely no debate that Ales Hemsky has battled through more than an injury or two in his career.  A couple of shoulder surgeries (including one that cost him nearly 60 games in the 2009-10 season), a concussion, groin injury, and varying other ailments that have nickel-and-dimed time away from his playing career.

But when he’s on the ice?  Ales Hemsky is easily top six material.  Throughout his career, he’s a .77 point-per-game guy.  That’s a slightly better average than some guy who just got a seven year extension this past week.

Hemsky’s 2011-12 saw him suit up for 69 games, but he scored just 36 points (and ten goals).   This was a season where he was able to stay relatively healthy, yet only managed a .52 points-per-game number.  36 points was the lowest he’d attained since his injury shortened 2009-10 season, where he managed 22 points in 22 games.

SO HOW WILL HEMSKY FARE IN 2012-13?

Yesterday, I turned it over to you.  Assuming a full season, I asked three questions.

  1. where Ales Hemsky fits on this team
  2. how many games he’ll play in 2012-13, and
  3. how many points he’ll score in 2012-13

Surprisingly, I didn’t get any “Oklahoma City, dressing room, and 12″ answers.  Of the answers I received, the average games played was 69, and the average points per season was 58.  Can we all be OK with that?  I would be.

Couple of things-

  • A healthy Ales Hemsky will likely score more goals in 2012-13. Why?  Ales Hemsky’s shooting percentage is set to regress to the norm.  Just like there’s been talk of Jordan Eberle’s shooting percentage and how it’s likely to fall back to Earth this year, Ales Hemsky’s is set to rise.  Hemsky’s shooting percentage is usually well over 10%.  In 2011-12, Hemsky’s shooting percentage was under 8%.  If we take last year’s shot total of 137 and bump his shooting percentage of 7.3% to somewhere around 11%, you’re talking about an uptick of five or six goals.   If you move it to something like 13% (he’s done even better than that), you’re talking about eight or nine goals more than his 2011-12 totals.  20 goals is a very realistic goal for a healthy Ales Hemsky.
  • Ales Hemsky is going to have quite the supporting cast, whether he be on the first or second line.  He’ll be centred by either Sam Gagner or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and his wing candidates will likely be Nail Yakupov or Taylor Hall.
  • Edmonton’s power play is very good.   The power play hummed along nicely at a 20.6% success rate and was ranked third in the league, netting the Oilers 54 goals on the year.  The entire power play crew will return along with special guest Nail Yakupov.  If the power play remains at a 20% level in 2012-13, that’ll be phenomenal.  What was I talking about again?  Oh.  Ales Hemsky, right.  Remember a few paragraphs ago where I said that Hemsky is due for a few more goals this year?  He scored just one on the power play in 2011-12.  I’ll bet you a sack of doughnuts that he’ll do better than one power play goal in 2012-13.

Is Ales Hemsky going to play all 82 games in the coming season?  I’m not that optimistic.  I’ll have almost the same thing as what you’re having, and say he plays 70 games and scores 55 points.  A 60 point season (or thereabouts) is perfectly attainable, and would keep Hemsky’s staunchest critics at bay.

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