Guest Post: Rob Luker and Paraphrasing the season projections

This post is a guest post by Rob Luker, who has contributed here a few times, and it is always good stuff. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.


Of the four models that I am tracking as we move towards the 2018-19 NHL season, the New York Rangers come in at an average of 78.6 points. The models/individuals include Game Score (Dom Luszczyszyn), Corsica (Emmanuel Perry), Rob Pizzola, and Andy MacNeil. I do plan to add the HockeyViz (Micah Blake McCurdy) model when he releases it in a public manner.

As all Ranger fans know and as most projections are pointing out, the main issue with the Rangers is the weakness on Defense. Outside of extending Brady Skjei and a depth signing of Fredrik Claesson, NYR did nothing else in terms of improving one of the worst defensive units in the NHL last season. Of course, the prospect pipeline now has a few more names for the blueline, but at this moment it is still very much lacking for impact NHL players within the next two seasons. The Offense, meanwhile, hasn’t been an issue for the organization in nearly a decade and certainly doesn’t appear that worse for the wear looking forward.

Data from Corsica

I set out to confirm these projections in a very simple manner: by looking at the projected shot and goal differential for NYR. I did this by using Dom’s Fantasy Projections, of which I am a big fan. While it probably isn’t a perfect idea to compile these for a team basis using fantasy projections, I was still intrigued as to what they would produce. Here’s how NYR looks in the end:

Dom’s projections are based on 3-year weighted averages with adjustments, so it’s not overly surprisingly to see NYR step back in all categories based on the 2017-18 season being an absolute free-for-all on the ice under Alain Vigneault.

The shot differential comes out to be -223, which based on last year’s shot results would easily put NYR in the bottom ten. The goal differential, -20, would be more towards league average (0) but would still put NYR in the bottom 15. Generally speaking, the goal differential being better than the shot differential can describe many NYR seasons when Henrik Lundqvist has been the starting goaltender.

Using Rob Vollman’s rule that 6 goals equal 2 standings points (Hockey Prospectus/Hockey Abstract), we can use the goals for and Goal Differential to roughly estimate NYR’s points. With a team goals for of 226, this would equate to 75 points in the standings. We could also use the -20-goal differential to say that NYR is 6-7 points below league average, which based on that being 92 last year, would put NYR at around 85 points. In the end, 75-85 points probably sounds about right for NYR as they are constructed now, just as the model averages state.

Personally, the only two caveats that could throw the models and projections off about NYR are as follows:

  1. The past few seasons, the Rangers have been an interesting case of struggling with the shot share while posting better expected goal (xG) numbers when it came to team offense. As you can see in the chart below (data is from Corsica, 5v5 adjusted), NYR consistently gave up more than average when it came to xGA and Corsi Against and also struggled to generate shot attempts (Corsi For). The outlier was xGF, where they ended up being an above average team, ranking 8th in xGF/60 (same data as noted above).

  1. If David Quinn manages to improve the team defense by limiting shots and xGA, the shot and goal differential should benefit, as could Henrik Lundqvist’s performance as well. This is naturally a major if, as this isn’t really expected given the roster and it being Quinn’s first NHL season.

To conclude, the projections all seem very in-line with the reality for NYR, a rebuilding team with an intriguing offensive future with still plenty of work to do in the coming seasons. The only surprise that I can see happening is if NYR ends up being better than the numbers suggest, not worse.

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  • Thanks Rob, great stuff here.

    As an almost season ticket holder, I am looking forward to see the young players play, see the King play, and see competitive games, no matter the game results.

    Don’t lose on purpose (they won’t), but #loseforHughes.

  • P.S. Thoughts and prayers for the people lost on this horrific day 17 years ago (Tuesday was the day, I believe). And to all the families and friends impacted, including our brave first responders.

    The aftermath to this “event” showed exactly why this country is the greatest in the world, even with all its flaws.

    • It was, indeed, a Tuesday, and I would like to echo your comments. We will Never forget the horror and bravery of that day! As a, now retired, firefighter in North NJ, I was working that day and was at ground zero in the days following. The many incidents of bravery and courage I witnessed that week will never leave my mind. God bless all who served and let’s not also forget those that are still dying today as a result of their selflessness.

      Also, already first responders from all over the country are, right now, being deployed to aid in hurricane Florence.

      Heed the warnings!

  • Side Note – Traverse City
    NY Rangers get shutout by Detroit 5-0. Nothing good to say about this game. Could show that our enthusiasm for the future might need to really wait 2 years.

    • Andersson looking like a modern day bottom 6 forward. Chytil reminded me of when Artem Anisimov would get banged around alot and over powered in the skill zone.

      Hajek still has my vote to earn a spot out of camp if ADA and Gilmour don’t come prepared for training season. Howden would also have a very good shot to keep one of the other two rookies centers down in the AHL.

  • That’s a nice write up. Thank you. I also think it’s a realistic expectation. We are probably 2 seasons away from being competitive. That sucks but with the talent coming in the next 2 drafts it creates lots of opportunity for the future.

    Where does 78 points rank us on the overall standings? Thinking close to top 5.

    I realize a lot can change between now and the 2019 draft, but if we can get a top 5 next year that star defender could be waiting for us in Bowen Bryam or Philip Broberg. Rangers would take Broberg being a Swed and all but either one is exactly what we need on D. Doubt we get Hughes without some lottery luck. Montreal and Ottawa(owed to Colorado) have a better shot at Hughes. It will also benefit us if we can get more picks in round 1 next year. That draft is very deep.

    • Agreed. And he does not move the needle. May be worth something(late round pick) at the trade deadline if he’s not hurt.

      • I prefer no one at this point, but at least Bieksa’s cap hit would NOT be $2.75 mill…and not seeing anything about salary retention…

        • I don’t even care how much he’s getting paid. Durability is a big thing to have in this day and age. Mcquaid hasn’t been right ever since that cheap shot by Matt Cooke in the 2013 playoffs.

          • agree with you on durability. But we have done very little to improve the D with this trade. Makes us tougher if he’s healthy I guess.

            For taking on that cap hit I would expect we got something back. Not gave something else up like a 4th and a conditional pick. It’s not a good use of cap space.

            Anyway, trades done. we move on…

          • I wouldn’t look past that Mcquaid might fit Quinn’s system like Giardi and Staal did for Torts. If he’s playing a 3rd pair role with his main objective of being on the PK to clear the crease than maybe it becomes gucci. Than again I remember him getting burn by forwards who can move in and out of the crease with Boston in the last 2-3 years.

            From what I have seen from the recent BU team, Quinn created this type of wall fortress around the goalie. It’s 180 to what Quinn was mentioning about wanting a system so Hank could see the shots but either way it could work so this guy can block shots.

  • “As all Ranger fans know and as most projections are pointing out, the main issue with the Rangers is the weakness on Defense.”

    If that is really true, the Rangers have a very good chance at Jack Hughes. I think we saw at Traverse City a very clear indication that THIS YEAR, the Rangers will have one of the weakest forward groups in the NHL. We didn’t see any kids who will look like more than mediocre bottom six forwards. So the Rangers look to have two solid second lines and a below average bottom six.

    The defense on the other hand could be quite decent. We did not see the real Shattenkirk last year and it is not unreasonable to hope from real rebounds from Skjei and Smith.

    • Skjei does well to generate shots & chances, but struggles to limit them. The same has gone for Smith (career wise) and while I still like Shatty there’s no one else (unless Skjei has a huge growth year) to really anchor top-line D-minutes with him.

      The rest are unproven or only depth worthy. While I want the team to be right back into the mix of it, the stars would need to align in a team-defense sort of way that, in turn, could limit the offensive production. I just don’t see it working out well.

      • Your article gives the impression that the Rangers have an ok team with a suspect defense. I was not guaranteeing a good defense so much as taking issue with your assumptions.

        That the forward group will be weak seems a given to me. And if anything, goaltending appears to be a weakness. On the other hand, Shattenkirk-Staal could be one of the top defensive pairs and if Skjei-Smith can rekindle their magic, defense could be a strength.

        Mind you, Ranger fans will never acknowledge this as deriding the defense is the only way to preserve the Lundqvist myth.

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