Every Monday we'll be using the Snepsts System to search the NHL's history for players with comparable era-adjusted statistics to today's Jets, and featuring the analysis here at Arctic Ice Hockey. A description and example of the methodology can be found on Hockey Prospectus. To see how this worked for the Calgary Flames last season, visit Flames Nation.
Over the past couple of weeks we've looked at virtually all the Winnipeg Jets players with any significant NHL experience, two at a time, finding historical players with era-adjusted statistics similar to theirs recently, and using their subsequent results to help establish objective expectations for today's roster.
Son of former NFL lineman Bill Slater, Jim Slater is currently the longest-tenured Thrasher/Jet on their roster. Drafted in the first round back in 2002, Slater played three more seasons for Michigan State University before making his NHL debut right after the lock-out. He scored 20 points in 71 games as a rookie, a level he's yet to re-achieve in the five seasons since.
Vukota 49 9 10 19
Snepsts 49 7 9 16
16 matches, closest comparable: Kirk Maltby, 2000-01
There's not much of a role for Slater on the Jets other than some depth two-way play. If he stays healthy, he could threaten 30 points, but 20 is far more realistic.
Physical and hard-working depth winger Tanner Glass was signed this off-season after two seasons with the Canucks where he earned just 21 points in 140 games.
Vukota 59 3 5 8
Snepsts 70 2 8 10
7 matches, closest comparable: Craig Berube, 1993-94
There's not a lot of wiggle room for a tough guy without much history of scoring points. Though it's consistent with his average in Vancouver, Tanner Glass might be lucky to get the 10 points Snepsts is projecting.
Winnipeg's newest addition Kyle Wellwood was signed recently to provide some low-cost depth scoring, and to take some attention off of Dustin Byfuglien's conditioning issues.
A high-scoring centre in the Juniors, Wellwood's NHL career high came in his rookie season with the Toronto Maple Leafs when an injury to Mats Sundin allowed him to play between Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky and finish with 45 points in 80 games. He was set to improve on that in 2006-07 with 42 points in 48 games when the first of a series of different injuries cut his season short.
Since then Wellwood has scored between 13 and 27 points in parts of four seasons with Toronto, Vancouver and San Jose, during which time he amazingly once went 159 games without taking a penalty.
Vukota 55 9 14 23
Snepsts 55 7 11 18
36 matches, closest comparable: Phil Bourque 1992-93
A lot will depend on Wellwood's role – if he's just a depth option, then these projections are likely accurate, including Phil Bourque's 55-game, 20-point 1992-93 season – smack dab in how Wellwood has been doing these past four years. This is where you put your safe money.
If there are a few injuries and Wellwood gets some opportunities on the power play, or with players like Ladd and Kane, there's the potential for a 3rd 40-point season, best-case scenario.
Aleksandr Burmistrov, the NHL's 8th overall pick in 2010, came immediately to the NHL, scoring 20 points in 74 games as a teenager. Despite being a finesse player, his career highlight might have been fighting John Tavares to a draw despite being outweighed by 2.5 Byfuglien meals.
Vukota 66 10 17 27
Snepsts 74 9 19 28
27 matches, most recent comparable: Stephen Weiss, 2003-04
Having played just one NHL season, we lack the data to run a Snepsts analysis on Burmistrov, so instead we looked for players of a similar age with similar scoring. In all we found 27 players whose era-adjusted statistics were within 1 goal and 2 assist of Burmistrov's, and were between 18 and 20.
While over-all the group's performance roughly matched Vukota on the south side of 30 points, there's plenty of hope for a stronger season, including his most recent comparable Stephen Weiss, who scored 29 points in 50 games after his 21-point 19-year-old season.
Best case scenario? Rick Hampton, Viktor Kozlov, the infamous Alexandre Daigle and Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff all set historical precedents that put a 40-point season within reach.