Jets Comparables V: Fehr and Thorburn

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 Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Bryan Little, Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler. This week, we'll look at newly-acquired Eric Fehr and Chris Thorburn.

 

Eric Fehr, RW

 

Winkler Manitoba's Eric Fehr, a 1st round selection in 2003, played parts of three seasons before finally cracking Washington's every day line-up at age 23, scoring 12 goals and 25 points in 61 games back in 2008-09. His next season was a big success, scoring 21 goals and 39 points in 69 games despite playing just 12 minutes a game alongside the mediocre likes of Jason Chimera and Brendan Morrison.

 

Unfortunately in Morrison's absence Chimera and Fehr failed to find another centre last year with whom they enjoyed the same chemistry, and Fehr finished with just 10 goals and 20 points in 52 games – slightly lower than last year's projection of 11 goals and 24 points (applied over 52 games).

 

In Winnipeg Fehr may have the opportunity for a significant jump in playing time, which could easily translate into another 20-goal season, if he can fully recover from off-season shoulder injury and stay healthy.

 

Age

Player

Season

GP

G

A

Pts

24

Dustin Byfuglien

2009-10

82

17

17

34

27

Steve Bozek

1987-88

33

2

5

7

26

Bob Errey

1990-91

79

16

18

34

27

Eric Lacroix

1998-99

64

2

2

4

25

Randy Burridge

1990-91

62

12

10

22

24

Tyler Kennedy

2010-11

80

21

24

45

25

Erik Christensen

2008-09

64

7

20

27

27

Doug Sulliman

1986-87

78

20

20

40

26

Mariusz Czerkawski

1998-99

78

22

18

40

25

Darcy Rota

1978-79

76

17

18

35

 

 

GP

G

A

Pts

VUKOTA

58

15

16

31

Worst (Lacroix)

70

2

2

4

Best (Kennedy)

70

18

21

39

Average

70

13

15

28

 

Over-all Fehr had 72 close matches, which pessimistically projects to just 15 goals and 33 points even if he does manage all 82 games.

 

It's unlikely Fehr will get anywhere near the worst case scenario - the bizarre case of Eric Lacroix. Lacroix had three straight 30+ point seasons, scoring 99 points in 235 games, struggled with some conditioning issues and then bam – only 22 points in his last 189.

 

Will Eric Fehr score 20 goals? Vukota has him on a 20-goal pace if he stays healthy, three of his historical comparables did (Kennedy, Sulliman and Czerkawski), with four others coming reasonably close. He's going to get a lot more top-six opportunity on the Winnipeg Jets than he would back in Washington (or practically anywhere else), giving him every chance to finish the year at the top end of the projection – if he's healthy.

 

Chris Thorburn, RW/C

 

It probably makes less sense to run Chris Thorburn through Snepsts than the others. Thorburn is more of a gritty, depth defensive-minded player, earning 319 penalty minutes and 79 points in 150 AHL games as a youngster, and scoring just 16 goals and 46 points in 231 games as a Thrasher going into last season. Going into last year, he never averaged even ten minutes of ice-time per game in the NHL.

 

Last year he enjoyed a big 35% jump in ice-time, including valuable power play minutes and occasional even-strength opportunities with Kane, Antropov, Little and Stewart, and responded with a 19-point season, slightly more than the 16 that were projected by Snepsts. Is there any chance this foreshadows a jump to a 30-point secondary power forward?

 

Age

Player

Season

GP

G

A

Pts

27

Ryan Carter

2010-11

62

3

6

9

26

Dan Hinote

2002-03

60

6

4

10

30

Joel Kwiatkowski

2007-08

18

0

5

5

26

Dave Feamster

1984-85

16

1

2

3

28

Mike Polich

1980-81

74

6

4

10

30

Alan May

1994-95

34

2

3

5

27

Kevin Maguire

1989-90

66

5

7

12

26

Tyson Nash

2001-02

64

6

7

13

28

Eric Messier

2001-02

74

5

11

16

29

Doug McCaig

1948-49

56

1

4

5

 

 

GP

G

A

Pts

VUKOTA

65

8

9

17

Worst (McCaig)

82

1

6

7

Best (Kwiatkowski)

82

0

23

23

Average

82

5

9

14

 

Unfortunately Thorburn's historical comparables paint a bleak picture, with very little cause to hope for improvement over last season. Just like Battlestar Galactica, any apparent foreshadowing is probably just nothing, and will soon be forgotten.

 

Most of Thorburn's statistical comparables are goons, defensemen (which we normally program Snepsts to filter out), or depth players – Mike Polich is the only one to ever score 20 points in a season. The unlikely worst case of Doug McCaig (who has a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg) would likely mean his departure.

 

While Chris Thorburn should definitely see more offensive opportunities than Dan Hinote or Eric Messier, the historical odds are against his breaking even the 20-point mark, let alone 30.

 

Next Week

 

We'll speed things up next week, taking a big sweep of the remaining defensemen of primary consequence: Ron Hainsey, the unsigned Zach Bogosian, Johnny Oduya, Mark Stuart, and Randy Jones.

 

Players like Brett Festerling and Derek Meech lack the NHL experience for the Snepsts system but if there's an appetite, later we can find their NHL equivalencies using translation factors updated with 2010-11 data.

 

 

 

 

 

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