Lately a lot of my work is with creating reasonable expectations. When judging a player, especially using quantifiable measures, you must have reasonable baselines to compare the player to. If you don't, there is no point.
Using 5v5 TOI/60 of previous players I was able to calculate a baseline based off of mean and median values:
It's difficult to predict the Jets future lines and usage, especially given how last season went. Then add in the fluid movement with injuries, slumps, hot streaks and simple changes for the sake of change, it becomes near impossible to predict perfectly... but I can make reasonable estimates.
Let's start with the Jets expected top line...
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik
Paul Maurice swapped Blake Wheeler with Michael Frolik early, citing numbers beyond the score sheet as his reasoning for the decision. The Jets swapped scoring for defensive play and combined their three best shot metrics players in order to construct their best possible two-way line. A line that can face tough match-ups while out shooting, out possessing, out chancing and out playing them.
|"1st Line"||Andrew Ladd||52.5%||51.8%||Pass||2.25||2.0||Pass|
|"2nd Line"||Andrew Ladd||53.4%||50.5%||Pass||2.04||1.7||Pass|
Numbers are for 2011-14 cumulative.
* Andrew Ladd has been above the first line baseline in both categories two out of three times. Over the last three seasons Ladd has posted a 54.8, 51.7 and 53.1 Corsi%, despite tending to take the Jets tough minutes. He's also added offense being the Jets second highest 5v5 scoring forward with 1.73, 2.63 and 2.00 point per 60 min seasons.
* Bryan Little came to Winnipeg with many saying he was a glorified 2nd line centre, predominately looking at his point totals. Little has shaken off this reputation though with his high-end two way play. His Corsi% over the last 3 seasons has been 53.9, 49.3 and 53.2. His 5v5 point production has been on the rise with posting 1.52, 1.84 and 2.09 per sixty paces. (Little's low 2012-13 Corsi% came crashing down from Little doubling up as a defensive zone faceoff specialist during Slater's injury)
* Michael Frolik gets hurt in this exercise from playing a majority of the first two seasons in a fourth line role. He does however still fair well which is impressive. Frolik has always been a strong shot metrics player, posting 51.5, 56.2 and 53.0 as of late. His point per 60 rates have been 0.85, 1.37 and 1.98 over the previous three seasons.
If this line sticks together for a majority of the season, their ability to improve puck possession should give them even more opportunities to increase their scoring. If we isolate minutes where Little and Frolik were on a line together, the Jets had an zone-start adjusted Corsi% of 57.5. Frolik's zone-start adjusted Corsi% with Ladd was 56.2.
Ladd-Little-Frolik might not put up points like the elite first lines in the NHL; however, they do out play their opponents. A 6.2-57.5% Corsi would place them amongst the top 10-15% of the NHL's first line forwards. That's really good. Remember that Corsi% shows you which players are most likely to outscore their opponents.
While there are a lot of other variables, this should be the Jets top line going in.