In the aftermath of yesterday’s trade with the Anaheim Ducks, in which Joffrey Lupul joined the Toronto Maple Leafs, many fans expressed concern over two years’ contract term at a somewhat high dollar figure for what was perceived to be declining production.
Although it is very easy to get caught up in the base stat lines (goals, assists, points), what might be surprising to some is Lupul’s rate of production has actually remained fairly consistent during the past three seasons prior to 2010-11. Despite last season and the start of his current season being cut short due to back surgery and a subsequent blood infection, a quick look at his per-game statistics reveal few recent changes in the winger’s season-to-season productivity.
|Season||GP||G/Gm||A/Gm||Pts/Gm||% Pts PP||ES TOI||PP TOI|
|Over 82||82||23 G||24 A||47 Pts||15 PP Pts||—||—|
A Few Notes:
— In his first go-round with Anaheim, Lupul received primarily 3rd line ice time at ES, with a promotion to top-line PP duty leading to a pronounced surge in production during his second season (05-06).
— After being traded to Edmonton, Lupul’s numbers declined across the board. He bounced between 2nd and 3rd line at ES and 1st and 2nd unit PP during a disasterous season, one which many felt was a product of the pressure of being a local hero in such an intense hockey market.
— In Philadelphia, Lupul’s steady production reflected regular 2nd line duty, although roster depth limited his powerplay time in his second season there (as evidenced by a sharp decline in both Pts/Gm and % PP Pts).
— Back in Anaheim, Lupul continued to thrive in a 2nd line role (in spite of an awful powerplay) until shelved by back surgery. Having missed training camp and preseason, Lupul found himself in a 3rd line role with only 2nd unit PP time upon returning to action two months into the current season.
— In a three-season span from 2007-08 through 2009-10, Lupul produced at a rate of 0.82, 0.64, and 0.61 points per game, and in 2005-06 produced at a rate of 0.66 P/Gm. It’s worth noting that over a full 82 games, the difference between a rate of 0.66 and 0.61 P/Gm amounts to 4 points (or 1 pt per 20 GP).
— Interestingly, while Lupul’s powerplay production declined significantly in 08-09 and 09-10 (which follows suit with his PP TOI), his overall point output remained consistent, an indication of improved production at even-strength.
— Lupul’s best seasons have come when he receives a large amount of PP time. The exception to this is the 08-09 season, when a deep Philadelphia roster saw him bumped to the second powerplay unit; despite the loss of over a minute of PP time per game, he still managed to produce 30% of his point total with the man advantage.
— On four occasions over 6.5 seasons thus far, Lupul has scored at a per-game goals rate which, in an 82-game season, would equal or exceed 26 goals (0.32 g/gm * 82 gm = 26 g). The only seasons he scored at a lesser rate were his rookie season, the down year in Edmonton, and this current season (first back from injury).
— Although I was unable to find exact statistics for this, many observers commented that Lupul’s best hockey is played from his off-wing (the left side).Â With the Leafs needing help at left wing, and with top-six ice time available, the conditions appear favorable for Lupul to return to form.
For his career, Lupul has compiled a 0.57 points per game average.Â As of today, this would place him 136th league-wide.Â Theoretically, if you consider there are 180 top-six forward jobs in the NHL (30 teams x 6), this would place Lupul smack in the middle of the 91-180 range … or, the 2nd-line player range.
Of course, such analysis is admittedly flawed in that 3rd liners on some teams do outperform 2nd liners on other teams, but the base point is valid: numbers-wise, Joffrey Lupul is a decent 2nd line NHLer. As for whether his contract is perhaps too rich for where he stands, that is neither here nor there, for it is the product (as put so aptly by Leafs’ GM Brian Burke) of another GM’s error in judgment.
In terms of full-season production, Lupul’s career “over a full 82 games” average works out to 23 goals and 24 assists. Based upon a rate of production higher than his career average over the two-and-a-quarter seasons prior to his injury, similar numbers certainly appear to be a reasonable expectation provided he is able to remain healthy and maintain a 2nd line role.
Looking forward to your thoughts as always,