Does 216 team goals sound about right, ten more than a disappointing 2014-15?

Does Tyler Bozak repeat a 12.55% 5v4 shooting percentage and lead the Leafs with 12 power play goals?

How much more 5v4 time will Nazem Kadri earn, and how will it affect his production?

How much do Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner improve in this transitional phase?

In 2014-15, Toronto fired a reasonable 7.51% at 5v5 and slightly high 11.05% at 5v4 (via Hockeyanalysis.com). The effect the January coaching change – the pressure of instilling a new philosophy beginning from management, trickling down through interim coaching staff and into player performance – had on team offense was devastating.

There’s so many questions for a revamped roster, consisting of a mix of showcased talent and future building blocks.

Finding offense after moving Phil Kessel will be difficult but imperative while adopting a new coaching philosophy and regime. The learning curve will present its own challenges, and offense may suffer immensely. For example, it looks like there are two potential 20-goal scorers, and a possible third should Joffrey Lupul remain healthy. James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri are the only Leafs with more than 20 goals in my projections.

One player I may be personally more optimistic about is former Bolt, Richard Panik. The waiver wire addition may not produce the offense, but there’s a contagious component to his on-ice work that I think will endear to coaching staff, translating to increased ice time. I placed Panik on the second line right wing in our initial opening night line combos, fighting it out with Peter Holland – who I envision as a winger, not a depth pivot.

Every season there’s a surprise player that knocks another out of a slot at training camp that changes usage and ice time dispersion immensely. Injury, call ups and players in different slots contribute to much more unpredictability, so these predictions may be dead in the water before the first puck has even dropped.

With lineup uncertainty and so many movable parts in the lower roster, predicting offense from the Leafs‘ depth became an offseason challenge reserved for less than a handful of NHL teams (I did all 30 teams for the McKeen’s Yearbook). The bottom six is set for widespread auditions for NHL and call ups as well as positional switch ups.

My projections have James van Riemsdyk winning the ’15-16 scoring crown and Morgan Rielly topping the Leafs blueline.

Methodology

Every season it seems we add more to our underlying predictions, especially with widespread acceptance of shot-based metrics and the underlying concepts generated by the yeomen work of hobbyist statistical analysts. I don’t have the extensive mathematical wherewithal to develop intricately accurate expected goals and points totals, but we introduced more mathematical foundations than ever before.

Baseline structure incorporated various scoring elements at 5v5 and 5v4, including one-year and career points per game averages, heavily weighted by individual and on-ice shooting percentage in both game situations as well as Individual Points percentage – a very versatile little stat and a topic covered recently by TSN’s Travis Yost.

Regardless of the measures introduced, we always find that there’s some manual tweaking required. The ’15-16 edition is no different. Most baselines fell within desired parameters – with some outliers and downright incorrect values – normally attributed to players with a small career point/game history.

The blue cells are for players whose predicted values are greater than the career points per game average. Even with a lot of optimism, to score 216 goals, Leafs skaters will have to generate points per game averages greater than their career average.

I’m also making the assumption that Mitch Marner is sent back to London of the OHL without a nine-game audition, even though he could win a spot as of training camp.

Gus Katsaros’ 2015-16 Leafs Player Projections

Below are my personal player projections. The McKeen’s predictions are separate and will included in the 2015-16 Yearbook, available September 3rd (subscribe here).

PLAYERPosGPGAPts1516 p/g1 Yr Pts/Gm
van RiemsdykF802828560.7000.683
KadriF772227490.6360.534
BozakF791622380.4850.598
RiellyD80830380.4750.358
LupulF671820380.5670.382
GardinerD76526310.4080.304
PanikF771613290.3750.224
HollandF691315280.4060.403
ParenteauF661018280.4240.393
PhaneufD76522270.3550.414
MatthiasF701412260.3710.346
WinnikF74718250.3390.430
ArcobelloF701112230.3900.403
SpalingF74815230.3110.329
KomarovF73812200.2780.419
BrennanD62414180.2900.167
BeckF5078150.3000.258
PolakD7159150.2080.161
MarincinD6638110.1650.122
HunwickD5728100.1750.200
CarrickF382570.1460.125
LeivoF92130.3370.111
FrattinF91120.2220.000
RobidasD120110.0830.135
BaileyF30110.3330.167
PercyD20110.5000.333
GranbergD20110.5000.000
HarringtonD20000.0000.000

Link to full projection data

5v5 and 5v4 data is from hockeyanalysis.com
Career and 1-year points per game via hockeyreference.com

Glossary
Sh% – shooting percentage
OISh% – On-ice shooting percentage
TmSh% – Team shooting percentage
Pts/Gm is for the 1-year (2014-15)

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