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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Season Outlook

The season is just around the corner. I don't know about everyone else but I'm super excited to see some meaningful hockey and this group seems prepared to make some dramatic improvements over last year's version of the Thunderbirds.

So just how good do I think the Tbirds will be this season?

Let's walk our way through some well reasoned projections and see what we get.

Team Totals, 2009-2010:

172 Goals For – 255 Goals Against

Last season's defensive struggles has been much chronicled and it is hard to imagine that the unit could possibly be as bad as it was last season. Thus far I have heard nothing but positive reviews about Brenden Dillon and the addition of newly acquired Travis Bobbee, Austin Baecker, Austin Frank and Swiss import Dave Sutter should at the very least improve this unit slightly from last season.

It's also hard to imagine that Calvin Pickard will be better than he was last season but I would expect some marginal improvement as well. The learning curve gets pretty flat when you are already as good as Pickard is, but I'm sure he worked hard in the offseason and will benefit from his experience at Colorado's camp.

I think it's pretty safe to take the under on 255. A 30 goal improvement would be a pretty solid upgrade but I don't think that is out of the question so I'm going to peg goals against around 225.

Seattle's struggles on offense last season have also been discussed at length and I think it's pretty tough be reasonably optimistic about the goal total getting higher this season. Losing 41 goals and 69 points in the form of Prab Rai is a huge loss for a team that only scored 172 goals last season and that should be considered quite heavily in making any kind of offensive projections for Seattle. 2nd leading scorer Charles Wells should be poised for a breakthrough season and should be able to top his 21 goals and 55 points. Wells jumped from 15 points to 55 points last season, but don't expect another 40 point jump. He was close to being a point per game player in the final 3 months of last season so I will call for 25 goals and 70 total points. Beyond that… it's pretty tough to tell. Colin Jacobs should take a step forward in his development but I don't want to get crazy with his projection. His 13 goal, 26 point total wasn't bad for his rookie season but I think we all expected a little bit more and this season Seattle fans will have to hope he delivers. 20 goals and 25 assists shouldn't be out of the question. Other guys who should crack 40 points… Burke Gallimore and newcomer Marcel Noebels. Guys who might crack 40 points… I'd put Tyler Alos, Mitch Elliot, Luke Lockhart, Brendan Rouse, Connor Sanvido, Branden Troock and Travis Toomey in that category.

Unfortunately… that really isn't much. I think the offense will be improved but I can't reasonable project anything very much higher than 195 goals for this unit. It would some guys making huge steps forward and prove me wrong.

So… 195 Goals For and 225 Goals Against. Where does that leave us?

Quick Pythagorean Formula gives us a winning % of .428934 and 61.77 points.

Last season, 61 points would still have Seattle finishing in 9th place and missing the playoffs.

By my own admission though… I think these projections are pretty conservative. If things fall into place the way they could and our 18 year old players really take the next step forward, things could be better. Who knows… maybe Luke Lockhart becomes more of a scorer. Is this the year Chance Lund has a huge breakthrough? We just don't really know and I'm not betting on anything until I see it with my own two eyes.

In my best case scenario… I think the Tbirds defense improves all the way down to 200-210 and the offense surprises and pumps it up to 205-210. That would put the Tbirds closer to 72 points and likely back into the playoffs. I think the basement is probably 9th in the Western Conference and the ceiling is probably 6th at best.


Kodi said...

I thought that a lot of our defensive struggles from last season caused the low production on offense.

Basically because the forwards had to hang out in the defensive zone for such a long period of time by the time the puck was cleared and dumped into the offensive zone the players had to change lines. This happened time and time again. This also caused the ugly sot count against Calvin.

I think if we can even that number out i bit more it might give the offense the jumpstart that they needed

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself... We had a lot of periods last year where we barely managed a shot on goal. With more experience and a far more physical team we should be a lot better on the backend, who knows what the numbers on our forwards would have been last year if we could push the puck up. I'm pretty much with Tyler, if we pushed into a low playoff spot it would be a nice season. With our top two rivals being probably the best two teams in the conference this year, I really want to see the Tbirds bring something extra in those games bring a rivalry back.

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