I wrote a post a while back with the percentiles for certain stats for the 2006-07 season. I’ve gone and assembled some percentiles for the 1997-98 to 2005-06 seasons, inclusive. Even strength tonight. The charts are based on all forwards who played at least 120 minutes. It’s a bit misleading in that the years before 2005-06 have the EN goals in – the era was actually less offensive than it appears.
I’ve also got some breakdowns by age. Trivia question: how many 18 year old forwards played at least 120 ES minutes in the NHL over the past nine years?
Answer: 17. Overall, it’s a pretty star studded list. Thornton’s 1997-98 season was astoundingly poor, given what he’s since accomplished. The only rookies on this list who were probably worth their pay, in terms of offensive contribution, were Crosby, Kovalchuk and Marleau. Staal is an interesting guy. He’s getting ripped for having a bad year but I think a lot of his offence was probably lucky last year. He was a low shots/60 guy, with a high shooting percentage who scored a ton of shorthanded goals.
It’s probably pretty obvious where I’m headed with this. As of the end of last night’s game, Gagner is at 1.98 ESP/60. Assuming last year’s percentiles are reasonably applicable, he’s dueling with Marleau for the third most offensively successful rookie year of all time, subject to Patrick Kane knocking them both down.
That figure is all the more amazing because over the past 13 games, he’s played 142.35 ES minutes, scoring just 0.84 ESP/60. He’s EV+3 Ev-10. That’s awful. I thought that they made a mistake keeping him – when there’ve been fewer than 10 useful 18 year olds in the past 9 years, it just doesn’t seem like there’s much of a chance that he’s going to be much help.