Saturday, June 13, 2009

Heatley's Production Over The Next Five Years


Unquestionably, Dany Heatley has been an outstanding goal scorer since the NHL's lockout. Only two players, Alex Ovechkin (219) and Ilya Kovalchuk (189) have scored more than Heatley's 180 goals. The fourth highest goal scorer, Jarome Iginla, is 21 behind Heatley over that 4 season time frame.

Having said that, an acquiring team would be wise to consider that the Dany Heatley playing for them is not the age 25-28 Heatley; it will be the age 29-34 Dany Heatley. What age do you goal scorers generally start losing their scoring? I would guess somewhere between 28 and 30, but decided to look at some past players as examples. I arbitrarily decided to go back 10 years and look at the top 10 players in goal scoring from 95/96 to 98/99, for no reason other than thinking this might, and I stress might, give examples of players somewhat similar to Heatley in terms of goal scoring over a 4 year period. I decided to look at when in their careers these 10 players had their 7 best goal scoring seasons:

(1) John Leclair - His 7 best goal scoring seasons occurred at ages 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32.
(2) Teemu Selanne - 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 35, 36
(3) Jaromir Jagr - 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 33
(4) Petr Bondra - 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33
(5) Keith Tkachuk - 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29
(6) Zigmund Palffy - 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30
(7) Paul Kariya - 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31
(8) Brendan Shanahan - 24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 33, 37
(9) Eric Lindros - 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28
(10)Tony Amonte - 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 (had 31 goal seasons at 25 and 27, only counted the age 27 season)

Now, two of these "comparables" may not be particularly reasonable as comparables for Heatley, due to injuries (Lindros and Palffy).

That said, I do find it interesting that, of the 70 goal scoring seasons considered, only 10 occurred after a player was older than 30 years old. There is, on average, only one season in a player's top 7 seasons after age 30.

I’m sure there are more examples of players that peak later, but my point is that it doesn't seem to be particularly common, as illustrated by Dan Tolensky in this article. One of the arguments I've heard people make, in terms of the Oilers acquiring Heatley, is that you don't often get the opportunity to get a top goal scorer in the prime of his career. I contend it's unlikely that the Oilers, or any team trading for Heatley, would be getting a player in the middle of his prime; it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Heatley’s best goal scoring days are behind him. That is not to say that Heatley will certainly have his goal scoring fall off the map any time soon, but it is likely that he's not as prolific over the next 5 years as he has been over the previous four.

8 comments:

Coach pb9617 said...

Another reason why I prefer Gaborik

speeds said...

To be fair, Gaborik is only a year younger.

dstaples said...

Excellent work. I have noticed that players are hanging on a bit longer in this decade, but Heatley's best years may well be behind him.

Thank goodness, though, we're not talking about signing a 31 or 2 year old to a five year deal.

Rob said...

Good blog. Coach*, Gaborik is RW. Oilers need a quality LWinger that'll gel well with Hemsky.

Sean said...

Over the same time frame Iginla went 36,39,50,35 plus next season. I like Iginla the player more but offensively I'd put Heatley ahead of Iginla. Iggy keeps himself in amazing condition however. Can Heately match Iginla's output? I think so but Iggy brings more to the table.

Schitzo said...

Did you take into account league-wide goal scoring over that span? I look at a guy like Selanne and he shot the lights out as a rookie, then over the next 10 years league goal scoring was down significantly. Post-lockout overall league scoring is up, and he's posting seasons as good as he did when he was in his 20s.

If you use their scoring as an overall percentage of league scoring, that might be a more accurate result.

Bruce said...

If you use their scoring as an overall percentage of league scoring, that might be a more accurate result.

No need to reinvent that wheel. Hockey-reference.com lists adjusted goals, assists and points (and GAA) under "miscellaneous statistics".

speeds said...

I don't think that's necessarily unfair schitzo, I think you're right that it probably would have been a better way to go.

That said, I doubt it would change my overall conclusion, though it may reduce the lack of post 30 top seasons for goal scorers.