It’s not James van Riemsdyk’s offence, although a goal total that has now reached 11 bears savouring.
It’s not Nazem Kadri’s point production.
No, if you ask Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis about the biggest surprise in an 11-7-0 season he will default to Mark Fraser.
“We felt he would be a seven or an eight who could give you the odd game,” Nonis said. “You talk about players earning their ice time; Mark has earned it. He makes sound decisions. He doesn’t get beat very often because he is a very smart player and knows where to go positionally.”
Fraser has compiled a +13 rating in 15 games.
If you pro-rated Fraser’s plus/minus over an 82-game season he would come in at a tidy +71.
That’s’ right, +71.
This year’s 48-game schedule has made the traditional benchmarks of a hockey season irrelevant. We have long since grown accustomed to holding up 50-goal and 80-point seasons as evidence of excellence.
But the compressed schedule robs the hockey fan of the traditional numbers used to gauge production.
Now, when you take goals per game, points per game or plus minus per game and multiply them by 82, you my friend have just found fun in a box.
Of course, it’s all a ridiculous distortion. This year’s sampling is miniscule and bears no real relevance to what would happen in an 82-game season that is completely disconnected from this one. When, for example, a player misses games the entire equation goes – to use the scientific phrase – wacko. Note Matt Frattin’s 57 goals.
Saying Mark Fraser’s current +13 means he will be +71 next season is like saying my odds of winning Roll Up The Rim improve when I buy a large coffee instead of a medium.
Indulge me. We’re not talking life or death here.
What the numbers will tell you is that Mark Fraser is playing well. Anybody have a problem with that?
Same goes for James van Riemsdyk. Pro-rate JVR’s 11 goals in 18 games to an 82-game schedule and you have 50 goals. That’s a benchmark any hockey fan can get his head around.
Which puts a man to thinking…
Here then are Ulmerstandings, version XVI, the 82-game game.
Leafs offensive numbers pro-rated for 82 games.
Goals: Matt Frattin, 57.James van Riemsdyk, 50. Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak, 23. Mikhail Grabovski 18. Clark MacArthur, 16, Dion Phaneuf 14.
Points: Matt Frattin, 82. Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, 68. Nazem Kadri, 64. Cody Franson and Tyler Bozak ,60. Nikolai Kulemin and Dion Phaneuf,41. John-Michael Liles 33. Mikhail Grabovski 32. Clark MacArthur 16.
Plus Minus: Mark Fraser, +71. Cody Franson, +60.Mike Komisarek, +41. Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri, +22. Jay McClement and James van Riemsdyk, +18. Carl Gunnarsson +16.
For fun, I threw in the goalie figures which, you probably know, are already pro-rated.
Ben Scrivens: 2.10 GAA, .931 Save percentage.
James Reimer: 2.31 GAA, .929 Save percentage.
Jussi Rynnas: 000 GAA, 000 Save percentage.
What does it all mean? It means things are going pretty well.