A couple of years ago, for THN’s Ultimate Pool Guide, I researched all of the rookies since the lockout and analyzed how they did as sophomores. I discovered there was a marked difference between rookies aged 20 and under versus rookies 21 and older. The members in the older group were twice as likely to see a reduction in their stats in that second year.
So far, in 2011-12, players such as Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture, Derek Stepan, Kevin Shattenkirk and Taylor Hall are producing at about the same rate or slightly better (though Skinner is currently out with a concussion).
Jordan Eberle, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin have surged to great heights. Eberle is a top 10 scorer, Seguin is a point-per-game player and Marchand I gave the “Multi-Category Stud” award to in my latest Yahoo Puck Daddy piece. Of the three, Marchand was a rookie in the older category.
Here are some of the victims of the sophomore slump, so far:
Michael Grabner, Islanders
I singled out Grabner as the most susceptible to a slump this campaign and so far I’m right on the money. He boasts tremendous speed and determination, but hangs onto the puck too long and is prone to scoring droughts. Now 24, he fits firmly in the “older rookie” section and his streakiness just screamed “jinx” to me. He doesn’t have the skill set to rack up the assists, so while he may turn things around and score 30 goals, I don’t think 50 points is reachable.
Tyler Ennis, Buffalo
At 22, Ennis also falls into the “older” category. He has been struggling with an ankle injury ever since the seven-game mark and I fear that by the time he gets things sorted out it will be February. Just don’t forget his name next year.
P.K. Subban, Montreal
Three for three so far with another fellow in the “older” group. Subban’s slump can be attributed to his team as much as himself. When the team around him is 23rd in goals scored, it will obviously have an impact on his stats. He has 12 points in his past 21 games and responded well to a recent healthy scratch, so I’m not prepared to write off a 50-point season just yet. Buy low.
Cam Fowler, Anaheim
After 111 games in the NHL, he’s a minus-40. But poolies are more interested in the goals and assists from this guy. As a rookie he had 40 points, but his current pace is for 35. Still just 20, he is one of the few slumpers in the “younger” category. I think what you’ve seen is what you’ll get for this year, but he’ll bounce back nicely next season I’m sure.
Magnus Paajarvi, Edmonton
From 15 goals and 34 points in minimal ice time last season, to being unable to hit the broad side of a barn this campaign. Paajarvi is in the American League now, where he’ll find his confidence (and the net) and hopefully get geared up for a rebound next year.
Bryan Bickell, Chicago
The big 25-year-old had some potential as a top-six power forward, but the linemates need to be there for him to thrive. Without stars, he’ll struggle to get to 40 points. Last season’s 37 points would have been matched this year were it not for the tremendous depth the Blackhawks added over the summer. Barring some injuries, he’ll continue to be a 20-point, 90-PIM player for 2011-12.
I identified six players in a sophomore slump here and four of them were older than 20 in their rookie year. That’s in line with what I said at the beginning: “members in the older group were twice as likely to see a reduction in their stats in that second year.” Just something to keep in mind every summer.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.