petr prucha

Petr Prucha and the Scorers of the Red Arc

by Matt Waxman

In his first season in the NHL, Petr Prucha opened a lot of eyes with 30 goals in only 68 games. This past season, as a result of his great performance, expectations were very high, but with only 22 goals and 40 points Prucha’s most recent campaign was a bit of a let down. What can we expect of Petr this coming season and for many more seasons to come? I offer the following statistical analysis.

Despite Prucha’s “off-year,” he still had a better shooting percentage than the Maurice Richard Trophy winner, Vincent Lecavilier (15.2%, 52 goals), the runner up Danny Heatley (16.1%, 50 goals), the phenom, Sidney Crosby (14.4%, 36 goals), and even Jaromir Jagr (9.3%, 30 goals). According to his shooting percentage, if Prucha could take around 250 shots in a season he would come home with about 41 goals (250 shots x 0.162 goals/shot).

Realistically, as Prucha’s role has been defined, assuming he remains on the third line, 250 shots would be hard to come by; 200 shots is a much more obtainable number, which translates into nearly 33 goals. Moreover, Prucha’s shooting percentage from his rookie season was nearly 7 percent higher than that from the 2006-2007 season; it would be wiser to use Petr’s average shooting percentage, 19.65 percent, which means Petr would tally right around 40 goals given 200 shots and 49 goals given 250.

SeasonGPGAP+/-PIMPPSHGWSHOTSS%Time On IcePP TimeMin/PointMin/Goal

Now consider Prucha’s rates of production, that is his minutes per point and minutes per goal. Should Petr Prucha be allowed to see a significant amount of ice time, say 1300 minutes as compared to the less than 1000 minutes he has averaged over the last two seasons, while maintaining the average of his scoring pace over the last two seasons ( 22.74 min/point) your looking at 57 points. Say Petr got the ice time of those with similar minutes per point ratios as Petr’s 2006-2007 ratio (Justin Williams and David Vyborny are a couple of comparable players), then you’d be looking at about 1700 minutes, which translates into 75 points on the season.

Essentially, whichever way you cut it your looking at a player with a ton of potential. Consider the fact that Prucha has spent most of his time playing alongside lesser talents–Jason WardBlair BettsMatt CullenRyan Hollweg, etc.–and it becomes even more apparent of what the guy is capable. Furthermore, don’t forget that Petr is still young too, and if anything, you’d expect his rate of production to increase as he grows into the league. The most important thing for Petr’s development now is that he gets the opportunity to log ice time. Hopefully, Tom Renney does not scratch Prucha from the lineup in favor of Colton Orr like he did a few times last season. At 25-years-old this could be the most pivotal season of Petr Prucha‘s career, should his rate of production drop off he will be labeled a fringe second liner, at best, and will see no increase in ice-time, but if Prucha shows us something he could ensure himself a position on the first line for the 2008-2009 season. See the tables below for some of the top rates of production and the players that had similar rates to Prucha.

Player (06-07) Minutes / Goal
Teemu Selanne 30.23
Thomas Vanek 31.99
Danny Heatley 34.50
Vincent Lecavalier 35.64
Jonathan Cheechoo 36.07
Jason Blake 37.20
Jason Spezza 38.01
Alex Ovechkin 38.13
Simon Gagne 39.00
Marian Hossa 41.35
Ilya Kovalchuk 42.03
Martin St. Louis 46.07
Justin Williams 51.82
Jaromir Jagr 59.47
David Vyborny 104.23

Player (06-07) Minutes / Point
Sydney Crosby 13.67
Joe Thornton 14.61
Jason Spezza 14.86
Teemu Selanne 15.44
Maxim Afinogenov 15.65
Danny Heatley 16.43
Daniel Briere 16.47
Joe Sakic 16.56
Vincent Lecavalier 17.16
Marc Savard 17.27
Marian Hossa 17.78
Jaromir Jagr 18.58
Martin St. Louis 19.42
Justin Williams 25.52
David Vyborny 26.06

2007-2008 Projections

For this season, most likely, you would expect the top 2 lines to eat up about 3,300 minutes (approximately 1,700 minutes for the first line and 1,600 minutes for the second line, including time on the powerplay and penalty kill) of the season’s 4,920 minutes (60 minutes a game x 82 games a season). That leaves 1,620 minutes for the third and fourth line. That means the third line could see about 1020 minutes and the fourth line around 600. It’s tough to determine, but unless Petr Prucha plays on the second line expect another 1,000-minute season. Playing on the third line this year, however, Prucha should have better skilled linemates, Callahan and maybe Dubinsky, and should be able to increase his rates of production up to something near his 05-06 marks. I’d look for about 21.5 min/point and 36 min/goal, which would be around 47 points and 28 goals given 1,000 minutes of ice time.

Future Projections (keep in mind this is simply an extrapolation of current numbers)

In the 2008-2009 season, with the likely retirements of Straka, Shanahan, and perhaps even Jagr, it seems that Petr Prucha could be heading for the first line. If the Rangers lose all three that would amount to about $10.7 million of free space, but take two million off for the additional money it will take to lock up Lundqvist to a long term deal (6 years at $6.25 per seems reasonable) and you’ll potentially have $8.7 million left to sign one or more of Markus Naslund, Pavol Demitra, Ladislav Nagy, Patrick Marleau, Michael Ryder, Danny Heatley, Miroslav Satan, and Marian Hossa; don’t think for a minute Glen Sather wouldn’t throw $8 million per season at Heatley or Hossa. However, the Rangers will have to resign or replace Avery, Roszival, Malik, and Mara, all of which will be unrestricted free agents. Nonetheless, let’s for just minute say Heatley is signed. You would be looking at a first line of Prucha, Gomez, and Heatley. Each would receive in the range of 1700 minutes of ice time.

For 1700 minutes and 31 min/goal and 19 min/point (levels comparable to Prucha’s first year numbers), which I arrived at taking into account the skill of Gomez and Heatley and Petr’s own development, but also factoring in the opposition of the top defensive pairings that face a top line, although I’m assuming the skill of linemates and increased powerplay time would greatly outweigh the top defensive pairings, you would expect 90 points and around 55 goals. These numbers and Prucha’s playing style could draw comparison to Marty St. Louis, although Prucha is not as fast, and not a penalty killer.

Of course, all this statistical mumbo-jumbo isn’t worth a penny. Petr Prucha could go on to have an excellent career, as my analysis suggests, or simply an average one. I’m simply using the numbers here to prove his current worth and his potential. I can’t possibly consider him sustaining an injury, developing great chemistry with a linemate, etc.

The point is that Prucha is a very important part of this team for the upcoming season and future campaigns as well. Even if Prucha should find himself on the third line, and maintains his past rates of production, he will be among the best third line players in the league in terms of production. With that said, Prucha would be miscast as a third liner; it is apparent that he possesses the skills set necessary to play on the scoring lines. While it is a testament of the Rangers depth to have Petr on the third line, continuing this long term may stunt his development.

Projections (using 05-06 and 06-07 rates of production):

1,000-minute season
22-30 goals and 40-47 points

1,300-minute season
28-42 goals 51-66 points

1,700-minute season
36-55 goals 66-86 points

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