Year after year people rev up for their hockey pools and almost always rely on the past year’s scoring leaders in a big way when determining their selections for the coming season. That strategy is understandable—a player’s output from the most recent season is generally more telling than a player’s production two or even three seasons ago. Luckily for hockey fans, systems like Tom Awad’s VUKOTA take into account myriad factors when determining a projection for a player’s upcoming season.
Of the three positions in the NHL, forward, defense and goaltending, I was wondering which of these positions had the biggest percentage of repeat performers amongst the top 30 point producers (save percentage for netminders). The NHL changed quite a bit since the lockout, so I figured it was best to use the year following the lockout as a starting point.
After calculating the numbers from 2005 through 2010 (five seasons), let’s first take a look at the forwards. In 2006-07, 50% of forwards who finished in the top 30 scorers the year before ended up finishing in the top 30 in NHL scoring. In 2007-08, 47% of forwards from the year prior finished in the top 30 in NHL scoring; in 2008-09, 60% of the top 30 scorers were repeats from the year before and in 2009-10, 53% of top 30 scorers were repeats. As you can see, there was not an overly large gap between the highest season of repeat performers and the lowest season. The average was 52.5%.
Moving to defense, the findings were fairly similar. In 2006-07, 67% of defensemen in the top 30 for scoring defensemen were in the top 30 in scoring the season prior. In 2007-08 that number dropped from 67% to 47%, a drop of 20% or six players, and in 2008-09, the number rose to 50%, with the number rising yet again in 2009-10 to 53%. Overall, the range from top to bottom was 20%; however, the average was 54.25%.