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03-29-2011, 09:47 PM
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The Second Great Consolidation

I think that it has now been long enough since the fall of Communism for us to take a step back and think about the effect that it has had on the overall talent pool of the NHL.

It's time for us to realize that there was a second great consolidation of worldwide talent that happened sometime around 1993, one that affected the difficulty of NHL scoring finishes almost as profoundly as the 1926 consolidation. To deny the increased value of scoring finishes after 1993 is to assume that all the talent stuck behind the Iron Curtain disappeared into thin air - and we know that isn't the case.

I'm picking 92-93 for a reason - all the young Soviet stars were already in the NHL and it was the breakout season for Selanne, Bure, and Mogilny. Fedorov would break out the next year, and by 94-95 the place of Europeans on the NHL scoring tables was firmly entrenched.

Shane Doan vs. Typical Second Liners

I'm looking at top 30 scoring finishes here. It's a quick and dirty way to look at peak offense. I am bolding scoring finishes starting in 92-93. Variables affecting the value of the scoring finish are in (parenthesis). I'm trying to be as accurate as possible, but there might be slight errors here and there.

Keep in mind that the following discussion is about points production in the regular season only.

Shane Doan - 20, 22, 28 (regularly led his team in scoring, no major dropoff)

These Players were clearly behind Doan in point production

Bob Nystrom - no top 30 finishes (watered down 70s, little PP time)
Wendel Clark - no top 30 finishes
Adam Graves - no top 30 finishes (only 27 assists in his 52 goal outlier year)
Trevor Linden - no top 30 finishes
Dale Hunter - no top 30 finishes
Al Secord - 21st (playing with Savard and Larmer)
Brian Bellows - 14th
Gary Roberts - 17th, 29th
Stan Smyl - 20th, 28th
Brian Sutter - 18th (with Federko, but 6th in Hart voting that year)
Rick Vaive - 17th, 24th
Rick Tocchet - 15th, 14th

Tocchet deserves special discussion because his finishes look fairly strong. His 15th place finish in Philly is strong, but he was a regular linemate of 160 points in 60 games Mario Lemieux in 92-93, so that finish is devalued. And these finishes are major outliers for his career.

The following players had a single season better than Doan, but are behind overall in my judgment

John Ogrodnick - 8th, 23rd
Vic Hadfield - 4th (in the watered down 70s, playing with Ratelle and Gilbert)
JP Parise - 7th, 27th (watered down 70s)

The following are close to Doan, but I prefer Doan offensively

Kirk Muller - 14th, 27th, 28th, 30th
Jean Pronovost - 8th, 25th, 28th (watered down 70s)
John Tonelli - 17th, 13* (little PP time, but best year was the year he played with Bossy)

I prefer Doan to Muller because of Muller's steep dropoff outside his relatively short peak. Tonelli also has a steep dropoff.

The following are too close to call

Rene Robert - 7th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 26th (watered down 70s, 3rd best member of his line)
Bill Guerin - 13th, 21st, 28th
Mats Naslund - 8th, 23rd, 27th, 29th (good scorer on a defensive team)

Guerin almost perfectly matches Doan. He had 69 points when Doan had 68 in 2003-04. (21st and 22nd place finishes). His 13th place falls down to earth a little as an outlier when he split the team with Doug Weight (8th in scoring) and another playmaking center (6th in scoring). Guerin is the better goal scorer and should be upgraded, but they are almost equals in point production (both men have gentile dropoffs after their peaks).

As for Roberts, remember just how much talent was in Europe or the WHA during his career.

The following players are better offensively than Doan

Rod Brind'amour - 11th, 14th, 24th (all as center)
Bobby Smith - 8th, 15th, 18th, 22nd, 22nd, 27th, 30th

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