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10-17-2012, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Regal View Post
I still think Francis' peak gets underrated by many here. Unlike the main board, most people here seem to take for granted that linemates don't generally affect star players point totals by much, yet Francis gets repeatedly punished for playing with Jagr. The fact that his point totals raised at a later age is always brought up as proof, but it's not that unreasonable for a non-physical playmaker to peak in his late 20s to early 30s. Some of his best comparables are guys like Oates, Ratelle, and Henrik Sedin, all of whom peaked at a similar time. Hell, even Gilmour's production hit a spike at 29 and 30.

That said, he was obviously never as good as Gilmour was in those two years, and the rest of their careers were fairly similar, with a bit of an edge to Francis. I think I would give it to Gilmour because of his peak, and the fact that if Gilmour was the man on a team like Francis was from a young age, I wonder if he could have been closer to his Toronto years at an earlier age.
Playing on a line with merely good players doesn't increase a player's point totals. Playing on the same line as a player much better offensively than you are often does, however. And with Francis, the evidence is overwhelming - never a top 10 scorer in the league (though very often 11-20), then suddenly a top 10 scorer 4 seasons in a row from the ages of 30-34, once his linemate Jagr starting winning Art Rosses. Then Francis goes to Carolina and his scoring drops back down to his pre-Jagr pace. His "Jagr bump" was fueled largely by secondary assists. And people who watched him play recognized that he wasn't as good as the numbers - he bascially got no Hart recognition until 2002 without Jagr (when he got a handful of votes), and his recognition for All-Star center was far lower than you would expect from his point totals. And we also have specific evidence of Jagr not missing a beat and inflating the point totals of his linemates in the seasons after Francis left.

Francis isn't a product of Jagr by any means, but his 1995-1998 statistical "peak" definitely was. I think that without Jagr, he continues being a 11-25 scorer like the rest of his career, save for the fringe top 10 finish in 2002 when a several of the league's best forwards were hurt.

Francis was a great player, much more longevity as a borderline elite player than Gilmour (or just about anyone). But really didnt have the dominant peak where he could be considered one of the best players in the world for a stretch.

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