The shortened season of 2013 is now long over, and I for one don't know of a better way of moving on from the second worst year in franchise history then to examine how the players fared, or in some cases exceeded, expectations by utilizing Hockey Prospectus writer Tom Awad's VUKOTA system.
What's the VUKOTA system, you ask? Well, it uses both traditional and non-traditional numbers to compare players in the NHL today to players from NHL past, in order to project how they might do the following season. It uses players from the 2011-12 season only, so rookies Jonathan Huberdeau and Drew Shore aren't included in the list. VUKOTA doesn't predict much for goaltenders outside of games played and save percentage, since all three goaltenders were predicted to have save percentages that begin with .9, I decided to leave them out.
VUKOTA predicted the Florida Panthers would finish 29th overall in the NHL standings with 47 points, one point more than the Columbus Blue Jackets and two less then the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, and Phoenix Coyotes. It's not perfect, but it's the best system out there.
First, a look at the forwards. All tables in here are sortable by column.
2013 Florida Panther Forwards VUKOTA Projections vs. Actual Numbers
- Only Tomas Kopecky, Shawn Matthias, and Tomas Fleischmann scored more points than VUKOTA projected them, with Kopecky surpassing his total by the highest amount.
- The Panthers' offense was hurt badly by the absence of Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss. The two, along with Fleischmann, were practically Florida's entire offense last season, scoring 70 goals and 172 points. This year the trio scored 15 goals and 43 points.
- The closest spot-on projections were for Jack Skille and George Parros. Skille had a career season with his highest PPG (0.30), while Parros surprised no one by scoring only one goal and scoring half his point total from the previous year.
- VUKOTA didn't project a single Panther to score more than 15 goals, and only three players to score more than ten. It was right about only three 10+ goal scorers, but wrong on the 15 part.
- Which is more terrifying; VUKOTA projecting Greg Rallo playing double digit games, or how VUKOTA was right about him playing double digit games?
2013 Florida Panther Defensemen VUKOTA Projections vs. Actual Numbers
- Defensemen projections for VUKOTA are tough since even-strength scoring tends to change radically by season. However, the projections for the blueliners here do make some sense.
- VUKOTA was a huge fan of Dmitry Kulikov, as it expected him to take a big step forward and challenge Campbell for scoring lead among defensemen. Sadly injuries handicapped Kulikov yet again.
- Who would have guessed that Mike Weaver would surpass his projected point total in less games? Weaver, along with Brian Campbell, exceed their exceptions from VUKOTA, although Campbell still led the blueline in points, which was expected.