Predicting the Statistical Leaders for the Montreal Canadiens in 2014-15

Brandon DuBreuilContributor IIIAugust 30, 2014

Predicting the Statistical Leaders for the Montreal Canadiens in 2014-15

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    Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban
    Max Pacioretty and P.K. SubbanFrancois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

    The Montreal Canadiens' 2014-15 season is approaching. Opening night against the Toronto Maple Leafs is just five weeks away.

    It seems like a good time to start making predictions about the upcoming year. 

    One question that's always on the mind of hockey fans before a season begins is who will lead the team in statistical categories. 

    The Habs have been led offensively by two young stars over the past couple of seasons, and that will likely happen again. The penalty-minutes leader also seems obvious for 2014-15, while plus/minus is much harder to forecast. 

    Here are some predictions for the Montreal Canadiens' statistical leaders in 2014-15. 

    All stats from NHL.com. All depth-chart and salary-cap information from CapGeek.com.

Goals: Max Pacioretty

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    Max Pacioretty celebrates a goal.
    Max Pacioretty celebrates a goal.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Here's one of the safest bets you could make about the Montreal Canadiens' statistical leaders in 2014-15: Max Pacioretty will lead the team in goals. 

    Pacioretty, who is still just 25, proved last season that he is developing into one of the most dominant goal scorers in the NHL

    His 39 goals ranked him fourth in the entire NHL, and first among left wingers. More impressively, his 0.53 goals-per-game average was tied for third among NHL players who appeared in 35 or more games. Only Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin had better averages (Corey Perry had the same average). 

    Pacioretty has all the skills needed to be a dominant NHL scorer. He's big, fast and has a wicked shot.

    Last season, he turned those tools into 39 goals. Expect a similar performance this season. 

Assists: P.K. Subban

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    P.K. Subban
    P.K. SubbanElsa/Getty Images

    Two seasons ago, P.K. Subban led the Canadiens in assists with 27. Last season, he repeated the feat with 43 helpers. And in 2014-15, he'll once again be atop the assists column at season's end.  

    Subban, who was signed to an eight-year, $72 million contract in the offseason, has developed into one of the NHL's premier offensive defensemen. His skating, shot and vision make him one of the most dangerous weapons from the back end. 

    The 25-year-old is just now reaching the peak of his career, so don't expect a slowdown for P.K. in 2014-15. He will deliver more stellar offensive numbers. 

    Expectations will be through the roof for Montreal's new $9 million man, but that shouldn't matter for Subban. He'll lead the Canadiens in assists in 2014-15. 

Points: Max Pacioretty

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    Max Pacioretty
    Max PaciorettyFrancois Lacasse/Getty Images

    Max Pacioretty will lead the Canadiens in goals, and P.K. Subban will lead the squad in assists. But predicting which of the two will have more points isn't as easy. 

    In the lockout-shortened 2013 season, Pacioretty had 39 points (15 G, 24 A) to edge Subban by one single point (11 G, 27 A, 38 P). Pacioretty did skate in two more games than Subban, however. 

    Last year, Pacioretty put up 60 points (39 G, 21 A) to Subban's 53 (10 G, 43 A). Pacioretty also missed nine games while Subban appeared in all 82. 

    When taking games played out of the equation, the situation becomes a bit murkier. Pacioretty had 0.89 points per game in 2012-13 and 0.82 in 2013-14, while Subban had ratios of 0.90 and 0.65 in the same seasons.

    So who will emerge as the Canadiens point leader in 2014-15? Let's allow the numbers to decide. 

    Pacioretty's points-per-game average over the past two years is 0.855. If he maintains that average over 82 games, he'll score 70 points next season. Subban's two-season average is 0.775, a pace for 64 points in 82 games. 

    The edge goes to Pacioretty. 

    The race to lead the Habs in scoring this season will be a close one. In fact, it'll probably be decided by games played when it's all said and done. But, assuming both stay healthy for the entire season, expect Pacioretty to lead the team offensively. 

     

Plus/Minus: Andrei Markov

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    Andrei Markov
    Andrei MarkovFrancois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

    Plus/minus is a very difficult stat to predict. Let's look at the past couple of seasons to enforce that point. 

    In 2012-13, 18-year-old rookie Alex Galchenyuk led the Habs in plus/minus with a plus-14 rating. Subban was a plus-12. Lars Eller was a plus-eight. Andrei Markov was a team-worst minus-nine. 

    Fast-forward one season.

    Markov led the team at plus-12. Eller was a team-worst minus-15, followed by Galchenyuk at minus-12. Subban was also a negative at minus-four. 

    Not a whole lot of consistency, which makes predicting the 2014-15 leader a difficult thing to do. However, Markov should be able to repeat last year's performance and lead the pack once again.

    Two seasons ago, when he finished a minus-nine, Markov was playing in his first full season since 2008-09 due to various injuries. He was slow on the ice. Really slow. And it showed defensively. He was routinely beat to the outside by opposing forwards. Teams scored at ease when he was on the ice.

    Last season, things were different. Markov was much quicker on his feet, which led to him being a lot better defensively. He was used on the back end as a shutdown defenseman, and he delivered. 

    The veteran defenseman signed a three-year contract extension in the offseason. His cap hit will be $5.75 per year, meaning big things will be expected from him. Another year like last would suffice, however. 

    Plus/minus is probably the hardest stat category to predict, but Markov has as good a chance as anyone to lead the team. Expect him to do so in 2014-15.

Penalty Minutes: Brandon Prust

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    Brandon Prust (left) is separated from Chris Kreider.
    Brandon Prust (left) is separated from Chris Kreider.USA TODAY Sports

    The final prediction of this slideshow is another easy one: Brandon Prust will lead the Montreal Canadiens in penalty minutes in 2014-15. 

    Prust led the Habs with 121 penalty minutes in just 52 games played last season. That was 36 more than second-place George Parros, who had 85. 

    Parros, whose lone job was fighting, is now gone, meaning all of the goon work will be up for grabs. Prust won't be expected to take all the fights, but he'll be in on a fair share. 

    Prust has a hard time staying healthy, but a few missed games here and there won't matter in this stat category. Assuming he appears in around 50 games in 2014-15, he's a safe bet to lead the Canadiens in penalty minutes. 

    Let's talk Habs hockey: 

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