Colorado Avalanche Projected to Rack Up 17 Wins in '08-09

Shane GirouxSenior Analyst ISeptember 21, 2008

I signed up to be in a fantasy hockey draft this year run by James Mirtle. I'm not a big fantasy nut, but I figured it would be a good way to get me to concentrate on the statistical side of the game.

So I'm busy ranking players on Yahoo, along with my fresh new copy of The Hockey News Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide and various other Internet resources. It's entertaining, yet frustrating at the same time.

I've got to admit, it's taking a lot more thinking than I expected. When's the right time to draft a defenseman? Does a goaltender who gets 30 wins rank higher than a forward who puts up 70 points? When do you grab a scoring pest like Daniel Carcillo? It's making my head spin.

But as I was looking through the goaltender rankings, I noticed something that really boggled my mind—almost to the point that I declared all fantasy projections null and void.

The magazine gives an overview of each team and then proceeds to list every player, alphabetically, along with their projected stats. For goaltenders, this includes wins, GAA, SP and SO numbers. It's all based on last season's numbers with an eye to where that player now ranks in the organization. Or so I thought.

The Avalanche's incumbent No. 1 goaltender, Peter Budaj, is projected to rack up a—wait for it—a mind-boggling, incredulous, astonishing—wait for it again—ten wins this season. That's right, 10 bloody wins.

The following goaltenders are all ranked to get the same or slightly higher amount of wins as Budaj—Craig Anderson, Alex Auld, Brent Johnson, Patrick Lalime, Michael Leighton, Frederik Norrena and Tobias Stephen.

Solid group of backups right there, eh?
Now, that's not the end of my flabbergastedness. See, I could forgive them if they had some inside knowledge and pegged Raycroft to take over the No. 1 role with a projected 30-win season. So I jump over to to the Rs, take a deep breath and open my eyes to—7 wins.

The math on that isn't difficult. The Hockey News is projecting the Avalanche to win 17 games this season. That's about 20 percent of their games. That would put them on track for maybe a 40-point season, with a couple of OTLs tossed in.

"Is that even possible?", I asked myself. When was the last time a team finished with less than 20 wins? Heck, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay got in the W column 30 times last season.
So I did a bit of digging—not too much as it is Sunday and I don't want to work too hard—and found a couple teams who had finished with less than 20 wins in recent history.

The Tampa Bay Lightning missed the mark a few times in the late '90s, as did Atlanta. Ottawa and San Jose barely managed to barely crack double digits a couple times in the early '90s.

We can even look a bit more recently and note that Philadelphia only had 22 wins in the '06-07 season, while Pittsburgh achieved that same mark in '05-06 after having racked up 23 wins in '03-04. The projected superpower Chicago Blackhawks just slipped in to the 20-win category in '03-04 as well. So it's not entirely unfeasable.
However, it is entirely unreasonable to think a team which had 44 wins last season won't even get 50 percent of those numbers the next season with a similar roster.
Initially, I thought I'd let it slide. "They're just projecting individual stats, not team stats", I said.   But for goaltenders, the win stats are a projection of the team stats. And they've failed miserably with the Avalanche 'tenders.
But I'll keep chugging along, making sure to take every number I see with a grain of salt. It looks like The Hockey News won't be my saviour and I'll have to don my thinking cap during the three-hour draft tonight. And I suppose I'll have to bear the brunt of the blame if I come in last in the pool.
But it's all in fun and I hope it improves the quality of my analysis on this site.
Oh, and Jose Theodore? 38 wins.