Commentary

NHL's top 10 regression candidates

After peaks, some players are expected to fall in 2011-12

Updated: October 2, 2011, 1:30 PM ET
By Rob Vollman | Hockey Prospectus
Tim ThomasPhillip MacCallum/Getty ImagesTim Thomas will be hard pressed to match his performance from last season.

Nobody likes to hear that players on their favorite teams are going to regress, which is perhaps why Detroit Red Wings fans really gave it to us during the Summer Skate series when we dared to suggest that a certain 41-year-old Norris Trophy winner might not improve this season. But the harsh reality is that the projection was made by the cold, dispassionate calculations of VUKOTA -- as was this year's list of the 10 most likely players to regress in terms of our player value stat, goals versus threshold (GVT)

Before you blow up the comments section, keep in mind that players who performed exceptionally well last season are more likely to regress because of how much they surpassed their particular average seasons the year before. Players usually play to their average stats, so when they outperform them, most projections expect them to fall, and when they underperform, they're expected to rise.

To be clear, the players on this list aren't "bad" -- far from it -- but rather just unlikely to sustain the success they enjoyed a season ago. Now, take a look at who VUKOTA thinks will take a step back this season.

Tim Thomas, G, Boston Bruins Last season: 40.0 GVT | VUKOTA Projection: 13.3 GVT

The higher one climbs, the farther one has to fall, which may prove especially true for last season's Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Thomas, who posted an absolutely absurd .938 save percentage and 2.00 goals against average in the regular season and then actually improved on that in the postseason. VUKOTA projects Thomas, 37, will lose some playing time to Tuukka Rask and slide to being merely the sixth-best goalie in the league.


To see the rest of the projections and get access to all of Insider's 2011-12 NHL season preview content, sign up today.