I have just decided that it is time I start something new here. Who knows if I’ll continue with it but I am starting it and that is, well, a start. I am going to begin writing ‘Behind the Numbers’ articles in which I will analyse a player based on that players statistics. I am going to try to focus on players whose statistics might not back up common perception of that player or whose statistics might not warrant the salary that player just received or something along those lines. The first of hopefully many Behind the Numbers articles will focus on Sergei Samsonov.
I’ve debated the merits of the Sergei Samsonov signing by the Montreal Canadiens in the comments section of this website as well as elsewhere and I still believe that signing Samsonov for $3.5 million per year was a bad move. Common perception of Samsonov is that he is a highly skilled, goal scoring forward who will bring some much needed offense to the Canadiens. Unfortunately for the Canadiens the numbers don’t back that up. The numbers show him to be just an average, second line kind of winger.
Samsonov has played 8 seasons in the NHL. His first 3 years of his career he averaged 22 goals and 48 points. His next 2 seasons he averaged 29 goals and 73 points. Then in 2002-03 he missed most of the season due to injury and played just 8 games. In 2003-04 he scored 17 goals, 40 points in 58 games and last year he scored 23 goals and 53 points for Boston and Edmonton. In 533 career games he has scored 169 goals and 392 points. Prorate that to and 82 game schedule and you get 26 goals and 60 points. To put that into perspective Ray Whitney’s career 82 game average is 24 goals and 63 points. Ray Whitney is actually a pretty good comparison for Samsonov. Both are small left wingers with good speed and puck handling skills but not quite so adept defensively. But even that 24 goal, 60 point average that Samsonov has put up so far in his career might be a bit misleading considering he has only twice scored more than 53 points.
Is a 25 goal, 55 point guy who isn’t great defensively worth $3.5 million per season? Is Samsonov going to solve the woes of the Montreal offense which was the 11th worst in the NHL? In my mind the answer to both those questions is ‘No!’
(BTW, the same story can be written about last years signing of Kovalev who got a $4.5 million per year contract and who has never scored more than 26 goals and 66 points when not playing with Mario Lemieux.)