Welcome to a brand new off-season series where we’ll take a look at a Colorado Avalanche player, a statistic, and try to gauge where they’ll land next year. Will they go over the set number? Or will they fall short?
Today’s number doesn’t come from any sort of gambling site. It comes from me, and it involves arguably their most important addition this off-season.
Ryan Johansen Points In 2023-24: 52.5
Why did I set the line at 52.5? Easy.
# of points J.T. Compher had in 2022-23: 52
The expectation should be that Ryan Johansen, who the team acquired for nothing, will be an upgrade on Compher, who signed with the Red Wings. If you watched my film room on Johansen, you can see that I’m a little skeptical on him.
Johansen had a big year in 2021-22, but looking big picture, three of his last four seasons have been underwhelming offensively. In three of those seasons, he wouldn’t have hit the over, or even come that close.
Over the course of the last three seasons, his 5v5 points-per-60 is 1.57. By comparison, Compher’s was 1.5 over that same timespan. Natural Stat Trick only lets me compare over a three year span, so that’s why those are the years we’re looking at.
Not a huge difference, but there are other factors that need to be considered. For example – linemates. Johansen’s most common linemates over the past three seasons were, in order: Filip Forsberg, Eeli Tolvanen, Matt Duchene, and Luke Kunin.
And Compher’s most common linemates: Logan O’Connor, Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Newhook, and Mikko Rantanen.
The big name there is Rantanen. While I like Forsberg, and we know how talented Duchene is, Rantanen is on another level. It’s not just about goal scoring either. Rantanen is also a dynamic playmaker, so he will be the best player Johansen has had the opportunity to play with. And I expect them to play together a good bit.
We’re only talking about even strength here, too. In all likelihood, Johansen will get the first crack at the “bumper” spot on PP1. His ability to win the majority of the face-offs he takes makes it extremely likely, as well as his experience in that same position. And Colorado’s PP has been significantly better than Nashville’s.
At both even strength and on the powerplay, I don’t think Johansen is expected to be “the guy” on his line. He’ll be more of a support player, because that’s what he is at this point in his career. That will especially be true on the powerplay, where the Avalanche run everything through MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Cale Makar.
Arguably the biggest reason Compher had a career year in 2022-23 was simply opportunity. The Avalanche lost Nazem Kadri in free agency, and Alex Newhook had a really slow start. That catapulted Compher into the 2C role, and Colorado relied on him heavily the rest of the season.
Even that might be an understatement.
Compher averaged over 20:32 a game last season. That’s nearly 5 more minutes a game than Johansen played. The penalty kill played a part of that, and I don’t anticipate Johansen killing many penalties, but that’s still a large chunk. At even strength, Compher was sandwiched David Pastrnak and Matthew Tkachuk for the 34th most minutes per-game during the season.
Yes, you read those two names correctly. That’s how heavily the Avalanche relied on him. If he repeats that season again, I’d be very surprised.
The main point is that one would expect Johansen’s ice-time to go up. I highly doubt it goes up to the 20 minute mark, but it should go up from where he was at last season in Nashville.
Is more ice-time, and an elite linemate, enough for Johansen to hit the over? Well…
Evan’s Prediction: I’m Taking The Under. Barely.
The situation in Colorado will be as ideal as possible for Johansen, but I’m still going to take the under. My expectation is around 50 points, so I think he’ll get close, but here’s why I’m going under:
- His ice-time will go up, but I don’t expect it to hit Compher’s levels from last year, and that’s a good thing. Why? Because of Ross Colton, who I think will get plenty of ice-time in the 3C role.
- While he’s moving to a much better powerplay, he already was getting a lot of powerplay time, as he led all Nashville forwards in that category. Other players might also get a look in that bumper spot as the year goes on.
- Health. I just can’t buy that the Avalanche will be healthy all year until I actually see it. Johansen is also coming off an injury, and on a new team, so he might take a bit to adjust.
I expect this one to be close, and I won’t be surprised if it goes the other way, but I’m going with the under for now. If I get to camp and see a different Johansen than the one I saw last year, that may be enough to change my mind.