Admittedly, we're looking at a very small sample of players here. Still, the results look pretty close to what I would have expected: 75% of the time the player performs within 20% of his established ability over the previous four-year period. For the forwards the player performs within 20% of his established ability over 85% of the time. Obviously a larger sample of players will be needed in order to test these results. Fortunately, we are now entering the fifth year since the lockout. As such, I can predict the point totals for players entering their 29 year-old season this year using the previous four years as a base. If nothing else, this will be a fun experiment to revisit (triumphantly!) in nine months. Here are the predictions for the forwards who meet all of the criteria (have played at least 40 NHL games in each of the last four years, are entering their 29 year-old season and have achieved an average of 0.50 point per game over the previous four seasons). I included the cap hit as well as a high and low estimate, in terms of points per game, for next season.
A few notes for Oiler fans... Dany Heatley looks like a pretty good bet. As much as the situation with Heatley has been frustrating, there really aren't many players that have his offence and durability. I can see why the team is pursuing him to the point of embarassing themselves. If Heatley doesn't work, Jonathan Cheechoo might not be a bad idea. Granted, his last two years haven't been anything special, but that's part of why he's available. A bounce-back year from him could make for a big payoff. Finally, a guy like Robert Nilsson probably has some value to a team that thinks he can put up between 40 and 60 points. That's a talent that costs mucho money on the UFA market.