Comparables is a series where we take the statistics of some of the young, up-and-coming players in the league and compare them to other players with a similar background to give us an impartial career projection.
I’ve run this series twice in the past, looking at Matt Stajan and Andrei Kostitsyn, and today’s subject is Calgary Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf. We’ll start by looking at the profile we’ll use – please note that all results have been prorated over 82 games, both with Phaneuf and with the list of comparables.
- Dion Phaneuf
- 6’3” – 205lbs – First round pick
- 20: 82GP – 20G – 29A – 49PTS
- 21: 82GP – 18G – 34A – 52PTS
- 22: 82GP – 17G – 43A – 60PTS
- 23: 82GP – 11G – 37A – 48PTS
Phaneuf is not an easy player to find comparables for. He combines offensive ability with a physical edge, and he emerged as an incredibly useful NHL player in his rookie season. Not many players over the last 20 years can boast that particular skill-set. Nevertheless, there are two players who come close.
- Roman Hamrlik
- 6’2” – 208lbs – First round pick
- 20: 82GP – 21G – 19A – 40PTS
- 21: 82GP – 16G – 49A – 65PTS
- 22: 82GP – 12G – 29A – 41PTS
- 23: 82GP – 9G – 34A – 43PTS
- Rob Blake
- 6’3” – 222lbs – Fourth round pick
- 20: 82GP – 13G – 37A – 50PTS
- 21: 82GP – 10G – 19A – 29PTS
- 22: 82GP – 17G – 46A – 63PTS
- 23: 82GP – 20G – 47A – 67PTS
Of interest: both Hamrlik and Blake were essentially finished developing as offensive defencemen by the time they turned 25; Blake would never put up more points than he did at age 23, and Hamrlik never surpassed the totals he posted at the age of 21. This isn’t to say that their development stopped; it’s reasonable to suggest that both tightened up their defensive game as their careers continued on. Offensively though, they were finished.
I don’t think either is an ideal comparison for Phaneuf, but in this instance I lean towards Blake. Hamrlik had already played two seasons by the time he turned 20, and aside from one season his offence was fairly strictly confined to the 40-point range. Blake meanwhile was not as highly touted in his draft year (70th overall) but aside from that he’s a rather good comparison, allowing for the fact that he suffered an injury in his 21-year-old season that knocks his offence down in that year. If we accept that year as an aberration, he’s a touch better offensively than Phaneuf is over the same time span.
Questions for the comments section:
- Does Blake seem like a reasonable comparison for Phaneuf?
- If Phaneuf went on to have Blake’s career, would that mean he’s met, exceeded, or fallen below the expectations of Flames’ fans?