J-P Dumont?

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Jean-Pierre Dumont had a lousy, lousy year for the Nashville Predators. After a nine-season stretch where he scored 20+ goals six times, and never finished with less than 14, he recorded just 10 in 2010-11. Then, after three consecutive seasons with 40+ assists, he fell to 28 in 2009-10 and just nine last season. These totals represented easily the worst offensive production of his NHL career.

Because of the steep nature of the drop, is J-P Dumont a player worth taking a risk on?

Let’s look at his offensive production in 5-on-5 and 5-on-4 situations over the last few years, courtesy of Gabriel Desjardins’ Behind the Net.

5-on-5

Season Goals/60 Assists/60 Points/60
2007-08 1.09 1.79 2.88
2008-09 0.65 1.61 2.26
2009-10 0.85 1.12 1.97
2010-11 0.81 0.54 1.35

5-on-4

Season Goals/60 Assists/60 Points/60
2007-08 1.40 1.61 3.01
2008-09 0.88 2.65 3.53
2009-10 1.09 2.56 3.65
2010-11 0.54 1.61 2.15

The most interesting thing about these charts, to me, is that even in his prime Dumont wasn’t a really high-end player on the man advantage. His bread and butter, offensively, came at even-strength. That’s a useful distinction to make, because it would mean that a team taking a flyer on Dumont wouldn’t necessarily need to clear room for him on the power play.

Another interesting point is that Dumont’s goal-scoring has been fairly steady. His dip last season was the result largely of a reduction in ice-time, meaning that a return to previous levels would almost certainly see him return to form in that department (over the last two seasons, Dumont’s gone from nearly 14 to 12.5 to 9.5 minutes per night at evens). Rather, it is his assists that have fallen off precipitously; last year they were down to roughly a third of where they were two seasons ago.

I would suggest, rather strongly, that Dumont probably hasn’t lost two-thirds of his playmaking ability in two seasons. Instead, I wonder if the loss of a shooter to setup regularly (particularly as he’s tumbled down to fourth-line minutes) has been a major factor, and I also wonder how much luck and bounces have played a role.

My argument would be that an NHL club – particularly one desperate for offense and in need of a triggerman for their second line – could take a chance on Dumont and have a) a reasonable chance of seeing it pay off and b) see very little downside if Dumont’s struggles continue. I think he’s an interesting reclamation project.

For his part, Dumont remains confident. He’s already said he would not accept a two-way contract, and he isn’t bound for Europe (h/t Spector). But is there a team ready to offer him a (undoubtedly low) NHL-only contract? There should be.