2008-05-13

Projecting Latendresse

Early this year Latendresse was tried on the 3rd line ahead of Begin/Kostopoulos but couldn't stick. When Ryder was demoted Gui was surpassed by Sergei (who is actually older by two months) for a job on the top 6. His chances have been scarce but he's still showing some progress.

On the surface it might look discouraging. He followed a rookie season of 29 points (.36ppg) with a sophmore effort of 27 (.37ppg). In year two his PP icetime was diminished which accounts for the flat totals. If you look at EV points per 60, he had 1.33 at 19 and 1.75 this year. That's solid progress.



Cam Neely's 19 and 20yo seasons came at a time when there were 7.8 goals scored per game. In Gui's first two seasons the number was 5.6. Scaled to the scoring rate, Gui's numbers are pretty much identical to Neely's. Seriously.

Corson was more physical but had less skill.

Pyatt might be the best comp. I tried to choose guys with size but so many of them play a much more physical game than Latendresse. Pyatt is close to Gui in style and numbers. Interesting that he's playing on his 3rd team.

Brown and Frolov, being in LA, are two guys I can't say much about. The lockout year is listed for both: Brown was in the AHL at 20 and Frolov was in Russia at 22. Frolov's numbers at 20 are a little better than Gui's, but he had more icetime.

Brent Ashton is another Pyatt-like comp in that he was big but had few PIMs. He was a useful player and had a long career. Gui's numbers are better.

Kvasha is an interesting comparison because he's both bigger and softer than Lats and has better puck skill. Sanipass is listed just because it's so rare that I have an opportunity to mention a player from NB.

Graves and Doan were far behind Latendresse at the same age. Both took a long time incubating.


Most guys that look like Gui have big PIMs, that's what makes Pyatt such a good comp. Looking a little closer, Pyatt's OHL numbers were .53, 1.10 and 1.31 ppg at 16, 17 and 18. Latendresse had .92, 1.20 and 1.63 in the higher scoring Q. Gui also played on the U-18 team and the U-20 team as an 18yo.

As you can see from the list, the error bars are huge when trying to predict the future for guys like Latendresse. For now I'll go with 'Taylor Pyatt but a little bit better.'

4 Comments:

Anonymous MathMan said...

Latendresse is an interesting case. He's the subject of much irrational hate that his results on the ice simply do not bear out.

While his production might seem to pale compared to several of his teammates, his numbers have several very interesting characteristics:

- Nearly all his production was at even-strength
- It was done with relatively little icetime
- It was done despite spending most of the season with fourth-liners.

Also interesting is his high goals-to-assists ratio. Having been employed with the likes of Dandenault and Lapierre a fair amount, perhaps it's not surprising that he has to put it in himself as his linemates don't score many goals for him to get assists from.

Subjectively, Latendresse's production seemed to shoot up when he was employed with offensive players (ie. Koivu) where he didn't need to be the last man back. Lapierre and Dandenault have a maddening tendency to dump it in then forecheck ineffectively (they come in late, finish their check, but the puck is long gone) which results in awful Corsi numbers and prevents Latendresse from playing what should be his ideal game -- cycling the puck and standing in front of the net. He's an offensive player on a line that never has the puck, so he ends up spending much of his limited icetime backchecking and covering the point.

I feel that Latendresse's counting numbers don't really do him justice, and I do think he doesn't have many problems that couldn't be solved with higher-quality icetime. The problem is that the Habs don't have enough offensive centers to go around, and Lats quite rightly found himself behind Andrei K and Chris Higgins on the left-winger depth chart. Being unsuited to be a checker, he ended up on the fourth line... which isn't his place either.

5/13/2008 2:50 PM  
Blogger Jeff J said...

Nearly all his production was at even-strength

You reminded me of this post. I'll dig up his EV numbers for comparison... another post on the way.


Latendresse's production seemed to shoot up when he was employed with offensive players (ie. Koivu)

That definitely happened in 06-07 when he filled in for Higgins for a stretch and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case again this year.


The problem is that the Habs don't have enough offensive centers to go around, and Lats quite rightly found himself behind Andrei K and Chris Higgins on the left-winger depth chart.

For sure, there are a lot of problems that could be solved by having one dominant centre that can eat up EV time and bump the others down a line. I think it's just a matter of time before Higgins concedes his PP time and scoring role to Lats.

5/13/2008 4:11 PM  
Anonymous MathMan said...

In terms of strict goals and points per sixty minutes, Latendresse is already a better even-strength scorer than Chris Higgins, who is no slouch. Slightly, and maybe not enough to matter, and of course that ought to be tempered with quality-of-competition. But it's still significant given Lats' age.

On the power play, though, Higgins has been a lot more productive than Latendresse even with icetime put into consideration... but I suspect that given similar minutes (quality and quantity) that would even out.

(Gotta love behindthenet.)

Ironic as it may seem, I feel that Latendresse's physical game suffered from being used on the fourth line. Dandy and Lapierre and Begin, who are all faster, would go deep long before him and pound the puck carrier, forcing Latendresse to stay high and preventing him from getting hit opportunities. I've never seen him shy away from giving a hit when given a chance and I've seen him take a hit to clear the zone, so I don't think it's a matter of willingness or style. Hit statistics are worth what they're worth, but Lats was 29th among all scorers last year, back when he didn't play with guys with more speed than effectiveness on the forecheck, so it's indicative. Even this year, he was 63rd among all skaters, and led all Hab forwards.

Subjectively, he also still gives the occasional bone-crushing pasting when he gets a chance. His physical strength, even at 20, is undoubted. So his physical game may be a bit underrated here.

I don't think he was able to play to his strengths this year. It's not all bad because his defensive game improved (he was a plus player over the last stretch of the season), but a grinder he is not. A top-six or top-nine role with an offensive center would do him good. Maybe if one of Sergei or Higgins is converted to a center as various pundits seem to want them to be?

5/13/2008 4:38 PM  
Blogger Jeff J said...

On the power play, though, Higgins has been a lot more productive than Latendresse

I wonder how much of that is Higgins and how much is because he's on the #1 PP? Generally young guys (and 24 is still young) don't do all that well on the PP. Kovalev is a PP beast, and my hunch is that it's Markov, Streit and Koivu driving the results.


A top-six or top-nine role with an offensive center would do him good.

There are a multitude of ways this could happen next year - Higgins or SKost playing centre are two of them.

If the team is committed to having all of Begin, Kostopoulos, Lapierre, Chipchura and Dandenault next year, it will be hard to place Lats next to two skilled forwards. It wouldn't be the end of the world because Gui is so young. Higgins was a rookie at 22.

5/14/2008 1:10 AM  

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