Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Aaron Rome, Watch Out Paul Coffey

OK, it's only been 4 games so far this season but Aaron Rome has 3 goals and 5 points. He had played 131 career games before this year and collected a grand total of 2 goals and 12 points. He set a career high last season with 5 points. Now, we obviously won't assume he continues at his new-found level of scoring, but even if he scores 25 or 30 points this year it will be a monumental turnaround in his point production. Just how rare would it be? Extremely.

I tried to find other examples throughout NHL history that matched these parameters:
First 130 games of their career with a point scoring rate of 0.10/Game or less, then they went on to have a season of at least 0.50 Pts/Game at some point in their career.
I could pinpoint only two other guys that fit this description.

Lyle Odelein began his lengthy career with Montreal in 1989/90 and in his first 2+ seasons he had 131 games with 1 goal and 12 points, very similar to Rome's numbers. In 1992/93 he 'exploded' for 2 goals and 16 points but the following year Odelein put up 11 goals and 40 points in 79 games. His point producing may not have been unexpected due to the fact that as a junior with Moose Jaw he had seasons of 46, 59 and 58 points. Even so, it didn't last. Odelein's next three highest point NHL years would be 31, 24 and 23.

Brett Clark was another Montreal Canadien defender who in his first 144 games over 4 seasons tallied 3 goals and 9 points. He spent the entire 2002/03 season in the AHL with Hershey and as a 26 year old put up a respectable 35 points. When he finally played a full season with the Avalanche he produced back-to-back seasons of 36 and 39 points. As with Odelein, Clark had showed a potential for points production before turning professional. In his only year at the University of Maine he had 38 points in 39 games.

Can we draw similarities between the beginning of Odelein and Clark's careers and that of Rome's? As with the other two, Rome was no stranger to putting up points as a junior. In his last two years in the WHL he had 56 and 52 points. Maybe this will be the new normal for Rome...not a point per game necessarily, but a 30-something points aint half bad.

Another guy having a Rome-like breakout this season is Florida's Jason Garrison. He has 7 goals and 9 points in 17 games this year after having 7 and 26 in his first 113 career games. The weird thing about Garrison is that even in US college with Minnesota-Duluth he topped out at only 5 goals one year and in the AHL at 8 goals over a full season. His season is perhaps even more un-expected than Rome's.

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