The Magical Fourth Year Is Not A Myth

In the era of in-depth analysis, sabermetrics and advanced statistics, fantasy hockey managers are trying to find unique and more complicated ways to beat the opposition and win their fantasy drafts.

A theory that emerged a few years ago on the Internet, most notably on Dobber, is that offensive forwards tend to breakout in their fourth year in the NHL.

John Tavares Islanders
John Tavares entered into his 4th NHL season in 2012-13 (Icon SMI)

Most of you would ask, “What is exactly the magical fourth season?” Well, roughly speaking, offensive players make big jumps in their production in years two through six. In the fourth year, 24 percent of players see an increase in the offensive numbers by around 25 percent.

In 2011-12, several players saw their offensive numbers jumped considerably compared to the previous season. The most notable were James NealBlake WheelerMax PaciorettyWayne Simmonds and Jamie McGinn.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS OFFENSIVE SURGE ONLY APPLIES TO FORWARDS, as defensemen generally take more time to develop as opposed to forwards, Erik Karlsson being the exception rather than the rule.

Back in April 2012 I predicted that some of the fourth-year players would explode offensively in 2013. Now let’s study the offensive production of these ten talented NHL players and see how they are doing so far in 2013:

1. John Tavares, New York Islanders Fearless prediction for 2013: 48 games – 21 goals and 34 assists for 55 points, -1 rating, 18 PIM

The heart of the Islanders’ offense with Matt Moulson, Tavares is a already a true All-Star after recording 81 points in 82 games last season. So far this season, Tavares has already recorded 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points in 21 games, on pace for 57 points. Tavares’ numbers would be even more impressive if he was surrounded by better players.


2. Jamie BennDallas Stars Fearless prediction for 2012-13: 43 games – 21 goals and 25 assists for 46 points, +6 rating, 36 PIM

After missing the team’s first few games due a contractual dispute, Benn finally signed a multiyear contract with the Stars and missed only five games. In 16 games this season, Benn has been fairly productive, notching 6 goals and 8 assists for 14 points in 16 games, on pace for 37 points. Benn will have to improve his game in order to propel the struggling Stars into the playoffs


3. Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche Fearless prediction for 2012-13: 46 games – 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points, -1 rating, 8 PIM

In the absence of Ryan O’Reilly, who just signed a two-year contract with the team, Duchene had to raise the bar offensively to keep the Avalanche in the playoff race. So far, Duchene has not disappointed his fantasy owners with a production of 7 goals and 12 assists for 19 points in 18 games, on pace for 51 points


4. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks Fearless prediction for 2013: 47 games – 21 goals and 22 assists for 43 points,  +7 rating, 15 PIM

After scoring 30 goals or more in the past two campaigns, Couture started the season on fire with 7 points in his first 3 games. However, the Sharks have been struggling lately and Couture’s production slowed down dramatically as a result. On the season, he has 8 goals and 6 assists for 14 points in 19 games, on pace for 35 points.


5. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins Fearless prediction for 2013: 46 games – 19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points,  +15 rating, 57 PIM

The hard-working Marchand has been lighting the lamp this season with 10 goals (9th in the NHL) and 3 assists for 13 points in 16 games for the powerful Bruins, on pace for 39 points. Strangely, the super-pest has been quite disciplined this season, getting only four penalty minutes.


evander kane jets
Evander Kane has shown flashes of brilliance this season (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

6. Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets Fearless prediction for 2013: 47 games – 21 goals and 17 assists for 38 points,  +3 rating, 42 PIM

Kane has been on fire for the surging Jets, recording 10 points in his last 9 games. After sniping 30 goals last season, Kane is even more productive this season with 9 goals and 9 assists for 18 points in 20 games, currently on pace for 43 points.


7. James van RiemsdykToronto Maple Leafs Fearless prediction for 2013: 46 games – 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points,  +4 rating, 30 PIM

van Riemsdyk is finally healthy and getting plenty of ice-time with the surprising Maple Leafs. In 22 games this season, JVR has been scoring goals in bunches with 12 goals and 4 assists for 16 points, on pace for 26 goals and 35 points


8. Michael Grabner, New York Islanders Fearless prediction for 2013: 48 games – 18 goals and 15 assists for 33 points,  -4 rating, 8 PIM

After a career-year in 2010-11 when he scored 52 points in 76 games with the Isles, Grabner’s offensive production has been almost non-existent. This season, the speedy winger has only recorded 7 goals and 3 assists for 10 points in 21 goals, on pace for only 23 points.


9. Viktor Stalberg, Chicago Blackhawks Fearless prediction for 2013: 48 games – 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points,  +3 rating, 23 PIM

Part of the supporting cast for the NHL leaders, Stalberg has been contributing in different ways this season. The problem for fantasy owners is that he has not contributed much offensively with only 5 goals and 3 assists for 8 points in 20 games, on pace for a mere 19 points in 2013.


10. Kyle Turris, Ottawa Senators Fearless prediction for 2012-13: 45 games – 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points,  +8 rating, 35 PIM

With Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Milan Michaek all missing time due to injuries, Kyle Turris was expected to carry the offensive load with captain Daniel Alfredsson. Despite the Senators’ success in recent games, Turris hasn’t recorded a single point in his past 5 games giving him only 4 goals and 8 assists for 12 points in 21 games, on pace for 27 points.



Mikkel Boedker, Phoenix Coyotes

After producing only 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points in 82 games for the defensive-minded Coyotes, Boedker is currently leading the team in scoring with 4 goals and 11 assists for 15 points in 20 games, on pace for 36 points in 2013.  Over a full season, Boedker would finish with more than 60 points, more than doubling his career-best 28 points in his rookie season.

Colin Wilson, Nashville Predators

After recording 34 and 35 points in the past two campaigns, Wilson has become the team’s #1 pivot this season. In 21 games, Wilson has 5 goals and 10 assists for 15 points, on pace for  34 points in only 48 games for the goal-starving Predators.

Eberle is a strong candidate to explode offensively in 2013-14 (Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports)
Eberle and Hall are strong candidates to explode offensively in 2013-14 (Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports)

As you can see, this theory is not a myth, so don’t hesitate to rank fourth-year players higher on your draft lists next fall when you get ready for your fantasy drafts as they will most certainly provide you with a definite edge over the competition and could turn out to be the best bargains at the draft!

Some players to consider for next season are Taylor Hall, Tyler Ennis, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Seguin, David Desharnais and Derek Stepan.

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