Can Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia Continue their Amazing Play?
Don’t look now, but Jonathan Drouin’s point production puts him on a course for a 75-point season. And Joel Armia is on pace for 50+ (!) goals. Going into this season, Drouin was a solid top-six forward with potential but consistency issues, and Joel Armia’s most generous description was a middle-six forward. Eleven games into the season, they are on pace for career years. Can they continue this production through game 82?
The short answer is yes for Drouin, no for Armia.
Let’s start with Drouin. After a lackluster preseason, Jonathan Drouin has appeared as a completely different player. Drouin used to appear disinterested with the play at his end of the ice, but now he is fully engaged, and even spent some time on the penalty kill. Drouin used to be more of a pass-first guy, but now he is not afraid to take shots, and the higher volume of shots has led to an increased point production. Here is a heat map of Jonathan Drouin’s shot volume so far:
As you can see, the vast majority of Drouin’s shots have come from high-danger areas, such as the slot, and just above the hash marks. As well, for Drouin to be able to shoot from the slot, he would need to work very hard to get past the opposing defenders. Clearly, he is working much harder this season to get to the high-danger scoring areas. This translates into points. The only reason to think that Drouin will not reach the 70-point plateau is his shooting percentage. Drouin is a career 9-10% shooter. This season, he is shooting at an inflated 18%. Drouin’s detractors would point to this and say that he would eventually regress. This is nonsense. As we established before, Drouin is shooting from more high-danger scoring areas. Shots go in more often from high-danger scoring areas. Naturally, Drouin’s shooting percentage would increase. As well, with the shooting percentage, Drouin’s shot volume also increased. Therefore, any regression in shooting percentage should be offset by the sheer increase in shot volume. In conclusion, Drouin was always projected to one day be a 70-point player. I see no reason why he shouldn’t achieve that this season.
Moving on to Armia. While I absolutely love Joel Armia, and I think that he is a valuable member of the Canadiens, I don’t see him having a Rocket Richard-trophy-winning season. The last person to score 50+ goals for the Montreal Canadiens was Stephane Richer in 1989-90. I hardly think a career middle-six forward will top that. Cole Caufield might, one day, but not Joel Armia. Armia is currently shooting at a massively inflated shooting percentage of 23.1%. He is a career 9% shooter, and he is only averaging 3 shots per game. This is a case where eventual regression is inevitable. However, I do expect Armia to have a career year. He is riding shotgun with Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi, so there is no shortage of quality to work with, and Armia’s big frame helps him get to pucks in the corner, and muscle his way into high-danger scoring areas. I’m happy with 15-20 goals out of Armia, and maybe 40 points. If he gets more, great. I hope I’m wrong in my predictions. But I just don’t see Joel Armia scoring 50 goals, when the only player to do it last season was Alex Ovechkin. If Armia can establish himself as a reliable second-line forward, and he was projected to be that when he was drafted, that’s good enough for me.
In conclusion, Jonathan Drouin appears to be realizing his potential. I look forward to a great season for him. If Joel Armia scores 50 goals, I will post a picture on this blog of me in a Leafs jersey.
Go Habs Go.
Signed, Le Bo