Yes, losing a top 6 playmaking forward would hurt, but not nearly as much as one would think. Yes, I think PA is a solid top 6 forward right now, but not nearly as good as his numbers suggest for multiple reasons and his void can be filled out more then people would think in the immediate future:
PAP isn't as good as his numbers this year suggest because:
-It's his contract year. Does anyone really think PAP will play as hard and as good as he has this year for the length of his next contract? Not a chance, partially due to aging and partially for other obvious reasons.
-PAP is playing on the 5th best PP in the NHL. Obviously getting ample PP time next to JT/Moulson/Streit/(and even Nielsen to an extent) has it's perks. And out of all the top 4 PP minute players, PAP has the lowest number of pts. Coincidentally? I don't think so. Moulson/JT/Streit are all better/more-important offensive players then PAP imo. In fact, comparatively to PP toi and taking into account Nielsen being on PP2 for a lot of the early season because of Rolston, Nielsen is similarly effective on the PP to PAP.
-PAP gets top 3 forward/top offensive line zone starts for our team. Now I don't believe the zone start to points correlation equation Neil Greenberg gave is accurate, but I'd say confidently giving someone offensively capable but not necessarily an "offensive dynamo", like Okposo, getting PAP's zonestarts would make him a 5pts/yr higher offensive player.
-PAP scores 40-50% of his goals on the PP and teams haven't prepared for PAP because they've focused on JT ahead of him and PAP hasn't had much NHL exposure. PAP isn't near as much of a goalscoring threat as people would hope and once teams watch more tape on him and figure out his offensive "game", they can gameplan for him better. And just knowing how much of a goalscoring threat he is, they will gameplan for him better, cheat towards the pass when he has the puck, and force him to take "hard-goalscorer" shots when the time comes. Odds are PAP's production goes down a bit because of this. You throw PAP on a 2nd PP unit, he'd be around a 10goal/yr player.
-PAP is the 3rd highest toi forward on the team, just another capable offensive player taking/upgraded-to those extra minutes should at least accumulate a few more pts then they usually do on average.
-PAP is turning 29 in March and is at or has hit his theoretical peak offensive play. It should and likely will only be downhill from here.
-Because of the above reasons, you can't realistically expect PAP to maintain his 65-70pts/yr play. Sure, he could be a 55-65pts player if the dice roll correctly for him in the next couple years. But if you give him a 4-5yr contract, the odds of him being an overall 45pts player averaged over the time of the contract would be more likely then him being a 65pts player over the life of the contract.
If we lose PAP, we could fill the immediate hole better then people realize because:
-Someone will step into his top PP minutes that was on the 2nd unit already. Our 1st PP unit is extremely effective and should be a strength for the next few years with or without PAP. Just flopping someone like KO or Bailey into PA's spot on the 1st PP should be able to fill-in for 75-90%(~80-82% averaged based on numbers) of PAP's pt production there, based on all past performances. So that PP wouldn't lose much effectiveness with PAP gone as most would think. Honestly, even MacDonald could fill in for 75-90% of PAP's PP pt production playing the pt on the 1st PP given his previous pts/second there and a slight effectiveness correlation equated in.
-Based on the above calculations, just throwing someone like Okposo into PAP's role should increase Okposo's yearly average production by 15-25pts. A lot of people don't realize how much of an impact being on a top PP unit with ample ice time, and getting top o-line favorable zone starts can increase/"inflate" ones statistics.
-2 capable offensive players we have that have been used in checking roles(low o-zone starts) this year "could" fill-in for a good portion of pt production that PAP has brought. Okposo and Grabs(Okposo has started being used this way recently though). It's easier to replace a checking forward then it is an offensive forward(although we have the cliental for both), and given our system, you would think any of Cizikas/Nelson/Martin/Lee/Ullstrom(?)/Bailey-even if his future isn't at center, could fill out a solid checking line next to nielsen.
-Strome and Nino are both projected top 6 forwards, odds are 1 of them will fill out into a capable enough top 6 forward within the next few years as PAP would have been over the next few years.
-PAP's a good stickhandler, but Strome has better hands. Nino has solid hands, Nielsen has solid hands, and Bailey has decent hands. All capable of being an entry zone puckhandler for each top 9 line, or even on the PP if need be. Dump and chase isn't a bad move either if need be and is even smart in some cases, lol.
-PAP isn't as good of a puckhandler as you'd think. His takeaway to giveaway ratio is a -15 this season, worst among all forwards on the team, meaning PAP has lost the puck 15 more times then he has taken it away from opponents. Not a quality puck control guy. Moulson and JT both are +23 and +30 respectively in this category and PAP is the only negative takeaway to giveaway forward on the team. Next closest to PAP is Rolston at even strength in this stat.
-PAP gets into more penalty trouble then most forwards on the team. Last year he had 46pim in 81gms, 3rd most minors behind JT and Konopka. This year PAP leads our team with 22minors, 7minors more then Martin who is 2nd on the team with 15minors, and is on the verge of a 32minor/64pim from minors season. And statistically, PAP takes .4 more penalties/60min then he has drawn this year. A bad habit and something that hurts this team more then it helps. Undisciplined maybe? Plays on the proverbial penalty taking edge too much?(as seen by his crosscheck penalty last game) Is a scrappy player? Either way, those are bad things and the outcome is a negative for this/his team.
So yes, we can fill most of the hole PAP would leave offensively in the near future and the evidence is above. Obviously this isn't the end all be all on the topic, just some thoughts and numbers I ran. Discuss.