Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tomas Fleischmann's Worth

With Tomas Fleischmann just having signed a one year, $2.6 million deal, I thought I'd delve into the statistics to see what the numbers suggest Fleischmann is worth.

Fleischmann had a GVT of 9.9 this past season. GVT is goals-versus-threshold, a rough hockey equivalent of baseball's VORP, measured in goals over the replacement level player (both fewer goals allowed and more goals for). Wins is roughly GVT divided by 6, and the Capitals had 54 wins in 2009-2010, so roughly Fleischmann was responsible for 3.05% of the team's success--1.65 wins (and zero playoff series wins).  GVT, as stated by its creator, Tom Awad, undervalues defensive contributions. By Fleischmann's rate statistics (easily found at Behind the Net), Fleischmann's value is clearly on offense, and hence, other players, like Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley, are undervalued, so Fleischmann's salary given above is slightly higher than what the ratios say it should be. That being said, the actual amount spent on Fleischmann, $725k, is quite a steal for a 20-goal 50-point wing/center.

The Capitals, I'm guessing, will see regression to the mean in their team shooting percentage, which was abnormally high this season at 11.6%. If they take the same amount of shots but score at a lower rate--say 10.0%--then their goals total on 2693 shots becomes 269 goals for.

Defensively, the Capitals allowed 30.9 shots per game, for 2535 total on the season. If we factor in a small improvement--from fewer penalties and so forth--then, well, we can estimate the shots against per game for next season, arbitrarily, to roughly 30 shots against per game, for 2460 shots against on the season. If we apply an average goaltending save percentage of .910 to that shots against total, we get 221 goals against.

After applying a Pythagorean Winning Percentage Formula,

PTS% = 1.12 * (Goals For)^2 / ( (Goals For)^2 + (Goals Against)^2)

we get pts% = 1.12 x 72361 / ( 72361 + 48841) = 66.9% which equates to 110 points (which is reasonable). With an NHL squad losing, on average, 10 games in overtime or shootout, the Capitals will have gained 100 points by wins, so that means 50 wins (again reasonable). 3.05% of 50 wins = 1.53 wins, just a little less than 2009-2010. 50 wins against $59.4 million in possible salaries leaves about $1.1 million per win, so with 1.53 wins Fleischmann should be valued around $1.7 million.

This analysis, though, was purely based on the assumption that the Capitals will operate very similarly in 2010-2011 as in 2009-2010. This is likely not the case. What may change:
  • Tomas Fleischmann shot 19.0% this season! That's simply not sustainable for a longer range shooter (and even difficult for a guy like Mike Knuble to do). If that goes down, so will Fleischmann's goal and point totals. However, if he shoots more, he could compensate and actually increase his scoring (and his Corsi numbers too). 
  • Tomas Fleischmann, with every passing day, looks like the second line center on opening night. Although he pretty much lacks the strength, defensive acumen, and faceoff ability to effectively play center, his time on ice per game should stay high, he'll get plenty of power play time, and put up points by virtue of playing center (most of the top scorers are centers. I think that's because of their position at least in part, but I also realize that many of the better younger players will play center).
  • Alex Ovechkin on his first extension is getting paid to hit 30 in GVT for around $10 million a season, so 3 GVT per million dollars, or half a win. Nicklas Backstrom is around 3/5 a win per million dollars. Eric Fehr is around 2/3 with his $2.2 million contract (and with more TOI, he should be a huge bargain). Fleischmann at $2.6 million is around 2.5 GVT per million dollars, and hence under half a win per million dollars.
  • I did not factor in games played. Since GVT is an absolute, not rate, statistic, amount matters, and Fleischmann played a lot when he did play, but missed time as well. If he plays more games he should play a bigger part on the team and thus should earn more money.
  • For almost every player signed as a restricted free agent, a contract is done with hope--and compensation--as if the player in question could or will improve a bit the following season or seasons. We should think that Fleischmann will improve a bit more next season, and he should be compensated as such.
  • RFAs on average take around a 40% discount compared to UFAs (numbers courtesy of Gabriel Desjardins at Behind the Net Hockey). If Fleischmann takes a discount on that $1.7 million then he goes to $1.02 million. Definitely too low.
All that being said, $2.6 million seems high. At the RFA discount rate we take it to mean that Fleischmann as a UFA would be valued by the Capitals as roughly $4.3 million player.

I personally have trouble fathoming Fleischmann being worth more than $3 million. But $2.6 million seems okay, especially on a one year contract. More importantly to me, though, it's very trade-able.

(This is really one of my first forays into using statistics. If you have any suggestions on what I could do better, logical errors, and such, then please leave a comment or drop me an email)

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    2010 Development Camp Day 4 Videos

    I was hoping for more, but oh well. I should have gone up higher and just videotaped the entire thing since I had more than an hour of space, but I didn't realize that until the third when I figured out what that 1:00:49 in the top right corner of the LCD display meant.

    In some parts you can hear the conversation of the chatty girls sitting on my left as well as various more familiar sporting sounds from the crowd.

    2010 Development Camp Day 4 Scrimmage Photos

    Just some of the best. Full album here (well, the pictures that weren't really blurry and actually caught more than part of an arm or leg).

    Development Camp Day 4

    I got out to Kettler bright an' early this morning (9am start) for the scrimmage--on time this time! These are the notes I'd written in my handy-dandy Qafqaz Universiteti-notepad. I started just after Stanislav Galiev scored to make it 2-0. It's more of a live game log than a recap, though.

    These are in chronological order.

    White 2, Red 0
    •  Cullity is really creating space and getting open. He's been good, as has Holtby, who hasn't given up any rebounds at all by my count.
    • The Red team is giving up the low, dangerous part of the slot way too much.
    • Cullity jumps into the rush, takes a pass on an overlap, and fires a nice pass which Lowery deposits into the net. White is dominating. White 3, Red 0 
    • The Red goalie--Nelson I think--hasn't been good. He just almost let one trickle in through the five-hole; his defenseman swept it away from the goal line.
    • There's a scramble in front of the net, Holtby goes into the butterfly, Hauswirth finds the loose puck in the slot and puts it upstairs. White 3, Red 1
    • Man, Miele is really creating plays.
    • Red #needsmoreEakin. The guy is getting it done--not flashy, but effective, like a Mike Richards.
    • Holtby tried to catch a puck shot from the point, but his glove failed him and the puck bounced back into the circle. He looked at the glove with that "What the hell???" look. Priceless.
    • Evgeny Kuznetsov has been shut down so far. He can get the puck, but as soon as he tries to get into the middle he gets swarmed by at least one defender and one backchecker.
    • As I was writing that, he got the puck on a 2-on-1, crossed through the middle, and fired, and Holtby made a great glove save.
    • Stefan Della Rovere got a penalty shot, but Braden Holtby stopped him, just barely. The puck rolled wide of the post.
    • Start 2nd
    • White is pressuring a lot here
    • Man, Bruess got hit and fell, and on his stomach took out a guy's legs, but no call. Yep, these are hockey refs all right.
    • Orlov got caught high in the zone, but came back and made a nice pass block.
    • Nice pad save by Nelson on a jam-in attempt. *Note: I have no idea when Grubauer came in, so when I refer to Nelson it might have been Grubauer
    • Big hit
    • Red to the power play
    • Kuznetsov really looks like Pavel Datsyuk on the power play. He's very creative and patient, looking for good passing seams.
    • Anton Gustafsson had two big hits on the same shift. Nice to see him getting more involved.
    • de Kastrooza trip. White to the power play.
    • LeFrancois just crashed hard into the boards, but luckily he seems to be okay.
    • Cullity penalty. 4-on-4 I think.
    • White PP = rush-based, Red PP = set-up-based so far.
    • Red power play: SDR picks up a loose puck in the slot and puts it in. White 3, Red 2
    • Bond has been solid, and is being trusted to kill penalties now against the top unit.
    • Holtby already lost the puck a couple of times behind his net (to no harm) but he ventures out to the side boards here, loses the puck, and Hauswirth puts the puck into the open net. White 3, Red 3.
    • Holtby caught out of net again, but scrambles back and his forwards prevent follow up shots while Holtby scrambes to his feet. Man, looks like that bad rebound off the glove was a signal of what was to come.
    • Eakin off the pipe. That was a loud "ding."
    • Galiev is looking good, getting involved. He's not content with merely getting the puck, but he chases after it and when his team has possession he moves around and tries to create chances all the time. Reminds me of Sidney Crosby.
    • Holtby gets bumped in front of the net and falls, a Red shot from the point goes in. Red 4, White 3.
    • I've been paying more attention to Burt this game, and man, he is in fact fast and pressures well, forcing defensemen into thinking quickly and making mistakes. Marcus Johansson's line has been creating shots. Their Corsi must be great. They've flipped on the switch this switch
    • Oh, it was a power play. That's why they looked so terrific. I was wondering why the faceoff was in the Red defensive zone after a White icing.
    • Start 3rd
    • Dunn in for Holtby.
    • Everyone but OFB people probably thinks Finley took a really dumb penalty right there. 5-on-3 for 14 seconds now.
    • I recorded that power play, but nothing happened. In fact, there was almost a shorthanded 2-on-1. 
    • Galiev called for boarding. Red to the power play.
    • Finally, Johansson scored, off the pipe and in. White 4, Red 4
    • Red gets a 2-on-1, and Anton Gustafsson draws the defenseman in and makes a sweet feed to Stefan Della Rovere (who himself finishes well). Red 5, White 4
    • Mitchell called for holding. Red to the power play.
    • Orlov called for hooking, White to the power play.
    • SDR has been better this period than before. He's more involved and looks like he's finally thinking and reacting at full speed.
    • Marcus Johansson played that entire power play on the half wall, same place as Backstrom and Kuznetsov.
    • 71 in White put it off the pipe. They're getting desperate now.
    • Another power play for White.
    • Dustin Stevenson is really trying to get involved offensively, but doesn't have much creativity with the puck on his stick like Mike Green and John Carlson do.
    • LeFrancois set up on a breakaway off a three-line pass catching Red changing defensemen, and the puck ends up in the net. White 5, Red 5
    • The game is opening up now. It's back and forth with rushes.
    • Burt must be kicking himself after putting a one-timer from the circle into the side of the net. The goalie had bit too far on the original passer and Burt had half an open net.
    • Some might call that Finley getting physical. I call that Finley trying to run Mitchell, a guy much smaller than him, and not even knocking him off balance enough for him to take an extra step to balance. That was weak.
    • Eakin, Gustafsson, and Woods now together, and looking good.
    • I think some of the forwards are taking Ovechkin-esque shifts. Then again, it is tied late in the third.
    • Great backcheck there by Miele to break up the 2-on-1.
    • Did someone call a timeout?
    • Herbert in box, 1 min left.
    • Johansson is really flying right now. He really wants this.
    • Wait, a shootout?
    • Great move by Galiev to score. 1-0 White.
    • Shoot, I was taking video of the shootout but I accidentally popped out my SD card and lost the first four shots. At least I can get Johansson and Eakin.
    • White wins the shootout, 1-0, and wins the game, 6-5.
    Pictures will be up a bit later. I tell ya, this hockey photography thing is harder than it looks.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Development Camp, Day 2

    I had the chance to go to Kettler Capitals Iceplex this morning to see Development Camp. I missed the first twenty minutes or so of Group A, but I caught the rest and these are some of the notes I'd written in my handy-dandy Qafqaz Universiteti-notepad.

    • Zach Miskovic was solid defensively and moved well, but wasn't as adept at moving the puck as some of the other prospects.
    • Greg Burke looks a little like John Carlson. 
    • Well, his face and the way he wears his helmet, not his play on the ice.
    • Dustin Stevenson needs to move the puck faster and better (improve decision making I guess with the puck) but skated pretty well and had a smart day positionally.
    • Patrick Wey looks confident with the puck, but was forcing passes a bit (panics without options?).
    • Stefan Della Rovere was impressive. Despite being smaller than some of the others, he was all over the place and chased and got the puck quite often.
    • The guys on SDR's line all have long names--Hauswirth and de Kastrozza.
    • Marcus Johansson could very well be NHL-ready. He was clearly the best player in Group A this morning, and it wasn't even close. His skating, agility, decision-making, skill, patience, and positioning were all on display.
    • I was disappointed not to see Dmitry Kugryshev. According to HF boards he can't attend due to visa issues.
    • The cycling drills were unimpressive, except from the white and red groups in Group B. The other lines were losing the puck pretty quickly.
    • Wade MacLeod showed good vision from the blueline, making easy, smart passes.
    • Breaking out of the zone and clearing the defensive zone seemed to be points of emphasis, as three drills focused on them, at least.
    • Patrick Cullity was spreading the ice really well, keeping himself open for the pass.
    • Andy Miele is small but was noticeable during the drills.
    • Felix LeFrancois was shooting slap shots a lot.
    • Kristaps Sotnieks had good speed on the rush.
    • Trevor Bruess was really being the playmaker today.
    • Steve Spinell looked tired pretty quickly, skating almost completely vertically after just a few drills. Either that or he needs more lower body strength.
    • Stanislav Galiev was good defensively with regards to position, but needs to be more active with his stick.
    • The suicides were the only drills that made Johansson look less than very very good.
    • Miskovic was strong in the suicides though; then again, he already has a full North American season under his belt.
    • Chris Bond had some nice heads-up play.
    • Evgeny Kuznetsov was the Marcus Johansson of the second group, but a little flashier with his skills. He seems to be looking for the pass quite a bit, maybe a little too much.
    • Anton Gustafsson was exactly as I expected: big, smooth on his skates, smart, and skilled, but not standing out. He rarely put it all together on a single play, missing that final pass or putting the shot into the glass. His white line, though, was excellent at controlling the puck.
    • Samuel Carrier was passing the puck well. Seems like these younger defensemen all make sure they can move it up ice competently.
    • Joe Finley isn't just needing improvement in his skating; his decision making is also slow. He was reacting late to plays, especially off the cycle, in development camp. Yeah, the NHL is a stretch at this point.
    • Brendan Woods seems like a good grinder. He played unselfishly and was good at creating screens and deflections.
    • Andrew Cherniwchan was skating pretty fast.
    • Patrick Cullen showed good vision on a line with Kuznetsov.
    • Chris Forfar, the other member of that red Group B line, was not very fast and probably the third best member of that line.
    • Holtby might not have let in five goals the entire session (not including from those 9-on-0s afterwards). He was a wall and his thinking and reactions were faster than the others'. Well, except on Evgeny Kuznetsov's sweet slap pass across the crease on a 2-on-0.
    • Brett Fleming on Braden Holtby = Alexander Semin on Marty Turco.
    • Kuznetsov, Cody Eakin, Flemming, and Holtby were all fast in suicides.
    • Bohumil Jank and Ian Ruel were solid defensively.
    Hopefully I can make it a few more times this week. 

      Monday, July 12, 2010

      Be Patient

      The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. The New Jersey Devils signed Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov. The Philadelphia Flyers traded for Andrej Mezaros. The Ottawa Senators signed Sergei Gonchar. San Jose re-signed Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau ahead of free agency. The Capitals signed Dany play in the AHL, no less.

      At first glance, this seems like a disaster for the organization. The main competition in the East got a lot better on the blueline, and with the Caps likely to shoot less efficiently next season (they had a very high team shooting percentage) and see, believe it or not, similar goaltending (Theodore had the same even strength save percentage as Martin Brodeur, and Varlamov probably can't play much better than that), we should expect the Caps' greatest strength--the offense by which they overpower most every team in the regular season--to be greatly neutralized.

      Wait a second. Or a few days. Or a few weeks.

      Firstly, those teams that made the big splashes lost key pieces as well. New Jersey had lost Paul Martin and Tallinder and Volchenkov will not be able to replace his offense, though their defense may be better, on paper at least. Pittsburgh, still not having replaced neither Hal Gill nor Rob Scuderi (Jay McKee blocked shots but wasn't the same quality of defenseman) from two seasons ago, lost Gonchar as well and thus had to upgrade on defense (plus added years of experience and growth to Golisoski, Letang, and Orpik plus Lovejoy). Ottawa lost Volchenkov and, not having been able to contain Crosby in their playoff series this season and unpredictable in goal, needed another defenseman (though Gonchar appears to be regressing). And so on.

      What do the Capitals have? Well, it appears that by the end of this past season the team was icing at least three top-4 defensemen in Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, and Tom Poti, plus one legitimate bona-fide top-pairing man in Green (Schultz technically is, but ideally probably a second pairing guy). By April 2011 it's not unrealistic to think Washington could have five top-four defensemen in Green, Schultz, Poti, John Carlson, and Karl Alzner.

      That's pretty good.

      What is missing is another defensemen, since John Erskine and Tyler Sloan should not be regulars on a championship team, ideally (though Philadelphia and Chicago pretty much rode four and five defensemen, respectively, to the Stanley Cup Finals). With Willie Mitchell still unsigned and a strong group of free agent defensemen next season coming up, the Capitals have plenty of time (until next trading deadline) and opportunity, plus supply, of presumably available players.

      What about the second line center to play with Alexander Semin? Well, when Matthew Lombardi might have been the best UFA center out there, you know the class is pretty weak (Patrick Marleau was re-signed by San Jose just a few days before free agency opened). No use for George McPhee to overpay, with significant term, to a guy who absolutely needs talent on his wings to put up good numbers. And what if Marcus Johansson or Mathieu Perreault are good enough, right now, to play 2C? Then McPhee has just wasted some significant cap space.

      Fact is, with Johansson and Perreault (according to management) so close to ready if not ready right now to play top-6 forward minutes in Washington, they might as well be given a shot. The Capitals have the assets to go after one of these guys at the deadline if Perreault and Johansson don't provide a solid fix at the position.

      So, in short, what did happen? McPhee played it safe. He made sure that for the foreseeable future the Capitals will be able to construct a contending team while staying under the salary cap. Not overpaying (with term) now means keeping Ovechkin, Backstrom, Alzner, Carlson, Green, Schultz, Fehr, and others later. That's a pretty good core of players.

      And let's not forget that with the re-signing of Nicklas Backstrom the Capitals did, in fact, land the best pending free agent (as of May 2010) on the market.

      Thursday, July 1, 2010

      Summer break

      Today I'll be going on a six week long trip to the US and UK, so I'll temporarily be writing even less than I have been.

      I'll try to have something up on free agent signings before I leave.