Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Caps and the Rush

One thing that could potentially--and I think will--determine the outcome of the Caps' 2010-2011 is their scoring style.

"It is interesting that Ovechkin scored 24 of his 31 even-strength goals (not counting empty net or penalty shot goals) on rushes into the zone. Setting up in the zone and working for shots accounted for only 3 goals all season for Ovechkin. When Ovechkin scores, the offense appears to resemble more of a basketball fast-break; using the team's speed to create quick goals rather than fighting in the corners in hopes of finding a hole in the defense's system."

--Kewibr, from Japers' Rink

30 Caps in 30 Days

Over the next month I plan to preview 30 different players who might see time playing for the Capitals this season. Here is my list.

1. D Karl Alzner
2. F Keith Aucoin
3. F Nicklas Backstrom
4. F Jay Beagle
5. F Eric Belanger
6. F Matt Bradley
7. D John Carlson
8. F Jason Chimera
9. D Sean Collins
10. D John Erskine
11. F Eric Fehr
12. F Tomas Fleischmann
13. F Andrew Gordon
14. F Boyd Gordon
15. D Mike Green
16. G Braden Holtby
17. F Marcus Johansson
18. F DJ King
19. F Mike Knuble
20. F Brooks Laich
21. G Michal Neuvirth
22. F Alex Ovechkin
23. F Mathieu Perreault
24. D Tom Poti
25. G Dany Sabourin
26. F Jeff Schultz
27. F Alexander Semin
28. D Tyler Sloan
29. F David Steckel
30. G Semyon Varlamov

Caps open their season on October 8, so I may be able to get to Brian Willsie and a few others too. I've included Eric Belanger since James Mirtle confimed on Japers' Rink Radio that he is 100% certain Belanger is a Cap.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do the Capitals Need Shut-Down Players?

Let's go through the list of teams that made the "Final Four" of the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the last few years and see how many had a strong shutdown center that ate big minutes along his deep run into the playoffs.

Chicago Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews
Montreal Canadiens: Scott Gomez (don't believe me, check his Corsi and QualComp)
Philadelphia Flyers: Mike Richards
San Jose Sharks: None

Pittsburgh Penguins: Jordan Staal
Detroit Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg
Carolina Hurricanes: Eric Staal (really)
Chicago Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews

Detroit Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jordan Staal
Philadelphia Flyers: Mike Richards
Dallas Stars: Brad Richards, Mike Modano

Anaheim Ducks: Sami Pahlsson
Detroit Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk
Ottawa Senators: Mike Fisher (Jason Spezza was used too but only because of Daniel Alfredsson's two-way play)
Buffalo Sabres: Chris Drury

Carolina Hurricanes: Rod Brind'Amour
Edmonton Oilers: None (though they had Michael Peca, Jarret Stoll, and Shawn Horcoff, all of whom are very capable but not "bona-fide" I don't think; Peca once was)
Buffalo Sabres: Chris Drury
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim: None

(I think I got most of it right, but I may have been off on some of the teams I'm less familiar with)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Applying the 2006 Hurricanes Model to the Capitals

I think this looks promising, since the 2006 Canes and 2011 Caps will both have had an inexperienced 22-year-old goalie starting the playoffs, a defense corps that isn't much to speak of, and a young star to lead the team. One thing to note though is that Edmonton, after winning three series as underdogs, looked to be better than Carolina in terms of Corsi and Fenwick, yet Carolina pulled the upset. Carolina relative to the other teams in the league probably is one of the luckiest champions in the expansion era, but hey, they got it done. It's also worth noting that in the years immediately following the lockout teams got LOTS of power plays, and on top of that Carolina since the lockout has been one of the best penalty-drawing teams, so that's a big part of their success.

Complete Semin WOWY

Just for sake of completeness I'll do the Semin WOWY including Eric Belanger and the Caps' defensemen: Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Joe Corvo, Brian Pothier, Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina, John Erskine, Tom Poti, Tyler Sloan, and John Carlson.

Note that the first player's column in the second chart is Semin himself.

Delta1 is how much better the player's Corsi% is with Semin than without Semin. Delta2 is how much better Semin's Corsi% is with the player than without the player.

I made a mistake calculating Delta1 and Delta2 for the forwards, so I've included that data again as well. I threw in Belanger to the far right, though I wouldn't put too much stock into his numbers because of how much he was shuffled around.


If there's something you want me to opine on, analyze, list, or just plain write about, leave it in the comments. I'll leave this page linked under "Welcome" on the right sidebar.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Applying the 2007 Ducks model to the Capitals

A little while back, user "The '67 Sound" on Pension Plan Puppets had a post about how Brian Burke built his 2006-2007 Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks. The post is really worth a read (as is everything on Pension Plan Puppets save the Chatty Cathy threads).

Anyways, even though George McPhee and not Burke is general manager of the Capitals, can we apply the model to the Caps? There's no need to re-invent the wheel when we already have several templates of roster structure that work.

First, the Ducks' D corps. Per the post:

"In fact, the Ducks broke camp with three veteran defencemen (Niedermayer, Pronger and O'Donnell); one second-year player who would play a major role (Francois Beauchemin); one AHL journeyman (Joe DiPenta) with only one NHL season under his belt, who would only play another 23 NHL games after '06-'07, and who was making $500,000; one rookie (Shane O'Brien) who was traded midseason and effectively replaced by Ric Jackman in a separate trade; and another aging AHL journeyman/NHL rookie in Kent Huskins.  Ian Moran and Aaron Rome, one at the end of his career and the other at the beginning, both played one game."

How Good is Alexander Semin?

This upcoming season, George McPhee has a big decision to make regarding the future of Alexander Semin--to either keep him and sign him to an extension, keep him and let him go, or trade him. To sign Semin means to invest a lot of money in a guy who at best is the second best winger on his team, a guy probably "doomed" to be a second liner in Washington (admittedly not too bad). To keep him and let him walk on July 1 means to hope that Alexander Semin takes a hot streak into the playoffs and stays healthy, immediately taking the Capitals from dangerous to very dangerous, and to trade him means to take a good return to help build for the future and/or be more set at center or defense (or wing, but that wouldn't make much sense) for the playoffs. Obviously, there are pros and cons to each situation. It will be best if McPhee knows exactly how much Semin is worth and extracts that much value from him, if not more.

One way to look at how good a player is is by looking at Corsi: specifically, how well a player does with and without his regular linemates, to try and estimate how much success can be attributed to the player in question. It's called with-you-without-you analysis (WOWY for short). Some examples are these on Alex Ovechkin, Shawn Horcoff, Frans Nielsen, Ilya Kovalchuk, Paul Martin, Travis Zajac, Ales Hemsky, Jason Strudwick, and Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Don't Take a Translation Without Citing

If you read blogs like Japers' Rink and Pension Plan Puppets, then you know that there are community members who speak other languages and will from time to time run translations of stories written in, say, Swedish or Russian.

The other day Pension Plan Puppets had a translation of a Czech interview of Tomas Kaberle's father, available here. The story has since run with the Toronto Sun.

Except, the Sun didn't credit Pension Plan Puppets for the translation from Czech to English.

I'm not a lawyer or anything, but I'd guess there is some sort of intellectual right that PPP has to the translation. If not, then, at least it's ethical to cite your f'ing source. For projects and papers it's always a pain to do the bibliography, but now I feel dirty if I don't (living in Georgia, where international copyright does not apply). I'm not sure if plagiarism is the right word here, but it certainly was PPP's first.

And afterwards, TSN and no doubt other media outlets have run the story, crediting the Toronto Sun. At least Yahoo got it right.

Further reading: Broad Street Hockey, Pension Plan Puppets (part 1), Pension Plan Puppets (part 2)

Make sure you go through the comments as well.

On the bright side, thanks to Ted Leonsis' involvement in the online community, the chances of this happening in DC are close to zero, I'd say. Thanks, Ted.

Rookie Cup Winners

Cooke-R. Robataille-Dupuis

Del Zotto-R. Ellis


Canada just got owned. Karlsson with the OT winner, fourth shutout for Miller. Backstrom also had an OT winner. My favorite method? Shoot from the point. Once I figured out Doughty was scratched and I could put him into the lineup, and that I suck at defense and should never switch to my defensemen when they're defending a rush, then I finally put it all together.

Vicariously defeating Canada, oh yes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Could the Caps have had Nicklas Backstrom for Less?

Nicklas Backstrom a few months ago signed a ten-year, $67 million contract extension with the Capitals, one which kicks in for the 2010-2011 season. The 22-year old Backstrom, a Capital for the forseeable future and one of the top players in the world, probably signed for a bargain price. His cap hit will only be the 22nd highest (23rd maybe if Ilya Kovalchuk signs for more annually) and his actual salary will only be tied for 46th highest. I can't help but feel, though, that the Capitals might have been able to get him for less.

Consider, first, Backstrom's age--22. He would be a restricted free agent until he turns 27 as long as he plays another season (his fourth). So, in five years, he would be an unrestricted free agent.

Consider, second, that, on average, restricted free agents sign for 60% of their "market value," or the amount you'd expect them to make as an unrestricted free agent (note though that this assumes Backstrom signs with another team, since he might take a hometown discount).

Now consider Backstrom's salary breakdown. Age is at the end of the season. I've included Ovechkin's salaries as well, since this exercise could apply to him too.

So, by paying Backstrom $6 million through his RFA years, it's as if he's being valued at $10 million. Is that too much? Well, yes and no. Yes, it is, since that number is near league maximum and at a level only Ovechkin, Crosby, Lidstrom, and Keith should be beginning to approach, but no, since Backstrom sacrificed salary later in order to be paid now. What's more instructive here is the total salary. At $77 million over ten years on the free agent market, for a cap hit of $7.7 million per season, it seems reasonable.

(Ovechkin's $15 million a season is only a bit more than what is reasonable, I think, at this point at least)

Tyler Dellow looked at Backstrom before he signed the extension and found that Paul Stastny might be a good comparable. Stastny in 2009-2010 entered the first year of a 5 year extension that pays him $6.6 million a season. Stastny is 24. So, for three years, Colorado would be paying him at RFA level. If we do the same calculations and assume the same RFA discount for three years, then Stastny's cap hit comes out to $9.24 million a season, with an $11 million adjusted salary for his RFA years. Too much? We have to look at the comparables.

Revisiting the list of salaries, the players in their RFA years who make as much or more than Backstrom are as follows: Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Rick Nash, Dion Phaneuf, Paul Stastny, Jay Bouwmeester, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Mike Richards, Nicklas Backstrom. With these players in part setting the salary bar for Backstrom, the Capitals probably could not have gone much lower than the price they got Backstrom for. Backstrom, like we thought, is an extremely good deal.

And I didn't even count salary inflation and the rising cap.

Alex Ovechkin's Overlooked Tool

Alex Ovechkin in his first five seasons has taken the NHL by storm. He's the fastest player to 200 goals outside of Gretzky, Lemieux, and Bossy. He's one of three to tally 200 goals and 200 assists in his first four NHL seasons (Gretzky and Bossy). He has, arguably, the second best rookie season in the NHL ever, after Teemu Selanne's crazy 76-56-132 1992-1993. He is already the best player in Caps history and soon enough should hold all major franchise offensive records. He's the only Capital who could ever be said to be the best player in hockey for any extended period of time.

Ask people what makes Alex Ovechkin so special, and they go with his shot, his physicality, his reckless abandon, his enthusiasm, or even his linemates for the skeptics.

One tool that I can't help but feel gets overlooked is his skating. In years past at times it came to the forefront, but his game is so much more than skating that the flashier parts like his hard wrist shot come into the light more than the unflashier, "technical" parts like positioning and skating. A guy like Jason Chimera really has only physicality and skating in his game, so of course skating is emphasized as his biggest asset. Mike Green as a young defenseman in the WHL also was touted as a great skater, but you hardly see that around anymore. Nicklas Lidstrom's skating is always highly touted because he doesn't have any flashy parts to his game, or at least doesn't use flashy stickhandling and his wrist shot often.

Corey Pronman on Puck Prospectus started using the 20-80 scale in hockey, like in baseball, and had this little tidbit on the "70" description.

"70: Significantly above average (plus plus), this skill is one of the best in the game and is in an elite class. This is a grade rarely given out. Steve Stamkos’ shot, Chris Prongers’, physical game, Nicklas Lidstrom’s hockey sense, and Alex Ovechkin’s skating are examples."

(the folks over at Japers' Rink then had an easy time rating Ovechkin's skating, among other tools and other players)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Your 2009 Stanley Cup Champions

Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Mike Knuble
Zach Parise-Patrice Bergeron-Ryan Callahan
Jay Pandolfo-Jarret Stoll-Scott Thornton
Pat Rismiller-David Steckel-Matt Bradley

Mike Green-Ryan Suter
Brian Pothier-Marc Staal
Alexandre Picard-Dan Girardi

Tomas Vokoun
Brent Johnson

After this I re-signed Knuble and Steckel, let go of Thornton and Johnson, traded Stoll for salary cap reasons (for a package with Sam Gagner), and signed Craig Anderson to be my backup. I then simmed the season but missed the playoffs, even after trading for Braydon Coburn and Duncan Keith.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Is Nicklas Backstrom Still Like Peter Forsberg?

As a teenager playing for his hometown Brynas IF Gavle, Nicklas Backstrom was highly touted as "the next Peter Forsberg," and apparently with good reason. Like Forsberg, Backstrom has great vision and passing and is devilishly tough to knock off the puck.

Hockey-Reference pages:
Peter Forsberg
Nicklas Backstrom

Forsberg, however, in his heyday, was the best player in the world. In 2002-2003 Forsberg won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's points leader with 29 goals, 76 assists, and 106 points, a performance which earned him the Hart Trophy as league MVP as well. Furthermore, Forsberg only played 19:20 a night that season. If Backstrom's hadn't played so little early on in his NHL career, he might have exceeded that total in his rookie season, as well as his second and third seasons.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Which Caps overachieved in 2009-2010?

PDO, available on Behind the Net, is a great number to use to see whether a player in a given year overachieved or underachieved. PDO is the sum of the team shooting percentage and the team's save percentage while a given player is on the ice at even strength. For example, while Player A is on the ice, if his team shoots 10% and his goalies stop 93% of the shots against, Player A will have a PDO of 1.03 (103%).

For most players, this number regresses to a mean of, as intuitively expected, 1.000 (100%). For better players, it could average to 1.01 or a bit higher, and for the worse players perhaps to 0.99 or a bit lower. For example, a player with a PDO in a season of 1.02 would be expected to take a hit in his numbers the following season, while a player with a PDO of 0.98 would be expected to improve (assuming other factors stay the same).

Off the top of my head I know that the Capitals had a relatively high shooting percentage as a team at even strength and to an extent the goalies overachieved as well (especially Jose Theodore, whose even strength save percentage was the same as Martin Brodeur's), so I expect many of the Caps to have had inordinately high years.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Where to find your hockey statistics

If you're like me and you use numbers to try and back up your arguments, you'll probably run into the issue of not being able to find the numbers you're looking for from time to time. Here's my current list of hockey resources, which I'll put up soon on the right side.

Behind the Net is probably the best website for hockey-related numbers out there. It lists lots of per-sixty-minutes rate statistics like plus minus and goals, as well as breakdowns of 4-on-5, 5-on-5, and 5-on-4. It also has Corsi and GVT and Zonestarts, among other numbers. The author, Gabriel Desjardins, also runs the Behind the Net blog. And if you simply can't find the information you're looking for, you can send him a nice email asking for some information and he can probably pull it up for you.

Olivier Bouchard runs his own blog, and actually records the Canadiens' scoring chances, among other things. His work is in French though, so chances are you'll need to keep Google Translate handy.

Tyler Dellow on his blog does some interesting statistical analysis of various trends and players.

Brodeur is a Fraud has some nice insights into goaltending.

Vic Ferrari started the site Time on Ice, which can give you shift information about specific games. He also has a blog. Maybe most importantly, though, he has player scripts that can let you find information like Fenwick and Corsi and do WOWY (with you without you) analysis. He explains how to use the scripts in part one and part two.

The Copper and Blue is an Edmonton Oilers blog that occasionally runs analysis in the grander scheme of things. Even if their analysis in Edmonton-centric, they have a plethora of ideas one can always apply to a different team.

Tom Awad (the creator of GVT, goals versus threshold) and others write at Puck Prospectus, which has all sorts of analysis and innovative player rankings.

James Mirtle occasionally does similar work for the Globe and Mail. In the same vein, bloggers on sites like Japers' Rink, Pensburgh, and other sites will also venture in new realms.

If you want to find how often a forward played with another forward, or a defenseman with another defenseman, Dobber Hockey is the place for you.

If you want to find how many players did something with certain parameters, or just what a certain player did in a given year, look at Hockey Reference. Or maybe Hockey Analytics.

Capgeek has all your unofficial salary cap information.

And don't forget the NHL.com has lots of different statistics in their online stats engine, including home/road, by manpower, and by-period splits, in addition to the general goals-assists-points-PIMs.

I know that I've missed some. If you know of another helpful site, please add it in the comments.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Top-ten goalies

Adrian Dater over at Versus has been making lists of his top-ten players at each position. He has a job as a hockey writer, so he must be good. However, I think he has been guilty of trying too hard to either make the list correct (i.e overthinking) or make it interesting and “out of the box.” I'm no professional hockey writer, and I only got into the sport a few years ago, so I may be wrong as well, but I may be a little more familiar with work done by advanced independent hockey statisticians as well as a diverse group of hockey fans, and so here I've outlined my top-ten using what I've seen and remembered.

1. Tomas Vokoun—for years he's had the highest even-strength save percentage in the league, and since the lockout he blows all other goalies out of the water, save Tuukka Rask (who has played far fewer games). He doesn't have the win totals since he has been on Nashville—good, but not an elite team—and Florida—not very good at all. Plus, Florida is in Corsi poverty, allowing lots of shots year after year, driving up Vokoun's GAA. His raw numbers all always good, but not elite, but a slightly deeper look reveals that he's the best goalie in the NHL.

2. Roberto Luongo—hey, this is supposed to be an objective list, and on any such list Luongo has to come in high. His regular season numbers are always excellent—even earlier in Florida—and his playoff numbers a statistician would tell you come in small sample size when his team wasn't playing so well in front of him either (although I think it goes beyond that). Anyways, he's big, technically sound, smart, durable (with stamina to play lots of games), and consistent. He's one of the few goalies for whom it's worth signing for lots of money (as opposed to picking up cheap goalies and hoping one of them gets on a hot streak).

3. Henrik Lundqvist—He's the only goalie in NHL history to record four straight 30-win seasons to begin his career, let alone five like he has now (and expect that streak to continue). He's a lot like Luongo—big, mobile, technically sound, durable (with stamina), and so on. Only thing with Lundqvist is that—and Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic had a great graphic of this in the Rangers-Capitals 2009 ECQF series—as he gets more long-term fatigued, his glove in his “ready” position drops rather low and creates a high-glove vulnerability. Nevertheless, he's a terrific player.

4. Jonas Hiller--he puts up great even strength numbers, and has been for some time. Playing in Anaheim, though, he doesn't get as much credit as he deserves, like Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, and others. In short, though, the form Hiller showed in the 2009 playoffs was not a fluke. He's that good.

5. Martin Brodeur--he's still good, underwhelming playoffs notwithstanding.

6. Tuukka Rask--his numbers this past season rivaled Vokoun's at even strength and Miller's overall. That Raycroft trade sure looks good now, doesn't it?

7. Ryan Miller--he's had one great season, but his performance was in large part buoyed by pretty much unsustainable performances on special teams. He's still solid and above average, but not like the guys above him are looking.

8. Ilya Bryzgalov--Phoenix had a good defense overall and Byrzgalov too had great special teams and shootout numbers. I'm not so sold on him, but the numbers speak for themselves. Phoenix had over 100 points with a bottom-5 offense in large part to defense and goaltending, and on paper at least the defense is good not great. So the credit falls to Bryzgalov.

9. Miikka Kiprusoff--although some of his totals like wins and goals against average have been dipping, he still does all he can to help his team win. The reason he comes in so low is because of his age. While Vokoun, another old goalie, hasn't shown regression, Kiprusoff has.

10. Craig Anderson--he challenged Vokoun for the starting job in Florida in 2008-2009, while Vokoun was putting up top-5 numbers. Then, he took his act to Colorado and excelled. Sure, he got lucky some--Colorado was heavily outshot all season and really was a product of a high shooting percentage from their young players--but Anderson was solid too.

Just missed out: Tim Thomas, Dan Ellis, Pekka Rinne, Jonas Gustavsson, Evgeni Nabokov

Redoing Franchise Players

Winging It in Motown recently did a list of their top-ten franchise builders for next season (e.g. if you did a fantasy draft in NHL 11, starting a team from scratch, just for 2010-2011, who would you take?). I thought it was overthought as well. Sometimes, there's no need to stray from conventional wisdom because, quite simply, it's almost irrefutable. There's no right or wrong, as it is personal preference (Carolina GM Jim Rutherford for example doesn't use high picks on defensemen, Nashville GM David Poile almost always does), but I find it hard to put Johnathan Toews first, among other things.

Their list. Mine, cost-blind:

  1. Sidney Crosby—he's one of the best two players in the world, easily. He's the one that plays the most important position. End of discussion.

  2. Alex Ovechkin—he's a generational talent at the least important position. Maybe you could but someone else there, but are you really going to pass up the chance to have Alex freakin'-Ovechkin on your team, basically a lock for 50-60 goals and 100+ points? No sir.

  3. Evgeni Malkin—This was the lowest Malkin could have been at the end of last season, but after a relatively poor season Malkin for some people drops lower. I don't mind his inconsistency because he's proven that he can be the guy. That means that his overall production is all that matters, and when you consider that Malkin pretty much had a bad season of over a point per game, and that's the worst he's played his entire career, and that he has potentially 50-goal 120 point upside, then yeah, this is an easy pick.

  4. Nicklas Backstrom—he's getting better each season. He's looking like a future Selke winner with ever-improving a strong defensive game, and his creativity, vision, and skill with the puck in the offensive zone can only be matched by a handful of other forwards. He's calm, hard to knock off the puck, and competitive as well, and consistent too. He's gets a higher slot because of the position he plays.

  5. Duncan Keith—the Norris Trophy winner should get a high spot. Although I thought Green was a little more deserving, Keith gets the highest position from a defenseman because he is a little more versatile, able to eat big minutes on the penalty kill (which Green hasn't proven yet). He could still yet improve as well.

  6. Pavel Datsyuk—if you talk about the best forward in the NHL right now, the only guy that will ever be brought up alongside Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin is Datsyuk. Datsyuk, although old relative to the others on this list, is still very very skilled with the puck and thinks quickly. His decision making with the puck and patience is elite, but what really sets him up here despite his poor season in terms of raw numbers in 2009-2010 is his decision making without the puck. Datsyuk won his third straight Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward, and although he wasn't used much on the penalty kill, he's already proven himself capable of playing defensive roles, helping to shut down Sidney Crosby in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009 (and Mike Babcock has several other very good two-way forwards to choose from to play “shutdown” roles).

  7. Mike Green—Two time Norris finalist, two back to back point per game seasons, two 70 point seasons before his 25th birthday. Every other player who satisfies that last requirement let alone all three is in the Hall of Fame or named Nicklas Lidstrom or Chris Chelios. Green is a notch above everyone else with the puck in the offensive zone, and defensively vastly underrated (if you pay attention to everything he does, you'll notice that most of the time Green stops the other team's offensive rush by chasing down a puck in the neutral zone itself. That's good defense). Production from the back line and the ability to move the puck up the ice quickly and counterattack is important in today's NHL, and Green excels at those two items. Put him with a defensive defenseman like Shaone Morrisonn, Jeff Schultz, or someone better, and give him power play time, he will shine.

  8. Drew Doughty—Second youngest Norris finalist ever. Behind Robert Orr. Yes, that guy. Doughty has plenty of room to improve, but most of the time he still makes the right decision, and his offensive creativity and ambition could make him better than Green in that regard in the future. But not yet.

  9. Shea Weber—he's somehow still underrated. Weber is versatile as well and brings good vision and a cannon from the point. His skating and physicality in addition to his smarts make him one of the most complete defensemen in the NHL, and he's just entering his prime.

  10. Mike Richards—Toews originally has this spot, but then I did some thinking. Toews is by no means elite offensively, and Richards is a bit better. Richards is an all-world defensive player at even strength, consistently playing shutdown center for Philadelphia, Team Canada, and any other team and excelling at that job. He's also a Selke finalist, which Toews is not. Is Toews' leadership and room for growth enough to unseat Richards? I say no. Toews I feel gets a massive pass for his under-70 point season because of his Olympic MVP performance on a loaded Canada team—one of his checking-linemate was Richards himself!—and his Conn Smythe playoffs performance, which included a disappearing act in the Stanley Cup Finals and good play against a complete “choke” job, for lack of a better phrase, by San Jose, plus classic playoffically unstable Roberto Luongo going cold.
Just missed out: Johnathan Toews, Nicklas Lidstrom, Steven Stamkos, Henrik Sedin, Mikko Koivu

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Crude Way of Rating Coaches

In the shower a few days ago I was thinking about the post I'd finished the night before on Tomas Fleischmann and goals-versus-threshold, and how I'd added up the GVTs of the Capitals players. That got me thinking, what would the Capitals look like if the GVTs are removed? Since GVT is calculated in goals, if we take away all these GVT values, we take away a certain amount of goals (a combination of adding goals allowed or subtracting goals for), to give an estimation of what a team with average players might look like. Then I thought, what if I repeated for each team in the league? I'd probably find different results, though I don't know how much the results between teams might vary. I guess once we remove the players then we get to the core--system, and through the system, coaching.

I will subtract the total offensive GVT of the players from the goals for amount to get a rough goals for of the average team, and add the total defensive GVT to the goals against number to get a rough goals against. Using Pythagorean Winning Percentage I should be able to find which team's system is best. That team's coach could have been the best in the league in 2009-2010.

Some expectations I have before I begin:
  • Bruce Boudreau won't show up very highly, but not at the bottom either.
  • Barry Trotz, Joel Quenneville, Jacques Lemaire, Dave Tippett, and Mike Babcock will show up near the top.
  • Jacques Martin and Rick Tocchet will be near the bottom.
Without further ado, the results (program and results):
1    NJD    29.977%    170.3 GF    281.7 GA   
2    CHI    29.879%    170.1 GF    282.0 GA   
3    WSH    29.622%    170.6 GF    284.5 GA   
4    DET    29.616%    170.4 GF    284.2 GA   
5    LAK    29.535%    170.5 GF    284.9 GA   
6    BOS    29.489%    170.5 GF    285.2 GA   
7    CGY    29.403%    170.7 GF    286.1 GA   
8    PHI    29.357%    170.4 GF    285.9 GA   
9    CBJ    29.347%    170.3 GF    285.8 GA   
10    NSH    29.201%    170.5 GF    287.1 GA   
11    OTT    29.191%    170.4 GF    287.0 GA   
12    NYI    29.176%    170.4 GF    287.1GA   
13    SJS    29.161%    170.4 GF    287.2 GA   
14    VAN    29.071%    170.4 GF    287.8 GA   
15    MTL    29.071%    170.4 GF    287.8 GA   
16    PHX    29.006%    170.2 GF    287.9 GA   
17    TBL    28.931%    170.2 GF    288.4 GA   
18    BUF    28.938%    170.7 GF    289.2 GA   
19    MIN    28.863%    170.4 GF    289.2 GA   
20    PIT    28.812%    170.2 GF    289.2 GA   
21    NYR    28.736%    170.6 GF    290.4 GA   
22    DAL    28.686%    170.4 GF    290.4 GA   
23    EDM    28.656%    170.4 GF    290.6 GA   
24    STL    28.631%    170.3 GF    290.6 GA   
25    TOR    28.612%    170.4 GF    290.9 GA   
26    ATL    28.587%    170.3 GF    290.9 GA   
27    COL    28.491%    170.5 GF    291.9 GA   
28    ANA    28.404%    170.5 GF    292.5 GA   
29    FLA    28.0240%    170.3 GF    294.8 GA   
30    CAR    28.006%    170.4 GF    295.1 GA   

Note: I did not incorporate shootout statistics and used goalie GVTs as purely defensive

Not all too surprising I guess--the good teams finished near the top, the worse teams near the bottom. The spread, however, is pretty small (in only one season, it should be noted). Philadelphia and Columbus changed coaches (among other teams), so that may have lead to improved numbers later in the season, but since GVT is dependent partially on games played, the players' GVTs may not have had time to catch up. The differences lie in goals against numbers, as goals for are almost even across the board. It looks like there is no one best system, but rather, a coach succeeds when he has good players to work with.

My next project will be to use players' historical GVTs over the past three seasons or so to better judge what sort of talent a coach truly has (specifically I have Philly in mind). This exercise over one season though looks inconclusive.