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Luke Glendening Does Not Fit In The Kyle Dubas Model

from Mike Stephens of Editor In Leaf,

When put up against all of Dubas’ preferred player attributes, Glendening fits none of them.

Quite literally, he checks none of the GM’s preferred boxes

In regards to cost-efficiency, few would ever categorize Glendening as “undervalued”. His $1.8 million price tag may not seem like a monumental sum when in the context of a constantly rising cap, but it’s still a heck of a lot to shell out for a career fourth-liner whose career high in points is 21 and whose most notable personal accolade came when he finished 40th in Selke voting back in 2016....

Let’s pretend that Glendening, hypothetically, makes the league minimum and ticks the “cheap” box on Kyle Dubas’ Ideal Player Model Checklist™.

Would he be a worthwhile add?

The short answer? No.

The long answer? Absolutely friggin’ not.

Remember how much emphasis Dubas puts into analytics? Well, Glendening’s have been downright putrid this season. As in, some of the worst in the league.

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ilovehomers's avatar

Remember how much emphasis Dubas puts into analytics? Well, Glendening’s have been downright putrid this season. As in, some of the worst in the league.


Yawn.

Posted by ilovehomers on 02/11/19 at 08:28 AM ET

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See this is frustrating to me.

Just the other day I was arguing that Glendening is not a particularly good NHLer and that a lot of Red Wings fans severely overrate him. Which is still true.

But then this guy comes out and writes an article and his thesis is that Glendening is one of the flat-out worst players in the entire NHL and, just, ugh. He uses stats in his argument (good), but completely fails to properly contextualize those stats (very very very bad). Which makes everybody who uses advanced stats in their arguments look bad.

I really should be commenting on HIS article, but I refuse to login with Google or sign up for Disqus, so ...

It’s true that Glendening’s unadjusted possession numbers are among the very worst in the NHL. But what’s also true is that Luke Glendening takes twice as many defensive zone draws as offensive zone draws (388 vs 196), and wins them at a relatively high rate (not as important as people think it is, but still relevant). By zone start percentage he has the 24th-most-difficult deployment among all NHL forwards.

When you attempt to adjust his possession metrics to account for his excess defensive zone starts and the value of his excess faceoff wins, you end up with a guy whose “neutral” possession skill is probably in the 46-47 percent range.

That’s still bad, don’t get me wrong. He is not a good player. I wouldn’t trade for him if I were Kyle Dubas. But he’s not nearly as bad as Stephens is making him out to be here.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/11/19 at 09:12 AM ET

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He is not a good player.

This should be the takeaway. The only takeaway.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 02/11/19 at 09:21 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

You know, stats are funny because there are always stats out there somewhere to prove whatever point you’d like to make. 

How about this one:

Glendenning is rated 12th in the league in Faceoffs percentage.  This is higher than any player on Toronto’s roster, with Toronto not showing up until 22, 28, and 42.  https://puckbase.com/stats/faceoff-percentage There are other stat lists out there but they show Dmen and guys that have only taken 5 FO’s for the year (btw, Cholowski is in the top 5 with a 100% draw win percentage….). 

Glendenning’s faceoff performance alone can be a game changer for a playoff team (anyone remember a guy named Draper?), plus if he loses the draw he’s going to be the guy forechecking the crap out of the other team in their own zone. 

So hey, whatever Toronto.  You probably don’t remember this but sometimes you need guys who aren’t as suave to win Cups - the guys who go to the dirty areas and win battles.

Posted by TreKronor on 02/11/19 at 09:45 AM ET

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This should be the takeaway. The only takeaway.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 02/11/19 at 09:21 AM ET

I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t like being that reductive.

With a salary cap it’s not really possible to ice a full lineup of good players, or even average players. Every team will have to dress some bad players (“bad” in this context simply meaning well below average for a full-time NHLer).

So when making decisions about how to populate the bottom of your roster, knowing exactly HOW bad a player is, paying them appropriately, and deploying them in such a way to maximize whatever skills they do have and hide their most glaring weaknesses becomes fairly important.

The fact that Glendening is not a particuarly good NHLer is obvious. But exactly how far he is below the average is still relevant.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/11/19 at 09:55 AM ET

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Glendenning’s faceoff performance alone can be a game changer for a playoff team (anyone remember a guy named Draper?), plus if he loses the draw he’s going to be the guy forechecking the crap out of the other team in their own zone.

Posted by TreKronor on 02/11/19 at 09:45 AM ET

Faceoffs are not as important as most people think they are. This is another aspect of the game that has been rigorously studied statistically.

It’s a twofold problem.

First, winning a faceoff has a relatively weak influence on positive outcomes. Winning a defensive zone draw at even strength, for example, is worth about 1/60th of a goal saved. That means if you have won 60 more draws than you’ve lost in that situation, you’d be expected to have “gained” or “saved” your team 1 goal versus an equivalent player who won and lost faceoffs at an equal rate.

The second problem is that, considering the number of draws a player takes in a game / season, 58 percent is really not that different from 50 percent. It takes a LOT of draws in order to gain a large enough win/loss differential to really matter. Even an elite faceoff man playing a full season taking lots of high leverage draws will only be “worth” about 2-3 extra goals for his team based on faceoff skill alone.

Now if you had a guy who could win like 80 or 90 percent of his draws, that would be a game changer. But currently no one in the NHL is really good enough at faceoffs relative their peers to make a huge difference.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/11/19 at 10:06 AM ET

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But exactly how far he is below the average is still relevant.

Is it? I guess in the long term it is, but from the POV of whether Toronto should pursue him, it’s kind of irrelevant.

To me what’s relevant is that this team way overvalues bottom-end players because they visibly “try hard” and they demonize guys who don’t look like they’re trying, nevermind that people who are highly skilled often look as if they aren’t trying.

What’s relevant to me is that Detroit has eight bottom-six forwards and apparently no appetite to get rid of a single one of them.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 02/11/19 at 11:24 AM ET

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Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 02/11/19 at 11:24 AM ET

I mean, considering the average NHL salary is $2.4 million and Glendening makes $1.8 million as a veteran already strongly suggests that he’s a below average player, and below average players can still be “valuable” to a team if they (A) replace either a worse player or a roughly equivalent but much more expensive player, (B) are deployed appropriately and (C) paid at or below their market value.

But we’re splitting hairs here. In practice agree that Toronto really has no use for Glendening on their current roster. And I think you’re 100 percent correct about Detroit vastly overvaluing their own bottom-end players.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/11/19 at 11:32 AM ET

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It’s OK. I’m fine with Glendening staying on Detroit’s roster if all they would get in return is a low 3rd round pick or lower. There is little likelihood that low round pick could turn into the player Glendening is.

Don’t misinterpret this though. I don’t think Luke is some sort of great player that makes a huge difference to the Wings. It’s just that he fills a certain role nicely and every team needs cheap, decent role players too.

Toronto will see just how far they’ll get if they try to fill their 4th line with minimum contract players.

BTW, it’s my personal opinion that faceoffs overall are not a really important stat but their are situational faceoffs that can have a huge influence on the game.

Posted by evileye on 02/11/19 at 12:10 PM ET

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The tough thing about the “do faceoffs matter?” argument is that the truth is that it’s really a “yes, but ...” sort of scenario.

Obviously it’s better to win a faceoff than lose one, and that the more dangerous the scenario, the more valuable that win is. A few years back a sports consulting group actually studied the data and found the following values for “faceoff wins per goal differential”:

Even strength, neutral zone: 170
PP/SH, neutral zone: 129
Even strength, offensive/defensive zone: 80
PP/SH, offensive/defensive zone: 35

So in other words, winning the opening faceoff (EV, neutral) is almost meaningless to the outcome of the game—you’d need to win 170 more than you lost to generate one extra goal. But a special teams faceoff deep in the zone is a much bigger deal—you only need to net +/- 35 wins to gain or lose an additional goal, on average.

That’s maybe less significant than most people think it is, but still makes a measurable difference.

The harder thing to grasp is the second point, which is that the difference between a great faceoff taker and a average or even poor one isn’t that great. Glendening is one of the best in the league and he still loses more than 4 out of 10, while anyone who consistently wins less than, say 45 percent of their draws typically gets moved to the wing.

So yeah, you could be in a scenario where you lose a draw deep in your zone, and it winds up in the back of your net, and it costs you the game. So clearly faceoffs matter. And if the guy who lost the draw was a below-average faceoff taker, you might be tempted to blame him.

But the truth is that in the grand scheme of things, having Glenny take the draw is still really likely to result in a faceoff loss and goal against as well. Or even if Glenny wins the draw, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to clear the zone and keep the puck out of your net either.

To give you some concrete numbers:

Luke Glendening is on pace to take 186 shorthanded draws this year. Assuming that ALL of those draws are deep in the zone, and assuming he wins them at his overall faceoff win rate of 55.9 percent, he’d be +22 on the year.

By comparison, a crappy faceoff taker (~45 percent) would be -18 on those draws. So the total difference between Glendening (a “great” faceoff taker) and a terrible one would be about 40 faceoff wins, which would be worth just over one goal for the entire season.

In the small, individual moments those wins and losses can seem huge, but on balance they tend to average out to being not that big of a deal.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/11/19 at 12:47 PM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

https://theathletic.com/121980/2017/10/09/an-advanced-stat-primer-understanding-basic-hockey-metrics/

This is a good read for those they do not understand advance stats.  wink

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 02/11/19 at 12:49 PM ET

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The other factor, I think the stats analysis tends to forget, is that yes, over the course of a season, those things even out, but in the playoffs… every “event” matters.  So increasing your odds when an event happens is still worth while.  It also negates the effect of a player over the course of a series…does Luke “actually” make it harder on guys or not.  I’m not sure I buy it, but there have been series, where I would argue he did, but then they talked about that forever, and he most certainly did not the other series after that.  THat is hard to measure, and hockey is not generally (especially during the season) an event or rate driven league…. which makes a lot of those stats harder to take for traditionalists.  I’m somewhere in between.  I love the stats and data, but think there are holes, and I think grit/jam/whatever you want to call it, is an important factor come playoff time.  Would I trade for Glenny?  You’ve got a pretty green 4th line C there right now, and they’ve been looking for a solution for that position, but he’s played well…and when you can roll Matthews/JT/Kadri, you don’t need a lot of minutes out of your 4th line guy.  That could be a case FOR Luke or a case Against depending how you look at it.

Posted by DieByTheWing on 02/11/19 at 01:55 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Nobody was ever saying Dubas wanted Glendening.  They were saying BABCOCK would want Glendening.

There’s a big difference there.  And yes Dubas is GM and Babcock the coach, but… that doesn’t mean Babcock is going to just go along and not get what he wants, or not have any input.

Posted by Primis on 02/11/19 at 01:58 PM ET

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Posted by DieByTheWing on 02/11/19 at 01:55 PM ET

I hear you.

The tension, of course, is that any individual, isolated event can end up making the difference. One critical faceoff win at the right time could end up being meaningless ... or it could end up winning you the Stanley Cup. Until it happens, there’s no way to know.

That’s why they play the games of course, and what makes it exciting. You do your best to understand the game as best you can, give yourself the best possible chance ... but anything can still happen.

I want to zero in on what you said here: “Increasing your odds when an event happens is still worthwhile.”

In principle I think you’re 100% correct here. In fact, as a GM I think that’s really the only thing you can do. You can’t control the outcome. You can’t cover every possibility. You just try to put yourself in the best possible position and hope the odds come up in your favor—and if you’ve done your job well you’ll won’t need quite as much good fortunate to win as your opponent does.

And that’s why I can’t really get behind faceoff performance as a key indicator—not because it doesn’t matter at all, but because it’s so overvalued in general. Dedicating critical cap dollars purely for faceoff performance is almost always a sub-optimal strategy.

Sure if you’ve got two players who are absolute equals in every way, except one wins 54 percent of their draws and other wins 48 percent—by all means, take the guy who is better on faceoffs if they both cost the same amount. Even that small difference could turn out to be meaningful.

The problem is that a lot of GMs value faceoff skill way more than they really should, and are therefore willing to spend more / give up more assets to get it. So if you’re playing the odds, the smarter plan is to go after someone who is maybe not as good at faceoffs but is the all-around better player, since it’s far more likely that that will end up making the difference in the end, rather than an extra won or lost draw.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/11/19 at 02:51 PM ET

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Dug up this article that The Athletic ($$) published last year on importance of faceoffs. Pretty good read, they don’t make as much difference as you’d think.

https://theathletic.com/38389/2017/02/14/charting-hockey-on-the-value-of-faceoffs/

Posted by MZ2215 on 02/11/19 at 03:44 PM ET

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Dug up this article that The Athletic ($$) published last year on importance of faceoffs. Pretty good read, they don’t make as much difference as you’d think.

https://theathletic.com/38389/2017/02/14/charting-hockey-on-the-value-of-faceoffs/

Posted by MZ2215 on 02/11/19 at 03:45 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Sven saying exactly what I’m thinking at 9:12a.

Nice work

Posted by ilovehomers on 02/11/19 at 03:54 PM ET

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let’s not even consider that Dubas needs ever single cent he has to pay his RFAs this off season. $7.5 million to pay Marner & Gardiner alone is going to be tight. Add Kappanen and a back up goalie…......yeah…..Dubas would be a Dumbazzz if he makes a trade for more salary…....

......hi Jake Muzzin….

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 02/12/19 at 12:38 AM ET

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Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 02/11/19 at 02:51 PM ET

another way to look at faceoffs is when the guy wins the faceoff how often does he give the puck right back to the other team because his passing is terrible.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 02/12/19 at 12:40 AM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com