Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Predictions: Northwest Division

With the season approaching, it is time to start my pre-season predictions.  I will start by forecasting the Northwest Division.  Obviously, things are bound to change over the course of the season.  Injuries, trades, slumps, breakout players are hard to forecast and when they happen, they are bound to affect the final standings of teams and more than likely, they will make my predictions incorrect.  Nevertheless, here is what I expect as the order of finish in the Northwest Division:

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NHL Suspension Policy Remains Messed Up

One of the worst things about pre-season hockey is when players get injured in the still meaningless pre-season.  This is especially bad when a player tries to make a name for himself to make a team with a cheapshot on another player.  One of the more outrageous examples of this in the recent past is Steve Downie’s 2007 pre-season boarding of Dean McAmmond, which netted the then-rookie Downie a 20 game suspension. 

Last night we had two suspendable offences.  The worst was a kneeing incident where Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik took out Detroit’s Johan Franzen.  Franzen is expected to be out for at least his next three games.  Orpik was given a game misconduct for the play, but as of yet no suspension.  Kneeing is always a dangerous play and in a pre-season game it is senseless.

Chicago defencemen Nick Boynton made a “throat-slashing” gesture toward Blair Jones of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  For this he got a one game suspension and that one game is a regular season game.  The fight came after Boynton hit Chris Durno knee-on-knee to provoke the fight.

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Why James Sheppard Has Such A Bad GVT

In my sabermetrics and hockey posts, I have been looking at Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold system, which is an attempt to show the value of a player in one number when compared to that of a replacement level player.  The replacement player is assumed to be always available via minor league call-ups, waivers or some other cheap method.  I recently listed the worst 20 players in 2009/10 by goals versus threshold

The worst seven players in this system were all goalies.  This is because goaltenders can often have the biggest impact in a game, either positive or negative.  A bad goaltender is relatively easy to pick out as he allows more goals than an average one would when facing the same number of shots.  A poor position player is harder to find in this system.  The system looks for a player who fails to score despite significant ice time.  It also looks for a bad defensive player.  In the goals versus threshold system, a bad defensive player is a player with a poor +/- rating on a weak defensive team.  This is probably not the best way to select a poor defensive player, but this is what the system attempts.

The worst position player in the system last year is James Sheppard of the Minnesota Wild.  I think it is instructive to take a look at why he is selected for this dishonor.

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Worst 20 Players By Goals Versus Threshold

A few days ago, I listed the top 20 players by goals versus threshold.  Today I will look at the flip side and look at the worst players by Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold system.  These are players who performed worse than a threshold replacement level player last season.  These players are likely to find themselves out of the NHL if they continue their current level of play.  In many cases, the fact that they played enough games in the 2009/10 season to do as poorly as they did is noteworthy.  These are likely players who have had some success and established themselves as NHL players in the past and their team hoped for a return to form, which would have them playing above replacement level but this return to form did not occur last season.

Here are the worst 20 players last season by goals versus threshold:

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Keith Yandle’s Goals Versus Threshold

Yesterday, I listed top 20 defencemen by goals versus threshold, a statistic developed by Tom Awad in an attempt to quantify how much better a given player is than a replacement level player.  It is an approximate method that is particularly tough to use to rank defensive play, because defensive hockey is hard to quantify.  This makes defencemen an interesting group to look at in this statistic system, as a significant portion of their value is hard to accurately rate. 

To get an idea how it works I want to look at the case study of Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes.  Yandle ranks eleventh among defencemen with 12.0 goals versus threshold.  This seems quite high for a defenceman of his stature.  Yandle is not generally seen as one of the best defencemen in hockey, he has never appeared in an All Star Game and he did not receive any Norris Trophy votes.  Yandle was the 23rd highest scoring defenceman in the season with 41 points.  Thus he climbs a significant amount versus higher scoring defencemen in this ranking system, yet he is not among the top 20 players by defensive goals versus threshold.  It is interesting to look at how he got such a high ranking in this system and whether or not it is warranted.

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Top 20 Defencemen By Goals Versus Threshold

Lately, I have been looking at the sabermetrics and hockey problem of calculating player values above a replacement level player.  The most commonly accepted solution to this problem is Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold.  I have written several posts explaining this system, listing top players according to it and discussing some of the more interesting results it produces.  I recently listed the top 20 players by the goals versus threshold system.  One of its shortcomings is that it underrated defencemen and defensive play.  In the top 20 last season, only two defencemen are ranked.  They are Duncan Keith, who is 13th and Mike Green, who is 15th.  They are the top two scoring defencemen last season, so it is no surprise they would be the top rated defencemen in a system that underrates defence.

I thought it would be informative to list the top 20 defencemen in the goals versus threshold system, in order to get a better idea of which defencemen it selects.  Here is the list:

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Is Goals Versus Threshold Biased Toward Goalies?

Yesterday, I wrote a post listing the top 20 players in the 2009/10 regular season by goals versus threshold.  One of the most obvious conclusions upon looking at the list is that half of the top 20 players (ten of them) are goaltenders.  Considering that teams dress 20 players per game and only two of them are goalies (and usually only one plays in any given game) this is a high number.  Is this number reasonable?

The main reason this conclusion looks reasonable is that the top goaltenders lead the league in minutes played.  They play 60 minutes a game and often play in 60, 70 or even more games in a season.  They are clearly important to their team when they are on the ice.  A goaltender can steal a game with a great performance or give it away with a poor performance.  I had a good conversation about this in comments of the previous post with a commenter called Bossy Rules.

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Top 20 Players By Goals Versus Threshold

Recently I have written several sabermetrics and hockey posts about Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold system.  I have explained the offensive, defensive goaltending and shootout portions of the system.  I have also listed the top players in each of these portions of the system and discussed some of the more sabermetrically interesting player cases.

Although not mentioned in Tom Awad’s writings on the puck prospectus system, when the results are tabulated by Gabe Desjardins at behind the net, he includes a defensive portion for goalies which I reject.

Here are the top 20 players in 2009/10 by goals versus threshold neglecting goaltenders defensive portions.  It is merely the sume of the totals from the earlier described portions:

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The Part Of Goals Versus Threshold That Makes No Sense

I have written several sabermetrics and hockey posts about Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold system.  I have discussed the offensive, defensive, goaltending and shootout portions of the system.  There is one more part to the system as it is calculated by Gabe Desjardins at behind the net, which is not described by Tom Awad.  This extra piece is the defensive component of goaltenders.

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Bettman Wrong To Punish Devils

The news has come out today that the NHL is punishing the New Jersey Devils for their first contract with Ilya Kovalchuk.  This was a 17 year contract with a $6 million per year salary cap hit.  It was strongly front-loaded and had several low cost years added onto the end of it to keep the average contract value and hence salary cap hit down.  The NHL challenged the contract and an arbitrator threw it out.  Eventually, New Jersey signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a second contract.  This was a 15 year contract with a $6.67 million salary cap hit that was front-loaded, but not as badly as the original one.  The NHL took a while to approve the contract and forced the NHLPA to accept a CBA modification to prevent similar contracts in the future in exchange for its passage.

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com

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