In my recent sabermetrics and hockey posts, I have been discussing Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold system. I have discussed the offensive portion of this system and today will move on to discussing the goaltending portion of this system.
A goaltender’s job is to stop shots on goal. This is how they are evaluated here. They are not evaluated by other stats such as wins or shutouts which have a much larger dependence upon the team in which the goalie plays.
In this summer’s look at sabermetrics and hockey I have started looking at goals versus threshold (so far only the offensive portion). This is a system developed by Tom Awad, which is kept by behind the net. The idea is to rank players with one number that shows how many goals they produce over a hypothetical replacement player (the kind that could be found in the AHL or on waivers).
When we compare player’s ranks in the NHL scoring list to their rank on the offensive goals versus threshold list, we see some discrepancies. To better understand these discrepancies, I have looked at Alexandre Burrows offensive value since he is a player who does significantly better by offensive goals versus threshold. Today I will look at Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche. He is a player who ranks poorly when compared to his rank in the top NHL scorers.
Alexandre Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks was the 36th highest scorer in the NHL last year with 67 points. Yet when we sort the top 20 players by offensive goals versus threshold, Burrows comes 18th in the league. Burrows is the most high profile example of a player who ranks significantly better under Tom Awad’s system when compared to his actual rank in the NHL scoring race.
I have been blogging about hockey for about five and a half years and have seen the hockey blogosphere grow from a small group of bloggers, where it was possible to read everything that everyone wrote, to such a large group that no matter how hard you try there is always somebody out there doing good stuff that you are completely unaware of. I think a rather significant milestone has occurred this week and it is worth writing a blog post to note it. As far as I am aware, we have had the first time that mainstream media sources have ripped off a hockey blog.
Pension Plan Puppets is probably the best Toronto Maple Leaf blog on the net. Their name is a bit of a joke about the fact that the Ontario Teacher`s Pension Plan owns the Toronto Maple Leafs as well as many other businesses in downtown Toronto. The joke is that a Toronto Maple Leaf Stanley Cup victory might lead to rioting that damages the other Pension Plan properties and hence they are happier keeping the Leafs as a bottom feeder. Thus the fans emotions are held hostage (as puppets) by the pension plan.
Yesterday I began looking at the sabermetrics and hockey problem of goals versus threshold as formulated by Tom Awad. I began by looking at the offensive portion of this system. Today I want to look at the top offensive players in this system. This will be similar to the scoring leaders in the NHL except it values goals over assists and takes into account ice time by subtracting off the scoring that a replacement level (threshold) player would have provided with that ice time.
Here are the top 20 players by offensive goals versus threshold compared with their rank in the NHL scoring race:
One goal in hockey sabermetrics is to have one number to show the value of a player above a replacement player. The idea is that any team should be able to find players of a low enough level either by call-ups from the minors or by waivers or some other method. The idea is to find the production level of a replacement player and then show how many more (or less) goals a player produced than that level. The idea comes from the baseball idea of value over replacement player or VORP.
Tom Awad has done a significant amount of work to devise a system to try to approximate this. Bear in mind that it is an approximation and cannot be used to get more than an approximate value for a player. Tom Awad has written three articles on it here, here and here.
Now that I am essentially finished with this summer’s look at Corsi numbers, before I move onto some other sabermetric problems I would like to present my top 50 players. This is something done by the Hockey News annually. My list will differ from the Hockey News list and I will try to justify my selections especially when they significantly differ from those of THN.
When I rank the top 50 players, I ask myself which fifty players would I most want on my team going into the upcoming season. I am not sure that is the same question asked by THN. They do not specify exactly how they come up with their list and a different selection procedure might explain some discrepancies.
One player who is quite interesting from the standpoint of sabermetrics and hockey is Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings. He is one of the better scorers on his team. This season he scored 56 points, which was good for third in Kings scoring. Dustin Brown does not do very well from a puck possession standpoint. He has the 16th worst team and zone adjusted Corsi rating last year. When Brown was on the ice, he usually started in the offensive zone, yet the opposing team controlled the puck and took far more shots than the Kings did. This is not a strong showing from Brown. Brown used up a lot of Los Angeles’s offensive opportunities and did not have a lot to show for it. These offensive opportunities frequently wound up with the Kings’ opposition controlling the puck.
Every summer the NHL GMs rush to hand out big contracts to a group of free agent players that they hope will be the future of their franchises. Some work out to be good signings, but many do not. When a player signed to a longer-term contract worth a significant amount of money does not work out it can be a problem that handcuffs the franchise into the future. I think that one such situation this year is the Pittsburgh Penguins signing of Zbynek Michalek, formerly of the Phoenix Coyotes, to a five year contract worth $20 million in total.
Michalek has been with Phoenix since the lockout year and played a regular shift on their defence. He frequently plays against relatively tough competition and has far more defensive zone starts than offensive ones. Accordingly, his offensive contribution has never been significant. He scored 17 points last year and has a career best of 28, which he got in 2006/07.
One thing that adjusted Corsi ratings are good for is to identify players who are failing to provide value to their team at even strength. These are the players with limited ice time who have the worst adjusted Corsi ratings in the NHL nonetheless. At the top of this list is Jason Strudwick of the Edmonton Oilers. This past season, Strudwick played 72 games on the Edmonton Oiler defence. He had no goals and six assists and put up the worst team and zone adjusted Corsi rating in the NHL, which shows he was a horrid player at puck possession. He isn’t a strong player without the puck either. Strudwick won’t top any defensive lists. For those efforts, the Edmonton Oilers re-signed Strudwick with a small raise.
Jason Strudwick is the kind of player who is given a lot of chances to play in the NHL despite his failures. He is a very hard working player and a very good teammate off the ice. This puts him in coaches’ good books. He is cheap. With his raise, he is still making $725,000 this year and in a salary capped environment that can be important. The problem is he is not an NHL calibre hockey player.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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