When I listed top 20 forwards by defensive goals versus threshold, one player who is conspicuous by his absence from the list is Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks. Kesler has been a nominee for the Selke Trophy in each of the last two seasons. He is considered one of the top defensive forwards in the NHL. Why didn’t the goals versus threshold system find him?
Ryan Kesler scored 75 points with the Vancouver Canucks last year. That made him their third highest scorer (behind the Sedins), but his +/- rating (which is an important number in the defensive portion of the goals versus threshold system) was only a +1. This was tenth highest among the Vancouver Canuck forwards and well behind team leaders Daniel Sedin and Christian Ehrhoff, who were +36’s.
When I posted the top 20 forwards by defensive goals versus threshold, I got a list of players who played a lot of minutes on top defensive teams and posted top +/- ratings. Although this is a plausible first guess at who the top defensive forwards in the NHL are, the list had some problems. Players made it who are not great defensive players and other top defensive forwards are missing. One of the more surprising players on the list is Antoine Vermette of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is surprising because Columbus is not a top defensive team. Their 259 goals allowed is fifth worst in the NHL. He is the only representative of any of the ten worst defensive teams in the league. How does a player like Vermette make it so high on this list?
In my recent sabermetrics and hockey posts, I have been looking at Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold system. I have listed the top 20 players by the offensive , the goalie and the defensive portions of the system. I am still trying to come to grips with the defensive part of the system and I think a good method to do so is to look at the top 20 forwards by this system.
Here they are:
As we watch the Ilya Kovalchuk affair we are seeing that Gary Bettman has tremendous power over the NHL. Multiple NHL players signed high money front-loaded contracts which had them playing well beyond the age where most players retire. Gary Bettman and the NHL accepted them. This became a problem in Gary Bettman’s eyes with the Ilya Kovalchuk contract. In this case Gary Bettman served as the district attorney in deciding which contracts to fight. He used his power to select an arbitrator in Richard Bloch, who was strongly likely to rubberstamp the NHL position. Essentially it made Bettman the judge and jury.
Bettman’s choosing of drawing a line with the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk and not on the previous contracts is a very questionable act.
Seeing that the Chicago Blackhawks were pushed very tightly against the salary cap, the San Jose Sharks signed Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four year $14 million offer sheet. It was clear that if Chicago was to match the offer, some other key player on the 2010 Stanley Cup champions would have to be let go. The obvious choice was Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi. Niemi was a restricted free agent who was going to salary arbitration. It was clear that the Blackhawks would not be able to afford the kind of salary he would receive. Niemi got a $2.75 million arbitration award, which Chicago walked away from and signed Marty Turco. San Jose has turned around and signed Antti Niemi to a one year $2 million contract.
Lately, I have been looking at the sabermetrics and hockey problem of valuing players above replacement players. I am looking at the solution of Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold. I have explained the offensive, goaltending and defensive portions of this system. I have listed the top 20 players by the offensive portion and the top 20 players by the goalie’s portion. Today I list the top 20 by the defensive portion of goals versus threshold.
In today’s sabermetrics and hockey post, I am looking at the defensive portion of Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold system. Unlike the offensive portion and the goalies portion, this part is much more likely to be inaccurate. Defence is far harder to show statistically and as a result this part of the system is quite likely to miss significant defensive achievements and reward less impressive ones.
I didn’t think the 2010 Stanley Cup finals were a particularly well played series. This probably happened because the teams were not particularly good teams for Stanley Cup finalists. On a historical level, neither team is a particularly elite team. The easiest way to show this is to look at the goaltending. Neither Antti Niemi in Chicago nor Michael Leighton in Philadelphia is among the best goalies in the NHL. One statistical way to show this is to use goaltending goals versus threshold. A top 20 list by this stat from the 2009/10 season does not include either of these Stanley Cup finalist goalies.
When Evgeni Nabokov jumped to the KHL a lot of people wrote him off as an overpriced goalie who had his best days behind him. The common refrain is that he isn’t good enough to be the top player that shows the KHL is a serious challenger to the NHL. To some degree this is a sour grapes responce. If he is leaving the NHL, then he must not be a major loss.
One way to look at Nabokov’s 2009/10 season is shown on the top 20 list of goalie’s goals versus threshold. Nabokov was third last year behind Ryan Miller and Tomas Vokoun. This is essentially a showing that Nabokov put up a .922 saves percentage last year in 71 games played. No other goalie played as many games with as high a saves percentage.
Lately, my sabermetics and hockey posts have been about Tom Awad’s goals versus threshold system, which is an attempt to score each player on how many goals her produces versus a threshold replacement player. I have listed the top 20 players by the offensive portion of the system. Today, I will rank the top 20 players using the goaltending portion of this system.
Here are the top 20 players by goaltending goals versus threshold from the 2009/10 season:
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