So far this summer I have tallied some important sabermetric statistics. I have listed the top 20 and worst 20 adjusted +/- ratings when adjusted as a rate stat and the top 20 adjusted as a counting stat . To complete this +/- analysis, I will list the worst 20 players with the rate stat adjustment.
Here is this list (as calculated by Gabe Desjardins of Behind the Net) :
I think that Christian Ehrhoff had the biggest improvement in his defensive game in the 2009/10 season when compared to the 2008/09 season. This is not to be confused with Drew Doughty who is a defenseman that was the most improved player in the league. A significant part of Doughty’s improvement was his jump from 29 to 57 points (an offensive improvement), while Ehrhoff was up from 42 to 44 points with a big jump defensively.
Ehrhoff’s defensive improvement can be seen by looking at adjusted +/- ratings. In 2008/09 he was eighth worst in the league. This season he was fourth best. That is a tremendous leap. It is uncommon for a player to improve on that level and the improvement is defensive.
I have already posted the players with the top 20 adjusted +/- ratings as a counting stat and as a rate stat. It is time to look at the flip side of these numbers and see who is failing in the role and putting up a bad adjusted +/-. Today, I will post the counting stat list.
Here it is:
When we look at the top 20 adjusted +/- ratings as a rate stat, we see a surprising player at number one. He is Mark Fistric of the Dallas Stars. This situation is not unlike the top 20 adjusted as a counting stat where Jeff Schultz leads.
Jeff Schultz leading is much more easily explainable as a good season than Mark Fistric. In part, this is because of the adjustment method. When a statistic is treated as a rate stat, you tend to select players who played well for a shorter period of time than players who played a significant role on their team and played well. Essentially, you get the top per game scorers in the league instead of the scoring leaders, who are in the Art Ross race.
There are few periods in the year when teams can make significant roster moves. This is largely because the salary cap removes a lot of team’s possible flexibility. In order to make a move it must make sense in terms of the players involved, the contracts involved and the salary cap. That is a lot of variables that must be considered. The one time when significant moves are often necessary is the off-season, when teams have expiring contracts. This allows them the flexibility to make changes for next year.
The first team to make significant moves this off-season is the St Louis Blues. Yesterday they acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz and then acquired TJ Hensick from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for prospect Julian Talbot. The first trade is obviously the bigger one and could pay huge dividends for the Blues next season and into the future.
A few days ago, I listed the top 20 adjusted +/- ratings calculated as a counting stat. I went on to write about Jeff Schultz of the Washington Capitals leading the league and the interpretation of that fact. I was asked the intelligent question by a commenter called GoPens about why these results show some discrepancies with what he had seen using +/- as a rate stat. The rate stat adjustment looks at +/- calculated per minute of play, while the counting stat adjustment looks at the total numbers accomplished in the entire season. Both are useful. The rate stat adjustment is better at finding seldom used players who are doing quite well and the counting stat adjustment is better at finding the top performances in the league. It is essentially the difference between goals scored and goals per game. I would argue that the counting stat is often more useful, in the same way that it is more useful to have a fifty goal scorer on your team than a guy who scored at a 50 goal pace but only played 10 games.
Last season, Jeff Schultz of the Washington Capitals led the NHL with a +50 +/- rating. This is the highest +/- rating achieved in an NHL season since 2002/03 when Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk both went +52. Naysayers have looked at this number and concluded that there is something wrong with +/-. In this case, the problem is that +/- does not give them the information that they want it to give them. It does not give them a realistic ranking of the best players in the NHL. However, this number gives us a lot of information and shows us that Jeff Schultz did have a very strong year in 2009/10. He excelled in his role with the Capitals.
The first problem one would bring up about Schultz’s raw +/- number is that he played with the President’s Trophy winning Capitals. They were the team with the highest team +/- and therefore their players should have the highest +/- ratings as well. It is argued that Schultz’s +/- is a team effect. This is partially true. Hence we try to remove team effects by using adjusted +/-.
The last hockey game of any consequence was played last night. The Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals affiliate) defeated the Texas Stars (Dallas affiliate) by a score of 4-0 to clinch the Calder Cup in a four games to two victory.
There are several sabermetric analyses of hockey that I like, but rarely see published in any form online or elsewhere. I plan to calculate some of them and the associated analysis that comes with them for the first part of the summer and then move onto new sabermetric problems.
Today, I want to look at adjusted +/- ratings. This first appeared in the Klein and Reif Hockey Compendium. The basic idea is to subtract off team effects from individual players to compare +/- ratings between teams. It doesn’t give you a list of the best players in the NHL (no sabermetric method does this), but it gives you a list of players who excelled in the role they played in a given season.
It was May of 2009, when the Phoenix Coyotes declared bankruptcy. Last summer was spent in bankruptcy court where Jim Balsillie attempted to purchase the team and move it to Hamilton and when other potential suitors dropped out, the NHL attempted to purchase the team as well. Neither were awarded the team in the courts, but the NHL soon bought the team directly from Moyes. The plan was for the NHL to sell as soon as a suitable buyer was found. After a year of trying, it looks like none will be found willing to keep the team in Glendale, Arizona.
In December, a potential sale to Ice Edge Holdings was announced. This sale has not come together. Ice Edge Holdings is a group fronted by Anthony LeBlanc and Daryl Jones, who would keep the team in Phoenix, while playing a few games a year in Saskatoon. The problem is nobody in this group has enough money to buy the team and they have failed convincing banks to give them the credit to do so. The mere idea that the NHL is considering such an ownership group shows their level of desperation.
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