by PuckStopsHere on 08/29/11 at 04:52 PM ET
Lately I have been looking at the offensive portion of the point shares method that has been developed by Justin Kubatko at hockey-reference.com to attempt to credit the points teams get from winning games to their individual players. The first test of the offensive portion of the system is to look at career offensive point share totals. This test is not too difficult. As long as it produces a list similar to the top scorers of all time, it appears to pass the test. A more strenuous test is to compare individual seasons. This will better force us to compare offensive seasons in different eras and see if the system has biases for or against certain eras.
Here are the top 20 individual seasons by offensive point shares as calculated by hockey-reference.com:
Off Pt Shrs
We see that according to this method, the best players of all time have been worth 16 or 17 points from their offense. This is slightly over eight wins, which can be quite significant. Had the Carolina Hurricanes of last season, a team that missed the playoffs with 91 points, had added one of the best offensive seasons from Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky that would have been enough for them to win the East Conference (Washington won with 107 points).
The top thirteen offensive seasons of all time were all seasons of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux or Phil Esposito. They are shuffled a bit from the order they have by raw points due to scoring rates in different seasons and due to the way goals are treated differently from assists. These three players were top scorers who were well in front of the rest of the league after season length began to approach the current 82 games schedule. For the most part, players from before this era did not play enough games to rank very high on this list.
The biggest exception to that rule is Howie Morenz who in 1927/28 scored 51 points in 43 games. That is an interesting case study to see how this system values a player in a lower scoring era with far fewer games. At that time, Morenz set a record for most points in an NHL season. The second shortest season is Gordie Howe’s 1952/53 season which was 70 games long.
There is one defenceman on the list in Bobby Orr who placed 19th on the list. Thus it is possible to have a big offensive season according to this system and play defence. It is not biased toward forwards only.
It is interesting to look at the best offensive seasons ever. Mario Lemieux’s 1988/89 season ranks as the best offensive season in this system. It is interesting to look at that case to see if that actually is the best offensive season of all time or merely an artifact of the system. The highest scoring season in the history of the NHL is Wayne Gretzky’s 1985/86 season, where he scored 215 points. That ranks tenth on this list. It will be interesting to look more closely at that season and see why it is lower on the charts than one might expect by raw points.
The top offensive seasons of all time according to offensive point shares is an interesting list. The top seasons are from 1970 onward when the schedule grew to 78 or more games. Earlier seasons do not have enough games played to rank at the top of this list, though a couple do appear in the lower parts of this list. It will take a deeper look at some of these specific cases to determine exactly how good the system is, although it is clearly not too bad.
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