Kukla's Korner

The Real 2007-8 NHL MVP?

As we prepare to drop the puck on the 2008-9 regular season, it’s worth reflecting on some of the great individual performances from last year.  There were certainly some goal-scoring wonders like Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk, playmaking superstars like Pavel Datsyuk and Joe Thornton, and of course the heroic goaltending of Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo.  But which NHL star actually turned in a true MVP performance, contributing the most to his team’s success?

None of the above, that’s who.

One of the hockey world’s premier statisticians, Alan Ryder, provides food for thought on that subject in today’s Globe & Mail, and some of his results will suprise you (take a bow, Tomas Vokoun!).

Ryder’s Player Contribution rankings provide what is probably the most complete and balanced assessment of the various factors that go into winning hockey games.  By trying to isolate the offensive and defensive contributions that individuals make to team success, it becomes possible to compare that 3rd-line checking center to a top-line sniper and see who really helps earn the most points in the standings.  Of particular interest is the impact of the shootout; as much as traditionalists abhor it, the regular season tiebreaker has become a pivotal part of the game.  I wouldn’t be surprised, in fact, to see more teams reserve a spot on the active roster for a nifty scorer who may not be trustworthy enough to play 5-on-5, but can perform on the power play and in the shootout.  As the game has changed, the specialization of players is bound to change as well.

Filed in: NHL Statistical Analysis, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
  Tags: player+contribution

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