The Edmonton Oilers were not a good team in 2013/14. They had more excess defensive zone starts than any other team in the NHL. As a result it is expected that many of their top players would not have good puck possession numbers. When I ranked the worst 20 players by Corsi rating adjusted for team and zone starts, Edmonton did quite poorly. Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference, their top defence pairing finished in 7th and 8th worst place respectively. Their top forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall were 9th and 10th worst respectively. Edmonton had themselves in a situation where you cannot win. If your opponents possess the puck when your best players are on the ice, you will not win.
The circumstances surrounding the defencemen puck possession and the forwards puck possession are different. The defencemen (Schultz and Ference) were among the poorest players in the league in terms of raw Corsi (Schultz finished 8th and Ference 9th). Adjustments did little to change their rankings. Hall and Nugent-Hopkins are more offensive players and the Oilers made an effort to give them give them offensive zone starts in order to try to boost their offensive chances. Edmonton, being the weak offensive team that they are, failed to get them into the league leaders. The problem was that despite their offensive zone starts, these Oiler forwards often spent their time chasing the puck into the defensive zone. In part this is because they played for a weak team and though there is an attempt to adjust for it, it cannot be done perfectly. In part this is because their puck possession is not so strong. Once they lost control of the puck, their defence was weak and they were rarely able to recover it.
Last week I posted the top 20 players in the NHL in 2013/14 by team and zone adjusted Corsi rating. I continue my sabermetrics and hockey series by posting the 20 worst players in 2013/14.
Corsi ratings are a measure of puck possession. They are the difference in shots attempted by a team and their opponents when a given player is on the ice. The problem is the number will depend upon all of the players on the ice and not only the individual player. Thus I have taken the raw Corsi rating and applied a team adjustment and another adjustment for zone starts. This attempts to take into account an individual team's puck possession ability and the effects of which zone a player tends to play in. I am using a conversion of 0.6 Corsi events per excess zone start (the accuracy of this number is somewhat in question). I have also subtracted a team's zone starts as they would otherwise be double counted since a team adjustment has already been made. Should a player change teams over the course of the season, any team adjustments will be a combination of the two team's adjustments pro-rated for the number of games spent on each club.
Here are the worst 20 players by team and zone adjusted Corsi in 2013/14:
A few days ago I posted the top 20 players by team and zone adjusted Corsi. This is an attempt to turn Corsi (attempted shots for minus against while a player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations) into an individualized stat to measure puck possession. Leading the league is Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. He posted a +401.04 rating which is nearly thirty points above any other player. This is the second straight year that Bergeron has led the league.
Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward in the NHL. He plays against tough opposition and gets a significant number of defensive zone starts and nevertheless his team holds possession of the puck. This is a sign of a very strong player. Patrice Bergeron is such a strong defensive forward that he may be on track to have a Hall of Fame career. This is a big achievement. Bob Gainey is possibly the only player in the Hall of Fame who is primarily a defensive forward who didn't have significant offensive ability. Bergeron is a good enough player that he can follow that path if he continues playing at a top level for the next few years. The fact that he is selected as the top puck possession player in the NHL by his team and zone adjusted Corsi is a success of Corsi analysis.
I am continuing my sabermetrics and hockey series by listing the top 20 players in 2013/14 by team and zone adjusted Corsi ratings. This is the difference between attempted shots for a team and their opponents while a given player is on the ice. It is adjusted for the team a player plays upon and for their zone starts (I am using 0.6 Corsi events per excess zone start - but there is not a consensus in this value). This is an attempt to create an individualized ranking of a given player's puck possession abilities. It isn't perfect. A player's linemates and opposition are not clearly taken into account. Nevertheless this is a pretty good attempt to capture the best puck possession players in 2013/14.
Here are the top 20 players in 2013/14 by team and zone adjusted Corsi:
A few days ago I posted the top 20 players by excess defensive zone starts in 2013/14. Leading the league was Boyd Gordon of the Edmonton Oilers who had 487 excess defensive zone starts (defensive zone - offensive zone). This gives him a well over 100 zone start lead over anyone else in the league. Boyd Gordon played the most defensive role in the NHL (at least by zone starts) and he did so by a significant margin.
Part of the reason Gordon was on the ice for so many defensive zone faceoffs is that Edmonton was a poor team and had more defensive zone starts as a team than any other. Gordon is the Oilers best faceoff man and they used him for key defensive zone faceoffs. This put him in a very tough role.
Statistically it is easy to overlook Gordon. He scored eight goals and 21 point. He posted a -15 +/- rating. These numbers do not suggest anything special. The fact that he played such a tough role shows that he had a significant value to his team that isn't shown in these numbers.
I continue my summer sabermetrics and hockey series by looking at defensive zone starts. This is the opposite of offensive zone starts. These are players who are on the ice for more defensive zone faceoffs than offensive ones. These players are chosen by their teams to play tough defensive roles. They are often the unsung hero of their team who does the dirty work with little recognition. Some of these players should be Selke Trophy candidates. The context of excess defensive zone starts is useful to make Corsi into a more individualized ranking as it helps to show which players play a more defensive role on their team and will thus suffer in terms of their puck possession.
Here are the top 20 players in the 2013/14 season by excess defensive zone starts:
The Phoenix Coyotes bought out Mike Ribeiro's contract this summer. He had signed a four year contract with a $5.5 million cap hit the year before. Since this contract was signed after the most recent CBA was signed it is not a compliance buyout and will count against the Arizona Coyotes salary cap into the future. The reason given for the buyout is that Ribeiro had off-ice issues that prevented him from being a productive member of the team. The Nashville predators gave him another chance. They signed him to a one year contract worth $1.05 million. This will either be a last chance or a chance to reinvent himself as an NHL player.
Ribeiro has had rumors of substance abuse that have followed him throughout his NHL career. Perhaps this is part of the reason Ribeiro is moving onto his fifth NHL team. In the NHL the ability to forgive players for off-ice behavior depends upon their productivity on the ice. It is far easier to forgive a superstar than it is a role player. When Ribeiro was scoring 70 or 80 points a year in Dallas, if he had the same issues, it was easier to forgive him than when he scored 47 points last year. This isn't to say that 47 points is bad. It makes him a solid second liner on most NHL teams. The problem is he played an extremely easy offensive role as is shown by his zone starts.
As I continue my summer sabermetrics and hockey series, today I am looking at the top offensive zone starters. These are the players who most frequently are on the ice for faceoffs in the offensive zone as opposed to the defensive zone. These players are ranked by offensive zone starts minus defensive ones. This group of players are given a significant number of offensive chances and this will help them boost their offensive numbers. Unless they succeed to post significant offensive numbers this is likely a failed opportunity. These players may be weak defensively and are being protected from defensive responsibility or they may be strong offensive players given further chances to boost their offensive numbers.
This is useful in order to understand the context of how players are used in the NHL. This context will be used to adjust Corsi ratings. Players who start their shifts in the offensive zone are more likely to have positive Corsi events (attempted shots) in their favor than those who start their shifts in the defensive zone. This is a necessary adjustment to Corsi ratings in order to make them an individualized ranking of puck possession.
Here are the top 20 players in 2013/14 by excess offensive zone starts:
Dion Phaneuf was a star as soon as he entered the NHL. He was a Calder Trophy nominee in the strong class of 2005/06 where he beat out Henrik Lundqvist to earn a nomination alongside Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. The next season he made the First All Star Team and was nominated for the Norris Trophy as best defenceman in the NHL. His career was then on a Hall of Fame track but he never arrived as a Hall of Famer. He failed to progress. Perhaps he had come too far too fast but he developed a bad habit of abandoning his defensive responsibilities to take offensive risks that rarely panned out. As Phaneuf became less defensively responsible, he was forced into a more significant defensive responsibility. Phaneuf played a tougher role and he played it less responsibly.
This is shown when we look at the worst players by team adjusted Corsi. Phaneuf has the third worst rating of -295.2. It doesn't help that his usual linemate of Carl Gunnarsson is worst in the league at -332.2. The fact that Toronto's top defensive pairing were among the worst puck possession players in the NHL last season helps to explain why the Leafs missed the playoffs.
Several days ago I listed the top 20 players by team adjusted Corsi. Today I want to look at the flip-side and see the 20 worst players by the same measure. Corsi is the difference between attempted shots (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots) for and against a team when a given player is on the ice. This is a measure of puck possession on the team level. In order to try to make it a more team independent measure, the first thing one can do is subtract off a team adjustment. That is what is done here.
This list has a problem where several players on the list got traded during the course of the season. It is not uncommon for players who are playing poorly (and hence have a poor Corsi) to be traded or waived during the course of a season. In that case, the team adjustment was weighted so that if a player played 60% of his games with team A and 40% with team B, his team adjustment would be 60% of team A`s and 40% of team B`s.
Here are the worst 20 players in the 2013/14 season by team adjusted Corsi:
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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