Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Maple Leafs With Bad Adjusted +/- Ratings

Yesterday I posted the worst 20 players by adjusted +/- in 2014/15 as part of my sabermetrics and hockey series.  The three worst players on the list are the Toronto Maple Leafs first line of 2014/15 - Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk.  Bozak and Kessel have -25.6 ratings and Van Riemsdyk is one point better at -24.6.  As the Toronto Maple Leafs fell apart last year, it is clear that they had problems and this clearly shows one of them.

It isn't obvious which of the three Leafs was the biggest puck possession problem.  It is hard to isolate individual players who play together most of the time. 

Typically when a player has a poor adjusted +/- rating it happened in part because of bad luck.  This is shown by a poor PDO (the sum of the shooting and saves percentage of all five players when a player is on the ice).  No player can repeatedly control their PDO.  Kessel and Bozak have 970 PDOs.  This places them in the 50 worst PDOs among players who played 50 or more games last year.  Van Riemsdyk at 977 is slightly better.  These players are not the most unlucky in the world, but they are among the worst.

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Worst 20 Players By Adjusted +/-

It was back in June when I started my summer sabermetrics series and posted the top 20 players in 2014/15 by adjusted +/- rating.  This is a first look at measuring puck possession in a team independent way.  It is a little crude because there are only a few goals scored in any given game to give us a small sample size of plusses and minuses.  Nevertheless it is a good start.  The players with good adjusted +/- ratings have succeeded in their roles in 2014/15 and those with poor adjusted +/- ratings struggled in their roles.

Here are the 20 worst players in 2014/15 by adjusted +/- rating (among players with 50 or more games played with one team):

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Expansion - Who Ordered That?

One of the big stories this summer is the NHL has opened themselves up for expansion applications.  The reason for this is obvious.  They are asking for a $500 million expansion fee.  This is more than some of the current NHL clubs are worth.

Given the current NHL alignment, it is obvious that expansion is in the works.  There are two more east teams than west ones.  The NHL needs two West Conference teams to even things out. Since that comes with $1 billion that doesn't have to be shared with the players that is even better.

The problem is expansion is not in the best interest for hockey quality.  It will make the quality of NHL teams weaker.  It isn't really a big step to go from 30 to 32 teams.  Each team gets a little bit weaker.  The two new teams will be bad - at least for a generation.  The best teams won't be able to get as big a piece of the talent. 

If we had a situation where there were thirty stable teams that might be acceptable.   The NHL talent pool isn't static.  Since the KHL is not doing well as Russia is suffering economic hardship, the talent may exist.  The problem is we don't have thirty stable teams right now.  Arizona is in trouble.  The city of Glendale is trying to get out of their lease.  Even without that problem it is quite likely their days are numbered in Arizona.  They are losing money at such a rate that their only chance at financial success comes from moving.  Florida may be in even worse shape.  They had even lower attendance than Arizona.  These teams are in such financial distress that they had to trade to bring in Chris Pronger and Marc Savard to ensure they make salary floors, since they are paid well below their salary cap hit.

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Calder Trophy Results

I am continuing my look at some of the more interesting NHL awards from this season.  Yesterday I looked at the Masterton Trophy.  Today I will look at the Calder Trophy.  The Calder Trophy was interesting because there were three forwards who were solid candidates.  All three had roughly the same offensive contribution.  Mark Stone and Johnny Gaudreau both had 64 points.  Filip Forsberg had 63 points.  There is little to choose from between those offensive numbers.  There is a fourth solid candidate in defenceman Aaron Ekblad, but first I want to look at the forward group.

Clearly their point totals are essentially the same.  Of course point totals do not tell the whole story.  In fact I would argue that the fact that a goal is seen as equally valuable as an assist is wrong.  A player with a high goal total is probably a bigger offensive contributor than a player with the same point total but mostly from assists.  Actually scoring the goal is more valuable.  So do goals make a meaningful difference here?  Mark Stone and Filip Forsberg each had 26 goals.  Johnny Gaudreau was two goals back with 24 goals.  Again we haven't found a significant difference.

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Masterton Trophy Results

In years past I have written a few blog posts critiquing some of the more interesting NHL awards.  In the past I haven't left these posts until this far into July, but nevertheless I would like to write these posts.

Certain NHL Awards were quite obvious.  For example the only controversy regarding the Vezina Trophy is that Carey Price wasn't a unanimous choice - he was only almost unanimous.  One award that is often harder to reach a consensus upon is the Masterton Trophy.  To some degree the NHL doesn't know what to do with this award.  Bill Masterton died playing in the NHL and an award was set up in his honor.  The problem was they didn't exactly know what to give the award for.  The award is on paper given for perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship - those are positive qualities that it is hard to deny should get an award.  The problem is figuring out which NHL player deserves this award.

The most coherent definition for the award over the years has been that the Masterton Trophy goes to the player who overcomes the biggest obstacle to his NHL career and nevertheless makes the biggest impact to his team.  There are several individual picks that don't fit that pattern but it is the most common description of the winner.

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Phil Housley’s Hall Of Fame Case

This is my final Hall of Fame case for 2015.  I have already written them for Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Chris Pronger.  Today I will look at Phil Housley.  Unlike the other three players who were inducted in their first year of eligibility, Housley retired in 2003 and is finally inducted in his tenth year of eligibility.  Thus one might expect that his case is more flawed than any of the other three players.

In order to make this case, I will use the Keltner List.  This is a set of fifteen questions that are borrowed from baseball and get to the heart of what makes a player a Hall of Famer.

Here is Phil Housley's case:

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

I cannot find any evidence that anyone ever made a plausible argument that Phil Housley was the best player in the hockey at any point.

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Chris Pronger’s Hall Of Fame Case

This is my third instalment in the Hall of Fame cases for the male players inducted in the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class.  I have already written posts for Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov.  Today I will make the case for Chris Pronger.

Here was the post I wrote when I first considered Chris Pronger to be a Hall of Famer.

In order to make Chris Pronger's case I will use the Keltner List.  This is a set of questions that have been borrowed from baseball that gets to the heart of what makes a player a Hall of Famer.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Pronger won the Hart Trophy in 2000.  That is a claim that he was the best player in hockey.  Given how frequently defencemen get overlooked for the Hart Trophy (Pronger is one of only three Hart Trophy winning defencemen) this is quite an accomplishment.  Despite that I would be inclined to argue that Jaromir Jagr was the best player in hockey at that time.  Nevertheless there is a solid argument that Pronger was the best player in hockey for a time.

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Sergei Fedorov’s Hall Of Fame Case

Today I am continuing writing up the Hall of Fame cases for the male players in the 2015 Hall of Fame class.  Yesterday I looked at Nicklas Lidstrom's case and today I will look at Sergei Fedorov's case.  Here was the post I wrote when I first considered Fedorov to be a Hall of Famer.

I use the Keltner List which is borrowed from baseball to make the Hall of Fame case.  It is a good set of questions that captures the heart of what makes a player a Hall of Famer.

Here is Sergei Fedorov's case:

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Nicklas Lidstrom’s Hall Of Fame Case

It was about a week ago when we learned who will be inducted in the 2015 Hall of Fame class.  It includes four male players in Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger and Phil Housley.  Now that the craziest days of the free agent frenzy are over, I will begin to give the Hall of Fame cases for these players.  I use the Keltner List which is borrowed from baseball but does a very good job of characterizing what it should take to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Although Lidstrom never was a serious Hart Trophy finisher, it can be argued that he should have been.  I would have argued that he should have won the 2008 Hart Trophy.  I would argue that he was the best player in hockey around that time and some considered him as such.  Defencemen have often been overlooked for the Hart Trophy (as only 3 have ever won it).  He won the 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy which is a lesser claim to being the best player in hockey (did anyone really believe Justin Williams was close to the best player in the NHL?).  I would argue this is a yes, but it isn't the strongest yes that might be offered for a few generational players.

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LTIR Fraud Trades

Among the recent NHL trades are two that highlight the problem of LTIR fraud.  Chris Pronger and Marc Savard signed longterm contracts that their teams regretted.  When they suffered injuries their teams found an out.  These players were placed on the longterm injured reserve.  Neither has played an NHL game since 2011 and under any normal circumstances would have retired.  The problem is their retiring would have cost their respective teams' salary cap space.  So Pronger and Savard have remained active on paper even though both have taken other jobs and have no interest in returning to NHL careers.  We have found a new level of silly to add to the story.  Both of these players have been traded.  A different team wants them even though they will never play another NHL game.

Chris Pronger was traded to the Arizona Coyotes along with Nicklas Grossman for Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick.  Arizona wants Chris Pronger because their finances are troubled,  Pronger allows them to pay their team less.  His salary cap hit is his average salary over his contract of $4.935 million but he is only paid $525,000 per year over the next two years.  This allows Arizona to make the salary floor without actually paying players that amount of money.  It signifies that Arizona is in financial distress and will bend rules to pay their team less than they are formally allowed to.  It shows that Arizona is going to be a bottom feeding team this year.

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com

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