Yesterday I began my summer sabermetrics and hockey series by listing the top 20 players by adjusted +/-. The leader is Toni Lydman of the Anaheim Ducks. He has a +33.6 adjusted +/- rating. This is a +32 raw rating with a -1.6 team adjustment. This gives Lydman a three point lead over anyone else in the league.
This makes him a good defenceman who succeeded in his role last year. It doesn’t make him the best defencemen in the league despite some claims of poor sabermetricians. There is a significant reason that Lydman’s +/- is higher than it would otherwise be. As I wrote during the season when I discussed Lydman’s +/-, he is boosted by playing significant penalty kill time and essentially no power play time.
Now that the season is over it is time to take a sabermetrics and hockey look at the 2010/11 season. I will start by looking at adjusted +/- ratings. There are multiple ways to do this. One of the simplest is to find a baseline for a team to compare +/- ratings between teams. This is a counting stat method first outlined in the Klein and Reif Hockey Compendium.
This technique will find players who succeeded in their role with their team. It will select players who succeeded in easier roles where they played against lesser competition and it will select star players who played tougher roles and still succeeded. There is no attempt to correct for quality of teammates or opposition. It is a valid method to find players who succeeded in their roles with their teams and compare between teams.
One of the more effective ways of hurting your opponent’s ability to build their team is to sign their restricted free agents to offer sheets. Either they will lose them from their roster or they will be forced to pay more than they wanted to match the offer sheet and this will reduce their ability to keep the rest of their team signed under the salary cap. I have been advocating this strategy since the early days of this CBA. While there have been a few RFA offer sheets over the year, few clearly were following this strategy. The best example has been San Jose signing Niklas Hjalmarsson of Chicago to an offer sheet. This kept Chicago from keeping Antti Niemi on their team.
This strategy requires you to find a team that is nearing the salary cap with a few more players to sign. By signing one of their players to an offer sheet, you guarantee that they won’t be able to re-sign all the players they would like.
At the conclusion of the NHL season it is natural to look back and see some of the things we learned as the season gets put in historical context.
1) The Stanley Cup Boston Bruins are a largely forgettable team. They took sixth seed in the East Conference last year. They took third seed in the East this year by winning their division but had the fourth best record in the East. They have never shown that they are a top team in the NHL. They had a good run in this year`s playoffs but it looks very unrepeatable. I don`t think they will be a serious Stanley Cup contender next year. I won`t go as far as one hfboards thread that accuses them of being the weakest Stanley Cup winner as I think they are stronger than the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, but this Stanley Cup winner is not an elite one.
This year’s Stanley Cup finals have been different from recent finals for several reasons. One of which is penalties. This has been the most penalized finals series since the lockout (I chose that as a starting date because it is the start of an era and because penalty totals are hard to find online for older series) by a large margin.
In fact here are the numbers:
June 16th: This post is updated for game seven
One story at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs is that future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi has retired. He is retiring fresh on the heels of his third Stanley Cup victory with his third Stanley Cup winning team. He retires as the highest scoring active NHL player. Here is the post I wrote when I first considered him a Hall of Famer regardless of the rest of his career.
I like to write a career retrospective for any future Hall of Fame player when they retire. Here is Mark Recchi.
Recchi was born on February 1st, 1968 in Kamloops, British Columbia. He grew up playing in the Kamloops minor hockey system. He was first noticed by hockey scouts when he played with the Langley Eagles in the BCJHL in 1984/85. He scored 65 points in 51 games and was given a chance to play with the WHL New Westminster Bruins for four games. The next season he became a permanent member of the Bruins. He scored 61 points in his first full year. This is the first year he was eligible for the NHL entry draft but he was viewed as too small and defensively questionable and nobody selected him. He was traded to his hometown Kamloops Blazers and that is where his junior career really too off. He scored 76 points in an injury shortened 40 game season. Nevertheless, he remained undrafted. In his final junior year he made the WHL West First All Star Team. He played for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships. He led the league with 93 assists and led the league in the playoffs with 21 assists and 31 points. At this point he looked too good to be overlooked by the NHL. At age 20, he was drafted as the Pittsburgh Penguins fourth pick 67th overall in the 1988 draft.
The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. That brings my playoff predictions to 10-5 with my incorrect finals prediction,
I was in downtown Vancouver watching the game at CBC Plaza. Where I was watching is where the first fire was set in front of the downtown post office. We left immediately following the game and were likely waiting for the bus home on Hastings Street when the first fire started. There was a rush of police cars to the scene. We had to get home and turn on the television before getting the full idea of what had happened.
We are going to see a game seven. That should be exciting.
I do not know what to make of the Vancouver Canucks. I called them a strong elite team candidate before the finals began. They pass a necessary but not sufficient condition test by having four Hall of Fame track players (Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo) and they have an elite goalie (Luongo). They played very well together this season, winning the Presidents Trophy and making the Stanley Cup finals, but when they have been beaten in the playoffs they have been beaten badly. They have 58 goals for in the playoffs and 65 against so far. It’s a very uneven record. In 19 games played in the playoffs they have 54 goals and 36 against winning 15 of 19 games. That is elite.
There is a weak class of free agents available in 2011. One of the better players available is Ilya Bryzgalov who most recently played for the Phoenix Coyotes. He is a pretty good goalie. He put up a .921 saves percentage last season, which was 11th best in the league. That is a minor improvement from the .920 saves percentage he posted in 2009/10 which got him a Vezina nomination largely due to his receiving too much credit for the Coyotes improvement under the threat of relocation. Bryzgalov is a solid goaltender, though he is likely below the level that might be a Vezina candidate into the future.
The Philadelphia Flyers are a team that has a recent history of goaltending issues. They have three NHL goalies. Sergei Bobrovsky had a solid rookie season but his success tapered off as the season progressed. He has the potential to be a solid goalie, but was unable to be the “go to guy” in playoff time. Brian Boucher is a journeyman goalie who put up solid numbers last season, but it is almost ten years since his last failed attempt to be an NHL starting goalie. Michael Leighton is another journeyman goalie, who aside from a stretch in 2009/10 has not looked like much of an NHL goalie. In short, the Philadelphia Flyers want a new reliable starting goalie.
On Wednesday the new Winnipeg NHL team hired Kevin Cheveldayoff as their first general manager. I would like to comment on this, though I let it go because of the Stanley Cup finals.
My first somewhat unrelated comment is that I thought we were going to find out what the team would be called after they sold 13,000 season tickets. One week after they achieved this goal we still don’t have a name. What is the delay?
As for Cheveldayoff, it is probably a good hire. He was a very successful minor league general manager with the Chicago Wolves. At first they were an IHL team nut they moved into AHL. Under his run, the Wolves won the IHL Turner Cup twice and the AHL Calder Cup twice. In 2009, he was hired as the Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM, where he won the Stanley Cup.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
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