Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Early Worst Player This Season

As the NHL season progresses, I like to track the player who is getting regular ice time who has been the worst in the league.  Last season, it was Riley Cote of the Philadelphia Flyers who “won” this award.  He was a player who regularly dressed in Philadelphia, but played in limited ice time against weak competition and nevertheless rarely scored, while allowing opponents to control the play.  His main “value” came from his ability to fight and draw penalties.  On a team that has the team toughness of the Philadelphia Flyers; one must wonder if that adds anything to the line-up.

It is very common that the worst NHL regular by season’s end is a hard working guy who lacks talent.  Coaching staffs and fans like him because he works so hard, but he cannot get the job done.  Earlier in the season, it is much more common for a bigger name player to be the worst regular.  The lesser players have not had as much ice time yet.  One must be somewhat highly regarded to have already been given the chance to fail.

This year, the early season worst player has been Vesa Toskala of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Early Season MVP

We are now a few games into the NHL season and it is possible to look at the results and try to determine very early leaders for the NHL Awards.  At this point in the year, I think the leading MVP candidate is Alexander Ovechkin.  Ovechkin is tied for the NHL lead with 10 points.  His five goals are second in the league.  His +5 +/- rating is top among forwards in the league.  Ovechkin is off to a great start.  This is not surprising given that he has won the Hart trophy the last two years running and is the NHL’s best player.

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Worst 20 Team And Zone Adjusted Corsi Numbers

In order to conclude (for now) the off-season look at sabermetrics and hockey, I will complete the look at adjusted Corsi Numbers.  I am adjusting for two effects as I discuss here.  The Corsi Number is essentially a measure of puck possession.  Players who help their team control the puck will direct more shots toward the goal than those who do not.  I am attempting to remove zone start effects, as some players will tend to be on the ice more frequently in either defensive or offensive situations and this will be seen in their Corsi.  I am also attempting to remove team effects, as a player on a good team will be more likely to have a good Corsi due to his teammates being good players regardless of his individual play.

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A Look At The UFA All Star Team

Just before free agency opened up this year, I listed a UFA All Star Team.  This was the best 23 man roster I thought could be made by signing unrestricted free agents.  This is an exercise to see how good a team can become by investing heavily in free agency.  It is usually a method to show that free agency is not as big a contributor to team success as building through younger players via drafts and trades.  It shows that despite all the media attention that free agency gets, it doesn’t significantly change the playing field.

All 23 players on the 2009 UFA All Star Team have signed new contracts in the NHL this season.  A couple signed slightly before they hit the market as unrestricted free agents (as I picked the team hours before the free agent market opened up). 

Here is the 2009 UFA All Star Team listed with their new team, their new salary cap hit from their new contract and their old team.

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Prediction: East Conference

As the final entry in my pre-season preview, I will look at the predicted standings in the East Conference.  My West Conference predictions are here.  The Northeast Division is here, the Atlantic Division is here and the Southest Division is here

Here is my predicted standings for the East Conference:

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Prediction: Southeast Division

I have come to the final division in my pre-season previews.  Today I will do the Southeast Division.  The Atlantic Division is here, the Northeast Division is here and the West Conference is here.

Here is my predicted order of finish in the Southeast Division:

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Prediction: Atlantic Division

The season is barely underway and I continue with my pre-season predictions.  Here are my Northeast Division predictions and here are my West Conference Predictions.  Today I proceed to the Atlantic Division.

Here is my predicted order of finish in the Atlantic Division:

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Prediction: Northeast Division

My pre-season predictions continue today with the Northeast Division.  Here are my West Conference predictions.

This is the predicted order of finish for the Northeast Division this season:

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Future Hall Of Famer Mats Sundin Retires

Today Mats Sundin announced his retirement.  I like to write a career perspective for players who retire that I consider future Hall of Fames, such as Sundin. 

Mats Sundin was born in Bromma, Sweden on February 13th, 1971.  He was raised in the Swedish hockey system.  Sundin first came to the notice of North American scouts in the 1988 European Junior Hockey Championships where he scored nine points in six games as a fifteen year old.  Sundin was quickly promoted to the Swedish division two, where he was playing against men many years older than them and managed 18 points in 25 games.  NHL scouts had seen enough to select him first overall in the 1989 entry draft by the Quebec Nordiques.  This was the first time ever that a European had been selected first overall.

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Prediction: West Conference

As I continue with my pre-season predictions, here is my predicted order of finish for the West Conference teams.  To see blurbs about each of the teams in question, you will have to look to my division previews(Northwest, Pacific and Central).

This is my predicted order of finish in the West Conference:

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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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