There are few periods in the year when teams can make significant roster moves. This is largely because the salary cap removes a lot of team’s possible flexibility. In order to make a move it must make sense in terms of the players involved, the contracts involved and the salary cap. That is a lot of variables that must be considered. The one time when significant moves are often necessary is the off-season, when teams have expiring contracts. This allows them the flexibility to make changes for next year.
The first team to make significant moves this off-season is the St Louis Blues. Yesterday they acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz and then acquired TJ Hensick from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for prospect Julian Talbot. The first trade is obviously the bigger one and could pay huge dividends for the Blues next season and into the future.
A few days ago, I listed the top 20 adjusted +/- ratings calculated as a counting stat. I went on to write about Jeff Schultz of the Washington Capitals leading the league and the interpretation of that fact. I was asked the intelligent question by a commenter called GoPens about why these results show some discrepancies with what he had seen using +/- as a rate stat. The rate stat adjustment looks at +/- calculated per minute of play, while the counting stat adjustment looks at the total numbers accomplished in the entire season. Both are useful. The rate stat adjustment is better at finding seldom used players who are doing quite well and the counting stat adjustment is better at finding the top performances in the league. It is essentially the difference between goals scored and goals per game. I would argue that the counting stat is often more useful, in the same way that it is more useful to have a fifty goal scorer on your team than a guy who scored at a 50 goal pace but only played 10 games.
Last season, Jeff Schultz of the Washington Capitals led the NHL with a +50 +/- rating. This is the highest +/- rating achieved in an NHL season since 2002/03 when Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk both went +52. Naysayers have looked at this number and concluded that there is something wrong with +/-. In this case, the problem is that +/- does not give them the information that they want it to give them. It does not give them a realistic ranking of the best players in the NHL. However, this number gives us a lot of information and shows us that Jeff Schultz did have a very strong year in 2009/10. He excelled in his role with the Capitals.
The first problem one would bring up about Schultz’s raw +/- number is that he played with the President’s Trophy winning Capitals. They were the team with the highest team +/- and therefore their players should have the highest +/- ratings as well. It is argued that Schultz’s +/- is a team effect. This is partially true. Hence we try to remove team effects by using adjusted +/-.
The last hockey game of any consequence was played last night. The Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals affiliate) defeated the Texas Stars (Dallas affiliate) by a score of 4-0 to clinch the Calder Cup in a four games to two victory.
There are several sabermetric analyses of hockey that I like, but rarely see published in any form online or elsewhere. I plan to calculate some of them and the associated analysis that comes with them for the first part of the summer and then move onto new sabermetric problems.
Today, I want to look at adjusted +/- ratings. This first appeared in the Klein and Reif Hockey Compendium. The basic idea is to subtract off team effects from individual players to compare +/- ratings between teams. It doesn’t give you a list of the best players in the NHL (no sabermetric method does this), but it gives you a list of players who excelled in the role they played in a given season.
It was May of 2009, when the Phoenix Coyotes declared bankruptcy. Last summer was spent in bankruptcy court where Jim Balsillie attempted to purchase the team and move it to Hamilton and when other potential suitors dropped out, the NHL attempted to purchase the team as well. Neither were awarded the team in the courts, but the NHL soon bought the team directly from Moyes. The plan was for the NHL to sell as soon as a suitable buyer was found. After a year of trying, it looks like none will be found willing to keep the team in Glendale, Arizona.
In December, a potential sale to Ice Edge Holdings was announced. This sale has not come together. Ice Edge Holdings is a group fronted by Anthony LeBlanc and Daryl Jones, who would keep the team in Phoenix, while playing a few games a year in Saskatoon. The problem is nobody in this group has enough money to buy the team and they have failed convincing banks to give them the credit to do so. The mere idea that the NHL is considering such an ownership group shows their level of desperation.
I think one important part of the NHL story that is under reported is that of the NHLPA. Therefore I have kept a short history of the NHLPA that I am updating annually.
Here is the most recent version. A far more detailed history that ends in the early 1990’s is the book Net Worth by David Cruise.
Now that the off season has arrived, there will likely be a few retirements of future Hall of Fame players. The first one has not been officially announced yet, although the story broke during the Stanley Cup finals. Rob Blake is retiring.
Rob Blake was born December 10th. 1969 in Simcoe, Ontario. He grew up playing hockey in the Ontario hockey system and made it to the junior B level before jumping to the US college system to play for Bowling Green University in Ohio. In those days there were significantly more junior hockey opportunities for Canadians in the US system than there are today. After his first year in Bowling Green, the Los Angeles Kings selected him in the fourth round of the draft 70th overall. Blake was a big talented defenceman, but he had yet to show dominance at any level.
With their 4-3 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup finals series four games to two and won the Stanley Cup. This is the first Stanley Cup victory for the Blackhawks since 1961. That was the longest Stanley Cup drought were the team had existed during the entire period. The new longest drought is that of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who last won the cup in 1967 and the St Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings, who expanded in 1967 and have never won the cup.
Jonathan Toews was given the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, but I would support giving it to Daniel Briere of the Flyers, who was the playoffs top scorer and had a much better final series than Toews, but never had a serious chance as his team was not the cup winner.
The Stanley Cup may be won tonight. Along with it comes the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP. The race for Conn Smythe is pretty open. As the main story in the Stanley Cup finals has been the poor quality of play, it is easier to make a list of who will not win the Conn Smythe than who will win it. Goaltenders will not win the Conn Smythe because they have not played well in this series. With 40 goals in the five games so far, the goaltending has been sub-par. Antti Niemi and Michael Leighton cannot be seriously considered for the Conn Smythe. In fact, if there was a trophy for best goaltender in the playoffs, I would support giving it to Jaroslav Halak of Montreal, despite his failure to make the finals.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???