Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Leaf/Duck Goalie Trades

Last season the Toronto Maple Leafs finished last in the NHL.  For most of the season their goaltending tandem was James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier.  Reimer played a solid season with the Leafs posting a .918 saves percentage and a 2.49 GAA before being traded at the deadline to the San Jose Sharks where he caught fire and posted a .938 saves percentage and a 1.62 GAA.  It is a small sample size but things got better when he got out from behind the Toronto defence.  As a free agent, Reimer went to Florida this summer. 

His backup was Jonathan Bernier.  Bernier was a highly sought after young goalie when he was acquired to be the Leafs goalie of the future.  In his first year as a Leaf he posted a .922 saves percentage and a 2.70 GAA (two years ago).  Over time the weak defences seems to grind him down.  Last year his numbers fell to .908 and 2.88.  He got off to a slow start and spent some time in the AHL before partially righting the ship. 

Toronto decided they wanted better goaltending and spent quite a bit to get some.  They picked Frederik Andersen from Anaheim to be their goalie of the future.  Andersen was acquired at big cost.  He cost the Leafs the first round draft pick from Pittsburgh that they acquired in the Phil Kessel trade.  The Ducks chose Sam Steel.  The Leafs also gave up their second round pick next year in the deal - which will likely be early in the second round.  

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Drew Doughty Has The Best Raw Corsi

Yesterday I posted the top 20 players by raw Corsi in 2015/16.  Doughty had a +537 Corsi which is more than 100 points better than any other player in the NHL.  This means that while he was on the ice, Los Angeles took 537 attempted shots more than their opponents when Doughty was on the ice.  This is almost seven attempted shots per game.  This shows that Los Angeles had very good puck possession while Doughty was on the ice.

Doughty is a very good player.  He won the 2016 Norris Trophy and the puck possession numbers are a significant part of the reason why he won the award.  Los Angeles is a very good puck possession team.  They are the best puck possession team in the league.  A top player who leads the top puck possession team in ice time leading the league in Corsi is not a surprise. 

Doughty posted the 14th best +/- rating in the NHL this season with a +24.  This was the fourth best on his LA Kings team.  Both of these numbers show Doughty is a top player in terms of puck possession.  The question is why is he the top in terms of Corsi and merely one of the best in terms of +/-?  Which of those rankings is more accurate?

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Top 20 Players By Raw Corsi

Today I am returning to my summer sabermetrics series.  I want to start looking at Corsi analysis.  Corsi is a measure of puck possession.  It is the difference between attempted shots (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots) between a team and their opponents at even strength when a given player is on the ice.  I will start by listing the top 20 players by their raw (unadjusted) Corsi rating.  This is strongly team dependent.  Players on good teams will have better Corsis than those on weak teams.  Thus we will quickly see that we have to adjust for individual team to begin to make an individual player ranking.

Here are the top 20 players by Corsi in 2015/16:

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On Braden Holtby’s Wins

Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals tied the all time wins record for a goalie in the NHL with 48 wins this season.  That ties Martin Brodeur's mark set in 2006/07.  As a result of that wins number, Holtby won the Vezina Trophy and was named to the First Team All Star in goal.  I argue that he was overrated as a result of a wins number that is largely a product of his team and circumstance.  In fact I wouldn't have voted for Holtby to win either of those awards.

Wins are a team statistic.  The idea that the credit for wins should be given to the goalie is a strange idea.  Does it make any more sense to credit a goalie for a win than a number one defenceman or a top scorer on the team?  A goalie doesn't score goals (with a few exceptions usually into empty nets) and no matter how many saves are made a team cannot win without goals.  Wins as a goalie statistic is not overly meaningful.

When we compare wins between eras, it is important to note that there are more wins in today's hockey than ever before.  Since there are no tied games as all tied games will end in shootouts after an overtime is played, goalie win totals will be higher today than in the past.  In fact seven of the ten single season wins leaders come in the shootout era.  Thus it isn't clear that Holtby (or Brodeur) would have had as many wins as Bernie Parent did in 1973/74 without overtime or shootouts.  Parent had 47 wins.

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Rogie Vachon’s Hall Of Fame Case

I have been writing the Hall of Fame cases of the 2016 player inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame.  I have already written these posts for Eric Lindros and Sergei Makarov.  Today I am looking at Rogie Vachon.  This post may be a bit more interesting from the previous ones because I have said that I don't think Vachon should have been inducted.  He is a borderline case but I would argue against his induction.  In order to show a Hall of Fame case, I use the Keltner List which is borrowed from baseball but is easily applied to hockey.

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?

No.  I don't think anyone seriously considered Vachon to be the best player in hockey.  One might argue that he was twice a Hart Trophy nominee in 1975 and 1977 and this would show he was in the running for the best player in the league but that isn't accurate.  His selection was because he was the best player on a weak Los Angeles Kings team.  The argument was not that Vachon was the most valuable player in the league but rather that Los Angeles was such a bad team that without Vachon they would have been truly pathetic.  Vachon was named MVP of the 1976 Canada Cup.  This is a short tournament where he played seven games.  It isn't really a case for being the best player in the league unless you believe that John Tonelli (1984) or Paul Henderson (1972) were the best player in the NHL at some point.

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Sergei Makarov’s Hall Of Fame Case

Over the last few days I have written posts related to the free agent signings and the major trades that occurred.  I am returning to looking at the Hall of Fame cases of the recent player inductees.  I have written the Hall of Fame case for Eric Lindros and today I will make the case for Sergei Makarov.  I think the case is made clearly by using the Keltner List which is borrowed from baseball but just as clearly applies to hockey.

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?

Sergei Makarov was regarded as the "Soviet Wayne Gretzky".  Thus he was seen as the best player in the Soviet program.  There was often a question about how players from behind the Iron Curtain would play in the NHL and some suggested they might be the best players in the league although most had them settling at levels lightly below that.  When Makarov came over to the NHL he was 31 years old but nobody considered him the best player in the NHL however his best years were likely over.  He put up 86 points in his first NHL season ever.  It is an open question how well Wayne Gretzky would have fared if he was transported to Russia at age 31 but in the NHL Gretzky put up 121 points at age 31.  I think most people never considered Makarov to be the best player in the world but because he was the best player in the Soviet system, there was some uncertainty of where he stood in the NHL and that left a small uncertainty that he might be the best player in the world.

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How Good Was The 2015 All UFA Team?

Every year I make an All UFA Team.  This is the best possible line-up one can make from unrestricted free agents.  It shows how good a team one could make if money was no object and you could buy all the best players available.  Typically the All UFA Team costs more than the NHL salary cap and isn't a particularly strong team.  This shows that a good team must be built by other means than free agency.  In late June I posted the 2016 All UFA Team.  Today I want to talk about the 2015 All UFA Team and estimate how good it would have been last year. 

Below is the 2015 All UFA Team with their salary cap hit and statistics achieved:

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On The PK Subban Trade

Yesterday more than 100 players signed new contracts.  It was an active July 1st.  Nevertheless in terms of meaningful moves that will set the direction of franchised for the next several years, the July 1st free agent frenzy was upstaged by June 29th.  Three major events were announced.  First Steve Stamkos re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and hence did not become a free agent.  Second Edmonton traded Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson.  The final move was Montreal trading PK Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber.  That is the move that I want to discuss today.

PK Subban is a first class defenceman.  He won the Norris Trophy in 2013.  He just turned 27 years old in May and it is reasonable to believe that his best is yet to come.  Subban faced problems in Montreal for many reasons.  He is a black player and thus comes from an underrepresented group in the NHL.  He is a high profile flamboyant personality who commands news coverage.  He brings with himself a bit of "swagger" that is more common to football or basketball than it is to hockey.  He is a creative offensive defenceman and that goes against the grain in the dead puck era NHL in which he plays.  He was forced to sit out the first four games in the 2012/13 season when Montreal was unwilling to sign him to a long term contract arguing that he had not proven himself as a top defenceman yet.  Immediately upon signing the contract, Subban won the Norris Trophy.  This all left a bad feeling between Montreal management and their star defenceman.  Eventually it was that feeling that required a trade.  The problem is that it is very hard to trade a player as good as PK Subban and win the deal.

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On The Taylor Hall Trade

Since free agency was likely upstaged a couple days ago by two major trades, I see no problem writing a post about one of those trades right as free agency is about to begin.

The Edmonton Oilers have been a bad team for several years.  During this time they have been able to acquire several forwards as top draft picks.  This year is no different is Jesse Puljujarvi fell into their lap.  One problem is that they lack any good defencemen.  In fact the only defencemen they had who was once considered a top prospect for the Oilers was Justin Schultz.  He didn't work out and found himself traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.  The Oiler have been trying to turn some of their young forwards into a top flight defenceman in a trade for quite a while.  They hadn't been able to do so.

I think the move they finally made was out of desperation.  They traded their top established player in Taylor Hall (assuming Connor McDavid is not really established yet having only played half an NHL season) to the New Jersey Devils.  Hall is one of the top left wingers in the game and is a player I would have put on Team Canada for the World Cup.  The Oilers got Adam Larsson as their return from the New Jersey Devils.

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2016 All UFA Team

Every year I make an all star team of the best unrestricted free agents to be.  This shows how good a team one could make if they went out and bought all the best players available.  Usually this team isn't very good and costs well over the salary cap.  We can look back at this team next year to see how good it is. 

I will take a look at last year's team in a few days after the majority of the free agency moves are over.  We already have some significant trades that may have upstaged the July 1st frenzy.

This year's team took a significant hit yesterday when Steve Stamkos re-signed with Tampa Bay.  The major prize among the UFAs is no longer available.

Here is the 2016 All UFA Team:

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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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