The World Cup of Hockey is well underway. Probably the most interesting result is the Team USA has no chance to make the playoffs in the tournament. They have lost both of their games so far. They lost ot Team Europe 3-0 and then to Team Canada 4-2. They meet team Czech Republic tomorrow but have no mathematical chance to make the playoffs.
The problem with Team USA is partly a small sample size of games. It can be hard to hit your stride in a short tournament. Any team that has a poor start is soon eliminated. However their problems go far beyond that. Team USA was a poorly built team. The logic given for the team's player selection that left out Phil Kessel, Tyler Johnson, Kyle Okposo, Justin Faulk and Kevin Shattenkirk was that they would build a tough grinding team that was built to defeat Team Canada. It turns out that team couldn't beat Team Canada when it counted. They couldn't beat Team Europe either. That isn't too surprising given the talent that they let go in the selection process. In the place of those players are tough grinders in Justin Abdelkader, David Backes, Brandon Dubinsky, Erik Johnson and Jack Johnson. It would be a poor move of any team to give up that talent for the group of grinders.
I recently wrote a post detailing my injury replacements to my World Cup teams. I had selected teams for Team Canada and Team USA. Since that point there has been one more injury to replace. Tyler Seguin is hurt and will miss the tournament for Team Canada. I will replace him with his teammate Jason Spezza. Spezza has past Olympic experience and was the top scoring Canadian forward last year who is not already going to the World Cup. I find it interesting that he hasn't been seriously considered to make the team. Is it because he plays a second line role in Dallas behind Seguin and Jamie Benn? Practically this means he gets less power play time than he otherwise would and still manages to score. I would add Spezza to my Tam Canada as the final injury replacement.
When World Cup hockey teams were being announced I made my picks for Team Canada and Team USA. With the World Cup upon us and exhibition games already being played I will make a few final injury replacements.
Team Canada had three players on their initial roster who are missing the tournament due to injury. They are Jamie Benn, Duncan Keith and Jeff Carter. I did not select Jeff Carter onto my team and hence I do not have to replace him. However, I did have Roberto Luongo as one of my goalies. He is rehabbing a hip injury and hopes to be ready for start of the season. He would miss the World Cup if he were named to the roster. Hence I will replace three players on Team Canada.
Team USA's only injured player is Ryan Callahan. I did not place him on my team and thus I have no need to replace him. However, I did name Phil Kessel to my team and I remain amazed that the actual World Cup team didn't name him. He is out with a hand injury and it is unclear if he will be ready for the start of the NHL season. Thus I have one American player to replace.
A couple of days ago, I posted the top 20 players by defensive goals versus threshold in 2015/16. This sabermetrics and hockey post will look at the opposite group. I want to look at the worst players by this system. Defensive goals versus threshold will select for players who had lots of ice time on teams that gave up a lot of shots and had bad +/- ratings. While these are proxies for defensive ability, better proxies can be found using Corsi based analysis. I will propose a method to do this after showing the current results.
Here are the worst players in 2015/16 by defensive goals versus threshold:
Since it is my contention that the defensive portion of Tom Awad's goals versus threshold system is flawed using +/- as the main individual stat used to display defensive skill. I argue that it could be improved using Corsi in the place of +/-. In order to do this, I ought to show the problem. So in this sabermetrics and hockey post, I want to look at the top players according the defensive portion of goals versus threshold in the 2015/16 season. Essentially this system selects players who play significant ice time on teams that allow few shots and have good +/- ratings. While these are proxies for defensive play, they do not give results that are too meaningful. For example, it is very hard to claim that the top player in this system is the top defensive player in the league. Often players that we know are top defencemen do not come at the top in this list and players who are offensive talents do. It is possible to have a lot of ice time and a good +/- rating on a good defensive team because of your offence and not your defence.
Nevertheless, I will give you the top 20 players in 2015/16 by the defensive portion of goals versus threshold. Here they are:
Recently, I have slowed down in my posting rate. But I am in the midst of looking at Tom Awad's goals versus threshold system. This is an attempt to rank players with one number, namely the number of goals they produced or cost their team versus a replacement level player. I have recently posted the worst 20 position players in this system and for completeness I want to list the worst goalies. It is far easier to identify an underperforming goalie than a position player. A bad goalie has a poor saves percentage relative to the league. A poor position player in the GVT system has few points and a poor +/- rating. Thus the worst rankings are always goaltenders. In fact 11 goalies have worse rankings than -4.2 which was Jordin Tootoo of the New Jersey Devils GVT.
I want to list those goalies below. Is it reasonable to conclude that the 12 worst players in the NHL were all goalies or is this a function of our measurement? I think it is harder to show when position players fail because of poor defensive metrics and I am arguing that Corsi related defensive stats would improve GVT calculations. Right now a weak player by GVT scores little and has a bad +/-. It is hard to say with certainty that this shows he was a bad player or rather a defensive player who played in a tough or unlucky situation on a bad team.
Here are the 11 goalies with the worst GVT ratings in 2015/16:
According to goals versus threshold, Jordin Tootoo of the New Jersey Devils was the worst player in the NHL last year. He was 4.2 goals below a replacement player. Does this make him the worst player in the league? I would argue no to that question.
Goals versus threshold essentially measures offensive productivity of players as related to their ice time. Tootoo was not productive offensively. He put up four goals and five assists for nine points last year and he did it playing in 66 games. No forward in the league played more games and got fewer points. Although, Jarrett Stoll managed an equivalent number of points in more games.
To differentiate between those two goals versus threshold attempts to look at defence. However, defence is a tough skill to show statistically. A big part of the goals versus threshold defensive rating comes from +/- ratings. Tootoo finished with a -26 +/- rating (compared to Stoll's -1). Three forwards had worse +/- ratings in the entire league. They are Mikkel Boeddker, Radim Vrbata and Bo Horvat. Tootoo had the worst +/- on New Jersey by four points.
When Patrick Roy stepped down as Colorado Avalanche head coach, I predicted the Avs were in a tight place and would not get the man they would have picked as head coach had they started their search in April. They were left to pick coaches from a group of people who were unproven and had not already commit themselves fully for the upcoming season. That is exactly what happened. The Avs hired their new coach Jared Bednar a couple of days ago.
Bednar is not an NHL name. He was a hockey player but never made the NHL. He was never drafted and never signed an NHL contract. When he retired from his career in the ECHL he was named an assistant coach in South Carolina where he last played. After four years as an assistant he became their head coach and within two years won the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions - though it should be noted that he took over a top ECHL team and didn't build it as head coach.
He then left for the AHL. First he served as an assistant coach with the Abbotsford Heat and then as a head coach with the Peoria Rivermen. After being fired in Peoria, he joined the Columbus Blue Jackets organization as an assistant coach in Springfield and later as their head coach. When the team moved to Cleveland and became the Lake Erie Monsters, he remained head coach and was the coach of the Calder Cup winning team this year.
There isn't much hockey news in August. Evidence of this is the fact that we have all been waiting to see where a player with no NHL experience at all will sign. Jimmy Vesey is that player and he signed with the New York Rangers today.
Vesey was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2012 but chose not to join them. He played at Harvard University for his four year college career. He won the Hobey Baker Trophy as NCAA MVP in his most recent season. When Vesey did not sign with Nashville he became an unrestricted free agent this summer, but not until August 15th. His rights were traded to Buffalo for a third round draft pick in June. He didn't sign in Buffalo either. Today we have learned that he will be a New York Ranger.
The question is how good is Vesey? As the MVP in the NCAA he is definitely a prospect. The last two winners before Vesey were Jack Eichel of Buffalo in 2015 and Johnny Gaudreau of Calgary in 2014. There is definite precedent for a Hobey Baker winner to be a star NHL player. However there are differences between those Hobey Baker winners and Vesey.
My summer sabermetrics series has turned to Tom Awad's goals versus threshold system. This is an attempt to score all players with a single number - the number of goals they were worth to their team above that of a replacement level player. I have already looked at the top 20 players in this system and want to look at worst players in this system today. These are position players who rank below a hypothetical replacement player yet nevertheless played in the NHL. I want to compare these players to the worst players by team and zone adjusted Corsi. Goals versus threshold will select players who did not score and posted poor +/- ratings as the worst players in the league. Corsi may pick players who score points but still have puck possession weakness. Any player who finishes badly in both systems is definitely one of the weakest players in the NHL.
Here are the worst 20 position players by goals versus threshold in 2015/16:
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???