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The Puck Stops Here

Andrew Ladd: A Corsi Case Study

When we look at lists of players with top Corsi ratings we often continuously find certain players.  These players are consistently top puck possession players.  Most are players we recognize as NHL stars.  Sometimes we have players who are not generally considered stars wind up on these lists.  These are interesting players to look at.  They may be some of the most underrated players in the NHL and they may be examples of players who play in a situation that makes them look better than they actually are by this metric.  In most cases they are in a bit of both of those situations. 

One example of such a player is Andrew Ladd of the Winnipeg Jets.  Yesterday I listed the top 20 team adjusted Corsi ratings.  Ladd was number 13.  This is his best showing by puck possession numbers in his career to date but he has a history of good numbers.  In 2008/09 he was 18th in Corsi after team and zone start adjustment.  At that point he was still a Chicago Blackhawk.  In junior in 2003/04 he led the WHL in +/- rating.

We do not see Andrew Ladd as a top NHL player.  Are we missing something? 

Clearly Ladd was a top junior player.  He was selected fourth overall in the 2004 Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.  He wasn’t given a big opportunity with the Hurricanes.  By the time he was traded in 2008, he had never played more than 65 games in a season or scored more than 21 points in a year.  In Chicago he got a chance to play in some offensive roles but not on the top line on the team.  This allowed him to play against weaker opposition.  He posted 49 points and posted some good puck possession numbers, although his quality of competition was not so strong.  After winning the Stanley Cup in Chicago he was traded to Atlanta in order for the Hawks to meet their salary cap constraints.  There he got his first chance to play on the first line in the NHL.  As Atlanta moved to Winnipeg this continued. 

Ladd didn’t play on a particularly strong team in Winnipeg.  This allowed him to be overlooked somewhat but he has grown into an important player on the team.  Ladd was unlucky last season.  He posted a 972 PDO’  This is the sum of the shooting percentage of his teammates and the saves percentage of his goaltending while he is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations.  This number is unsustainably low.  With “average level luck” he would have scored more and his teammates would have scored more when he was on the ice and they would have allowed fewer goals.  His point total and +/- rating would therefore be better.

Ladd was given an offensive role in 2011/12.  He was given a significant number of offensive zone starts.  It is easier to take a shot on goal than to allow one if you start your shifts.  His Corsi ranking will drop with that taken into account. 

All told Ladd is a pretty good player.  Puck possession is one of his strengths.  He isn’t a strong enough player to be among league leaders on a regular basis every year.  If the circumstances he plays in are right he can be among the league leaders in puck possession numbers.  For the most part our beliefs that Andrew Ladd is a good player but no star are correct.  His Corsi rating and the fact that he shows up as a leader in puck possession stats on a somewhat regular basis doesn’t contradict that when we look into the circumstances of how it occurred.  This is usually true when we see unlikely players who rank well in Corsi lists.

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If you look at Ladd’s on-ice shooting% numbers from Behind the Net, they’re consistently low. Unlike the real top players, who will give you a great Corsi and great on-ice shooting% simultaneously, Ladd I guess plays the game opting for quantity over quality more than other top line forwards. Seeing as he’s posting close to 30 goals now and in the 50 point range, seems like that approach is working for him.

Posted by Ralph on 07/24/12 at 01:53 AM ET

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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.

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