by PuckStopsHere on 02/05/14 at 01:09 AM ET
One of the things most hockey sabermetrics people agree upon is that PDO is an important number. This number is the sum of the saves percentage and shooting percentage for a player when he is on the ice. Since that number must average 1000 for any NHL player and runs of high or low saves and shooting percentages are largely unsustainable, the league leaders in PDO are influenced positively by luck and the people at the bottom of the league are influenced negatively by luck. This number is not exactly a measurement of luck, but it is often seen that way. The assumption that shooting percentage and saves percentage are not sustainable over the longterm is only partly true. However, since it is measured on the team level (i.e. all players on the ice when a player is on the ice are affected) it is very hard to sustain in any meaningful way.
The current league leader is Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is posting a 1064 PDO. Thus the interpretation is he must be lucky to be doing as well as he is this season. The problem is he isn't really doing that well. He has the lowest points per game of any season in his NHL career. Is he really lucky to have his lowest offensive numbers ever?
Where we see the effects of a good PD is in Dion Phaneuf's +/- rating. His +17 leads his team. In fact only Carl Gunnarson (a frequent linemate) is above +4. The interpretation is that Phaneuf has been lucky defensively. His team should have allowed more goals when he was on the ice. They haven't because of an unsustainable saves percentage from his team's goalies.
The problem is that Phaneuf is supposed to be an All Star level defenceman. He hasn't been that for a couple years at least. In fact, he might be closer to an average level defenceman who can play a significant number of minutes. He is a useful piece but no All Star. If Dion Phaneuf is overachieving now, what is his true level of play? It won't be very impressive. That is a problem for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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