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The Puck Stops Here

Top 20 Players By Adjusted +/-

Every summer I write a series of posts on sabermetrics and hockey.  The term sabermetrics is borrowed from baseball.  It seems that in the last year or two hockey has adopted the term analytics as a more common name for statistical analysis of the game.  Perhaps I should change the name of my summer posts, but I find the word sabermetrics more meaningful.

I want to start by looking at adjusted +/- ratings.  +/- ratings are often seen as being not as useful as Corsi to determine puck possession because there are fewer events per game.  A +/- event is a goal whereas a Corsi event is a shot attempt.  Thus the sample size of events is much smaller for +/- and hence the probability of statistical flukes occurring is much higher.  However +/- events are clearly more valuable than Corsi events.  A goal changes the score a badly missed shot has little value.  Thus +/- remains a sanity check for Corsi.  It better give roughly the same results.  It top Corsi players have bad +/- ratings or vice versa then there is something wrong with this theory.

The problem with +/- or Corsi to compare players across different teams is that an average player on a good team will have a better rating than an average player on a bad team merely because of their team.  It says nothing about the quality of the player.  In order to rate players across teams a baseline must be determined for each team that is treated as zero and +?- ratings are all relative to that team baseline.  Here is a bit more detail about the process.

I have calculated adjusted +/- ratings for the 2015/16 season and want to discuss them a bit.  I will start by listing the top 20 players by adjusted +/- from last year.  In order for the adjustment to be meaningful, we are limited to players who played at least 50 games with one team.

1. Tyler Toffoli Los Angeles Kings +27.8
2. Anze Kopitar Los Angeles Kings +26.8
3. James Neal Nashville Predators +25.4
3. Colton Parayko St Louis Blues +25.4
5. Jannik Hansen Vancouver Canucks +24.8
6. Brian Campbell Florida Panthers +22.2
6. Chris Kunitz Pittsburgh Penguins +22.2
8. Joe Pavelski San Jose Sharks +22.0
8. Joe Thornton San Jose Sharks +22.0
10. Adam Larsson New Jersey Devils +21.0
11. Milan Lucic Los Angeles Kings +20.8
12. Ryan McDonagh New York Rangers +20.4
13. Olli Maatta Pittsburgh Penguins +20.2
14. Erik Haula Minnesota Wild +19.6
15. Brad Marchand Boston Bruins +19.0
16. Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings +18.8
17. Evgeni Kuznetsov Washington Capitals +18.6
18. John Klingberg Dallas Stars +17.4
19. Alex Goligoski Dallas Stars +16.4
20. Jussi Jokinen Florida Panthers +16.2
20. Mark Schiefele Winnipeg Jets +16.2

This list of players is by no means the best 20 (or 21 due to a tie a 20) players.  What it does show is a group of players who succeeded in their roles with their teams.  In some cases it could be because their playing time was limited as in Erik Haula or because they were not usually played against top offensive opponents as in Brian Campbell or Chris Kunitz but they succeeded in scoring and keeping their opponents from scoring.  Some players on this list are outright stars such as Drew Doughty or Joe Thornton.  Some are lesser known.  There are a few cases such as Jannik Hansen of a player who was not among the +/- leaders in the league becoming a leader after adjustment due to playing on a poor team in Vancouver.

The leader is Tyler Toffoli who is followed by his linemate Anze Kopitar in Los Angeles.  It is hard to differentiate between them with adjusted +/- because they play together so frequently.  They are both strong players according to Corsi.  Kopitar is a Selke nominee.  Maybe Toffoli hould have been considered as well but there is a strong prejudice toward centers in the Selke voting.  That is a bit ironic because the award was created for Bob Gainey who often played on the wing.

This group of players succeeded in 2015/16 in the role they played.  Look for many of them to play a bigger role on their team next year if they have room to increase their role.  In the case of a player like Drew Doughty that room may not exist, so look for them to continue to be top stars on their 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