by PuckStopsHere on 09/05/12 at 02:03 PM ET
I have written several posts lately outlining the leaders statistically in the era between the 2004/05 lockout and the upcoming 2012 lockout. I think this period of time will be seen as a distinct era of hockey - especially if the lockout this season is a lengthy one or leads to a significantly different CBA. I have listed the top players by goals, assists, points, +/- ratings and penalty minutes. I have ranked goalies by wins and saves percentage. Now it is time to begin to put this altogether. Who are the best players in the most recent era?
My first attempt to look at this is sabermetrically. This is at best only a starting point because there is no perfect sabermetric system to accurately rank players of different positions against one another. I know of two that are relatively widely used. There is Tom Awad's goals versus threshold system which I have written about in the past including ranking players annually with it. It is quite clearly biased toward giving goaltenders the highest (and lowest) rankings as they are easier to rate statistically (and perhaps are more important than other players) but I don't want to give a list of 20 players that is mostly goalies if this can be avoided. Instead I will use the point shares method developed by Justin Kubatko. I have written about it in the past as well. It too will rate goalies higher than position players but not by as significant a margin as goals versus threshold.
Here are the top 20 players since 2005 by point shares:
This isn't exactly a balanced list. It contains 11 goalies (goals versus threshold would have more), eight forwards and one defenceman. Some of the goalies who are lower down on this list like Marc-Andre Fleury or Kari Lehtonen are probably overvalued significantly. The forwards are for the most part undervalued. I cannot believe that four players outplayed Alexander Ovechkin or ten players outplayed Sidney Crosby in this era. I think the strongest showing on this list is likely Nicklas Lidstrom. He is the only defenceman on the list and ranks ninth overall. Clearly this shows that he was head and shoulders above the other defencemen in this time period.
At the top of the list is Roberto Luongo. Given that he did not win a Vezina Trophy in this time period (perhaps he should have) and had some tough outings in the playoffs (only regular season numbers are used here), he is likely a surprise number one. Point shares tends to select goalies who face a lot of shots and do very well. Luongo started this time period playing for the Florida Panthers with no defensive support at all. In fact he is the best season ever by point shares although it comes the year before the 2004/05 lockout. He also has the best single season by point shares in 2005/06 while still in Florida. I am a bit skeptical of the ranking order of goaltenders by point shares but I think it should be clear that Luongo played very well in this era and it is criminal that he is thought of quite poorly due to a couple of poor playoff performances and his likely departure from Vancouver.
Point shares is a first start to attempt to rank players overall and not merely by individual stats for this era. As we can see it isn't the final measure, but it is a place to start.
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