by PuckStopsHere on 06/14/10 at 01:54 PM ET
There are several sabermetric analyses of hockey that I like, but rarely see published in any form online or elsewhere. I plan to calculate some of them and the associated analysis that comes with them for the first part of the summer and then move onto new sabermetric problems.
Today, I want to look at adjusted +/- ratings. This first appeared in the Klein and Reif Hockey Compendium. The basic idea is to subtract off team effects from individual players to compare +/- ratings between teams. It doesn’t give you a list of the best players in the NHL (no sabermetric method does this), but it gives you a list of players who excelled in the role they played in a given season.
I compiled a list of the top 20 adjusted +/- ratings from last season. I only considered players who played 50 or more games with one team (players who changed teams but played their 50 games with one team can be included with that team only).
Here are the top 20 adjusted +/- ratings from the 2009/10 regular season:
I would argue that every one of these players played very well in their role on their team this season. Those who were frontline players are stars and those who played lesser roles are ready for increasing their workload on their teams.
One flaw that is clear from these numbers is that linemates can be hard to separate. If a top player appears on this list, his regular linemate often does too. This can be seen with the Sedin brothers and Alexandre Burrows in Vancouver or with Chris Pronger and Matt Carle in Philadelphia. It isn’t clear that the “lesser linemate” deserves his position, but he cannot be separated with these numbers.
It is interesting to see that a player on the last place Edmonton Oilers (Dustin Penner) makes this list. That shows that the team adjustment is strong enough to allow even players on bad teams to have good adjusted +/- ratings.
Jeff Schultz is the top ranked player in the league by this metric. While it is clear that he had a good season, this does not mean he is the best player in the league (or anything close to that). I will write more on this in the future. Mark Fistric is another case of an unheralded player scoring very well (he is third). He too needs some more explanation on a future day.
If we use adjusted +/- to look at the Hart Trophy race, we see that Alexander Ovechkin did well, finishing second, Henrik Sedin finishes sixth and Sidney Crosby is nowhere to be seen (he was +13.0). This is one argument against Sidney Crosby winning the Hart Trophy, though more compelling arguments can be made.
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