by PuckStopsHere on 03/19/13 at 09:34 PM ET
Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers has the worst +/- rating in the NHL. He has a -18 rating. He is also the ice time player in the league this season. He has played almost 25 more minutes than Ilya Kovalchuk, who is second in ice time in the league. These two numbers go together when you consider that Florida is the last place team in the NHL with the worst +/- rating.
It shouldn't be a big shock that the player who plays the most on the worst +/- team has the worst +/- in the league. Largely this shows that +/- is a team stat and Campbell is on a bad team. This is one problem with using raw numbers to compare players statistically. Nobody plays more than Campbell and there is no worse team than where he plays. It shouldn't be surprising that his raw numbers are bad.
If we look at rate numbers - specifically his team adjusted +/- as calculated by behind the net - we find that Campbell is average for a Panther. Essentially we can conclude that Campbell is no worse than any of his teammates in terms of his puck possession. It is his bad team that gives him his league worst +/- rating.
This shows clearly that +/- is valuable when looked at in context of a player's role on his team. It shows that he plays the most minutes on the worst team. It isn't correct to use this top prove Campbell is the worst player in the league because he isn't close. It is his role on his bad team that makes his raw counting +/- look so bad. It might be fair to say that Campbell is not good enough to succeed in such a role, but few players are. The most we can conclude is that Campbell is not a superstar defenceman but he is clearly vital to Florida given his playing time. Of course a better team than Florida would be able to offer more players to fill key defensive spots allowing him to reduce his playing time.
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