A few weeks ago I posted my initial work on developing a player rankings system which got mixed reviews among the more theoretically-based, statistically minded crowd. I am still not going to go down the road of applying pure statistical theory to developing a ranking system (such as what Javageek is doing) but I have significantly rejigged my algorithm and also incorporated powerplay and penalty killing time into the process and I think I have come up with some fairly good player rankings. I have decided not to divulge the secrets of my player ranking algorithm but I have decided to (for now anyway) post the rankings of all the players in the NHL.
The algorithm produces four numbers for each player: an offensive rating, a defensive rating, and overall rating and an overall contribution. The offensive, defensive and overall ratings are ice time independent. By that I mean that players who play less ice time donâ€™t get penalized when compared to players that get more minutes. Someone who plays a lot of minutes on the power play will get a better opportunity to rack up goals and assists and this has an advantage when it comes to scoring more points but not when it comes to getting a better offensive rating. My algorithm accounts for that. When looking at the offensive, defensive and overall ratings consider a rating of 1.00 to be the average NHLer. Ratings less than 1.00 are below average and ratings over 1.00 are above average.
The other number produced is an overall contribution statistic. This overall contribution combines a players offensive, defensive, and overall ratings with a players ice time (not quite overall rating*icetime but close) to get a number representative of what the player has contributed to his team over the course of the season. This statistic isnâ€™t the best when evaluating who is the best player since a lesser player playing more ice time on a worse team has the potential to rank better than a better player playing less ice time on a better team (or due to injuries), it does do a good job at evaluating which player has contributed the most to his team. So while this may not be the best statistic in evaluating who is the best player in the NHL, it might be a good statistic in evaluating who has contributed the most to his team and thus might be a good starting point for evaluating the MVP and Norris trophy candidates.
Ok, before we start looking at some actual numbers, let me say that I have produced results for the second half of last season and also results for the current season and have compared the two. Using a requirement of a player having to have played 300 minutes of ice time to get a valid rating for the season there were 318 players who had a rating for both last season and this season and I did a quick correlation calculation on these players. The offensive ratings produced a correlation coefficient of 0.44, the defensive ratings produced a correlation coefficient of 0.13, the overall ratings were 0.37 and the overall contribution was 0.52. These correlations are generally much better than those I got for my algorithm of a couple weeks ago and I am somewhat satisfied with them. Many of the players who have significant differences between last year and this year are understandable because by no ones evaluation would you say they are having a similarly good or bad seasons. For example, the player with the biggest improvement in overall rating is Thomas Vanek and the player with the biggest drop in overall rating is Jonathan Cheechoo. This makes total sense. Vanek has been awesome this season (16 goals, 30 points, +16) while Cheechoo was awesome in the second half of last year and pretty ordinary this season. That said, I am a little perplexed as to why the defensive ratings donâ€™t produce better correlations. When developing this algorithm I went through several steps of progress and at every step the defensive ratings produced correlations significantly below that of the offensive ratings. And yet when I look at the ratings I can seem to justify why each player gets a good or poor result. It is strange because essentially the offensive and defensive ratings are produced in the exact same way, except opposite in the sense of what is good (producing goals vs stopping goals). I am hoping that as the season goes on that the correlations for all the these ratings improves. In another month or so Iâ€™ll maybe revisit the correlations and see if anything has changed.
Ok, so on to some results. Player ratings for every player in the NHL can be found by clicking the division links in the menu on the left. I have also included a page with the top 20 rated players for each rating. Take some time to browse through them and let me know what you think.
Now, I know that there will be some players ratings that will create some controversy so let me address some of them now.
Defensive Ratings in general: As I explained above, defensive ratings are a bit perplexing because they donâ€™t correlate well with last years defensive ratings but also because guys like Lidstrom (0.91) isnâ€™t rated that well when he has the league best +/-. But there is an explanation for it. That is, the Red Wings have one of the worst penalty kill percentages in the NHL and considering that Lidstrom gets a lot of ice time killing penalties his defensive rating gets negatively impacted. I think this is perfectly fair. But there are other examples, such as Pronger, where explaining his 0.90 defensive rating is more difficult since the Ducks have a pretty good penalty kill so his defensive rating might be a bit of an anomaly this early in the season. Incidently, Lidstrom had a 0.96 defensive rating last year and Pronger had a 1.11 defensive rating so Lidstrom is right in line with last year and Pronger is a bit low. I would expect to see Prongerâ€™s defensive rating rise a bit over the course of the season.
Tom Preissing â€“ There are some in the media and among the fans that feel that Preissing has been a disappointment but I find this strange. He has a respectable 10 points in 24 games and easily has a team best +13 rating. Maybe the reason fans are disappointed is because he is only getting 14 and a half minutes of ice time. But donâ€™t blame that on him as in those 14 and a half minutes he has been pretty effective in both producing offense and not letting many goals in.
Anders Eriksson â€“ Somehow this guy managed to get the 12th higest overall rating which doesnâ€™t make a lot of sense. A lot of it is driven by the fact that he is a +3 on a weak Columbus team but being rated that highly doesnâ€™t make much sense. I expect him to drop over the course of the season. But having overly high rated defensemen is par for the course for the Blue Jackets as Ron Hainsey was rated quite highly last season but has dropped to more expected levels this year.
Ryan Getzlaf â€“ Getzlaf is an interesting player to look at because he ranks very highly in the offensive rankings with a 2.18 offensvie ranking. That might strike you strange for a guy who is 6th on his team in points. But it doesnâ€™t seem to be an anomaly as he had a 1.95 offensive rating last season as well. Heâ€™s doing something right in the 13 minutes of ice time he gets.
New York Rangers â€“ The trio of Jagr, Straka and Nylander lead the league in overall contribution. Itâ€™s no surprise really considering all three are in the top 15 in scoring and top 10 in +/- but it makes you wonder why the Rangers are just 4 games over .500. Inconsistent goaltending seems to be the answer to that (Lundqvist .900 save% is not good enough).
Goaltending- Speaking of goaltending, you may have noticed that I have taken goaltenders out of the rankings. The reason for this is because I intend to develop a goaltender specific ranking systems because although I think this processed used for developing these rankings would do a decent job on goalie rankings I think I can produce better results with a goalie specific algorithm.
Anyway, thatâ€™s all for now. Iâ€™ll let you browse through the rankings yourselves and I away all of your comments, suggestions and criticisms. I look forward to hearing them.