A blast from the past

 David Johnson, Statistical Analysis, Toronto Maple Leafs  Comments Off on A blast from the past
Nov 222006

This may show my age here but I thought it might be interesting for everyone to see one of my first ventures into statistical analysis of hockey statistics.

Back in March of 1996, the Leafs traded Darby Hendrickson, Sean Haggerty, Kenny Jonsson and a first round pick (turned out to be Roberto Luongo) to the Islanders for Wendel Clark, Mathieu Schneider and D.J. Smith. Clearly the first round pick and the lost chance at Roberto Luongo made this a bad trade but at the time Toronto media and especially Maple Leafs fans were outraged at the Leafs trading of young defenseman Kenny Johnsson. Many fans thought he was an up and coming Borje Salming (mostly because both are Swedish and Salming also played for the Leafs) and a future Norris Trophy candidate. While Jonsson turned out to be a good defenseman (who had his career shortened due to concussions and I believe is now playing in Sweden) he was no Borje Salming.

My view back then was that Jonsson was unlikely to become the next Borje Salming and I took to statistics to try to make my point and posted my analysis on the USENET news groups. Google has had these groups archived and available to anyone who wants to read them. You can read my analysis and follow on discussion here and some more here. I have included my main posts here as well. I am not sure if I will be able to get any time to do it but it would be interesting to revisit some of the work I did here and update it with some of the defensemen who have played in the NHL since then.

If you are not interested in reading it all, the short and sweet conclusion was that the first couple years of a defenseman’s career pretty much define that player for his whole career. If a defenseman isn’t a top offensive defenseman in his first few years, he likely never will be.

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Game Predictions – 11/22/2006

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Nov 222006

A near full set of games tonight as only 2 teams aren’t in action (NY Rangers, Edmonton).  Despite that there aren’tmany real high quality games.  Toronto-Buffalo games are often quite interesting so that game might be good to watch and Dallas-Nashville should be quite good.  Atlanta-Washington has the potential to be good as both teams have some top end talent and good to great goaltending.  Vancouver-Detroit could provide some good hockey as well.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Buffalo -157 Toronto 136 Buffalo Good
Philadelphia 138 Ottawa -163 Ottawa Good
Washington -106 Atlanta 106 Atlanta Some
Columbus -112 St. Louis 111 Columbus Some
Montreal -163 Minnesota 138 Montreal Good
NY Islanders -129 Carolina 122 NY Islanders Some
Detroit -179 Vancouver 144 Detroit Strong
Pittsburgh -113 Boston 111 Pittsburgh Some
Florida -124 Tampa Bay 119 Florida Some
Dallas -137 Nashville 127 Dallas Some
Colorado 118 Anaheim -123 Anaheim Good
Calgary -207 Chicago 151 Calgary Strong
Phoenix 137 New Jersey -160 New Jersey Good
San Jose -203 Los Angeles 150 San Jose Strong


NHL Power Rankings – 11/21/2006

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Nov 212006

Here are this weeks Power Rankings. Teams moving up include Carolina (6 to 3), Montreal (7 to 4), Calgary (17 to 9), Boston (18 to 11), Islanders (20 to 16), and Ottawa (24 to 20). Teams falling include Nashville (10 to 13), Toronto (11 to 14), Minnesota (5 to 15), Tampa (15 to 19), and Vancouver (16 to 21).

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 2 Buffalo 0.725 0.526 0.731
2 1 Detroit 0.684 0.488 0.699
3 6 Carolina 0.591 0.547 0.685
4 7 Montreal 0.605 0.522 0.622
5 3 San Jose 0.714 0.461 0.611
6 4 Anaheim 0.714 0.444 0.584
7 8 Dallas 0.658 0.461 0.580
8 9 Atlanta 0.545 0.534 0.573
9 17 Calgary 0.528 0.504 0.556
10 12 Edmonton 0.550 0.489 0.552
11 18 Boston 0.500 0.543 0.551
12 13 New Jersey 0.579 0.497 0.551
13 10 Nashville 0.639 0.454 0.547
14 11 Toronto 0.548 0.511 0.535
15 5 Minnesota 0.526 0.473 0.528
16 20 NY Islanders 0.500 0.505 0.518
17 14 Washington 0.500 0.520 0.504
18 21 Pittsburgh 0.500 0.503 0.500
19 15 Tampa Bay 0.450 0.536 0.492
20 24 Ottawa 0.375 0.575 0.488
21 16 Vancouver 0.476 0.488 0.488
22 19 Florida 0.405 0.542 0.463
23 22 NY Rangers 0.452 0.504 0.463
24 23 Colorado 0.425 0.473 0.397
25 26 Los Angeles 0.364 0.484 0.369
26 25 Chicago 0.395 0.442 0.334
27 28 Phoenix 0.275 0.499 0.297
28 30 Philadelphia 0.250 0.522 0.275
29 27 St. Louis 0.263 0.482 0.261
30 29 Columbus 0.250 0.478 0.245

AdjWinP is a teams winning percentage when shootouts are considered ties and there are no points awarded for overtime losses
SchedStr is an indication of a teams relative difficulty of schedule
Power Rank is the teams expected winning percentage if team played all .500 teams

Nov 212006

This past summer the Ottawa Senators decided to make a statement in the free agent market by signing Martin Gerber to a 3 year, $3.7 million per year contract hopefully ending all of their goaltending issues they seem to have always had. I didn’t like the deal at the time and next summer we will all find out why. The Senators have about $34.5 million in salary cap space already committed to 13 players. If we assume that the salary cap remains at $44 million (it may even drop), that leaves about $8 million to spend on 8-9 players and approximately $1.5 million in buffer space that every team wants.

Now the problem is that one of the players that needs their contract renewed is Ray Emery. Emery has not only clearly been the Senators best goalie, but he has been one of the better goalies in the NHL. Last season at times he showed he can be one of the better goalies in the NHL. So, is it unrealistic to epect that if he continues performing like he has that he doesn’t deserve at least what Martin Gerber is making? If that is the case Ray Emery is going to suck up half of that $8 million leaving $4 million for 8 players. That means those 8 players will have to be close to league minimum ($475,000) players. Problem is, only 3 defenseman (Redden, Corvo and Meszaros) are signed for next season and trust me, that will be a pretty horrible defense with 3 league minimum players playing on it.

So where does that leave the Senators? It leaves them in desperation to free up some salary cap room sometime between now and the free agent signing period of next summer. The obvious choice will be to try and dump Gerber on someone but as of right now, who would want Gerber with the way he has played and with other better goalies like Nabokov, Toskala, Bryzgalov or even Biron all potentially available. The only team in dire need of a goalie is Phoenix though Philadelphia and a few other teams might be looking to upgrade as well. But the way Gerber has played he wouldn’t even provide them with an upgrade. So if the Sens are to be able to trade Gerber between now and next summer they will need to play him and hope he can show that he can be at least a second tier starting goalie. Problem is, with the poor start the Senators have had to the season they don’t have a lot of room to play at the moment to let Gerber work through his game. To me it seems highly unlikely that they will be able to trade Gerber.

So, what are the other options? They could at some point demote Gerber to the AHL taking his salary off the salary cap books but the Senators aren’t a money making organization and I am not sure Melnyk would want to take that financial hit. They could buy him out resulting in a cap hit of approximately $1.23 million for the next 4 years but one has to wonder if that is a vialble option too because Melnyk would still be on the hook for paying him close to $5 million for not playing with the Senators. They could demote him to the AHL, recall him and hope someone takes him on recall waivers saving the Senators half his salary and half his cap hit. This seems to be the somewhat more vialble but still not ideal. since by the time you pay for half of Gerber’s salary and at a minimum $500,000 for another backup goalie you are still forking out $2.35 million for goalies after Emery saving just $1.35 million from the keeping Gerber option. You are still not going to sign any quality defensemen for that amount of money.

The only other option to free up cap room for next summer is to keep Gerber and trade another high priced player. I wonder who that could be.

Game Predictions – 11/21/2006

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Nov 212006

Just 3 games tonight but with a potentially very good game in the east and two marquis matchups out west tonight is a good night to make a hockey night. Here in the east we have the New York Rangers facing the Carolina Hurricanes. Both of these teams have had their ups and downs so far this year but both are potentially elite eastern conference teams. And out west we have one of the best rivalries going as Calgary faces Edmonton as well as a battle between two of the top teams in the NHL as San Jose visits Anaheim. Despite being early in the season these games can be seen as test games to get an idea of where each team stands so expect 3 quality games tonight.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Rangers 117 Carolina -121 Carolina Good
Edmonton -118 Calgary 115 Edmonton Some
Anaheim -115 San Jose 113 Anaheim Some

Game Predictions -11/20/2006

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Nov 202006

Here are the game predictions for tonights games. I was a little surprised that Ottawa came out the predicted winner over Minnesota but hey, the algorithm knows better than me. The rest are pretty much as expected.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston -144 Florida 130 Boston Good
Buffalo -258 Tampa Bay 161 Buffalo Strong
Philadelphia 133 Pittsburgh -149 Pittsburgh Good
Columbus 145 Nashville -183 Nashville Strong
Toronto -125 NY Islanders 120 Toronto Some
Ottawa -112 Minnesota 111 Ottawa Some
Dallas -177 Colorado 143 Dallas Good

Game Predictions – 11/19/2006

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Nov 192006

Here are the game predictions for tonights games.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Rangers 130 Tampa Bay -144 Tampa Bay Good
Anaheim -333 Phoenix 170 Anaheim Strong
Vancouver -161 Chicago 138 Vancouver Good

Game Predictions – 11/18/2006

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Nov 182006

As usual for Saturady night we have a full slate of games and several of them should be quite good. First off, you can probably skip the afternoon game between Phoenix and Los Angeles. Not too much exciting about that. The rematch between Buffalo and Ottawa could be good though. The game on Wednesday was quite entertaining and it will be interesting to see if Ottawa comes out playing hard again after another loss last night to the Devils. Carolina-Dallas should be a good interconference game as Carolina is a top team in the east and Dallas is a top team in the west. The NY Rangers vs Pittsburgh should be a good divisional game as the Penguins try to show they are a playoff contender and the Rangers try to show they are a better team than their relatively poor start to the season. And the late game out west between Philadelphia and San Jose is worth keeping an eye on as well. Philadelphia play a couple of impressive games in wins over Anaheim and Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday and we should keep an eye on them to see if they are breaking out of their horrible slump to start the season.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Los Angeles -127 Phoenix 121 Los Angeles Some
Boston -171 Washington 141 Boston Strong
Toronto -177 New Jersey 143 Toronto Strong
Montreal -164 Atlanta 139 Montreal Good
Ottawa 132 Buffalo -148 Buffalo Strong
Carolina -138 Dallas 127 Carolina Good
Pittsburgh 116 NY Rangers -120 NY Rangers Some
Florida -168 NY Islanders 140 Florida Strong
Nashville -378 Columbus 173 Nashville Strong
Minnesota -236 Colorado 157 Minnesota Strong
Edmonton -130 Detroit 123 Edmonton Some
San Jose -263 Philadelphia 161 San Jose Strong

Game Predictions – 11/17/2006

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Nov 172006

 Here are the predictions for tonights games.  Ottawa is up against a tough New Jersey to see if they can continue the process of breaking out of their slump.  For an interconference game the Altanta-Dallas game should be a good one as both teams are talented teams.  And in the west, we have the battle of the streaks as 5 game winning streak on the line against Detroit who is on a 9 game winning streak.  This should be an interesting game though I am not sure you should expect a lot of goals.  Both teams have allowed just 2 goals in their last 3 games with two shutouts each.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Washington -100 Carolina 100 Carolina Some
Columbus 113 Colorado -115 Colorado Some
New Jersey -135 Ottawa 126 New Jersey Some
Atlanta -138 Dallas 127 Atlanta Good
Buffalo -196 Pittsburgh 149 Buffalo Strong
Tampa Bay -126 NY Islanders 120 Tampa Bay Some
Calgary 116 Detroit -120 Detroit Good
Vancouver -290 St. Louis 165 Vancouver Strong
Anaheim -309 Chicago 167 Anaheim Strong


Nov 162006


 Wow.  What a night last night.  Four of the bottom 5 teams in the east won and 3 of them defeated one of the top 5 or 6 teams in the league.  Quite a night for significant upsets.  Here are the predictions for tonights games.  To too many real important or exciting rivalry games.  Toronto-Boston might be good and Minnesota-Nashville should be good but I really can’t get too excited over Chicago-Phoenix.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston 124 Toronto -133 Toronto Good
Florida -124 Montreal 119 Florida Some
Nashville 114 Minnesota -116 Minnesota Some
Edmonton -220 St. Louis 154 Edmonton Strong
Phoenix -115 Chicago 113 Phoenix Some
Los Angeles -264 Philadelphia 162 Los Angeles Strong