Aug 252011

A few weeks ago I questioned whether Luke Schenn was really a quality shut down defenseman as some believe and some people too exception to that.  Additionally, now that Lebda has been traded away the favourite defenseman whipping boy of Leaf fans seems to be Mike Komisarek.  Because of this, I decided we should conduct a comparison of the defensive ability of these two players to see if Leaf fans perceptions of these two players matches reality.

Schenn Komisarek
TOI 864:56 558:53
Goals Against per 20 min. 0.902 0.895
Opposition GF/20min. 0.767 0.757
HARD+ 0.810 0.840
Fenwick Against per 20min. 15.400 15.424
Opposition FenF/20min. 13.708 13.798
FenHARD+ 0.934 0.929
Def. Zone Face Off % 31.9% 37.8%

The above table shows all of the pertinent stats from the 2010-11 season for 5v5 close situations (close being teams are within 1 goal in first or second period or tied in third).  I have included both goal and fenwick based stats because I know some people prefer fenwick but in reality they tell pretty much the same story.

Last season when Luke Schenn was on the ice the Leafs gave up about the same number of goals against per 20 minutes (0.902 vs 0.895) and fenwick against per 20 minutes (15.400 vs 15.424) as when Komisarek was on the ice.  Schenn played against slightly tougher competition based on opposition goals for per 20 minutes while Komisarek played against slightly tougher competition based on opposition fenwick for per 20 minutes.  The end results were Komisarek had a slightly better HARD+ than Schenn (0.840 vs 0.810) but Schenn had a slightly better FenHARD+ (0.934 vs 0.929).  It should be noted that these ratings are quite poor for both players.

HARD+ and FenHARD+ take into account quality of teammates and competition, but they do not take into account zone starts.  For Komisarek, 37.8% of the faceoffs he was on the ice for were taken in the defensive zone while only 31.9% were in the defensive zone for Luke Schenn.  So, while all the other numbers are quite similar, the defensive zone face off percentage clearly means Komisarek faced tougher situations defensively than Luke Schenn.  I didn’t include the data above, but Schenn played with higher quality teammates than Komisarek (for example, Lebda’s #1 defense partner was Komisarek).

For interest sake, and to gain more confidence in the results, here are each players stats over the past 2 seasons.

Schenn Komisarek
TOI 1537:15 853:46
Goals Against per 20 min. 0.976 0.890
Opposition GF/20min. 0.751 0.759
HARD+ 0.783 0.853
Fenwick Against per 20min. 15.053 14.641
Opposition FenF/20min. 13.534 13.679
FenHARD+ 0.932 0.957
Def. Zone Face Off % 31.9% 35.7%

Over the past 2 seasons the edge is distinctly in Komisarek’s favour though in 2009-10 Komisarek had far fewer defensive zone faceoffs than last season (only 28.7%).  For the 2 years Schenn gave up more shots and goals per 20 minutes than Komisarek and faced weaker opponents (offensively at least) and had a much lower defensive zone face off percentage.

Based on the above, Leaf fans perceptions of Komisarek are pretty much true.  He has struggled defensively and hasn’t lived up to his contract or expectations but is also nothing to suggest that Luke Schenn has been any better at the defensive aspect of the game.  Schenn has just played more, not better.

Aug 212011

I have just updated my stats site ( to include a number of new features.  The added features are:

1.  I have added a new situation – 5v5close.  5v5close is when the game is tied or within 1 goal in the first and second period or tied in the third period.  This is what I would call normal play where teams are more or less (depending on talent or game play/coaching style) equally interested in  playing offense or defense.  When teams get a larger lead or lead late in the game teams adjust their style of play to either protect that lead or go all out to score a goal to catch up.  It is probably better to use this than 5v5tied and maybe better than 5v5 (all 5v5 game score situations).

2.  I have included zone start data in the form of OZOF%, DZOF% and NZOF%.  OZOF% is the percentage of face offs taken in the offensive zone when the player is on the ice and DZOF% and NZOF% are the same for defensive zone and neutral zone faceoffs.  When we look at these by situation we can get an idea of how a players use gets changed by game score.  For example, last year Manny Malholtra had 38.8% of his 5v5 face offs in the defensive zone (29.1% offensive zone and 32.1% neutral zone) but when the Canucks were up by a goal his defensive zone faceoffs rose to 41.6% and when the Canucks were up by 2 goals they rose to 48.4%.

3.  I have once again put up with/against statistics for each player.  I had this data up a few years ago but when I re-designed my website I removed it but it is back.  Each player page (i.e. the Malhotra one linked to above) has a set of links at the top of the page to with/against statistics for each season (and multi-seasons) for 5v5 and 5v5 close situations for both goal and corsi data.  Each page shows how the player played with each teammate as well as how they played when they were not playing together as well as how the player performed against each opponent and how well the player and the opponent performed when not playing together.  These tables can give you an indication of which players are playing together and which players play well together as well as who a player plays against the most.  As an example, take a look at Manny Malhotra 5v5 goal with/against data for this past season and you will see he played the most with Raffi Torres (even more than with Roberto Luongo!) but it seems both players had better on ice results when apart.

4.  If you hadn’t noticed yet, a while back I added on ice shooting percentage (Sh%) and on ice opposition shooting percentage (OppSh%, subtract from to get on ice save %) which can be found with the goal data (but not with corsi, fenwick and shot data).

All totaled, there is well over 10 gigabytes of html, php and data base files of statistics (90% of which is in the with/against tables) so be warned, if you really wanted to you could spend days looking at it all.

Aug 032011

As we all await the results of Shea Weber’s arbitration hearing we are all speculating the salary that the arbitrator will award Shea Weber.  Speculation is that Shea Weber is asking for $8.5M and the Predators are asking for $4.75M.  Damien Cox believes he is probably going to get awarded $7.5-8M.

Dion Phaneuf makes $6.5 million per (all figures U.S.), and Weber is a superior player from the same 2003 NHL draft class. The same goes for Weber as compared to Brent Burns, and Burns signed a five-year, $28.5 million contract (cap hit $5.76 million) with the San Jose Sharks on Monday, eight years after being the 20th pick in that ’03 draft.

So we know the floor here for Weber’s services has to be $6.5 million, and the ceiling around $7.5-8 million.

That seems to be the common sentiment around the league.

Notable Nashville Predator blogger Dirk Hoag from On The Forecheck tweeted his prediction of $7.25M.

I’ll guess Weber gets $7.25 million. Phaneuf’s a comp at $6.5M, but Shea also has the “C” & a Norris nomination.

Personally, I believe these numbers are significantly higher than an arbitrator will award Weber.  First off, Damien Cox uses Brent Burns contract as a comparable but it is not a valid comparable because Burns’ new contract is considered a UFA contract (he would have been a UFA next summer) and thus cannot be used as a comparable in arbitration.

Phaneuf is a decent comparable and I’ll also toss in two additional comparables of Brent Seabrook and Keith Yandle.

Player Year Prior Two Year Prior Three Year Prior
Shea Weber 82GP, 16g, 48pts, 56PIM, +7 78GP, 16g, 43pts, 36PIM, even 81GP, 23g, 53pts, 80PIM, +1
Dion Phaneuf 82GP, 17g, 50pts, 182PIM, +12 79GP, 17g, 50pts, 98PIM, +10 82GP, 20g, 49pts, 93PIM, +5
Brent Seabrook 82GP, 9g, 48pts, 47PIM, even 78GP, 4g, 30pts, 59PIM, +20 82GP, 8g, 26pts, 62PIM, +23
Keith Yandle 82GP, 11g, 59pts, 68PIM, +12 82GP, 12g, 41pts, 45PIM, +16 69GP, 4g, 30pts, 37PIM, -4

The closest comparable to Weber as far as their stats in the years prior to signing their contracts is Phaneuf.  Their goal and point totals are very close though Phaneuf has far more PIMs and a better +/- rating.  Seabrook has lower point totals 2 and 3 years back and is much less of a goal scorer than Weber.  Yandle on the other hand signed his contract after a great 59 point season in which he was third in points by a defenseman.  He is a better goal scorer than Seabrook but not quite to the same level of Phaneuf and Weber and has a shorter track record of performance.

As far as contracts go, Phaneuf signed a 6 year contract with a cap hit of $6.5M,  Seabrook signed a 5 year deal with a cap hit of $5.8M, and Yandle signed a 5 year contract with a cap hit of $5.25M.  Based on the stats that can be used in any comparison, it is difficult to argue that Weber is measurably better than Phaneuf was in his pre-contract season(s).  From that one would suggest $6.5M is an upper limit on Weber’s contract.  Under normal circumstances one would suggest that Seabrook’s contract is a lower limit but we must remember that Seabrook’s contract eats up several seasons (4) where he could have had UFA status where as Weber’s contract only covers a single RFA season and Weber would still be an RFA next summer.  In that respect, Yandle’s contract might actually be a better comparable, plus is it based on more recent market conditions, not 3 years ago.  Yandle is one year younger than Weber and has 3 more RFA seasons to Weber’s 2.  Yandle’s contract pays him $4.75M, 5.0M, 5.25M, 5.5M and 5.75M over the next 5 seasons.  The overall average is $5.25M but his 3 RFA season average is $5.0M.

Two other possible comparable players are Duncan Keith and Dustin Byfuglien.  In Keith’s case he signed a 12 year deal with a cap hit of $5.538M but I really don’t know how to compare a 1 year deal with a 12 year deal.  In Byfuglien’s case he signed a 5 year deal with a cap hit of $5.2M but with his history of playing both forward and defense makes any comparison much more difficult.

So with that we have the best comparables being Phaneuf at $6.5M and Yandle at $5.25M and that I think is the range I think the arbitrator is looking at.  There is only one defenseman in the NHL with a cap hit over $7M (Brian Campbell at $7.142M) so I would be shocked if there was an award above $7M.  Furthermore, there are only 8 defensemen with a cap hit over $6M (Campbell, Chara, Bouwmeester, Boyle, Phaneuf, Redden -not really in NHL though, Timonen, Lidstrom) and only Phaneuf signed his contract as an RFA so even arguing that he is worth $6M is a tough sell IMO.  In the end I suspect Weber will get awarded a contract somewhere around the $6M point, possibly a little more, possible a little less.

Update:  The arbitrator awarded Weber a 1 year $7.5M contract.  This tells me that the arbitrator is using actual dollar figures in his decision and using players like Duncan Keith ($8M) and Seabrook ($7M) and their front loaded contracts.  This means front loaded contracts are hurting the NHL owners in arbitration now.  This means had Parise gone to arbitration he could have used Malkin ($9M) and Spezza ($8M) as comparables and got a contract significantly higher than the $6M he agreed to with the Devils.