NHL Award Winners – Statistically Speaking

Here is my take on the major NHL awards from a statistical point of view.  To determine which players will get consideration an award I took a look at their 5v5 zone start adjusted HART+ and FenHART+ ratings.  These ratings are based on goal and fenwick stats respectively and take into consideration quality of teammates and quality of opposition.  To be considered, a player needs to rank highly in both.

Norris Trophy

The following table is the top 15 defensemen in my HART+ ranking system along with their FenHART+ rank.  Only defensemen with 1000 minutes are considered.

Defenseman HARO+ HARD+ HART+ FenHART+ Rank
P.K. Subban 1.243 1.238 1.241 40
Zdeno Chara 1.398 1.025 1.211 1
Kevin Shattenkirk 1.067 1.346 1.206 19
Dan Hamhuis 1.346 1.055 1.2 13
Josh Gorges 1.168 1.232 1.2 43
Barret Jackman 0.984 1.405 1.194 18
Johnny Boychuk 1.328 1.003 1.165 2
Shea Weber 1.136 1.173 1.155 21
Filip Kuba 1.352 0.952 1.152 54
Willie Mitchell 0.92 1.365 1.143 26
Ian White 1.271 0.979 1.125 8
Erik Karlsson 1.334 0.901 1.117 11
Michael Del Zotto 1.14 1.079 1.109 64
Lubomir Visnovsky 1.148 1.07 1.109 33
Roman Hamrlik 1.194 1.021 1.107 34

The following is the top 15 defensemen in FenHART+ along with their HART+ rank.

Defenseman FenHARO+ FenHARD+ FenHART+ HART+ Rank
Zdeno Chara 1.142 1.145 1.143 2
Johnny Boychuk 1.113 1.149 1.131 6
Nicklas Lidstrom 1.173 1.053 1.113 19
Alex Goligoski 1.111 1.086 1.098 35
Brent Seabrook 1.127 1.067 1.097 16
Paul Martin 1.161 1.025 1.093 55
Alex Pietrangelo 1.13 1.035 1.082 17
Ian White 1.053 1.093 1.073 12
Drew Doughty 1.095 1.041 1.068 54
Marc-Edouard Vlasic 1.062 1.063 1.063 31
Erik Karlsson 1.151 0.968 1.06 13
Niklas Hjalmarsson 0.947 1.171 1.059 23
Dan Hamhuis 1.026 1.089 1.058 4
Kevin Bieksa 1.074 1.04 1.057 26
Brent Burns 1.161 0.945 1.053 32

The defensemen that are on both lists and deserve consideration are Chara, Hamhuis, Karlsson, Boychuk and White.  Others worth considering are Lidstrom, Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo, Jackman, Weber and Hjalmarsson because they rank in the top 25 on both lists.  I am going to disqualify Boychuk and White from any further consideration because they play with Chara and Lidstrom respectively and I’ll give more credit to those two for their success.  Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo and Jackman all play for the Blues so it is difficult to decide who, if anyone, deserves further consideration.  Shattenkirk plays his regular shift with Jackman while Pietrangelo is paired with Colaiacovo.  Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk play a lot on the powerplay and all three play on the penalty kill but Jackman and Pietrangelo get more time than Shattenkirk.  Since Pietrangelo plays a more significant role on special teams I’ll take him as the Blues Norris trophy candidate.

So, that leaves us with Chara, Hamhuis, Karlsson, Lidstrom, Pietrangelo, Weber and Hjalmarsson.  I think if I had a vote I would rank them.

  1. Zdeno Chara
  2. Nik Lidstrom
  3. Dan Hamhuis
  4. Alex Pietrangelo
  5. Erik Karlsson
  6. Shea Weber
  7. Niklas Hjalmarsson

Hart Trophy (MVP)

I am going to take the stand that the Hart Trophy should go to a forward, but I do think Chara should get some consideration.  In any event, lets look at how the top 20 forwards stack up.

Forward HARO+ HARD+ HART+ FenHART+ Rank
Ray Whitney 1.447 1.258 1.353 30
Patrice Bergeron 1.347 1.257 1.302 2
Patrick Sharp 1.559 1.01 1.284 12
Chris Kelly 1.349 1.219 1.284 88
Johan Franzen 1.254 1.306 1.28 8
Tyler Seguin 1.598 0.932 1.265 3
Pavel Datsyuk 1.18 1.328 1.254 1
Todd Bertuzzi 1.24 1.259 1.25 41
Radim Vrbata 1.254 1.243 1.249 76
Teddy Purcell 1.507 0.94 1.224 83
Henrik Sedin 1.348 1.085 1.217 28
Chris Kunitz 1.457 0.96 1.209 5
Brad Marchand 1.366 1.049 1.207 7
Dustin Brown 1.186 1.227 1.206 27
Joe Thornton 1.213 1.19 1.201 15
Alex Burrows 1.198 1.201 1.199 46
Ryan Kesler 0.97 1.427 1.198 14
Scott Hartnell 1.381 0.996 1.189 38
Steven Stamkos 1.48 0.887 1.183 92
Evgeni Malkin 1.493 0.864 1.179 10
Forward FenHARO+ FenHARD+ FenHART+ HART+ Rank
Pavel Datsyuk 1.131 1.279 1.205 7
Patrice Bergeron 1.17 1.171 1.171 2
Tyler Seguin 1.146 1.174 1.16 6
Justin Williams 1.266 1.045 1.155 60
Chris Kunitz 1.226 1.052 1.139 12
Anze Kopitar 1.216 1.039 1.128 58
Brad Marchand 1.13 1.117 1.123 13
Johan Franzen 1.068 1.177 1.123 5
Kyle Wellwood 1.174 1.063 1.118 57
Evgeni Malkin 1.202 1.028 1.115 20
Henrik Zetterberg 1.13 1.099 1.114 39
Patrick Sharp 1.134 1.082 1.108 3
Alexei Ponikarovsky 1.057 1.156 1.106 138
Ryan Kesler 1.122 1.088 1.105 17
Joe Thornton 1.168 1.037 1.103 15
James Neal 1.185 1.018 1.101 38
Logan Couture 1.14 1.061 1.1 92
David Backes 1.134 1.055 1.095 69
Viktor Stalberg 1.185 1.001 1.093 95
Gabriel Landenskog 1.111 1.074 1.093 30

The players that appear on both lists are Bergeron, Sharp, Franzen, Seguin, Datsyuk, Kunitz, Marchand, Thornton, Kesler, and Malkin.  Of the three Bruins, I will select Bergeron as the representative MVP candidate, of the two Red Wings I’ll select Datsyuk and of the two Penguins I’ll select Malkin.  Here is how my vote would go for the remaining MVP candidates.

  1. Datsyuk
  2. Bergeron
  3. Thornton
  4. Kopitar
  5. Sharp
  6. Malkin
I am pretty sure that this is not how the vote will go.  Stamkos will certainly get a lot of consideration but my argument against him is I feel his lack of defensive responsibility and puck control ability should eliminate him from contention and he’ll already get recognized for his goal scoring ability with the Rocket Richard trophy.  The MVP should not just be awarded to the best goal scorer, or even best offensive player.  The MVP is about the most valuable, or best overall, player.  Some of the same arguments against Stamkos can also be made for Malkin.  Excellent offensive ability, but lacking defensively.  Datsyuk and Bergeron are far more well rounded players, as are Thornton, Kopitar and Sharp (who really had an excellent year and is a vastly underrated player).

Selke Trophy

For the Selke trophy I just considered a forwards HARD+ and FenHARD+ rankings.  Here are the top 15 for each.
Forward HARD+ FenHARD+ Rank Forward FenHARD+ HARD+ Rank
Ryan Kesler 1.427 21 Pavel Datsyuk 1.279 2
Pavel Datsyuk 1.328 1 David Clarkson 1.183 32
Johan Franzen 1.306 3 Johan Franzen 1.177 3
Artem Anisimov 1.29 17 Tyler Seguin 1.174 77
Brandon Sutter 1.284 132 Patrice Bergeron 1.171 10
Brandon Dubinsky 1.271 19 Dainius Zubrus 1.161 54
Samuel Pahlsson 1.266 32 Patrik Elias 1.157 81
Todd Bertuzzi 1.259 13 Alexei Ponikarovsky 1.156 67
Ray Whitney 1.258 93 Adam Henrique 1.139 93
Patrice Bergeron 1.257 5 Petr Sykora 1.127 51
Derek Stepan 1.249 59 Frans Nielson 1.125 39
Radim Vrbata 1.243 139 Daniel Sedin 1.122 38
Dustin Brown 1.227 55 Todd Bertuzzi 1.119 8
Chris Kelly 1.219 30 Brad Marchand 1.117 37
Alex Burrows 1.201 23 Zach Parise 1.105 63

Only Datsyuk, Franzen, Bertuzzi and Bergeron appear on both lists but Kesler, Anisimov, Dubinsky, and Burrows also do quite well in both.  Since this is a defensive forward award I decided it would be worth while looking at the top forwards in terms of 4v5 penalty kill ice time so here they are along with their 5v5 HARD+ and FenHARD+ ratings.

(As an aside, the FenHARD+ list is an example of one reason why I don’t like fenwick/corsi for individual player evaluation.  There are 7 Devils, 3 Red Wings, 3 Bruins listed in the top 15 which tells me that fenwick/corsi, at least defensive fenwick/corsi, is more of a team stat than an individual stat and based on the teams style of play as opposed to the players individual talent.)

Forward HARD+ FenHARD+
Sean Couturier 1.276 1.177
Boyd Gordon 1.239 0.872
Erik Condra 1.146 1.062
Matt Read 1.097 1.104
Daniel Winnick 0.98 0.984
Craig Adams 0.968 1.167
Lauri Korpikoski 0.93 0.796
Darroll Powe 0.921 0.93
Brooks Laich 0.893 0.966
Shawn Horcoff 0.886 0.946
Matt Cooke 0.841 1.093
Ryan Jones 0.83 0.929
Jay McLement 0.822 0.998
Tomas Plekanec 0.797 0.928
Maxime Talbot 0.793 1.045

There are only three players who have a HARD+ and a FenHARD+ rating above 1.00 and interestingly those are all rookies:  Couturier, Condra and Read.  It’s pretty rare that young forwards are excellent defensive forwards who get relied on for big time minutes on the power play but the Flyers had 2 such players and the Flyers finished middle of the pack in PK success rate (81.8%) despite questionable goaltending for about 3/4 of the season.  Remarkable really.  So, taking those three players into consideration along with the players from the above 5v5 lists my Selke vote might go something like this.

  1. Pavel Datsyuk
  2. Patrice Bergeron
  3. Sean Couturier
  4. Ryan Kesler
  5. Artem Anisimov
  6. Erik Condra

Vezina Trophy

The following is a list of the top 28 goalies in terms of 5v5 face off adjusted ice time along with their save percentage and HARD+ ratings and rankings.

Goalie Save% HARD+ Sv% Rank HARD+ Rank AvgRank
HALAK, JAROSLAV 93.44 1.198 1 1 1
QUICK, JONATHAN 93.02 1.191 3 2 2.5
SMITH, MIKE 93.33 1.072 2 5 3.5
LUNDQVIST, HENRIK 92.12 1.101 5 4 4.5
BACKSTROM, NIKLAS 92.51 1.049 4 6 5
HOWARD, JIMMY 91.73 1.113 12 3 7.5
KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA 91.97 1.048 8 7 7.5
THEODORE, JOSE 92.05 1.041 7 9 8
LEHTONEN, KARI 91.8 1.048 11 8 9.5
MILLER, RYAN 92.07 0.978 6 15 10.5
NIEMI, ANTTI 91.82 0.993 10 13 11.5
VOKOUN, TOMAS 91.72 0.996 13 12 12.5
LUONGO, ROBERTO 91.55 1.004 16 11 13.5
RINNE, PEKKA 91.94 0.948 9 19 14
BRYZGALOV, ILYA 91.13 1.01 21 10 15.5
PRICE, CAREY 91.6 0.944 15 20 17.5
THOMAS, TIM 91.03 0.98 22 14 18
DUBNYK, DEVAN 91.43 0.949 18 18 18
VARLAMOV, SEMYON 91.14 0.952 20 17 18.5
PAVELEC, ONDREJ 91.69 0.931 14 23 18.5
FLEURY, MARC-ANDRE 90.73 0.96 24 16 20
ANDERSON, CRAIG 91.44 0.916 17 24 20.5
GARON, MATHIEU 90.43 0.936 25 21 23
WARD, CAM 91.23 0.86 19 27 23
HILLER, JONAS 90.9 0.914 23 25 24
CRAWFORD, COREY 90.17 0.934 27 22 24.5
BRODEUR, MARTIN 89.64 0.897 28 26 27
MASON, STEVE 90.41 0.793 26 28 27

Based on the above list Halak should be the Vezina trophy winner but Halak has only played 46 games while most of the other goalies near the top have played 65+.  Depending on how you want to factor in games played I think you could award Halak the Vezina or maybe not even consider him at all.  If I had a vote, this is how my vote would go:

  1. Jonathan Quick
  2. Mike Smith
  3. Henrik Lundqvist
  4. Jaroslav Halak
  5. Miikka Kiprusoff
  6. Jimmy Howard
  7. Jose Theodore


This article has 7 Comments

  1. Great break down.
    I am especially glad to see that Pavel Datsyuk is getting
    the praise he deserves.He ought to have won a Hart by now?
    Det. possession stats took a plunge when he got hurt.
    He is such a key to Detroit’s success.The award is most valuable to his team.Since defense accounts for almost a s much as offense (A. Ryder came up with Offense 45% Defense 40% goalie 15%) And, since Datsyuk as you have show is so strong defensively, for me he is a clear winner. Malkin (isn’t used in defensive situations, is not good on draws etc)

    My only beef? is the Vezina.
    My research included adjustments for shot against and shots against in close situations. The rationale is that it is easier to play behind stronger defensive teams.And, we should give credit to an individual player for the performance of his team.
    Quick has played behind ~4th best defense in shots against and shots against close. Lundqvist, and Blues pair of goalies have also played behind strong defensive teams)
    while Smith has played against the ~27th best team defence
    They have played similar GP and even sve% and Pk save % are very close.

    Therefore, Mike Smith ought to be is a clear Vezina winner.
    Your thoughts?

    I actually will have post up in a day or two shortly on why Quick is overrated?

    1. To me, I think Datsyuk has been the best all-round forward in the NHL since the lockout. It’s unfortunate that the more pure offensive guys get the attention because Datsyuk clearly deserve it. Offensive forwards already have trophies for most points and most goals and defensive guys have the Selke, the MVP should be going to the best all-round forward.

      As for the goalies, I think you can make a case for any of Quick, Smith, Lundqvist and maybe even Halak if his low games played doesn’t deter you. Be careful evaluating defense by shots against, especially if you aren’t taking into account score factors. More shots does not necessarily mean tougher shots. As I have said before, separating the talents of the goalie from the talents of the team defense in front of him might be the toughest question in hockey stats to answer.

      In terms of Opposition GF20, Lundqvist faces the toughest opposition, followed by Quick, Smith and Halak. Smith and Halak actually face relatively weak opposition in terms of GF20. All four teams play a defense first system, though maybe the Rangers and Kings a little less so and Quick had to play behind Jack Johnson, one of the worst defensive defensemen in the league, for much of the season. It is really a tough call and I don’t think you can go wrong with any of Quick, Lundqvist or Smith and if you don’t mind the low games played, Halak too.

  2. Agreed Datsyuk is hall of fame material.

    ” Be careful evaluating defense by shots against,”

    Thanks for you response. we will have to agree to disagree.
    I was using total shots against. And,obviously, I do believe this is
    indicative of shot quality.Brian Elliot 11 vs.12 is extreme example.
    This year 4 shots a game over 82 games is huge.300+ more shots.
    Lets assume over the season teams can’t influence shot quality at all then More shots means more tougher shots unless you contend that certain teams allow lower quality shots?
    Also, I contend teams with higher possession have less opportunity for high quality chances against detroit a few years back and NJ are extreme. I know you don’t agree on this one.I still need to do more work to have stronger evidence.
    thanks Dan

  3. Sorry, David, I forgot to ask,

    Do you think that teams can lower shot quality
    Case in point Hitchcock St. Louis this yr.

    I guess the trick is to tease out which teams are?

    1. I believe so yes though I have found it difficult to prove. But when you see Bryzgalov go from a very good save percentage in Phoenix to looking dreadful at times in Philly and then see Mike Smith who looked like his career as an NHL starter might be over go to Phoenix and look like a star you have to wonder.

      Offensive players generally have poor on-ice save percentages while defensive third liners often have good on-ice save percentages even if they often get matched up against offensive players. The reason is style of play. The defensive guys play a low risk low reward game while the offensive guys play a high risk high reward game (this is why Datsyuk is so good, he can do both simultaneously). Teams can do that too. Dave Tippett was known as a defense first coach in Dallas (he got fired in part because management wanted a more entertaining game to attract fans) and when he went to Phoenix he did the same thing. Under Ken Hitchcock Steve Mason as a rookie had a .916 save percentage and 10 shut outs but his numbers have been dropping ever since. Now Hitchcock goes to St. Louis and they are the best defensive team in the league and their goalies are putting up stellar save percentages. Brian Elliot has had a couple of seasons not unlike Mike Smith but he has a .940 save percentage this year. Coincidence? Luck? Or is there something to it?

      I have believed this for a long time, but it seems others may be coming around. The blogger at http://brodeurisafraud.blogspot.ca who hasn’t believed in shot quality is now starting to wonder if it is possible. In his post about the Vezina trophy he wrote the following:

      “As an aside, this season has made me wonder at times whether we can continue to rely on the general assumption that EV shot quality is relatively constant between teams. The two major pieces of evidence in that direction are probably St. Louis’ 2011-12 goalie stats and the conference splits displayed above. In the aggregate I think 5 on 5 shot quality is still probably not all that important for most of the league, but if there are some significant effects on the margins that would be important to know for goalie evaluation.”

      I think eventually we will all realize that shot quality exists and needs to be taken into account. I have been fighting this battle for a long time now, but I am starting to think we may be approaching the tipping point where more and more people start coming on board. That is my hope anyway.

  4. great response!
    I Have always believed in shot quality from an instinctive point of view and from watching thousands of games. I was quite surprised to find out the resistance to it. I agree things might be turning.
    Let’s hope! I also feel the same with Possession stats. There is something missing in the way they are applied. I’m still working on
    finalizing my insight on score effects..
    Thanks dan

  5. “More shots does not necessarily mean tougher shots”

    this implies teams can control quality of shots but allow quantity.
    But the generally agreed defensive specialists Lemaire/Hitch/Sutter
    have usually showed reduction in shot quantity.

    I feel this is highly unlikely. To much can happen if a team allows
    quanity shots /rebounds/deflections. I can’t see this as a viable coaching strategy? But could be wrong? If a team can’t control
    quality only quantity then Smith deserves Vezina.

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