Jul 152014
 

Before I get into rush shots of individual players I am going to look at some teams. I am starting with the Columbus Blue Jackets which was suggested for me to look at by Jeff Townsend who was interested to see impact the decline of Steve Mason and then the transition to Bobrovsky had. Before we get to that though, let’s first look at the offensive side of things (and if you haven’t read my introductory pieces on rush shots read them here, here and here).

ColumbusRushShPct

The League data is league average over the past 7 seasons.

There is a lot of randomness happening here, particularly the rush shot shooting percentages. This could be due to randomness as sample size for single season 5v5 road data is getting pretty small, particularly for rush shot data. Having looked at a number of these charts I think sample size is definitely going to be an issue. They key will be looking for trends above and beyond the variability.

Now for save percentages.

ColumbusRushSvPct

This chart is definitely a little more stable. Steve Mason’s excellent rookie season was 2008-09 where he actually had a below average non-rush 5v5road save percentage but an above average rush save percentage. Columbus never again posted a rush save percentage anywhere close to league average until this past season. Interestingly, despite Bobrovsky’s good season in 2012-13 his 5v5road save percentage that year was somewhat average (at home it was outstanding though which just goes to show you how variable these things can be).

Let’s take a look at the percentage of shots that were rush shots for and against.

ColumbusRushPct

Not really sure what to read into that, but I thought I toss it out there for you.

Something that I haven’t looked at before is PDO which is the sum of shooting and save percentages. There is no reason we can’t do this for rush and non-rush shots so here is what it looks like for Columbus.

ColumbusRushPDO

Again, I am not sure what we can read into this PDO table. PDO is kind of an odd stat in my opinion. PDO typically gets used as a “luck” metric which it can be if it deviates from 100.0% significantly which is certainly the case for a couple of seasons of Rush Shot PDO.

I am still trying to figure out how useful any of this rush/non-rush information is. Certainly I think we hit some serious sample size issues when looking at a single seasons worth of road-only data and I think that puts some of the usefulness in question. I have done some year over year correlations and truthfully they aren’t very good. I think that is largely sample size related but I still think playing style and roster turnover can have significant impacts too. All that said, there is a clear difference between the difficulty of rush and non-rush shots and teams that can maximize the number of rush shots they take and minimize the number of rush shots against will be better off.

 

Jun 232014
 

More often than not the first thing I look at when I want to evaluate a player is their WOWY stats to see if the player boosts the performance of their teammates or suppress it when he is on the ice. Let’s take a look at a WOWY comparision of Umberger and Hartnell starting with some links to their WOWY pages.

When on any of those pages you can click “Visualize this table” to get some charts that I find are often a quick way of getting an overview of the player in question. For example, here is a CF% WOWY chart for Hartnell from last year.

Hartnell-CF-WOWY-2013-14

In these charts it is better to have bubbles below and to the right of the one-to-one diagonal line from that runs from the lower left to the upper right. For Hartnell in 2013-14 every single teammate was the the lower right of this diagonal line which is really good. Not a lot of players have charts this nice. If you go back and look at previous years you will see that Hartnell has accomplished this relatively consistently. This is a good thing. Now let’s take a look at Umberger’s.

Umberger-CF-WOWY-2013-14

That is a much less impressive chart as the majority of Umberger’s team mates have performed better when not playing with him. This is not good and yet is is fairly typical for Umberger to have WOWY charts that look like this.

This is a table of how Umberger’s line mates performed with and without Umberger last season. Listed are all forwards who played at least 100 minutes of 5v5 ice time with Umberger.

Line mate With Umberger Without Umberger
Ryan Johansen 50.2% 50.8%
Nick Foligno 50.4% 52.0%
Artem Anisimov 40.1% 53.3%
Blake Comeau 46.1% 54.6%
Mark Letestu 42.8% 52.1%

And now for Hartnell’s line mates who played at least 100 minutes with Hartnell last year.

Line mate With Hartnell Without Hartnell
Claude Giroux 55.7% 49.5%
Jakub Voracek 57.1% 52.5%
Brayden Schenn 51.9% 46.3%
Wayne Simmonds 53.9% 46.3%

Again, you can go back to previous seasons and the general trend for the two players is pretty much the same. Players perform worse when playing with Umberger than when not and players perform better when playing with Hartnell than when not.

From a WOWY perspective, Umberger is a below average player and Hartnell is an above average player. In fact there aren’t many players that have WOWY charts that look better than Hartnell’s except for the true star players (such as Toews, or Bergeron, or Kopitar, etc.).  Hartnell in my opinion is easily a top 6 player. Umberger I am not sure I’d really want on my team in any significant role. With this trade the Blue Jackets get better in two ways. First by adding a good player in Hartnell and second by subtracting a poor player in Umberger (classic case of addition by subtraction).

 

Feb 232012
 

The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kings for Jack Johnson and a first round pick.  When Johnson signed his current 7 year, $30.5M contract I wrote how I thought the Kings would regret the contract.  Now I think the Blue Jackets will.

Just how bad is Jack Johnson?  Well, lets take a look at the Kings defensemen’s goals against per 20 minutes of zone start adjusted 5v5 close ice time over the past 2 3/4 seasons.

Defenseman 11-12 GA20 Defenseman 10-11 GA20 Defenseman 09-10 GA20
Martinez 0.471 Martinez 0.465 Harrold 0.418
Voynov 0.473 Greene 0.580 Greene 0.451
Doughty 0.495 Drewiske 0.635 Doughty 0.499
Mitchell 0.504 Harrold 0.715 Scuderi 0.517
Scuderi 0.557 Mitchell 0.764 O’Donnell 0.543
Greene 0.571 Doughty 0.785 Drewiske 0.682
Johnson 0.727 Scuderi 0.831 Jones 0.755
Johnson 1.054 Johnson 0.906

Not only is Jack Johnson dead last in all three seasons, he is last by a sizeable margin.  Of the 7 Kings defensemen this year the spread between #1 Martinez and #6 Greene is smaller than the spread between #6 Greene and #7 Johnson.  The previous two seasons look no better.

But what is even more scary are Johnson’s offensive numbers.  Yeah, Johnson may be a question mark defensively but his offense helps offset some of that.  Well, so we thought.  Here are the goals for per 20 minutes of ice time numbers for Kings defensemen.

Defenseman 11-12 GF20 Defenseman 10-11 GF20 Defenseman 09-10 GF20
Voynov 1.014 Harrold 1.072 Scuderi 0.791
Martinez 0.848 Mitchell 1.030 Doughty 0.774
Greene 0.694 Doughty 0.999 O’Donnell 0.744
Doughty 0.637 Martinez 0.802 Drewiske 0.744
Mitchell 0.612 Drewiske 0.714 Greene 0.708
Scuderi 0.590 Scuderi 0.712 Johnson 0.647
Johnson 0.485 Greene 0.709 Jones 0.519
Johnson 0.671 Harrold 0.314

Dead last in 2 of the three seasons and only ahead of Randy Jones and Peter Harrold in 2009-10.  Certainly not something to write home about.  So, if Johnson isn’t helping his team score goals and isn’t helping his team limit goals against, he has to have a pretty terrible goals for percentage (goals for divided by goals for + goals against).  Let’s take a look.

Player Name GF% Player Name GF% Player Name GF%
Voynov 0.682 Martinez 0.633 Greene 0.611
Martinez 0.643 Harrold 0.600 Doughty 0.608
Doughty 0.562 Mitchell 0.574 Scuderi 0.605
Greene 0.548 Doughty 0.560 O’Donnell 0.578
Mitchell 0.548 Greene 0.550 Drewiske 0.522
Scuderi 0.514 Drewiske 0.529 Harrold 0.429
Johnson 0.400 Scuderi 0.462 Johnson 0.417
Johnson 0.389 Jones 0.407

It’s pretty sad when every other defenseman on your team has a goals for percentage above 50% and you sit at 40%.

It seems that Jack Johnson is a major drag on his team, especially defensively, but offensively as well.  The only redeeming quality of Jack Johnson on the ice is that he seems to be a good PP specialist.  I have often called Jack Johnson the $4.3M/yr version of Marc-Andre Bergeron but that might be unfair to Bergeron.  Getting rid of Johnson is addition by subtraction plus you are getting Jeff Carter for a mere first round pick which is a steal.

The Kings win this trade by a country mile while the Blue Jackets have set back their franchise years by the whole Carter fiasco which has seen them trade Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins (3rd round pick in 2011) for a horrid Jack Johnson and a mid first round pick.  Pretty sad for any Blue Jacket fan.

 

Feb 142012
 

So word has come out over the last day that Rick Nash is, at least on some level, available in a trade from the Blue Jackets.  So, the question is, who is Rick Nash and would you want him on your team?

Nash has been a Blue Jacket from the day he was drafted first overall in 2002.  He has played 648 regular season games and has scored 277 goals and 527 points.  Since the lockout he is 10th in goals (only Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Heatley, Iginla, Staal, Lecavalier, Marleau, Vanek and Hossa) and 25 in points.  He has a pair of 40+ goals seasons and has been a 30+ goal scorer six times.  He has just 4 NHL playoff games under his belt when he scored 1 goal and a pair of assists.  He was a member of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team scoring a pair of goals and 3 assists in 7 games on route to the gold medal.  That is the raw facts that we all know about Nash.  But what about advanced statistics.

Here are my HockeyAnalysis ratings for Rick Nash over the past 4 seasons plus this season as well as his 2007-11 four year average.

2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2007-11 (4yr)
HARO+ 0.991 1.070 1.257 1.502 1.079 1.200
HARO+ rank 142/235 118/241 59/245 8/260 116/229 60/217
HARD+ 0.827 0.992 0.802 0.882 0.732 0.895
HARD+ rank 164/235 96/241 196/245 162/260 197/229 162/217
HART+ 0.909 1.031 1.030 1.192 0.905 1.047
HART+ rank 172/235 115/241 123/245 36/260 169/229 95/217

HARO+ is an offensive rating, HARD+ is a defensive rating and HART+ is his total/overall rating which is simply an average of his HARO+ and HARD+ ratings.  These ratings are for 5v5 close zone adjusted situations and the rank includes any players who played 400 ore more minutes in single seasons, 300 minutes for 2011-12 partial season (through this past Saturday’s games) and 1500 minutes for the 4 year average.  These ratings take into account quality of teammates and quality of competition.

 

Overall in 5v5 close situations Rick Nash looks to be a solid offensive player, but not elite overall and defensively he is relatively weak.

To put Nash’s 4 year numbers in perspective, the most closely ranked players in terms of HARO+ are Cammalleri, Weiss, Hemsky, Jussi Jokinen, Vanek, Boyes, Bertuzzi, Grabovski, Alfredsson and Parise.

How about Nash’s 5v4 power play numbers.

5v4 HARO+
2007-08 1.010
2008-09 0.853
2009-10 1.203
2010-11 0.902
2011-12 0.951
2007-11 (4yr) 0.967
2007-11 rank (500 min.) 154/184
2007-11 rank (750 min.) 92/99

Generally speaking, his PP numbers are quite poor relative to other top PP forwards.

An interesting comparable is Joffrey Lupul.  It is an interesting comparable because it is quite likely that the Leafs will have an interest in Rick Nash and also because Lupul is an interesting case because he has really had a break through season this year.  Or so it seems anyway.

Nash Lupul
2007-11 5v5close HARO+ 1.200 1.385
2007-11 5v5 HARO+ 1.080 1.118
2007-11 5v4 HARO+ 0.967 1.246

It’s interesting that Joffrey Lupul ranked better than Nash in each of the three categories.  Due to injury Lupul didn’t put up 1500 minutes of 5v5 close ice time (he had 1374:44), but of all 251 players to play 1350 minutes of 5v5 close ice time Lupul ranked 10th.  When looking at these numbers it is actually not a surprise to see Lupul tied for 5th in points and 17th in goals.  He is finally being given an opportunity to play big time first line minutes with offensive zone starts and #1 PP unit ice time and as a result, he is producing.

So, getting back to Nash, let’s take a look at how he has done with his various linemates over the previous four seasons.  Here are the scoring rates (goals for per 20 minutes) for all the forwards who have played at least 250 minites of 5v5 close zone adjusted minutes during the 2007-11 four year time period.

Linemate TOI Together Nash /wo Linemate Linemate /wo Nash
Huselius 969:45 0.969 0.938 0.907
Vermette 607:35 0.757 1.016 0.782
Umberger 448:34 0.803 0.985 0.845
Brassard 441:22 1.359 0.860 0.930
Voracek 426:33 1.313 0.873 1.020
Malhotra 425:06 0.894 0.963 0.790

Nash played best when he was paired up with Voracek and Brassard and only Voracek, Brassard and Huselius made Nash a better offensive player when playing with him.  Vermette, Umberger and Malhotra were drags on his offensive numbers.  When playing apart, Voracek’s numbers are better than Nash’s.  Same for Brassard’s (who is doing it again this year, 0.782 GF20 vs Nash’s 0.613 when apart).  As an aside, the numbers suggest that Voracek is a very good offensive player  and it was probably a big mistake to trade him.  It also suggest that the Flyers aren’t getting full value from him by playing him primarily with Maxime Talbot.  If someone acquired Voracek and put him in the right situations, he could be the next Joffrey Lupul.

So, to summarize, yes Nash is a good offensive player who may put up better numbers playing with better offensive players but he is probably not an elite offensive forward.  Also, he isn’t a great defensive forward so offense really is what you get him for.  If I were Columbus I would be willing to trade him if I can get a quality NHL ready player capable of playing in their top 6 forwards, a top tier prospect and a first round pick.  If I were other teams, I would be very wary of over paying because he is not an elite player but he is paid like one ($7.8M cap hit for 6 more seasons).

 

 

Mar 042009
 

Another defenseman has dropped off the trade market as the Ottawa Senators have supposedly signed Filip Kuba to a 3 year, $3.7 million per year contract.  I can’t say that this is a bad deal, but if I was a Senators fan I would really question whether it is intelligent to lock up more players on a team that has been one of the worst teams in the NHL for nearly two full years now.

Also just in, the Senators have traded Antoine Vermette to Columbus for Pascal Leclaire and a second round pick.  This trade makes more sense because the Senators so desperately need a top goalie, but the jury is still out whether Leclaire can be that guy.  He had a very good year last year but has been mediocre otherwise and has been injured most of this season.  This is a gamble that the Senators probably need to make, but is far from a sure thing.  The second round pick makes the gamble worth while.

The bad news for the Senators is they now have 9 players signed through 2010-11 for about $38.6 million in cap space.  If, as some expect, the salary cap drops significantly (possibly beloe $50 million) that won’t leave much cap space left to fill out a roster that still lacks a second line center and a top defenseman.  The players signed are Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza, Fisher, Kelly, Ruuttu, Kuba, Phillips and Leclaire.

Nov 282007
 

A couple days ago I wrote an article about the Leafs problems and mentioned that it is probably time for John Ferguson Jr. to be let go whether he deserves it or not. But after listening and reading media reports over the past coupld days I think firing John Ferguson Jr. would be a mistake, at least at this time. I have come to the conclusion that there are two problems with the Leafs.

1. Larry Tanenbaum

From all reports it is Larry Tanenbaum who most wants John Ferguson Jr. relieved of his duties as General Manager and it was Tanenbaum who pushed for the search for someone to ‘help’ JFJ last summer which Bowman, Muckler and possible others turned down because they thought it would be an unworkable relationship. And media reports now say that it is Tanenbaum that is approaching former NHLers like Glen Healey, Mark Messier and others about being a part of a GM by committee setup. These moves have undermined the authority of Richard Peddie, JFJ and in turn Paul Maurice. I know the saying ‘the players are professionals and should play hard and determined regardless’ but when you bosses today may not be your bosses tomorrow it is natural for humans to lose some moral and lose some sense of a ‘team’ atmosphere and in a highly competitive league even a small amount of moral drop can have an impact on the ice. It also should be stated that it was probably Larry Tanenbaum who pushed for the resigning of his close friend Tie Domi (which was a failure) and it was Tie Domi, possibly in conjunction with Tanenbaum, that pushed for the signing of Eric Lindros. Because of these situations I believe that Larry Tanenbaum is bad for the Leafs organization. Crazy as it sounds but we should all be pulling for Richard Peddie and the Teachers Pension Plan in this power struggle and the reason is, the Teachers Pension Plan is not going to meddle in hockey decisions like Tanenbaum apparently has and still is.

BTW, yesterday’s hiring JFJ was a mistake quote by Peddie, which was taken in the completely wrong way by the media (as usual), was really a shot at Tanenbaum and his plan to bring in a group of mostly inexperienced ex players by saying that Toronto is no place for rookie GMs.

2. Paul Maurice

Paul Maurice must go and last nights game is a perfect reason why. The Leafs lost 4-3 in the shootout while the powerplay went 0 for 4 and the penalty kill allowed 2 Montreal powerplay goals. There is no reason why the Leafs should be 29th in the NHL on the powerplay or 20th in the NHL on the penalty kill. I feel special teams are two aspects of the game that can be greatly impacted by good coaching and the Montreal Canadiens are a perfect example. Based on talent and 5 on 5 play there is no reason to expect the Canadiens would be the best power play team in the league but they play a smart system that exposes opposing teams weakness of being a man down. The same can be said for the penalty kill but what really really irks me about Maurice is the Leafs failures in the shootout. The Leafs have a dreadful shootout record having gone 4-10 under Maurice. It would be fine if the Leafs just weren’t good in the shootout but if you are not good and you don’t practice it, that is unforgiveable. After a recent shootout loss Mats Sundin had the following to say:

“We finished one point out of the playoffs last year so each one of these is so important. What do you say? Maybe we have to work on it more in practice.”

to which Paul Maurice commented:

Hey, if the players want it, then we’ll do it on a daily basis

Last time I checked Paul Maurice is the coach and Paul Maurice should be the once deciding what is important to practice and what should not be. His ‘Ah, whatever they want’ attitude is not good enough and in my mind is enough to get him fired.

Now I really don’t know what Maurice does in practice but if one half of every practice is not devoted to improving special teams and shootouts then he isn’t doing enough. The NHL is in many ways special teams league now and good special teams is often the difference between winning and losing. Just look at last night. Maurice should be fired for not taking special teams and shootouts seriously enough.

A Small Ray of Hope

In order to not be completely negative I thought I would toss in a small ray of hope for Leaf fans. Yesterday I wrote about the importance of goaltending and the good news is that Toskala is showing some positive signs with respect to being at least an average starter in the NHL and average goaltending would be a huge improvement over what Raycroft brings. Over Toskala’s last 6 outings (5 starts and one relief of Raycroft early in the Phoenix game) Toskala has a .918 save percentage and a 2.16 goals against average which is more than respectable.