Henrik Zetterberg Player Analysis

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May 162012

I have written a few controversial pieces here at HockeyAnalysis.com (for example, my post on Luke Schenn back when Leaf fans thought Schenn was the best thing since sliced bread) and I suspect this might generate some controversy as well because of the conclusions made about Zetterberg’s weak defensive ability.  I also want to do this post to show how I believe we should be doing player evaluation because I believe that most people evaluate players in a poor way.

The first thing I believe is that we must evaluate players based on goals and not corsi/fenwick/shots because there is ample evidence that players can influence shooting percentage (for example here and here) and there is some evidence that players can influence save percentage (for example here).  Because of this, conducting a corsi based analysis will not give you a complete view of a players ability, and I think you will see some of that with Zetterberg.  Furthermore, I believe to get a more full and complete understanding of a players abilities we need to evaluate the players defensive ability and offensive ability separately which is what I will do.

As we are dealing with goal data which can fluctuate from season to season it is best to conduct a multi-season analysis to observe the greater trends, not what could be somewhat luck driven single season results.  Let’s start by looking at Zetterberg’s goals for per 20 minutes (GF20) and goals against per 20 minutes (GA20) on-ice stats and see how they rank league wide and on the Red Wings.

Year GF20 Team Rank League Rank
2011-12 1.157 3 of 11 21 of 312
2010-11 0.931 6 of 12 99 of 321
2009-10 1.073 1 of 10 34 of 319
2008-09 0.860 7 of 12 135 of 318
2007-08 1.193 2 of 12 16 of 312
2009-12 (3yr) 1.054 27 of 295
2007-12 (5 yr) 1.045 23 of 274

The data above is for 5v5 zone start adjusted ice time and the ranks are among forwards with 500 minutes of ice time for single seasons, 1500 minutes for the 3 year average and 2500 minutes for the 5 year average.  As you can see, from the league-wide rankings we are taking the top 9 or 10 forwards on each team so we are getting the majority of the players who get regular shifts in the NHL.  As you can see, offensively Zetterberg performs quite well and while there is some year to year fluctuation, the overall trend is that he has awfully good on-ice offensive numbers.  Now let’s take a look defensively.

Year GA20 Team Rank League Rank
2011-12 0.840 10 of 11 193 of 312
2010-11 0.969 11 of 12 278 of 321
2009-10 0.970 9 of 10 275 of 319
2008-09 0.795 7 of 12 158 of 318
2007-08 0.638 10 of 12 65 of 312
2009-12 (3yr) 0.924 261 of 295
2007-12 (5 yr) 0.845 184 of 274

Defensively, he is not only generally among the worst on his team, he is generally speaking among the bottom half of the league, or worse.  Over the past 3 seasons he ranks 261st of 295 players in terms of GA20 which puts him in the bottom 12 percent which to many I think is surprisingly bad.

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