Apr 172013
 

Even though I am a proponent of shot quality and the idea that the percentages matter (shooting and save percentage) puck control and possession are still an important part of the game and the Maple Leafs are dreadful at it. One of the better easily available metrics for measuring possession is fenwick percentage (FF%) which is a measure of the percentage shot attempts (shots + shots that missed the net) that your team took. So a FF% of 52% would mean your team took 52% of the shots while the opposing team took 48% of the shots. During 5v5 situations this season the Maple Leafs have a FF% of 44.4% which is dead last in the NHL. So, who are the biggest culprits in dragging down the Maple Leafs possession game? Let’s take a look.

Forwards

Player Name FF% TMFF% OppFF% FF% – TMFF% FF%-TMFF%+OppFF%-0.5
MACARTHUR, CLARKE 0.485 0.44 0.507 0.045 0.052
KESSEL, PHIL 0.448 0.404 0.507 0.044 0.051
KOMAROV, LEO 0.475 0.439 0.508 0.036 0.044
KADRI, NAZEM 0.478 0.444 0.507 0.034 0.041
GRABOVSKI, MIKHAIL 0.45 0.424 0.508 0.026 0.034
VAN_RIEMSDYK, JAMES 0.456 0.433 0.508 0.023 0.031
FRATTIN, MATT 0.475 0.448 0.504 0.027 0.031
LUPUL, JOFFREY 0.465 0.445 0.502 0.02 0.022
BOZAK, TYLER 0.437 0.453 0.508 -0.016 -0.008
KULEMIN, NIKOLAI 0.421 0.454 0.51 -0.033 -0.023
ORR, COLTON 0.401 0.454 0.5 -0.053 -0.053
MCLAREN, FRAZER 0.388 0.443 0.501 -0.055 -0.054
MCCLEMENT, JAY 0.368 0.459 0.506 -0.091 -0.085

FF% is the players FF% when he is on the ice expressed in decimal form. TMFF% is an average of the players team mates FF% when they are not playing with the player in question (i.e. what his team mates do when they are separated from them, or a quality of teammate metric). OppFF% is an average of the players opponents FF% (i.e. a quality of competition metric). From those base stats I took FF% – TMFF% which will tell us which players perform better than their teammates do when they aren’t playing with him (the higher the better). Finally I factored in OppFF% by adding in how much above 50% their opposition is on average. This will get us an all encompassing stat to indicate who are the drags on the Leafs possession game.

Jay McClement is the Leafs greatest drag on possession. A few weeks ago I posted an article visually showing how much of a drag on possession McClement has been this year and in previous years. McClement’s 5v5 FF% over the past 6 seasons are 46.2%, 46.8%, 45.3%, 47.5%, 46,2% and 36.8% this season.

Next up are the goons, Orr and McLaren which is probably no surprise. They are more interested in looking for the next hit/fight than they are the puck. In general they are low minute players so their negative impact is somewhat mitigated but they are definite drags on possession.

Kulemin is the next biggest drag on possession which might come as a bit of a surprise considering that he has generally been fairly decent in the past. Looking at the second WOWY chart here you can see that nearly every player has a worse CF% (same as FF% but includes shots that have been blocked) with Kulemin than without except for McClement and to a much smaller extent Liles. This is dramatically different than previous seasons  (see second chart again) when the majority of players did equally well or better with Kulemin save for Grabovski. Is Kulemin having an off year? It may seem so.

Next up is my favourite whipping boy Tyler Bozak. Bozak is and has always been a drag on possession. Bozak ranks 293 of 312 forwards in FF% this season (McClement is dead last!) and in the previous 2 seasons he ranked 296th of 323 players.

Among forwards, McClement, McLaren, Orr, Kulemin and Bozak appear to be the biggest drags on the Maple Leafs possession game this season.

Defense

Player Name FF% TMFF% OppFF% FF% – TMFF% FF%-TMFF%+OppFF%-0.5
FRANSON, CODY 0.469 0.437 0.506 0.032 0.038
GARDINER, JAKE 0.463 0.44 0.506 0.023 0.029
KOSTKA, MICHAEL 0.459 0.435 0.504 0.024 0.028
GUNNARSSON, CARL 0.455 0.437 0.506 0.018 0.024
FRASER, MARK 0.461 0.445 0.506 0.016 0.022
LILES, JOHN-MICHAEL 0.445 0.443 0.503 0.002 0.005
PHANEUF, DION 0.422 0.455 0.509 -0.033 -0.024
HOLZER, KORBINIAN 0.399 0.452 0.504 -0.053 -0.049
O_BYRNE, RYAN 0.432 0.505 0.499 -0.073 -0.074

O’Byrne is a recent addition to the Leafs defense so you can’t blame the Leafs possession woes on him, but in Colorado he was a dreadful possession player so he won’t be the answer to the Leafs possession woes either.

Korbinian Holzer was dreadful in a Leaf uniform this year and we all know that so no surprise there but next up is Dion Phaneuf, the Leafs top paid and presumably best defenseman. In FF%-TMFF%+OppFF%-0.5 Phaneuf ranked a little better the previous 2 seasons (0.023 and 0.003) so it is possible that he is having an off year or had his stats dragged down a bit by Holzer but regardless, he isn’t having a great season possession wise.

 

 

Mar 152013
 

A few people didn’t like that I suggested that Jay McClement was a bad player in yesterday’s Mikhail Grabovski post so I thought I would provide a visual representation of McClement’s  mediocrity in the form of 5v5 Zone Start adjusted CF% WOWY charts for each of the past 6 seasons (this season included).

Let’s start with this current season even though the sample size is relatively small and so the number of line mates with a reasonable number of minutes with McClement is relatively small.

McClementCFPctWOWY201213

In this chart, it is better for McClement to have the bubbles below and to the right of the diagional line indicating his teammates corsi for % improved when they were on the ice with McClement. As you can see, none did.

So, what about previous seasons?

Continue reading »

Mar 142013
 

Mikhail Grabovski is starting to get a little heat in Toronto. The other night against Winnipeg he benched for a good chunk of the game and people are starting to question what is wrong with Grabovski this season. Truth is, there is probably nothing wrong with Grabovski except for his line mate Jay McClement.

When one looks at Grabovski’s stats this season you will actually see that his 5v5 Goals/60 is actually up this year to 0.946 goals per 60 minutes of play from 0.895 last year and 0.924 the year before so his 5v5 goal production is certainly there. It is his assist totals that are down dramatically. The problem is his most frequent line mates are Nikolai Kulemin, Jay McClement and Leo Komarov, none of which are dynamic offensive players. McClement has never scored more than 12 goals in any season in his career and Kulemen had a 30 goal season in 2010-11 but never more than 16 otherwise and has just 9 goals in his last 97 games and Komarov is a rookie not known for his offensive ability. You can’t expect Grabovski, who probably isn’t a dynamic playmaking center to start with, to rack up a lot of assists with a pair of third line players on his wing.

On top of that, Jay McClement is actually a pretty bad hockey player. When the Leafs signed McClement in the summer I questioned the signing because he had terrible numbers in Colorado the previous 2 seasons.  In fact, over the past 2 seasons in Colorado and St. Louis he was 4th last in the league in 5v5 ZS Adjusted goals against per 20 minutes (sadly ahead of only Kessel, Bozak and Lupul). He also ranked 230th of 258 in terms of fenwick % over those 2 years. This season he is last on the Leafs in zone start adjusted fenwick % at a terrible 41.1%.

On top of McClement being pretty bad, the player McClement replaced on that line, Clarke MacArthur, is pretty good. MacArthur has the best fenwick % on the Leafs this season and in the 58:11 of 5v5 ice time he and Grabovski played together this year they had a corsi % of 57.1% while Graobovski has been at 41.7% when separated from MacArthur. Last season when Grabovski and MacArthur played together they were at 56.0% and when Grabovski was without MacArthur he was at 50.9%. In 2010-11 Grabovski’s corsi% was 55.3% with MacArthur and 47.0% without.

In summary, there is nothing wrong with Grabovski. It is the coach that took a good player who had very good ‘chemistry’ with Grabovski off Grabovski’s line replacing him with at best a mediocre 3rd liner to go with the other 3rd liner on his other wing. Maybe when Lupul comes back Carlyle will be forced to put a real top 6 winger on the Grabovski line and then people will stop asking “What is wrong with Grabovski?” but until then, blame Jay McClement (with a primary assist to Randy Carlyle).

 

Jul 022012
 

The only real dip into the unrestricted free agent market yesterday by the Toronto Maple Leafs was the signing of 3rd/4th line center Jay McClement.  Jay McClement’s best season in the NHL point wise was in 2009-10 when he had 11 goals and 29 points and last year he had 10 goals and 17 points for the Avalanche so clearly he wasn’t signed to produce offense.  The question is, how good is he defensively.  Let’s take a look at how McClement compares to his Avalanche team mates last year in terms of goals against per 20 minutes of ice time.

Player Name GA20
LANDESKOG, GABRIEL 0.645
O_REILLY, RYAN 0.657
DUCHENE, MATT 0.780
STASTNY, PAUL 0.812
HEJDUK, MILAN 0.837
JONES, DAVID 0.839
KOBASEW, CHUCK 0.878
MCCLEMENT, JAY 0.920
MCGINN, JAMIE 0.957
DOWNIE, STEVE 1.094

The only players who saw goals get scored against the avalanche at a higher rate when they were on the ice last year were McGinn and Downie, and a good part of Downie’s time was spent with the extremely defensively inept Tampa Bay Lightning so you can’t really include Downie.  So, essentially McClement had the second worst goals against rate of any Avalanche forward.  Now, what about quality of competition.  Let’s look at the average goal scoring rate (goals for per 20 minutes of ice time) of the players McClement lined up against.

Player Name OppGF20
O_REILLY, RYAN 0.790
LANDESKOG, GABRIEL 0.787
DUCHENE, MATT 0.775
DOWNIE, STEVE 0.775
STASTNY, PAUL 0.763
HEJDUK, MILAN 0.762
JONES, DAVID 0.760
KOBASEW, CHUCK 0.746
MCGINN, JAMIE 0.746
MCCLEMENT, JAY 0.737

McClement’s opposition was by far the weakest offensively that any Avalanche forward faced last season.  This isn’t very good news for Leaf fans who might be expecting a defensive forward.

In 2010-11 he split time between the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche and put up a goals against per 20 minute of ice time of 1.147.  The only two forwards on either team to put up a worse GA20 was Brandon Yip and Kevin Porter.  His quality of competition was a little tougher in 2010-11, about middle of the pack of those two teams.

Three seasons ago in 2009-10 with St. Louis he did seem to have a good defensive year.  He posted the third lowest goals against rate of any Blues forward and faced the toughest offensive opponents.  In 2008-09, also with the Blues, he was 5th best in goals against rate and 3rd best in offensive quality of opponent.  In 2007-08, again with the Blues, he had the worst goals against rate but second toughest offensive quality of opponent.

When we take his statistics league-wide we see some bad news as well.  Of the 308 forwards with 1000 or more 5v5 zone start adjusted minutes of ice time over the past 2 seasons, McClement ranks 303rd in terms of goals against rate, 270th in terms of opponents goals for rate and 139th in terms of teammates goals against rate.  So, to summarize that, he had above average defensive line mates, played against very weak offensive opponents and had a dreadful goals against average while he was on the ice.

The two years prior McClement looked much better.  He ranked 119th (of 310) in goals against rate, 124th in teammate defensive ability, and had the 87th toughest quality of opponent offensively.

In summary, the last 2 seasons McClement’s statistics show him to be a dreadful defensive player.  The two years prior he seemed to be useful to good defensively.  Which player will the Leafs get?  Who knows, but Leaf fans better hope it is the 2008-10 version because the McClement of the past 2 years has him as one of the least valuable players in the league.