Feb 012013
 

Last week I introduced player TOI usage charts and one use I thought they had was to look at how a players usage changed during the downside of their careers. Today I will do just that by looking at Nicklas Lidstrom’s TOI charts over the last 5 seasons. Consider this an extension to my earlier article where I took a look at Lidstrom’s last few seasons of his career. Let’s get right at it with his 5v5 chart.

LidstromTOIChart

 

Lidstrom’s last big season was clearly 2007-08 and every year since he has been below his 2007-08 levels in terms of 5v5 ice time. What is interesting to note is how little (relatively) ice time he had during the 2010-11 season, the year he won the Norris Trophy. I think it was a big mistake that he was awarded the trophy that season and this is just a little more evidence of that. In fact, Lidstrom was 4th on the Red Wings in ESTOI/Game by defensemen which is why his TOI% in the chart above were so low that year. Rafalski retired in the summer of 2011 which meant Lidstrom would get a boost to his ice time in 2011-12.

So, what about his special teams play?

LidstromPPPKTOIChart

On the powerplay, Lidstrom maintained his level of playing ~60% of his teams 5v4 power play minutes but his penalty kill ice time dropped significantly over the final 2 seasons of his career.

Based on the above charts, the last year I think you could consider Lidstrom a true heavy work load stud of a defenseman was in 2007-08. He was still awfully good for a couple more years and quite good until he retired but his slow decline in ice time had begun.

 

May 312012
 

Lidstrom has officially announced his retirement from the NHL ending what was one of the best, if not the best, NHL career by an NHL defenseman, and for that matter one of the best careers of any NHL player.  Bobby Orr may have been a better and more dynamic defenseman in his prime but Lidstrom was the dominant defenseman during his time in the NHL and had the longevity that Bobby Orr never had.  In fact, Lidstrom was still a dominant defenseman in the NHL into his 40′s.  Since I have the data readily available, let’s take a look at Lidstrom’s impact on the Red Wings the past 5 seasons, or ages 37-41.

I believe the best way to evaluate a player is that players impact on his teammates, often called WOWY (with or without you).  Here are Lidstroms teammates WOWY goals for percentage for each player who played 300 minutes of 5v5 zone start adjusted ice time with Lidstrom over the past 5 seasons.

2011-12

Player Season w/ Lidstrom wo/ Lidstrom w/ – wo/
White 2011-12 62.9% 52.5% 10.4%
Howard 2011-12 60.6% 61.1% -0.5%
Datsyuk 2011-12 67.6% 61.3% 6.3%
Franzen 2011-12 78.8% 55.8% 23.0%
Bertuzzi 2011-12 68.8% 61.1% 7.7%
Zetterberg 2011-12 58.8% 57.5% 1.3%
Filppula 2011-12 54.5% 61.0% -6.5%
Average 2011-12 64.6% 58.6% 6.0%

2010-11

Player Season w/ Lidstrom wo/ Lidstrom w/ – wo/
Howard 2010-11 56.4% 48.4% 8.0%
Stuart 2010-11 53.2% 50.0% 3.2%
Zetterberg 2010-11 50.0% 48.2% 1.8%
Franzen 2010-11 56.7% 54.7% 2.0%
Bertuzzi 2010-11 50.0% 51.5% -1.5%
Datsyuk 2010-11 55.8% 58.1% -2.3%
Holmstrom 2010-11 52.0% 45.7% 6.3%
Average 2010-11 53.4% 50.9% 2.5%

2009-10

Player Season w/ Lidstrom wo/ Lidstrom w/ – wo/
Howard 2009-10 58.3% 47.2% 11.1%
Rafalski 2009-10 57.9% 53.6% 4.3%
Datsyuk 2009-10 63.8% 52.5% 11.3%
Zetterberg 2009-10 55.1% 50.0% 5.1%
Bertuzzi 2009-10 59.0% 39.6% 19.4%
Holmstrom 2009-10 63.3% 50.0% 13.3%
Osgood 2009-10 45.8% 32.5% 13.3%
Cleary 2009-10 51.6% 45.2% 6.4%
Average 2009-10 56.9% 46.3% 10.5%

2008-09

Player Season w/ Lidstrom wo/ Lidstrom w/ – wo/
Rafalski 2008-09 63.5% 50.0% 13.5%
Osgood 2008-09 62.0% 46.4% 15.6%
Datsyuk 2008-09 58.8% 73.3% -14.5%
Conklin 2008-09 61.5% 57.6% 3.9%
Zetterberg 2008-09 55.6% 48.8% 6.8%
Hossa 2008-09 68.4% 66.7% 1.7%
Cleary 2008-09 48.4% 45.0% 3.4%
Franzen 2008-09 73.7% 60.4% 13.3%
Average 2008-09 61.5% 56.0% 5.5%

2007-08

Player Season w/ Lidstrom wo/ Lidstrom w/ – wo/
Rafalski 2007-08 69.6% 50.0% 19.6%
Datsyuk 2007-08 77.6% 58.5% 19.1%
Osgood 2007-08 72.2% 48.6% 23.6%
Zetterberg 2007-08 69.8% 58.3% 11.5%
Hasek 2007-08 73.0% 58.3% 14.7%
Holmstrom 2007-08 78.1% 48.3% 29.8%
Average 2007-08 73.4% 53.7% 19.7%

As you can see, almost every player Lidstrom has played significant minutes with over the past 5 seasons had better results when Lidstrom was on the ice with them than when he wasn’t.  Of the 36 player seasons listed above, only 5 times did a player peform better without Lidstrom than with and only twice could you call the difference substantial (Filppula’s 6.5% in 2011-12 and Datsyuk’s 14.5% in 2008-09).  To me that is a sign of greatness, especially considering a lot of the players Lidstrom plays with are great players in their own right.

Regular readers of HockeyAnalysis.com are probably aware of my rating system that takes into account on-ice results, quality of teammates and quality of competition and takes into account all of the information shown in the tables above.  My ratings are HARO+ for offensive rating, HARD+ for defensive rating and HART+ for total overall rating.  Here are Lidstrom’s ratings over the past 5 seasons.

Season HARO+ HARD+ HART+
2011-12 1.060 1.097 1.079
2010-11 1.198 0.896 1.047
2009-10 1.157 1.014 1.086
2008-09 1.145 1.205 1.175
2007-08 1.397 1.474 1.435

Lidstrom’s 2007-08 season was truly a remarkable season.  Anything better than 1.00 is very good and above average but to have both offensive and defensive ratings in the 1.400 range or higher is truly remarkable and he deservedly earned the Norris Trophy for top defenseman in the NHL that year.  He hasn’t matched his 2007-08 season since but his numbers have still been quite good and remarkably consistent for an aging NHL player, save for his defensive rating in 2010-11.  Lidstrom won the Norris Trophy in 2010-11 but I did not believe he deserved it as there were more deserving defensemen (specifically, Zdeno Chara).  But regardless, Lidstrom has been and still is a top tier defenseman.

Over the past 4 seasons there have been 68 defensemen to play 4000+ minutes of zone start adjusted 5v5 ice time.  Of those defensemen Lidstrom ranks 9th in HARO+13th in HARD+ and 4th in HART+.  The only defensemen more valuable overall over the past 4 seasons are Chara (excellent offensive and defensive play), Willie Mitchell (excellent defensive play which we are clearly seeing these playoffs) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (excellent defensive ability, good offensive play).  Of the 68 defensemen there are only 6 defensemen who have both a HARO+ and a HARD+ rating above 1.00 and Lidstrom is one of them (Chara, Matt Carle, Christian Ehrhoff, Toni Lydman, and Keith Yandle are the others).  Having both top end offensive ability and top end defensive ability is what makes Lidstrom so great, and this is just looking at his years at the end of his career.  Statistics from his prime years are probably ridiculously good.

The big question is how will the Red Wings possibly replace Lidstrom.  Everyone is pointing to Ryan Suter who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and there is little doubt that the Red Wings will show some serious interest.  So how does Suter stack up against Lidstrom?  Let’s look at his ratings over the past 5 seasons.

Season HARO+ HARD+ HART+
2011-12 1.012 1.080 1.046
2010-11 1.004 1.271 1.137
2009-10 1.084 0.955 1.020
2008-09 0.860 0.914 0.887
2007-08 1.041 0.991 1.016

Suter had a poor 2008-09 season but otherwise has been very good as well with ratings quite close to Lidstrom’s but probably a small step back.  Of the 68 defensemen discussed above, Suter ranks 30th in HART+ over the past 4 seasons but that was dragged down by his poor 2008-09.  Over the past 3 seasons he ranks 20th (to Lidstrom’s 16th) in HART+ among defensemen with 3000 minutes of zone start adjusted 5v5 ice time with Lidstrom being the better offensive defenseman and Suter being the better defensive defenseman.  All said, Suter would be a quality replacement for Lidstrom but I would expect the Red Wings offense to take a bit of a hit with Lidstrom not being in the line up.