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).

 

 

Jan 142012
 

There has been a lot of talk over the last 24 hours about the possibility of the Maple Leafs trading Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for James van Riemsdyk?  Personally, I’d seriously consider it and probably do it, but lets take a look at the numbers.

Luke Schenn

HARO+ HARD+ FenHARO+ FenHARD+ Ozone%
2011-12 1.19 0.85 0.94 0.83 45.7%
2010-11 1.05 0.89 1.02 0.94 51.1%
2009-10 1.19 0.85 1.05 0.96 51.7%
2008-09 0.97 0.82 1.06 0.89 53.2%

For those who don’t know what these numbers are they are my all-encompassing (mostly) hockey rating stats.  HARO stands for Hockey Analysis Rating Offense and is an offensive rating for the player based on goals scored.  HARD is the defensive rating based on goals.  The Fen ratings use fenwick stats (shots + missed shots) to calculate the ratings instead of goal stats.  For these ratings anything over 1 is quite good (above average) and anything less than 1 is not so good.  The above ratings are for 5v5 even strength situations.

The one thing these stats do not take into account is zone starts (I have a plan to fix this in future versions of my ratings but haven’t coded it yet) so I have included the Ozone% which indicated how frequently the player started in the offensive zone vs the defensive zone.  >50 means more starts in the offensive zone than the defensive zone and <50 means more starts in the defensive zone than the offensive zone.

So, for Luke Schenn we actually find his numbers quite consistent.  Strangely he has been a pretty solid offensive defenseman but a pretty weak defensive defenseman which is the opposite of what he was projected to be when drafted.  His FenHARD+ rating has dropped significantly this season from the previous 2 seasons but that can be fully explained by the fact that he has had significantly more defensive zone starts this year from previous years.  The same is true for his drop in HARO+.  When we factor in his zone starts he has been extremely consistent over the past 2 1/2 seasons (his rookie season was a little weaker).  That lack of progress is what concerns me most about Schenn.  If he can’t significantly improve his defensive ability his overall value going forward is limited to a #4-6 defenseman.

James van Riemsdyk

HARO+ HARD+ FenHARO+ FenHARD+ Ozone%
2011-12 1.13 0.84 1.07 0.99 54.0%
2010-11 1.29 1.02 1.08 0.93 49.6%
2009-10 1.05 0.97 1.13 0.99 52.9%

Van Riemsdyk’s fenwick ratings have been extremely consistent over the past 2 1/2 seasons with the fluctuations observed in them almost solely due to the fluctuations in his Ozone%, particularly for the fenwick ratings.  Overall he appears to be an above average offensive player and a somewhat weak defensive player, not all that different from Schenn.  Last season was clearly a good season for him with a bit of a drop off this season.

In some other discussions I have compared van Riemsdyk to Joffrey Lupul, just a little bigger.  So let’s take a look a Lupul’s numbers and see how they compare.

Joffrey Lupul

HARO+ HARD+ FenHARO+ FenHARD+ Ozone%
2011-12 1.59 0.68 1.07 0.82 50.0%
2010-11 1.09 0.78 0.93 0.79 47.4%
2009-10 1.32 0.96 0.95 0.96 50.8%
2008-09 1.15 0.83 1.01 0.87 44.4%

Lupul’s seems to be a perfect example of a high risk high reward player.  His offensive numbers are quite good, a little better than van Riemsdyk’s, but his defensive numbers are quite bad, especially over the past 2 seasons.  His offensive numbers have jumped quite a bit this season but his offensive ratings from 2008-09 to 2010-11 had him as an above average offensive player so maybe this season isn’t all that surprising given he is probably playing with better players and given more offensive roles.  Also, his ratings from 2008-09 to 2010-11 are quite comparable to van Riemsdyk’s over the past 2 1/2 years (though van Riemsdyk has benefited more from more offensive zone starts).  Compared to Lupul I think we can say van Riemsdyk is slightly below him offensively (particularly if Lupul’s performance this season is sustainable), and slightly above him defensively.

In the end whether you trade Schenn for van Riemsdyk comes down to each teams need and whether you project improvement in either of them going forward.  Right now Schenn is probably a #4-6 defenseman on most good teams and van Riemsdyk is a second line winger on a team with good depth up front.  The reason I make the trade is Schenn has been given big minutes and top 4 defenseman roles in the past but hasn’t shown he can be that.  Van Riemsdyk has never really been give top line duty or been given top PP unit duty so we don’t know whether if given that opportunity he could have a break out season, much like what Lupul is doing this season.  Plus, I think a line of Van Riemsdyk-Grabovski-Kulemin could be an interesting combination of size and skill and 2-way ability, even more so if Colborne replaces Grabovski down the road.

Update:  Apparently Van Riemsdyk is now out with a concussion so the idea if trading Schenn for van Rymsdyk right now is a moot point, but the analysis (concussion aside) is still valid.

Aug 252011
 

A few weeks ago I questioned whether Luke Schenn was really a quality shut down defenseman as some believe and some people too exception to that.  Additionally, now that Lebda has been traded away the favourite defenseman whipping boy of Leaf fans seems to be Mike Komisarek.  Because of this, I decided we should conduct a comparison of the defensive ability of these two players to see if Leaf fans perceptions of these two players matches reality.

Schenn Komisarek
TOI 864:56 558:53
Goals Against per 20 min. 0.902 0.895
Opposition GF/20min. 0.767 0.757
HARD+ 0.810 0.840
Fenwick Against per 20min. 15.400 15.424
Opposition FenF/20min. 13.708 13.798
FenHARD+ 0.934 0.929
Def. Zone Face Off % 31.9% 37.8%

The above table shows all of the pertinent stats from the 2010-11 season for 5v5 close situations (close being teams are within 1 goal in first or second period or tied in third).  I have included both goal and fenwick based stats because I know some people prefer fenwick but in reality they tell pretty much the same story.

Last season when Luke Schenn was on the ice the Leafs gave up about the same number of goals against per 20 minutes (0.902 vs 0.895) and fenwick against per 20 minutes (15.400 vs 15.424) as when Komisarek was on the ice.  Schenn played against slightly tougher competition based on opposition goals for per 20 minutes while Komisarek played against slightly tougher competition based on opposition fenwick for per 20 minutes.  The end results were Komisarek had a slightly better HARD+ than Schenn (0.840 vs 0.810) but Schenn had a slightly better FenHARD+ (0.934 vs 0.929).  It should be noted that these ratings are quite poor for both players.

HARD+ and FenHARD+ take into account quality of teammates and competition, but they do not take into account zone starts.  For Komisarek, 37.8% of the faceoffs he was on the ice for were taken in the defensive zone while only 31.9% were in the defensive zone for Luke Schenn.  So, while all the other numbers are quite similar, the defensive zone face off percentage clearly means Komisarek faced tougher situations defensively than Luke Schenn.  I didn’t include the data above, but Schenn played with higher quality teammates than Komisarek (for example, Lebda’s #1 defense partner was Komisarek).

For interest sake, and to gain more confidence in the results, here are each players stats over the past 2 seasons.

Schenn Komisarek
TOI 1537:15 853:46
Goals Against per 20 min. 0.976 0.890
Opposition GF/20min. 0.751 0.759
HARD+ 0.783 0.853
Fenwick Against per 20min. 15.053 14.641
Opposition FenF/20min. 13.534 13.679
FenHARD+ 0.932 0.957
Def. Zone Face Off % 31.9% 35.7%

Over the past 2 seasons the edge is distinctly in Komisarek’s favour though in 2009-10 Komisarek had far fewer defensive zone faceoffs than last season (only 28.7%).  For the 2 years Schenn gave up more shots and goals per 20 minutes than Komisarek and faced weaker opponents (offensively at least) and had a much lower defensive zone face off percentage.

Based on the above, Leaf fans perceptions of Komisarek are pretty much true.  He has struggled defensively and hasn’t lived up to his contract or expectations but is also nothing to suggest that Luke Schenn has been any better at the defensive aspect of the game.  Schenn has just played more, not better.

Jul 202011
 

So I woke up this morning and started reading the usual morning news and blogs and one of the first ones I happened to read was an article at Maple Leafs Hot Stove on the Luke Schenn contract negotiations.  One comment early in the post really caught my attention.

While he may not be an offensive machine (I believe there is still some upside there), at 23, he has blossomed into one of the leagues best shutdown defensemen.

First off, Schenn is 21 not 23 but what really caught my attention is the assertion that he is one of the leagues best shutdown defensemen.  This isn’t an uncommon sentiment regarding Schenn, especially among Leaf fans.  There are a lot of people who believe Schenn has developed into a superior shut down defenseman, or at the very minimum is on track to becoming one.  The thing is, the stats don’t back that up.

2010-11 GA20 TMGA20 OppGF20 ExpGA20 GA20-ExpGA20
Tomas Kaberle 0.638 0.843 0.756 0.800 -0.162
Keith Aulie 0.745 0.845 0.780 0.813 -0.068
Dion Phaneuf 0.783 0.846 0.786 0.816 -0.033
Carl Gunnarsson 0.838 0.831 0.741 0.786 0.052
Luke Schenn 0.838 0.785 0.753 0.769 0.069
Francois Beauchemin 0.884 0.792 0.759 0.776 0.109
Mike Komisarek 0.994 0.782 0.740 0.761 0.233

The above table shows the most used defensemen for the Leafs last season.  Numbers are for 5v5 ice time.  GA20 is the players on ice goals against per 20 minutes.  TMGA20 is a defensive quality of teammates measure in goals against per 20 minutes.  OppGF20 is an offenwive quality of opponent measure in goals for per 20 minutes.  ExpGA20 is an expected goals against average based on quality of teammates and quality of opponents and is simply an average of TMGA20 and OppGF20.  The final column is GA20-ExpGA20 which tells us whether fewer or more goals were scored against than expected when the player was on the ice so negative values are better than positive values.  Note:  Kaberle and Beauchemin’s stats include their time with Boston and Anaheim respectively.

What it all means is Schenn was far from a good shutdown defenseman last year.  His defensive numbers are actually quite poor.  He didn’t play against especially tough opposition (especially compared to Phaneuf and Aulie) and had a very poor GA20.  Overall one could say he was a weak defensive defenseman.  Based on the numbers above, only Beauchemin and Komisarek were worse.  So how does he stack up against the rest of the leagues defensemen?  Lets take a look.

Season(s) GA20 Rank OppGF20 Rank HARD+ Rank CorHARD+ Rank
2010-11 0.838 122/163 0.753 94/163 0.888 121/163 0.922 142/163
2009-10 0.930 145/169 0.744 152/169 0.846 140/169 0.929 142/169
2008-09 0.971 152/159 0.774 44/159 0.818 143/159 0.870 156/159
2009-11 (2yr) 0.876 138/157 0.753 128/157 0.880 138/157 0.922 146/157
2008-11 (3yr) 0.907 161/169 0.762 123/169 0.868 154/169 0.930 160/169

The above table shows how Schenn compares to the rest of the defensemen in the league at 5v5 even strength ice time.  GA20 and OppGF20 are the same as above.  HARD+ is a composite defensive ranking that takes into account the players GF20 as well as defensive quality of teammates (TMGA20) and offensive quality of opponents (OppGA20).  CorHARD+ is similar to HARD+ but instead of using goal data to calculate it uses corsi data.  Personally I think this is somewhat meaningless but this is for those out there who put stock in corsi based stats.

As you can see, his 5v5 even strength defensive numbers range from bad to horrible, his quality of opponent is mediocre at best, his HARD+ rankings are quite poor, and his CorHARD+ rankings are even worse.  IT is really tough to find a compelling argument that Schenn is even an average defensive defenseman let alone one of the best shut down defensemen in the NHL.

His 4v5 PK numbers are even worse.  Of the 87 defensemen with 400 4v5 PK minutes over the past 3 seasons, Schenn has the highest (by a decent margin too) goals against per 20 minutes on the PK.  His 4v5 PK HARD+ rating is also the worst at 0.652 which is pretty atrocious.  His PK corsi numbers aren’t quite as bad, but are still below average (67th of 87 in corsi against per 20 minutes).

All in all it is really difficult to suggest that Schenn is even an average defensive defenseman.  He is certainly not among the leagues best shut down defenseman.

Now, with all that said, I am all for signing Schenn to a new 3 or 4 year contract in the $3-3.5M range.  He is a physical defenseman who blocks shots (as noted by the Maple Leaf Hot Stove article) and gives a good effort all the time.  It could be that he is just a little over zealous with the hits and blocked shots that he gets out of position a bit too often and just needs to learn when to take chances going for the hit or blocked shot.

Part of the problem is also that he was rushed to the NHL and put in a high pressure situation with a lot of expectations placed on him so we was never really given an opportunity to really learn the craft.  I really hope that with the addition of Liles and Franson and the further development of Aulie and Gunnarsson that some of the pressure comes off Schenn and he can take a bit of a step back and really learn the details of playing defense (maybe some new assistant coaches will help too).  Some good goaltending and team success will take some pressure off him as well.

Finally, as fans, I really hope we stop putting pressure on him to be one of the best shutdown defensemen today and one of the faces of the franchise and we begin to view him for what he really is: a young 21 year old defenseman with lots of ability and drive but with lots still to learn.  There really haven’t ever been many elite shut down defensemen at 21 years of age so we should stop expecting him to be that now and instead hope he can be that a year or three from now.

(Final note:  Strangely enough, Schenn’s on ice offensive numbers are actually reasonably good.  His 3 year on ice GF20 is 0.833 which ranks 44th of 169 defensemen and his HARO+ is 1.030 which is good for 42nd.  His 2 year numbers are even better.)

Apr 182011
 

By all accounts, Corey Perry had an exceptional season in 2010-11 and this is particularly true down the stretch when he flew by Steven Stamkos for the lead in goals scored and pushed himself into serious contention from the Hart Trophy as the leagues most valuable player.  There is no doubt that Perry’s production level surpassed anything he had previously done in his career, but was he truly more valuable to the Ducks than in previous seasons?  Let’s look at the numbers.

Season GP Goals Assists Points +/- PPG PPA PP Points
2010-11 82 50 48 98 9 14 17 31
2009-10 82 27 49 76 0 6 17 23
2008-09 78 32 40 72 10 10 14 24
2007-08 70 29 25 54 12 11 6 17

Based on the raw stats, he has been better in 2010-11 in terms of goal scoring and fairly consistent in terms of collecting assists but despite his increase in goals and points, his +/- hasn’t increased significantly.

Let’s look a little deeper into Perry’s even strength 5v5 statistics.

Season GF20 GA20 GF% TMGF20 TMGA20 TMGF% OppGF20 OppGA20 OppGF%
2010-11 0.928 0.882 0.513 0.876 0.843 0.510 0.774 0.745 0.509
2009-10 1.047 0.828 0.558 0.694 0.807 0.463 0.776 0.759 0.505
2008-09 1.113 0.754 0.596 0.712 0.775 0.479 0.756 0.751 0.501
2007-08 1.003 0.683 0.595 0.674 0.551 0.550 0.724 0.725 0.500

(source:  http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=2)

For those unfamiliar with my terminology, GF20 is Perry’s goals for by team while on the ice per 20 minutes of ice time, GA20 is the same for goals against and GF% is GF20/(GF20+GA20) and represents what percentage of all goals scored while he was on the ice were scored by his team.  The TM stats are the same but for his team mates when they are not playing with Perry and the Opp stats are the same but for Perry’s opponents when they are not playing against Perry.

Now, the first observation you may make is that Perry’s GF20 was lower in 2010-11 than in any of the previous season so while Perry produced more offense (goals in particular) in 2010-11 individually, the team produced somewhat less when Perry was on the ice.  In other words, Perry’s goal/point production may have come at the cost of his line mates goal/point production.  The same thing is true defensively.  More goals were scored against Perry while Perry was on the ice than in any previous season.

Now, looking at team mate production when his teammates are not on the ice with Perry we find that they produce slightly fewer goals per 20 minutes (0.876 without Perry vs 0.928 with) but also give up slightly fewer goals too (0.843 without Perry, 0.882 with).  What is interesting though is Perry’s line mates this season appear to be better offensive players than in prior seasons as their 2010-11 GF20 was 0.876 vs 0.694 in 2009-10 though they also had a slightly higher GA20 in 2010-11 as well.  So from these numbers it seems that overall Perry played with significantly better offensive players in 2010-11 than in prior years and slightly worse defensive players in 2010-11 than in prior years.

As for quality of opposition, the offensive production of Perry’s opponents in 2010-11 was about the same as in 2009-10 while defensively they were slightly better.

So, in summary we can state that when Perry was on the ice in 5v5 even strength situations the Ducks produced less in 2010-11 than they did in 2009-10 and gave up more goals in 2011-10 than they did in 2009-10.  Furthermore, overall his line mates appear to have been significantly better offensive players in 2010-11 than in 2009-10 and only slightly worse defensive players while his opposition appears to be similarly skilled offensively and marginally less skilled defensively.

So, what does this all mean?  Here are Perry’s offensive and defensive ratings:

Season HARO+ HARD+ HART+
2010-11 1.164 0.852 1.008
2009-10 1.300 0.917 1.109
2008-09 1.391 0.953 1.172
2007-08 1.325 0.979 1.152

With all things considered, despite scoring 50 goals this past season, one could make an argument that 2010-11 was well below his performance during the three previous seasons.  It seems that his improved individual numbers may have come at the cost of his team mates and that made him less valuable to the Ducks overall.