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.

 

Aug 162008
 

The Hockey News’ Rankings in the Yearly Yearbook were released, and for the West they’re as follows:

1 Detroit Red Wings
2 San Jose Sharks
3 Minnesota Wild
4 Dallas Stars
5 Anaheim Ducks
6 Edmonton Oilers
7 Chicago Blackhawks
8 Calgary Flames
9 Nashville Predators
10 Phoenix Coyotes
11 Vancouver Canucks
12 Columbus Blue Jackets
13 Los Angeles Kings
14 Colorado Avalanche
15 St. Louis Blues

Detroit at the top is an absolute no-brainer. They won the Cup and somehow got better by adding Marian Hossa. They’ve got Pavel Datsyuk locked up for awhile, and it’s hard to see Henrik Zetterberg not follow suit. Niklas Kronwall, and to a lesser extent, Jonathan Ericsson, look to take over Nicklas Lidstrom‘s mantle when he retires. They’re going to remain a powerhouse for years to come.

I have a hard time believing Minnesota will finish atop the Northwest Division. They lost key offensive pieces in Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston, and replaced them with two aging veterans (Owen Nolan, Andrew Brunette) and a mid-level winger in Antti Miettinen. Their biggest acquisition is Marek Zidlicky, but the Flames have improved more – Calgary’s the early division favourite.

I don’t think the Oilers will finish that high. Adding Lubomir Visnovsky was huge, but they will miss Jarret Stoll‘s shot on the PP. Erik Cole was also another nice add, but I don’t think Visnovsky and Cole makes them better than the Coyotes. Their biggest question mark remains in net, and with some quality goaltending in the West that might be their downfall.

The Coyotes to me are a playoff team – they’ve got a talented forwards, a responsible captain, a respectable defense highlighted by a rejuvenated Ed Jovanovski, and good goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov. The dogs have tons going for them, and with Kyle Turris expected to make the squad out of training camp the team will be loaded with offense, led by the newly-acquired Olli Jokinen, who might get his first taste of playoff hockey this season.

How the Kings are ahead of the Avs and Blues is beyond me. Technically, they don’t even exist in the NHL because they’ve yet to reach the salary floor. Even with they do be re-signing all their RFAs, their team is laughable at best, and just might win the Calder Cup. This team needs at least two more season to grow before they’re even a playoff contender – it looks like they’re going for the John Tavares sweepstakes and rebuilding Pittsburgh-style.

The Avs, even without Joe Sakic for most of the season, remained competitive until the late stages of the season. Should Sakic retire, they don’t have a player to take over as captain or offensive dynamo yet, although Paul Stastny comes close. A healthy Ryan Smyth and having Adam Foote for a whole season, with some of Darcy Tucker‘s toughness, will make them a respectable squad, but like the Oilers, their biggest question mark remains in net.

Stay tuned for the East.