Photo credit: Dilip Vishwanat
When it comes to Alex Semin, there are fans on both sides of the fence. Some people think the $6.7 million one year deal is a fair one, while others, like me, think it is a tad too much. Part of it boils down to whether you think Sasha Minor is able to give consistent performance night in and night out. In other words, should players be rewarded even if they can’t produce consistently?
All hockey players, particularly goal scorers, hit slumps. A skater that shoots 14.5% for the season will have some nights when a third of his shots light the lamp and others that are goose eggs– it’s all in the game of hockey. In fact, it’s possible that the skater is not actually streaky by nature, but due to some bad bounces he appears streaky.
This chart is a random simulation of a hypothetical 35-goal scorer, who averages 3 shots a game and shoots 14.5% night in and night out– Mr. Super Consistency– using a 10-game moving average to smooth out the curves. Look at how streaky he appears, yet his shooting percentage (14.5%) and shots per game (3) never deviated on any given night.
Let’s look at it another way. This same hypothetical 35-goal scorer has a probability of going 0-for-3 on any given night equal to more than 60%, while his chances at a hat trick are less than 1%.
We really shouldn’t be surprised or disheartened when our favorite player fails to light the lamp because it is going to happen almost 2 out of every 3 games they play.
Now let’s look at Semin’s actual 10-game moving average for goals scored over the last 2.5 years along with another simulation of Mr. Super Consistency, this time using Semin’s actual shots per game over that time span.
Not much difference. In fact, it could be argued that Semin’s trend (in red) looks more consistent than Mr. Super Consistency!
Consistency during the regular season is fool’s gold, especially when 70% of scoring is due to luck. This is why future performance, not perceived consistency, should be the basis of any contract valuation.