A few months ago, while Capitals fans and myself eagerly awaited the announcement of the Canadian Olympic Team, we only wanted General Manager Steve Yzerman to say one name. We heard Crosby. We groaned. We heard Brodeur. We nodded. We saw baby pictures. We vomited.
We heard Dan Boyle and Drew Doughty. Then Duncan Keith and Scott Niedermayer. Next was Chris Pronger and Brent Seabrook. And then… the 7th and final defenseman… Shea Weber?
After all the days that have passed since, we here at RMNB have still struggled to understand how Canada’s Best Defenseman, Mike Green, was left off the roster. Even as recently as Friday Night during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, I professed to Daniel that Mike Green’s Defensive Acumen was at worst an 8 out of 10 – but more realistically a 9. And I said “EASILY” too. This prompted Daniel to investigate my claims as he was quite suspicious. Below are Daniel’s findings. How has Mike Green stacked up against his fellow countrymen and the rest of the NHL this year? See for yourself below the jump. You might be surprised.
This week we’ve got a study on the age at which hockey players are at their peak (an important consideration when looking to sign a guy to a long-term contract), a look at what kind of conclusions you can draw from how a team does over various stretches of time, what it appears goalies are awarded three stars for, and a new stat based on plus-minus and Corsi.
This week we’ve got a the guys who take the most punishment on the ice (hits), a better save percentage using an adjustment for the penalty kill (which puts a certain Caps’ goalie in pretty good company), the snipers who score goals more than one would expect, and a look at which Conference is stronger and what that means for who could end up in the Stanley Cup Finals.
This week we’ve got a great example of goalie analysis, the difference in salary a player can expect depending on whether he is a restricted or unrestricted free agent, what might explain the difference in predictability and parity between the NHL and other sports (namely, the NBA), and a nice profile of the Capitals.
On January 11, 2010, In Daniel Moroz, By Russian Machine Never Breaks
Semyon Varlamov is going to have to stop being injured, to actually contend for the Calder Trophy.
The Capitals’ Semyon Varlamov has been one of the better rookies in the NHL this season, and he’s certainly in the running to maybe take home the Calder Trophy. Several of the more highly touted rookies haven’t quite lived up to expectations, which leaves the field still wide open. By the nature of these kinds of awards, the winner tends to be the guy who played over his head the most and the longest. That means that the player who is on top now can easily regress and possibly even finish out of the top 10 at the en. Also, since it’s hard to compare players at different positions, the Goals Versus Threshold numbers that Behind The Net recently added are useful to put everyone on the same playing field. A little more than half-way through the season, here are some of the top contenders.
Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina in a Blue Jackets Uniform. Weird.
The Washington Capitals made a trade this week, picking up Jason Chimera from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina. Given that I spent all weekend putting together a spreadsheet trying to approximate the Goals Versus Threshold that Puck Prospectus uses to give an idea of a player’s contributions, I thought it would be a good time to put it to use. I wasn’t able to match their GVT exactly, but I got close enough to make the thing potentially viable.
First, on what GVT is:
“To explain in terms already familiar to sports statisticians, GVT is very similar to VORP in baseball: it is the value of a player, in goals, above what a replacement player would have contributed. The fact that GVT is measured in goals is crucial: statistics that divide up “Win Shares”, so that the ratings of a team’s players sum to that team’s number of wins, are very erratic and non-linear, since wins don’t increase or decrease linearly with team caliber. While hockey is ultimately about winning or losing, players’ contributions always come down to scoring goals and preventing them. A player cannot “win” a game, even though he may be put in a situation where scoring a goal or making a key save would create or conserve a win. Each player’s role, no matter his position, is to try and increase the goal differential in favor of his team. An offensive player who scores a hat trick only to see his teammates allow 4 goals against has nevertheless done his job; a goaltender who stops 39 of 40 shots only to lose 1-0 has likewise performed well. Using this standard, all players can be compared by the same yardstick: how much did they help (or harm) their team’s goal differential?…
GVT is measured in goals. This makes it a convenient unit that hockey fans are already comfortable with.
GVT compares hockey players of all positions and over any period of time.
GVT only uses statistics that lead directly to goals. You cannot incorporate goaltender wins into GVT, because they are not a measurement of goals prevented. However, if you can rationally explain what are the odds of a faceoff win (or loss) leading to a goal or goal against, it would be possible to incorporate faceoff wins and losses into GVT, though I have not done so.
GVT has built-in accounting. The sum of player GVTs on a team equals that team’s GVT plus the replacement level. This is essential, as player statistics often come with caveats. “Kovalchuk scored 43 goals, but he doesn’t play defense and his team isn’t good”. This makes it much easier to measure “how good would this team be replacing player A with player B?” It is also essential in that player success is correlated with team success, which after all is the entire point of the sport.
GVT automatically normalizes for the strength of the league…
GVT does not measure a player’s talent. The statistic measures a player’s contribution to his team’s goal differential. A goaltender that faces zero shots will have a value of zero, regardless of whether he is Patrick Roy or Andrew Raycroft. Likewise, a player that is injured or gets little ice time will see his GVT reduced accordingly. It also does not take into account environment: a player will score more with better linemates, and I make no attempt to adjust for that…
GVT does not measure intangibles. Things like leadership do exist in hockey, and they do help to make your teammates better. However, there is no way to measure this through statistics, and any attempt to quantify it is futile. In effect, we are not trying to see what information is “hidden” in the statistics; we are simply trying to better characterize the information that is at hand”
Week two of The Frost King’s Webhits – out of 156* – has links looking at how well the Capitals’ goalies perform on the penalty kill, the diversified scoring of Washington’s forwards, which players excelled at scoring in the past decade, whether defense still wins championships, and a discussion about reforming the shootout system. Enjoy!
* My contract apparently goes through the end of time, which latest info says will be December 21st, 2012. Plan to start (and finish) your Christmas shopping a little early that year!
Daniel Moroz, or The Frost King as some of us know him, will for now on be providing a weekly segment called “Wednesday Webhits” from now until the end of time. Trust me. He’s signed a contract in blood. He can’t get out of it.
This weekly post will deliver powerfully interesting links that will make you laugh, cry and maybe even kiss that dumb brain goodbye.
This week learn about ties, an awesomely great fighter, why EA Sports hates the Capitals and how Jose Theodore’s current flashy statistics might be a little misleading… Take it away Daniel!
Before I jump into the fray, there are a few things I wanted to note upfront:
(1) I don’t have any experience writing about hockey.
(2) And I’m coming at this from the perspective of a baseball analyst, so that’s where my base is. I know baseball and hockey are very different sports – especially since in hockey there is much more interaction between players and a team can be more (or less) than the sum of its parts.
(3) There will be cold, heartless calculations done. I don’t care a lick about the players (in this context). To me they’re just assets, like houses. You can have a really nice house – worth $10 M – but if the mortgage on it is for $15 M then it’s not actually very good for you. Hockey is a business, so there are revenues and costs (like players). If a player is worth $5 M but is paid $6 M, then that’s a bad deal for the team. If he’s paid $4 M, then the team has found $1 M in excess value.
(4) There will be numbers, many of which I make assumptions about and do hand-wavy things with. Precision would be great, but I don’t quite have the tools or the available data at my disposal to do things completely accurately.
Alrighty then. So, what should the Capitals do about Alexander Semin? I’m going to go through each option to the best of my ability, to see which branch bears the best fruit. Continue Reading