Analytics pioneer Rob Vollman is back with the 2015 edition of Hockey Abstract. If you’re not familiar with Vollman’s work, well, you should be. His cheerful, unassuming, and informative writing style makes his annual release an indispensable read for hockey fans of all kinds.
People on Twitter often ask us for some kind of resource that explains advanced statistics in hockey. From now on, Robert Vollman’s Hockey Abstract will be my go-to answer. Vollman. In 242 pages of crystal-clear prose, Vollman uses age-old debates like “who is the most undervalued player?” and “who is the best defensive forward?” to introduce statistical metrics like Fenwick and Goals Versus Threshold in a way that will make sense to any level of reader.
Free of bombast or antagonism that might put off casual fans, Vollman’s tone is always cheerful and conversational. The creator of the brilliant player usage charts you’ve seen on RMNB and Japers Rink, Vollman revisits and re-stokes classic barroom debates, in the process delivering both a primer on statistical analysis and a crash course on the habits of a highly successful hockey player. It’s a great read if you’re curious about player evaluation or if you just wanna have some extra ammo next time you’re talking hockey with some hardcore fans. And obviously, nerds will love this book.
But I think Hockey Abstract has some special value for Caps fans in particular. The book is packed with lists of guys you wish were on your team’s roster– containing bunches of Caps. Former Caps.