Spotlight on Radim Vrbata

The free agent sweepstakes kick off in less than two weeks, and already pundits are guessing which players will find new homes and which will re-up with their existing teams.   Among available forwards, there are some big names: Thomas Vanek, Marian Gaborik, Paul Stastny and Jarome Iginla, to name a few.   Each comes with some quest [...]

Free Agent Bargains Part II: Benoit ...

Originally published June 26, 2014 Last week we pointed out that a team looking for a steal in the free agent market should snap up Radim Vrbata if they could get him for anything like his 2013-14 salary of $3,000,000. Benoit Pouliot might be an even better buy. At first glance, Pouliot’s numbers are solid but unexceptional. Over the past thr [...]

Drafting by Position: The difficulty ...

At last week’s 2014 Entry Draft, Aaron Ekblad became the first defenseman to go first overall since Erik Johnson in 2006. Since the NHL began its draft in 1963, only 13 defensemen have been picked first overall. The first was Barry Gibbs in 1966 (and no, he did not later go on to found The Bee Gees). Then in the mid-‘90s defensemen became mor [...]

Who’s The Playoff MVP?

Picking the Conn Smythe winner doesn’t exactly require a crystal ball. 25 of the last 30 winners have been the Cup winner’s goalie or top scorer. Almost by definition, then, fancy stats don’t play much (any) role in the selection.   But if they did, who should win this year?   Let’s start with the assumption that the Conn Smythe win [...]

More on the Kings and Rangers

In this week’s column in the Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2014/06/05/stanley_cup_jonathan_quick_has_been_awful_in_nhl_playoffs_for_la_kings_analytics_show.html), we focused on the goaltending matchup between Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist in this year’s final.   The chart below (to access it, copy the link into [...]

Defense Wins Championships (well . . ...

Below is this week’s article for the Toronto Star, and at the bottom is a link to the pertinent regression results.  I think the article more or less speaks for itself, but I did want to add a couple of additional thoughts. First, even though the data set included all Finals and Semi-finals since 1980, it’s still a relatively smal [...]

The Star: Possession is 3/4 of the pl...

One of the central battlegrounds between the fancy-stat set and hockey traditionalists is “puck possession.”  Most practitioners of hockey analytics believe that puck possession – as measured indirectly by stats that look at shot attempt differential – are powerful predictors of performance.  The traditionalists tend to focus more on such thi [...]

Possession and the Standings: Explain...

This week we looked at whether looking at a team’s possession numbers in the regular season (in conjunction with the regular season points) helped explain playoff performance. Even if you’re already sold on the importance of puck possession, it’s not obvious that this should be the case. Puck possession has already been established at being v [...]

The Crosby vs. Toews “Debate...

It probably went unnoticed by most fans, but Tuesday’s game 7 between the Penguins and Rangers was more than just a hockey game. It was nothing less than a culture war.   On the one side, there were the old school pundits. On Tuesday morning, Kevin Allen of USA Today was musing about the Penguins’ lack of “playoff savvy” and “swagger” an [...]

Crosby and Malkin Together Again

FOREWARD:  Below is the article that ran in the Toronto Star this week. But I wanted to add just a little more discussion that wasn’t included due to space limitations, but which I think it important to properly analyze the issue raised. First, although the article mentioned this, it’s worth highlighting that Crosby and Malkin pla [...]