Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post Why Deal With People When You Can Make Them Numbers?

August 11th, 2010, 10:01 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

I’m only partly joking.  The cornerstone of sports fandom, especially hockey fandom, is argument.  Who’s better this year, the Caps or the Canucks?  Who’s the best player of all time, Gretzky, Orr, or Lemieux?  While the first question will be easy enough to answer (look at the eventual standings and playoff achievment), the second is just good clean fun.  Corey Pronman, over at Puck Prospectus, has modified a scale used for baseball prospect scouting to break hockey into tools and ratings, called the 20-80 system.


  • Skating (Acceleration, stride, top speed, turning/edge control)
  • Puck Skills (Passing, stick-handling etc.)
  • Shot (Accuracy, velocity, release)
  • Physical Game(Size, strength, able to handle physicality)
  • Hockey Sense (Decision-making, awareness, smarts

and Ratings:

  • 20: Can barely perform this skill, there are 13 and 14 year old amateur players who can do this skill better. Think Derek Boogaard’s hockey sense for example.
  • 30: Significantly below average (minus minus), isn’t beer league quality but it’s nowhere near the NHL level. Think Georges Laraque’s puck skills or Hall Gill’s skating.
  • 40: Below NHL average (minus), this skill isn’t completely out of the league but it’s still a good notch below. Examples are Marc Andre Fleury’s rebound control or Jack Johnson’s hockey sense.
  • 50: NHL average, think Marco Sturm’s puck skills, Justin William’s shot.
  • 60: Above NHL average (plus), this is an all-star level skill. Examples are Jonathan Toews’ skating, Mike Richard’s physical game, David Booth’s shot.
  • 70: Significantly above average (plus plus), this skill is one of the best in the game and is in an elite class. This is a grade rarely given out. Steve Stamkos’ shot, Chris Prongers’, physical game, Nicklas Lidstrom’s hockey sense, and Alex Ovechkin’s skating are examples.
  • 80: Generational talent, an extremely rare grade to be given out for any skill. Examples of what an 80 grade is include Bobby Orr’s skating, Al MacInnis’ shot, Wayne Gretzky’s hockey sense.

This could be fun.  Read the article for an example of a rating for a current NHL player, and how one might rate prospects and players.  Also, Corey is now involved in a website called, which is currently doing team reports, and hopefully will soon have scouting reports (and ratings) for individual prospects.

Even though I’m not a scout, and have no history of rating players, and no training in doing so, I DO have a blog!  That means I can speak with authority on damn near anything!  I’m going to try and rate Joe Thornton, and maybe that’ll start an argument in the comments.

  • Skating – 45.  Joe can get around just fine, but won’t win any speed or agility contests.  He doesn’t pivot on a dime or get around anybody due to his skating, more his body.
  • Puck Skills – 65.  I’m only going 65 here because although his passing is maybe the best of his generation, his puck handling isn’t.  He’s able to protect the puck well, but I wonder if that’s  hockey sense and physicality rather than puck skills.
  • Shot – 40.  Joe can shoot?  Accuracy is probably about league average.
  • Physical Game – 60.  While Joe doesn’t level too many hits, he’s extremely difficult to knock off the puck, and has an incredible reach that he can use on either the forehand or backhand side.
  • Hockey Sense – 60.  Excellent at finding the open man and knowing where his teammates are.  Couple that with his passing skills, and you get highlight reel clips fairly often.  What doesn’t make Sportscenter are his turnovers, sometimes in particularly  devastating areas of the ice.  Those happen too often for his hockey sense to be considered ‘elite’ in my view.

Remember I have my dispassionate hockey hat on.  What do you think?  Too harsh?  Too lenient?

9 Comments to “Why Deal With People When You Can Make Them Numbers?”

  1. Harold Mills says:

    Unfortunately I can’t argue with you. Joe is a great player but the giveaways are frustrating. So, I would say that you hit the nail on the head. Sorry to be so boring.

  2. Khaaz says:


    Skating – 45. Not a great skater. Might be league average, i dunno maybe a little below. 45 sounds good.

    Puck Skills – 70. His passing is too good to not give him a 70 imo. His puck handling isn’t quite at that level, which is why he’s a 70 instead of 80.

    Shot – 50. He can get accurate shots off pretty quickly when he wants to, but he doesn’t put a lot on em and he doesn’t shoot enough.

    Physical Game – 60. For the reasons you mentioned.

    Hockey Sense – 65. His vision, timing, and awareness of where his teammates are is without a doubt elite. He’s done too many blind passes to be considered just ‘above average’ imo.


    Skating – 65. One of the fastest skaters in the league but it seems like he doesn’t use his speed enough at times.

    Puck Skills – 55. This was a tough one. His passing is above average (for a winger) but his stick handling is pretty average, so i think 55 is good.

    Shot – 65. He’s so good at hitting the top corners of the net. His shot is amazing imo and i kinda wanna give him a 70.

    Physical Game – 55. He’s a big guy who can handle physicality but for a guy who’s supposed to be a power forward he really does not play very physical.

    Hockey Sense – 60. Marleaus got great hockey sense. He’s good at putting himself in the right places to accept passes and he’s too good defensively to not be considered above average imo. He rarely makes dumb mistakes.

    • Mike says:

      60 is considered ‘all star’ level ability, and that’s where I’d put Joe’s hockey sense. As for Marleau, I see some rose-colored glasses here. I think there are very few players in the league that are better than NHL average at everything, and Marleau isn’t one of them. I’d put his puck skills at 50, shot at 55, and Physical game at 45. Decent at taking contact, not as big or as strong as Joe at holding off defenders, and not nearly enough hitting for a guy his size. Doesn’t make him a bad player, but it’s not his game.

      I’d also consider putting his skating at a 70- there are maybe a handful of guys that can keep up with him at speed, and his first two strides are as good as anyone. Whether he uses it enough, as you say, is beside the point. His skill is almost the best in the game.

      • Khaaz says:

        Dude, Marleau didn’t make the stacked Canadian Olympic team (he’s also an all-star of course) because he’s an average skilled hockey player who can skate well. You give him a 55 on his shot?? He’s easily got an all-star level shot imo.

        Also, Marleau is certainly bigger, stronger, and able to handle physicality better than the average NHLer; it’s likely because the average NHLer is smaller than him, but you can’t give him negative points in physicality because he’s big.

        • Mike says:

          I think you might have a different idea of how common these ratings are and what they mean than I do. Marleau is an extremely gifted hockey player, mostly due to his hockey sense and skating. There are very few in the NHL with that combination, and that’s why he’e one of the best.

          You don’t have to be above average or all-star level at everything to be a great player. Gretzky is a great example. His unbelievable, preternatual ability to see the ice and anticipate what will happen next completely overwhelmed the rest the league. That and being an ok skater, good puck skills, above average shot, no physicality adds up to one of the best players ever. Total rating is not just an average of the other ratings.

  3. Doug says:

    Alexei Semenov:

    Skating -25. Faster than a speeding bullet fired into quicksand and then frozen in carbonite like Hans Solo.

    Puck Skills – Ummm….

    Shot – 45 – Possible below average redeeming quality here. Like a fat Jessica Simpson, probably hot enough to consider being interested.

    Physical Game – 48. Gets points for trying although not very successfully to fight and make his tree trunks felt.

    Hockey Sense – 30. There’s a reason Jay Leach is here and Semenov is eating borscht.

  4. Doug says:

    pretty good analysis on Joe. I think you need to consider what it tells you though. All these years people saying “Thornton is so talented, the best player in the league, amazing talent, but he doesn’t work hard enough in playoff games.”

    Well, when you look at that scouting report, it becomes pretty clear that he’s not the most talented, or even close, and maybe his poor postseason showings have more to do with his talent than his work ethic.

    If you compare those stats to proven playoff performers, say a Sidney Crosby, Skating is 45 (or even 50, 55, 60 even) for Joe Thornton, but it’s 78-80 for Crosby. Puck Skills are 65 for Thornton, but 70-75 for Crosby. Shot is 40 for Thornton, in the 70 range for Crosby. Physical game is 60 for Thornton, maybe 50 for Crosby. Hockey sense 60 for Thornton, 75 for Crosby (or more).

    So Crosby is much higher in every area except for physical game. So maybe Crosby does better in the playoffs not because he works harder than Thornton, but because he’s much more talented.

    And sure you can say well Crosby is more talented than practically everyone, but Crosby is just one example. You can do this exercise with basically any top contemporary playoff performer, and you will find the only areas JT is better at is size and passing. In general all contemporary playoff performers can skate fast, stickhandle well, and shoot the puck well, and those are all things Joe Thornton lacks.

    • evilducks says:

      Crosby is not 78-80 on Skating… I’d say he’s above average at best.. 60? Crosby certainly has greater Puck skills… 70 I’d say. Crosby is probably a 65 in Shot, above average, but not unbelievable.. amazing hockey sense though I’d put that at 75-80… Physicality, after watching the nut punches and that he never hits anybody, I’d put him at 40 there.

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