October 7th, 2011, 4:56 pm
As I mentioned on the last podcast, I’ve managed to read the latest Hockey Prospectus annual from cover to cover in seven days. Hockey Prospectus, formerly known as Puck Prospectus (which I like better, because hey, who doesn’t like alliteration?), is site of hockey writers/fans that plumb the vast depths of advanced hockey analytics, relying on, and in many cases inventing, the advanced stats that I’ve put in the Stats Glossary. I didn’t expect whipping through the entire thing, and certainly not that quickly. I more expected to read the way I did last year’s, which was to look up the Sharks, read the articles at the end about different stats topics, and browse a bit for certain players and teams. Not this time.
Before I go on, I know Fear the Fin has already written about the book recently (which they got for free, dammit!), so I’m going to hope you all believe I’m been planning this post since I first bought the PDF last week. Either way, I’m going to try to avoid talking about the same topics in that post. Mostly, I’ll be pointing out fun facts and jabs the guys at Hockey Prospectus have levied on various NHL players, coaches, and management. It’s really one of the unexpected delights of the book. But the articles are always great, I would especially recommend the ones on Ultimate Faceoff Percentage (UFO%) and Core Age.
Here are, in no particular order, are some of my favorite quotes and stats from the book:
- “George Parros has certainly earned his devoted fan base with his community charity work, and was named the fourth-smartest professional athlete by the Sporting News, thanks to his time studying economics in Princeton. Perhaps he can apply that knowledge to discuss Jason Blake’s contract with Bob Murray.”
- “At 6’7”, homegrown St. Louis Blue Ben Bishop is the tallest goalie to ever play in the NHL, but his suspect .896 save percentage in the AHL will have to improve if he hopes to make a more permanent return. Bishop can only move diagonally.”
- “(Bobby Ryan) also gets along great with Corey Perry since they both have two first names.”
- “John Scott is one of those few players who make the league minimum, but is yet overpaid.”
- “Huet played in Switzerland last year, but could play his final couple of years in the NHL once his deal expires this season (or says our Cristobal).” <rimshot>
- “Steve MacIntyre can punch people really hard in the face.”
- “Brian Elliot was having a terrible season with the Senators before he was dealt in exchange for Craig Anderson. Then he got worse.”
- “Of all players drafted since 2005, only Sidney Crosby and Anze Kopitar have played in more games than Marc-Edouard Vlasic.”
- “David LeNeveu’s save percentage is .887 in 22 NHL games, and .908 in the AHL. Except for emergency situations, David should LeNever be used.”
- “With the Edmonton franchise now entering uncertain Year X of a rebuilding phase meant to last until indeterminate Year Y, Tambellini has at least proven completely capable of putting together the very worst roster in the league.”
- “All things considered, Ott is a gem of a player who doesn’t get the credit he deserves around the league as a whole because of the style that he plays.” (That one hurt a little, but I agree.)
- “A big, rugged defenseman who had a fantastic defensive season in 2009-10, Matt Carkner’s defensive GVT wasn’t nearly as impressive last year, but was still solid. He’s also willing to punch people when Chris Neil needs to rest his hands.”
- “Cam Janssen is quite possibly the league’s worst player, whose only useful purpose is alerting other players that their careers are probably over whenever coaches line him up alongside them.”
- “No team needs more than one of Mike Brown, Colton Orr, or Jay Rosehill on its roster. Brown is plenty. Indeed, some teams would be happy to have none of them. And yet, here they all are, together again.”
- “This past season, only four forwards who played more than 30 games in the NHL had a zone start ratio above 70%: cheap shot artist and general liability Cam Janssen (74.4%) and the Vancouver Canucks first line (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Alex Burrows). To put those numbers in further context, only eight forwards had zone starts north of 65%… Vigneault is able to shower the twins with some of the softest possible ice time (for a first-line scoring unit at least) for several reasons: primary amongst them is this season’s Selke Trophy winner, Ryan Kesler… Of course, even Kesler can’t take all the defensive zone draws, which is why the Canuck’s bottom six is littered with players with awful zone starts and mostly marginal output as a result. In the last two seasons, Vigneault has opted to feed his bottom end the less desirable minutes, forcing guys like Ryan Johnson, Darcy Hordichuk, Tanner Glass, Jannik Hansen, Raffi Torres, and Manny Malhotra to climb uphill in order to cede the high ground to the club’s scorers. Last season, for instance, the trio of Malhotra, Torres, and Hansen had the very worst combined zone start of any regular forward unit in the entire league, 25.0%, 29.6%, and 34.3% respectively… The Sedins have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the very top of the NHL scoring charts the last couple of seasons and have been spoken of as legitimate Hart candidates as well. However, the truth of the matter is they are very good players who have stood on the shoulders of their coach and teammates to become elite ones. “
- (About Ryane Clowe) “Those mourning the demise of the “power forward” in the NHL are no doubt huge fans of the Newfoundland native, who was one of just three players in the league last season to amass at least 60 points and 100 PIM.”
- The Sharks have zero (0) prospects in Corey Pronman’s top 100. Charlie Coyle is #69.
- Joe Thornton is 4th in the league in combined GVT since the lockout, behind Ovechkin, Crosby, and Datsyuk. Boyle is 4th amongst defensemen behind Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Visnovsky. People forget about the little guy.
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