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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Meaningless Math

It's interesting to see how some people have grown up after being quite famous at a younger age. Take the lady to the left, for example. That's Danica McKellar, formerly known as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years starring Fred Savage from 1988 until 1993. Today, the 35 year-old holds her mathematics degree from UCLA, having graduated summa cum laude, and writes books on math for middle-school girls to help them gain an appreciation for the subject. However, this isn't a Teebz's Book Club feature, so you're probably wondering why I'm talking about Danica McKellar and math. There's a perfectly good reason why.

Last year in June, I proposed a way to evaluate a defenceman's value in comparison to other defencemen around the league based upon team stats and personal stats. Admittedly, it's not a scientific evaluation of a player's value to his team, but it does give a numerical value to a player based on team and personal success. As a general manager, that's something that would be important to me as an evaluation tool.

This season, I decided to run the top ten defenceman in scoring through this tool, as well as adding a few other names for comparison purposes. Surprisingly, one player stands heads and shoulders above everyone else, and was better than Dennis Wideman's value of 4.28 last season.

Here is this season's look at Defenceman-Metrics. All defencemen below played a minimum of 41 games this season.

  • Mike Green of the Washington Capitals led all defencemen in scoring this season, and he leads the way in terms of his numerical value as well. Thanks to Washington's excellent season, Green checked in with an amazing 6.47 value!
  • Green's defensive partner, Jeff Schultz, didn't score as many points as Green, but he played the steady defensive role that the offensive Capitals needed. While Green was chipping in points, Schultz was piling up pluses. As a result, Schultz was valued at 4.40.
  • One of last season's worst player in terms of his value was New York Islander Brendan Witt. His -0.759 rating was the second-worst in the NHL, and he didn't do much to improve his standing this season. Witt scored a value of -0.55 this season, putting him in the bottom five of the league once again.
  • The New York Rangers had the worst-valued defenceman last season in Thomas Pock. Pock scored a league-low -0.78 in value. Pock didn't play in the NHL this past season, so there would be a new player crowned as the worst value in the league. That player would be Calgary Flame Steve Staios in terms of all the numbers I've run thus far. Staios came in with a value of -0.59, worst in the NHL.
  • While some people may think Nicklas Lidstrom had an unusually poor season, I'd argue that while his offensive production dropped off, but his value remained high. While Lidstrom scored a 3.76 last season, he still posted a 2.61 value this season. That would rank him fifth in terms of the top ten in scoring this season. Not bad at all, I'd say.
  • While Brendan Witt showed the ugly side of the Islanders' blueline, Mark Streit continues to show that his contributions to his team are high. Streit scored a solid 1.62 last season, and followed it up with a 1.53 this season. The worst team in the league has one of the top offensive defencemen. I'd love to see how good Streit's numbers would be if he played with Washington, Chicago, or San Jose.
  • Speaking about Chicago, Duncan Keith turned in another solid campaign. Last season, Keith turned in a 3.29, and this season saw him improve with a 3.94 value. While there's no doubt that Keith is a valued member of his team, it goes to show that he is still approaching his potential as an NHL player. Keith deserves a little recognition for that.
  • Drew Doughty, in his first season as an NHL regular, scored a very impressive 3.28 value with the Los Angeles Kings. Doughty had a superb season, so there was no doubt that his value will be high. I was impressed with just how high his value was.
  • There was talk early last season of Michael Del Zotto's impressive start with the Rangers, but this measuring tool is all about consistency. Unfortunately, Del Zotto couldn't continue his hot start, and his value suffered because of it. Del Zotto ended the season with a surprising 0.78 value.
  • Tyler Myers, however, showed exactly what consistency is all about as he had am impressive campaign with the Buffalo Sabres. Myers earned himself a Calder Trophy nomination, and I have to agree with that nomination after seeing him come in with a 2.51 value. Just to put that in perspective, Nicklas Lidstrom finished the season just 0.10 higher than Tyler Myers.
  • While a lot of people poked fun at the Toronto Maple Leafs this season for their on-ice struggles, perhaps no one personified that better than Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle finished tenth in scoring for defencemen this season, but only finished the season with a 1.03 value. His brutal plus/minus stat really killed his offensive production, and that's what this mathematical value is all about: showing you both sides of the ice.
  • One of the more surprising players to come out of this math was Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff got little press outside of Vancouver about how good he was on both sides of the ice. Ehrhoff's middle-of-the-pack stats combined with his high plus/minus value put him at a value of 3.73! That's higher than Dan Boyle (2.67), Chris Pronger (2.59), Drew Doughty (3.28), and Nick Lidstrom (2.61), and all four of those players were in the top ten for defenceman scoring!
  • For as good as Pronger was for Philadelphia, Ryan Parent was not. Parent had a bad season in terms of points and plus/minus, and his -0.56 value showed. Parent has to be better if he wants to ever make Pronger money.
  • Another player I was pleasantly surprised with was former Manitoba Moose and current Dallas Star Marc Fistric. Fistric is more of a defensive defenceman, so plus/minus is the stat that will carry him in the player values, and he ended the season at a value of 1.81. You read that correctly as that value puts him higher than Mark Streit (1.53), Tobias Enstrom (1.66), and just behind Sergei Gonchar (1.84). As you can see, this equation gives equal weight to preventing goals as it does generating them.
  • We'll close this look at math in the same fashion as last season. Brian Campbell of the Blackhawks, whose reputation takes a beating due to his apparent lack of defensive contributions, posted a 2.80 last season. This season? Fairly similar in his 2.69 value. There's no doubt that Campbell brings offence to the game, but his defensive awareness isn't as bad as some make it out to be.
There's a little Thursday night math for everyone. My brain needs a break, so I'm kicking out of here for a few hours.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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