Monday, March 9, 2009

The Outliers: Hall and Nash... I mean Draper

When I was calculating which forwards take the biggest load in the defensive zone for their teams I was quite struck by the use of Adam Hall in Tampa Bay. He currently leads his team in defensive zone faceoffs at even strength, yet he only plays 8.5 minutes per game. He has taken 219 defensive zone draws and 98 offensive zone draws. Yet among forwards with at least 40 games played he ranks third last in Quality of Competition. Having already seen a similar phenomenon with Kris Draper, it seems that this is a role that many coaches are using on their hockey team: the fourth line plugger that takes on the soft starting in the bad end of the rink. The Edmonton Oilers employ a player like this as well in Kyle Brodziak who has taken 275 draws in the offensive zone and only 121 in the offensive zone. If we can find some other comparable players perhaps we can evaluate Brodziak's performance against some of his peers. Looking for comparables I'm trying to find players who have at least 50 more defensive than offensive zone faceoffs, who play 12 minutes a game or less and who are in the bottom three forwards on their team in Quality of Competition (min. 20 GP). All of these stats can be found either at Vic's time on ice site, or at Behind the Net. I've decided to only take one player per team. The chart shows defensive zone draws, offensive zone draws, the difference between the two, the quality of competition rank relative to the rest of their team and EV time on ice per game:

The next chart will give their results using their Corsi (*5), the Corsi of their team, the difference between the two, their goal differential (*5), the goal differential of their team and the difference between the two.

Conclusions? About a quarter of the league employs a player that works in this assignment. It isn't a fun assignment. Even playing soft competition, consistently starting in the wrong end has a negative effect on the Corsi and GD relative to the rest of the team. Adam Hall stands out here among his peers, as does Kris Draper. I defended Draper somewhat in the last post and this data suggests that he didn't deserve it. I imagine that the Wings will soon be moving on. Hall is signed to a three year deal at 0.6M per with the Lightning which looks like it's a pretty good deal. Brodziak, for his part, doesn't look like a disaster but isn't excelling here either. I would suggest that the Oilers really shouldn't be giving him better than fourth line money (i.e. 1M or less) this coming off season.


Coach pb9617 said...

So for all of the sphere kerfuffle about Ryan Johnson, he's not really outplaying his deal, is he? He's not drowning, but I don't think he's worth 1.2

Scott said...

I think the guy the sphere was all over was Mike Johnson who's probably earning his contract just fine... in Germany. People liked his underlying stats at the time, knew we were short on vets and thought he could help.

As for Ryan Johnson his 1.2 looks expensive relative to his peers. If it was just a one-year deal it would've been no big deal since the Nucks had so much space this season, but they need to get the Sedins signed for next year and may want to do some shopping... Still, it's only one more year and probably won't hurt them too much if it all.

Jonathan Willis said...

On the other hand, Ryan Johnson's been one of the top PK guys in the league the last couple of seasons, so a good chunk of his contribution won't show up via only even-strength examination.

Scott said...

That's a really good point Jonathan. He is one of the main guys in the penalty kill for Vancouver which is obviously an important contribution (as we all know by now having observed where a poor penalty kill gets you).