Hook Me, Trip Me, Tell Me Lies

One of the more interesting features in the upgraded Play by Play files that the NHL is providing this season is the "Drawn By" indicator for penalties.  We now can tell which players are forcing the opposition into commiting fouls.  In the past, it's always been suspected that star players draw favorable calls, and when it comes to agitators like Sean Avery, fans try to justify their contribution by arguing that pests like him goad opponents into taking penalties, resulting in value for the team by creating power play opportunities.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
By Hook, Slash or Trip, opponents will try anything to stop Anze Kopitar (image from Sharkspage)
 
So when we look at the 2007-8 season so far, which players are drawing the most penalties?  We've got 77 games in the book through Sunday night, and here are the league leaders (coincidental penalties excluded)...
 
Player Penalties Drawn
Anze Kopitar, L.A.   9
Ryan Malone, PIT   7
Alexander Ovechkin, WSH 6
Mike Cammalleri, L.A.   6
Joe Thornton, SJS   5
Sidney Crosby, PIT   5
Martin Hanzal, PHX   5
Jason Spezza, OTT   5
Mike Fisher, OTT   5
Derek Armstrong, L.A.   5
Nathan Horton, FLA   5
Ryan Getzlaf, ANA   5
Mike Green, WSH   4
Marcus Naslund, VAN   4
Ryan Kesler, VAN   4
Vaclav Prospal, TAM   4
Brad Richards, TAM   4
Dany Heatley, OTT   4
Scott Gomez, NYR   4
Dainius Zubrus, NJD   4
Ales Hemsky, EDM   4
Geoff Sanderson, EDM   4
Tomas Holmstrom, DET   4
Pavel Datsyuk, DET   4
Tuomo Ruutu, CHI   4
Jarome Iginla, CGY   4
Chad Larose, CAR   4
Erik Cole, CAR   4
Rod Brind'Amour, CAR   4
Ray Whitney, CAR   4
Todd Bertuzzi, ANA   4
Jason Pominville, BUF   4
 
I'd say that so far, the vast majority of these leaders fall into the "skill player" category, creating dangerous chances that can only be defended against by hauling them down and drawing a call.  Also of note here is the utter lack of defensemen outside of Washington's Mike Green.  Over the course of the season this will be a statistic worth watching - just as Alan Ryder pointed out the cost of players who take penalties, those forwards who draw such calls against an opponent provide incremental value to their team, likely enough to earn a point or two in the standings.  I'll provide updates on this periodically throughout the year...


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