2013 Alternative NHL Awards: Least Valuable Player

Bruce Bennett

We've all heard the phrase describing the Hart Trophy as celebrating the "player judged most valuable to his team" in the NHL. But which unfortunate souls are on the opposite end of that scale?

The 2013 Alternative NHL Awards highlighted the league's greatest underachievers in a number of specific categories, but we've saved the best for last. Just as the Professional Hockey Writers Association will award the Hart Trophy to the NHL's Most Valuable Player this summer, here at OTF I would like to bestow a Least Valuable Player award, which goes to the skater whose presence on the ice brought woe and misery to his teammates this season (goalies have been mercifully omitted from consideration).

Last week on the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast they were joking about such an award being called The Fart Trophy, but of course I would never stoop to such juvenile humor. Ah, who's kidding - I have 10- and 11-year-old boys in the house, and I wish I just got this article posted earlier, because I was thinking the same thing. Anyways, on with the show...

What "Least Valuable Player" Means

The general idea behind the LVP (something I first rolled out in 2010) is to identify those players whose ice time showed the greatest negative turn in Goals For & Against for their team, as compared to when they were on the bench.

To use a simplified example, if a team out-scores its opponents by 1 goal for every 60 minutes of play, but when Joe Schmo is on the ice, they only break even, his "Impact" would be -1 goals for every 60 minutes of his play. Assuming Joe played 15 minutes a game for 48 games, that would translate to -12 goals for the entire season. These Impact calculations are done for 5-on-5 play, 5-on-4 power play, 4-on-5 penalty killing, as well as for the balance of Penalties Drawn vs. Penalties Taken by that individual player (a guy who draws lots of calls has a positive influence, a thug who takes lots of penalties puts his team in a hole). Source data comes from Behind the Net.

To make things crystal clear, this designation does not mean "worst player in the NHL". If a guy is absolutely horrible, he wouldn't stay on the roster for very long, nor get the kind of ice time that's required to rack up the numbers described here. For the players at the bottom of this list, it takes individual effort along with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to obtain these results. Beside each player's Impact figures I've included PDO and Corsi Rel stats to provide a bit of context.

The bottom line, however, is that when these guys hit the ice, bad things started to happen for their teams.

LVP Honorable Mentions

NAME POS TEAM 5-5 Impact PP Impact PK Impact Penalty +/- Total PDO Corsi Rel
Bryce Salvador D N.J -11.5 -0.3 -9.4 -1.0 -22.3 969 -14.7
Erik Gudbranson D FLA -18.6 -1.5 -2.1 -0.6 -22.9 934 -6.9
Scott Hannan D S.J -20.4 +1.0 -2.7 -0.8 -22.9 946 -5.2
Valterri Filppula C DET -6.3 -16.6 -1.7 +1.4 -23.2 979 +5.4
Matt Cooke RW PIT -12.2 -0.5 -11.1 -0.2 -24.0 1012 -15.8

I know, you Nashville Predators fans will be shocked to see Scott Hannan's name on this list. Of course, he's probably having the last laugh, as he's still in the playoffs with the San Jose Sharks.

5th Place


Matt Niskanen

#2 / Defenseman / Pittsburgh Penguins

6-0

209

Dec 06, 1986



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Matt Niskanen 40 4 10 14 4 12 0 0 2 67 5.9
NAME POS TEAM 5-5 Impact PP Impact PK Impact Penalty +/- Total PDO Corsi Rel
Matt Niskanen D PIT -14.1 -10.8 +1.3 -0.8 -24.4 996 +7.7

The Penguins had some amazing results when guys like Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, and some scrub named Sidney Crosby were on the ice, so if you didn't have the chance to play alongside those guys, woe unto ye.

4th Place


Sean Couturier

#14 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers

6-3

197

Dec 07, 1992



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Sean Couturier 46 4 11 15 -8 10 0 0 0 75 5.3
NAME POS TEAM 5-5 Impact PP Impact PK Impact Penalty +/- Total PDO Corsi Rel
Sean Couturier C PHI -7.1 -5.4 -12.5 +0.0 -25.0 960 +2.1

Philadelphia was just chock-full-o' fail this season, and this super sophomore got caught up in the maelstrom.

3rd Place


Justin Schultz

#19 / Defenseman / Edmonton Oilers

6-1

185

Jun 06, 1990



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Justin Schultz 48 8 19 27 -17 8 4 0 3 85 9.4
NAME POS TEAM 5-5 Impact PP Impact PK Impact Penalty +/- Total PDO Corsi Rel
Justin Schultz D EDM -20.3 -0.6 -5.3 -0.4 -26.6 982 -1.2

The vaunted college free agent phenom scored for the Oilers, but his opponents lit the lamp even more rapidly.

LVP Runner Up


Olli Jokinen

#12 / Center / Winnipeg Jets

6-2

210

Dec 05, 1978



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Olli Jokinen 45 7 7 14 -19 14 0 0 0 85 8.2
NAME POS TEAM 5-5 Impact PP Impact PK Impact Penalty +/- Total PDO Corsi Rel
Olli Jokinen C WPG -27.6 -3.0 +0.0 +0.4 -30.2 939 -2.9

The Joker has had a notoriously up-and-down career, and this season the gags fell flat.

Remember, if the LVP cannot successfully complete his duties as reigning champion, our runner-up assumes the crown.

The 2013 Least Valuable Player


Dan Girardi

#5 / Defenseman / New York Rangers

6-1

203

Apr 29, 1984



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Dan Girardi 46 2 12 14 -1 16 0 0 1 81 2.4
NAME POS TEAM 5-5 Impact PP Impact PK Impact Penalty +/- Total PDO Corsi Rel
Dan Girardi D NYR -19.8 -3.2 -13.8 +0.0 -36.8 981 -6.7

Whether at even-strength or on either side of the special teams battle, things turned sour for the Rangers when Girardi went over the boards. The especially sore point for Girardi was the penalty kill, which gave up nearly 10 goals per 60 minutes during his ice time.

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