One of the great things about the analytics movement in hockey is what goes on behind the scenes. The movers and shakers are constantly testing theories, experimenting with data, and trying to find better and better ways of quantifying the numbers and making sense of all the things we see on the ice.
It's one of the reasons you heard so much about Fenwick Close for so long, but now it has started to fade away. New information was making it less valuable.
This week, Dominic Galamini of Own the Puck unveiled a new way to measure a player's individual contributions on the ice. Usage Adjusted Charts. We know that sometimes numbers (be they in analytics or otherwise) can get inflated or hindered depending on line mates and situations. The idea of the charts is to separate all of that so we can see how a player performs on an individual level.
Galamini breaks the visualization out into 7 main areas. Usage Adjusted Corsi For/60 is the rate of shot attempts for the team with the player on the ice. This measures a player’s value in terms of shot generation. Usage Adjusted Corsi Against/60 is the rate of shot attempts against the team with the player on the ice. This measures a player’s value in terms of shot supperssion. Usage Adjusted Corsi % puts the first two together to measure overall puck possession. Goals/60 is the rate at which the player scores goals. Assists/60 is the rate at which the player assists on goals. Points/60 puts the prior two together. Finally, Scoring Chances/60 measures the rate at which the player is shooting the puck from the most dangerous (highest shooting percentage league wide) areas of the ice.
Those seven groups are then measured into 4th line, 3rd line, 2nd line, 1st line. These charts are only for 390 forwards at present time, so to be performing at a 1st line level your numbers have to be as good or better than about 97 other players.
So without further ado, let's look at these charts for the Nashville Predators' forwards. I've grouped them by their most recent line combinations, so we can see if they are earning their spot.
Here's your daily reminder that Filip Forsberg is really, really good. He has some work to do to start negating shots toward his goaltender, but for a 20-year-old those are some pretty impressive numbers. As for Mike Ribeiro, you can see why the notion of a true 1C keeps getting brought up. He is scoring points, but he's been a career second line player, and his usage chart reflects that's more or less what he still is. That's not to take anything away from what he's done this season, because he's been pretty elite when it comes to dishing the puck.
Also, Craig Smith is great, but is he top line great? Scroll down and judge for yourself.
One of these things is not like the other. Mike Fisher has been a godsend for Nashville's special teams, and is having a quite a season right now. However, you can see he's benefitting from scoring a lot of goals, but is performing about as well as a 3rd line player in just about every other category. There's nothing wrong with that, since he would likely slot into that role on many other teams, though with second line potential. It's just something to keep in mind when summer rolls around and new pieces need to be brought in. (Either to complement him or replace him.)
There's been rumblings about it recently, but it looks like James Neal belongs on the first line. Smith isn't a bad option up there, nor would it hurt him to put him on the second. I mean, wow, look at that performance. From comparing the two above, it seems rather obvious who should slot well. With Smith and Colin Wilson's play, that still evens out the scoring ability the team has.
Sorry, there is no chart Calle Jarnkrok yet. You'll just have to make do with a picture of a dog in a wig.
Otherwise, this line looks pretty much right in line with where you would expect them to be. Matt Cullen's actually look pretty good considering his role on the team and his age. I'm actually a little intrigued to Gabriel Bourque performing that well. He was a bit of a possession darling last year, but that hasn't shown up as much this year. Perhaps it's because he's been spending time scratched or on the fourth line? He should never be on the first line like he was to start the year, but maybe he can be serviceable on the third? We'll see.
If a chart for Ironhook surfaces, I'll plug that in. I'm aching to know how he stacks up here.
Nothing to see here other than Paul Gaustad suppresses shots like a BAMF. You want might Olli Jokinen's to be a little higher, but again... age and usage. He should have more points than he does this year, but for whatever reason (age) it just isn't happening.
Taylor Beck looks eerily similar to Gaustad. Perhaps after this year Beck can find himself on a full-time fourth line role?
In case we haven't beaten the horse enough, all signs point to Stalberg being a better player than he was given credit for. It's moot as this point, but it gives one pause to think what he could have done with a larger role. Of course, the flip side of that is first that two coaches put him lower and lower in the lineup until he was a healthy scratch. Second, he's not a bad option, but would he have been better than any of the ones with spots already on the roster? Bourque maybe? Sigh.
So, what do you all think? What do you get out of these and what questions to they raise?