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Relative player performance in contract years

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07-16-2014, 03:06 AM
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bedsheetrubber92
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Relative player performance in contract years

I've heard it thrown around before that players try harder in the last years of their contracts in order to get paid more. Have there been any good studies of this? It would be really interesting to see how point totals fluctuate from the year before a contract year to the year after.

Perhaps one pitfall would be correcting for the general improvement of players as they age from their entry level contracts and correcting for the decline of players entering free agency.

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07-16-2014, 10:49 AM
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This would interest me as well - I think that you could use GVT as a proxy for value (it's not perfect, but since you're looking at comparisons of the same player, ideally the flaws would wash out).

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07-16-2014, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chalupa Batman View Post
This would interest me as well - I think that you could use GVT as a proxy for value (it's not perfect, but since you're looking at comparisons of the same player, ideally the flaws would wash out).
I think the biggest issues may arise from players who changed roles between contracts (generally would only occur when they switch teams). GVT still struggles to compare offensive and defensive roles. Granted I'd think that those cases would be more rare and could be identified.

The other thing I'd want to see looked at is adjustment to a new team. Player A has a career year in City B right before free agency. Then signs a massive deal and goes to City C, but his play isn't quite up to the same level, he struggles. Did he overperform in City B, or is he struggling with chemistry with new teammates/system?

Perhaps you could control for that by also looking at players who changed teams in a trade and see if there's a similar drop (or increase) in production

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07-16-2014, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bedsheetrubber92 View Post
I've heard it thrown around before that players try harder in the last years of their contracts in order to get paid more. Have there been any good studies of this? It would be really interesting to see how point totals fluctuate from the year before a contract year to the year after.

Perhaps one pitfall would be correcting for the general improvement of players as they age from their entry level contracts and correcting for the decline of players entering free agency.
I've actually been thinking about writing a paper on this subject. It should be fairly straightforward to control for age but hatterson's comment about UFAs switching teams could be more problematic. I don't think it should be too difficult to deal with though.

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07-17-2014, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by matnor View Post
I've actually been thinking about writing a paper on this subject. It should be fairly straightforward to control for age but hatterson's comment about UFAs switching teams could be more problematic. I don't think it should be too difficult to deal with though.
Yea, a clear example of this would be Drury/Briere/Vanek from the 05-06 and 06-07 Sabres. Do you attribute the career years those three had to overperforming in a contract year, or to the fact that they were on one of the most dynamic offensive teams in recent memory and were all feeding off each other?

None have reached quite the same peak, but all three also went to less dynamic situations. Drury went to the Rangers who were a bottom 10 offensive team, Briere went to the Flyers and Vanek stayed on the Sabres and although both of those teams were solid offensively (Buffalo #4 in the league, Philly #6) they were still 2/3 of a goal per game behind the 06-07 Sabres pace.

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07-17-2014, 11:10 AM
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Perhaps it would be best to just look an untraded player's last two years on a contract. That should still have a massive sample size.

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07-17-2014, 11:13 AM
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Probably the best anecdotal example here since you see it occur multiple times through the career (first year with a team typically the worst, last year with a team typically the best):
http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/p...y.php?pid=2703

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07-17-2014, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Caeldan View Post
Probably the best anecdotal example here since you see it occur multiple times through the career (first year with a team typically the worst, last year with a team typically the best):
http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/p...y.php?pid=2703
Hmm, how so? Not with Tampa Bay, and he only played 12 games with Edmonton in that last season, so you can discard that data point. His playoff play in the last season with the Blackhawks was also poor. I don't know, even for an anecdotal example, this doesn't seem the best one to me. In fact, I don't even see a trend, unless I want to and really stretch it.

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07-17-2014, 07:22 PM
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Hmm, how so? Not with Tampa Bay, and he only played 12 games with Edmonton in that last season, so you can discard that data point. His playoff play in the last season with the Blackhawks was also poor. I don't know, even for an anecdotal example, this doesn't seem the best one to me. In fact, I don't even see a trend, unless I want to and really stretch it.
It's just a casual observation I'd noticed with him over the course of his career, and admittedly I only generally paid attention to the regular season.

But...

Phoenix: Contract year - standout.
Tampa Bay: Contract year - standout (won the Cup).
Chicago: Contract year - regular season standout at least, injured in the playoffs.
Edmonton: Contract year - Not sure why he only played 12 games - started the year strong, but somehow became backup to Dubnyk. But his entire time in Edmonton was a bit of a gong show.
Chicago: One year deal to play backup - got injured.

And his first year with Chicago and Edmonton both were pretty terrible, Tampa I believe he generally was consistent.

It might just be confirmation bias for myself, but he's always been my go to example of someone who has excellent contract years.

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