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New Jersey vs. Edmonton--The draft and how they use it.

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Old
03-31-2004, 08:07 AM
  #26
Lowetide
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
James' 'pythagorean theory' is so wrong it shouldn't have to be discussed. But there are people at hockeyresearch.com who have been trying to make it fit to hockey results for ages ... good Jebus, its just madness . It just doesn't make basic sense.

James has an equation for pitcher-vs-batter as well (this dude has gotten a lot of credit for some real basic probability calcs). And he's used math that would be exactly the same as for a game of darts (i.e. If you and I decided to throw some darts for a tenner ... and the rule was we each threw a dart, whoever got a bull won. If we both got bulls (or both missed) its a do-over). I'm not sure that is the best analogy for a pitcher-batter match-up ... but I do know that it is a terrible analogy for a hockey game ... and it doesn't stop people from writing essays on the subject.

I got into James' stuff when he was explaining the idea behind the theory, and not when he was making the big dollars for it (his 1984-87 Abstracts are basically the body of his work, and the thrust and theory are explained without the ego). Its basically hard numbers and then sussing them out.

I do think there are things we can know about hockey that we didn't know 30 years ago. Plus minus, in the right hands, is a very powerful tool, and save percentage has its value as well.

But I don't think we can ever add extra numbers like OBP and SP that have the same weight in terms of evaluation of a specific player or team.

I think the two NHL numbers that should be listed for every player are body checks and scoring chances. When we get there, we can talk about moving the puck forward.

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03-31-2004, 03:22 PM
  #27
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Hmm, hadn't looked at this thread for a while, and it's erupted into a full-fledged statistical dicussion. Some comments...

Quote:
I think the two NHL numbers that should be listed for every player are body checks and scoring chances. When we get there, we can talk about moving the puck forward.
The problem with this is (a) these numbers would be inherently subjective and (b) I don't know that with bodychecks at least, you could even show that they have any impact on winning hockey games. Remember those old Russian club teams, they'd come here and do tours, beat up on NHL teams, and not throw a hit all night. A hit is great if it contributes to winning, but I'm not sure it does a lot of the time.

Quote:
Some of his probability stuff ... forecasting the success of teams or players ... much of that is just badly done IMHO. And what's probably coloured my opinion even more is the fact that everyone and their brother has tried to copy his calcs and apply them to hockey ... which is ridiculous. The way that wins, losses and goals happen in hockey is just completely different ... and IMO a lot of James' stuff in this vein was off-base in the first place.

James' 'pythagorean theory' is so wrong it shouldn't have to be discussed. But there are people at hockeyresearch.com who have been trying to make it fit to hockey results for ages ... good Jebus, its just madness . It just doesn't make basic sense.
I don't know that some of this stuff is as far out there as you say. When I went through the goal differential last summer, I think I identified a strong relationship between differential and winning, as well as identifying that teams that are succesful despite poor differentials have likely been pretty likely. Hockey is obviously different than baseball in that you're simultaneously defending and attacking, and depending on the situation, you will play differently, but I think at the end of the day, you can still draw info from the differential, although it's going to less precise than in baseball. Especially if you take steps like drawing out ENG, I think you can get good info from this stuff.

hockeyresearch.com and puckerings.com are particularly brutal though. I've thought about putting together a website myself, and seeing if I can set it to automatically update some of the stuff in which I'm interested-I like this EV +/-, teams special teams relative to teh league and all that. Perhaps the worst abuse exists on hockeyresearch.com though, where they tried to value goals depending on the situation in which they were scored without accounting for the fact that "better" players will score more in close games because that's when they'll get the bulk of their ice time. Brutal.

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03-31-2004, 03:36 PM
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
The problem with this is (a) these numbers would be inherently subjective and (b) I don't know that with bodychecks at least, you could even show that they have any impact on winning hockey games. Remember those old Russian club teams, they'd come here and do tours, beat up on NHL teams, and not throw a hit all night. A hit is great if it contributes to winning, but I'm not sure it does a lot of the time.
I think bodychecks, or a stat that listed them, would reflect a players ability. Sort of like penalty minutes, which implies a certain type of player.

There's a whole swack of stats I'd like to see (unforced errors, in all three zones broken down seperately, scoring chances, blocked shots, hits, key defensive play) but the game is so fast that we'd be getting the 99-00 stats about now.

Alot of hockey is intuitive, and I don't want the beauty of the game to get bogged down in pure numbers.

Having said that, there are a number of players whose strengths aren't really measured in the current GP/G/A/PTS/PIM structure. The majority of players have the jist of their game reflected in the stats, but a guy like Nik Lidstrom's greatness will be implied, not measured.

And I think a stat like unforced errors might shed some light on his brilliance.

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04-01-2004, 01:41 PM
  #29
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Originally Posted by lowetide
I got into James' stuff when he was explaining the idea behind the theory, and not when he was making the big dollars for it (his 1984-87 Abstracts are basically the body of his work, and the thrust and theory are explained without the ego). Its basically hard numbers and then sussing them out.

I do think there are things we can know about hockey that we didn't know 30 years ago. Plus minus, in the right hands, is a very powerful tool, and save percentage has its value as well.

But I don't think we can ever add extra numbers like OBP and SP that have the same weight in terms of evaluation of a specific player or team.

I think the two NHL numbers that should be listed for every player are body checks and scoring chances. When we get there, we can talk about moving the puck forward.
I just heard Billy Beane being interviewed on Jim Rome's show on The Team 1260. An interesting interview, and it brought me back to this thread.

Beane clearly applied some solid business strategies to two aspects of the game:
1. Calculating the chances of a prospect working out.
2. Calculating the the true value of a player to a team (i.e. his impact on winning) against his market value (i.e. his salary and contract status)

Point #1 I really don't have much to comment on. Point #2 I have put a lot of thought into for hockey ... and for a reason, a trade or injury affects a team's ability to win the next game ... and calculating that, and by just how much, is very important.

Forsberg (perenially) is the biggest impact player at 5on5 (which is most important only because that is when most goals are scored. He also has a big impact on PP scoring ... a double whammy!

And obviously you're playing the players on the other team ... not the logo.

For example ... a lot of fans I know moaned that the Oilers were beating the good teams and losing to the crap teams after the loss in Anaheim last month (this is, of course, complete nonsense when you look at the season as a whole). And the fact is ... the Oilers were bigger oddsmakers underdogs in the ANA game than either of the two previous matchups (in COL with Forsberg out and Sauve starting) and vs VAN (with Naslund out injured) ... though they dropped to slight underdogs in the VAN game when Dvorak was scratched on game day.

But I digress ... my point: if you look at a player, and replace him with the imaginary 'average NHLer' ... how will that affect his teams results in terms of goals scored for and against? And what quality of opposition does he face? And what would likely happen to the results of his linemates with him replaced? (in terms of outscoring the other team, at even strength and on the PP).

By my math Forsberg is the best player in the league overall, only Lindros would give him a run for his money at 5on5 value every year if he could stay healthy. And Lidstrom is close to him as well. And if Heatley gets fully healthy he will be the best player in the league within a couple of years (Kovalchuk won't even be close). Time will tell. And JMO.

The bottom line, and again just IMO:
Scoring forwards who cannot go toe-to-toe with the best players of the opposition successfully are generally grossly overpaid relative to true value (Weight, Nedved, Turgeon, Bure, Briere, Carter, Jagr, Kovalev etc).

Offensive defensemen are grossly overpaid relative to impact on results. In fact the vast majority of defensemen in general are overpaid, especially the young guys like Stuart, Brewer, Jovo, Morris etc.

Medium-scoring forwards (15-20 goal, 40-50 point type guys) that can either maintain an offensive cycle well, or backcheck effectively ... these are the best value players IMO. And big or gritty forwards give you more bang-for-your-buck more often than small or soft guys ... though its certainly not a hard-and-fast rule ... heck none of these are ... just a rough blanket summary of what I've come up with. Also I think Smyth is a very good value, and has quietly become one of the best 5on5 players in the league.

All players go on hot and cold streaks ... but in the long run I think there is much sense in all of the comments above.

On the whole, and just a personal opinion, but I really have no major complaints with the way Lowe has handled this team. And they project very well if he can hold the key players together. The only move that I never liked (off the top of my head at least) is the Hecht trade ... a good player at a good price I thought. Niinimaa is iffy in my mind as well ... but with the abuse the guy took i can see the worries about injury.

And the goaltender is clearly the biggest impact player on most teams ... be it a positive or negative impact. But the $ to value relationship is wildly erratic from year to year for a lot of these guys (SEE BELFOUR in DAL) ... hopefully the Ev Save% history of goalies is the best indicator

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04-01-2004, 02:24 PM
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
IThe bottom line, and again just IMO:
Scoring forwards who cannot go toe-to-toe with the best players of the opposition successfully are generally grossly overpaid relative to true value (Weight, Nedved, Turgeon, Bure, Briere, Carter, Jagr, Kovalev etc).

Offensive defensemen are grossly overpaid relative to impact on results. In fact the vast majority of defensemen in general are overpaid, especially the young guys like Stuart, Brewer, Jovo, Morris etc.

Medium-scoring forwards (15-20 goal, 40-50 point type guys) that can either maintain an offensive cycle well, or backcheck effectively ... these are the best value players IMO. And big or gritty forwards give you more bang-for-your-buck more often than small or soft guys ... though its certainly not a hard-and-fast rule ... heck none of these are ... just a rough blanket summary of what I've come up with. Also I think Smyth is a very good value, and has quietly become one of the best 5on5 players in the league.

imo, a team should always have some variety on their roster. The old Habs teams had some poor defensive forwards (Cournoyer, Lafleur) and some defensive specialists (Provost, Roberts, Gainey, Jarvis) in the mix as well. Sam Pollock drafted Bob Gainey in the first round because that's the kind of player he needed. I very much doubt there's been 5 GM's in NHL history who would draft a 22 goal OHA scorer 8th overall in any era. But he did.

My concern with regard to this team is that the Oilers have too many medium scoring forwards, and no one to break the game open.

The other night in St. Louis, they could have used one. And the powerplay could use one every night.

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04-01-2004, 02:49 PM
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
Beane clearly applied some solid business strategies to two aspects of the game:
1. Calculating the chances of a prospect working out.
2. Calculating the the true value of a player to a team (i.e. his impact on winning) against his market value (i.e. his salary and contract status)
Point #2 is perhaps the most misunderstood point about Beane and Co. There has been a great deal of dicussion about what the A's will do when teams with $ wise up and start going after the same players. In my opinion, he'll then just look for other ways to win, with assets that are undervalued. If speed and defence all of the sudden becomes dirt cheap, he'll go after it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
But I digress ... my point: if you look at a player, and replace him with the imaginary 'average NHLer' ... how will that affect his teams results in terms of goals scored for and against? And what quality of opposition does he face? And what would likely happen to the results of his linemates with him replaced? (in terms of outscoring the other team, at even strength and on the PP).

By my math Forsberg is the best player in the league overall, only Lindros would give him a run for his money at 5on5 value every year if he could stay healthy. And Lidstrom is close to him as well. And if Heatley gets fully healthy he will be the best player in the league within a couple of years (Kovalchuk won't even be close). Time will tell. And JMO.
I have to disagree with you on the Heatley point. I still think that centres can have a much greater impact on the play than wingers. While Heatley may well be the most talented player in the league in a couple of years, the fact is, his EV- is going to in many ways be dependent upon the defensive skills of the centre that he is worth. If the centre does a poor job of taking away the guy down low, that end of the game, then Heatley's numbers there are going to suffer, and there is little that he can do about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
The bottom line, and again just IMO:
Scoring forwards who cannot go toe-to-toe with the best players of the opposition successfully are generally grossly overpaid relative to true value (Weight, Nedved, Turgeon, Bure, Briere, Carter, Jagr, Kovalev etc).
The thing with this is, it's difficult to say that players can't go toe-to-toe successfully because we don't have the numbers to justify it. Additionally, you have to consider that many of those guys aren't going to see the best line on the other teams-they are going to have the Grind Lines up against them. I accept your point though, and to be honest, for about the last 7-8 years of his career, I thought that Gretzky was overpaid, and I don't think he could have played for me, because of his defensive awfulness. I guess the thing that you'd need to assess is whether or not his PP skills justified it. I think you've shown pretty conclusively this year that there are a very few elite players who can have an impact on your PP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
Medium-scoring forwards (15-20 goal, 40-50 point type guys) that can either maintain an offensive cycle well, or backcheck effectively ... these are the best value players IMO. And big or gritty forwards give you more bang-for-your-buck more often than small or soft guys ... though its certainly not a hard-and-fast rule ... heck none of these are ... just a rough blanket summary of what I've come up with. Also I think Smyth is a very good value, and has quietly become one of the best 5on5 players in the league.
To me, these guys are useful, but really it's only while they're young. After a couple of these seasons, when they start wanting 1.5-1.8, there are better alternatives out there. Moreau, who I know is loved around here, is a perfect example of this. If Rita is given the opportunity, he could well be Moreau, and at a much lower cost. There are way too many players in the league making big $$ based on the fact that they've been in the league for a while. Look at Pisani as another example. These guys are out there, and can provide the necessary depth.

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04-01-2004, 04:04 PM
  #32
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Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
...I have to disagree with you on the Heatley point. I still think that centres can have a much greater impact on the play than wingers. While Heatley may well be the most talented player in the league in a couple of years, the fact is, his EV- is going to in many ways be dependent upon the defensive skills of the centre that he is worth. If the centre does a poor job of taking away the guy down low, that end of the game, then Heatley's numbers there are going to suffer, and there is little that he can do about it.
I really disagree, and while many of the players that have the biggest impact on teams results are centres ... there is not a big difference between between impact wingers and impact centres. It becomes a matter of "who's zoomin' who" ... Heatley will continue to contribute to the outscoring of the opposition at a phenomenal rate, regardless of the centre he is with. I also don't think Heatley is necessarily the most talented player ... not even on his team, just the most effective.

The Sedin's are a good example, one is a winger and one is a centre (and both good-value players IMO, as loathe as I am to admit that on a board that Mizral reads ) apply the 'average player' notion ... and they have virtually identical value over any significant stretch where they are both healthy.

To my mind, no coach is really THAT much smarter than any other ... and players will end up in the roles where they are most likely to be successful. Situations like Comrie's in the latter half of last year ... its an anomaly, because no coach with sense would continue to gift Comrie the undeserved ice-time against weak opposition regardless of his two-way play. They want to keep their jobs.

Also ... it depends on the system of the team. There is much less onus on the centre in either of DET or COL for eg. With the Oilers ... centres like Horcoff, Reasoner, Stoll (one day soon) are high-value low-cost players for the system the Oilers play. And it affords Mactavish the luxury of using either York or Nedved in a less demanding role. Coaches adapt ... IMHO none of them are quite as stupid as we often presume.

Quote:
To me, these guys are useful, but really it's only while they're young. After a couple of these seasons, when they start wanting 1.5-1.8, there are better alternatives out there. Moreau, who I know is loved around here, is a perfect example of this. If Rita is given the opportunity, he could well be Moreau, and at a much lower cost. There are way too many players in the league making big $$ based on the fact that they've been in the league for a while. Look at Pisani as another example. These guys are out there, and can provide the necessary depth.
Personally, I don't consider Moreau to be a bonafide 15-20 goal, 40-50 point player. I was referring more to the likes of York, Dvorak, Horcoff, Reasoner, Torres (maybe) etc. Smyth isn't a mile above this group either. Or about 9 N.J forwards for that matter.

I like some guys like Moreau though. Whereas baseball seems more like a collection of individuals to me ... hockey is a true team game. And you need leaders. People who set the tone, define the culture of your organization. Decide how hard everyone will work in practice, etc, etc. Its pretty intagible thing though ... hard to peg a dollar value on these things ... especially when you're not in the room.

And Rita, to me, just doesn't look like an NHLer ... I doubt he could ever fill Moreau's role, either as an on-ice player or as a leader. But I haven't seen him ever play enough to be sure ... has any player of his type (scoring winger), ever, at his age, with his Finnish and/or AHL numbers (at the same as as he got them) ever gone on to be a high-end player, or even a mediocre one? I dunno, but I doubt there are many, if any And history really does repeat itself.

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04-01-2004, 04:25 PM
  #33
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Originally Posted by lowetide
imo, a team should always have some variety on their roster. The old Habs teams had some poor defensive forwards (Cournoyer, Lafleur) and some defensive specialists (Provost, Roberts, Gainey, Jarvis) in the mix as well. Sam Pollock drafted Bob Gainey in the first round because that's the kind of player he needed. I very much doubt there's been 5 GM's in NHL history who would draft a 22 goal OHA scorer 8th overall in any era. But he did.

My concern with regard to this team is that the Oilers have too many medium scoring forwards, and no one to break the game open.

The other night in St. Louis, they could have used one. And the powerplay could use one every night.
A funny thing happens to medium-scoring forwards that CAN go toe-to-toe with quality opposition reasonably well. When you put them out there against mediocre opposition, and they're still playing responsibly ... (SEE York-Dvorak-Torres this season or RAM in the past couple, Weight before that) their EV+/- goes through the roof. That doesn't make them the best defensive forwards on the team (often not the case at all) ... IMHO it does mean that the coach is doing his job well, and the gm has given him the tools to do it.

A guy like Ryan Smyth, on the other hand, has given the Oilers something they haven't had here in yonks ... a scoring player that makes linemates better AND can go toe to toe with the leagues best players. Even when he's playing against opposition that is all-star quality ... just watch and estimate the % of time the puck
spends in the Oilers zone when Smyth is playing . To my mind Smyth is, hands down, the Oilers MVP this year, and should have been last year too.

Forsberg, Lehtonen, Lindros and Federov are the best checkers in the league IMO ... Sundin, Modano, Langkow, Richards, Ricci and Palffy are pretty darn good too. Smyth isn't too far from being part of this club IMO, probably is in with the latter group.

I think if we see a 'checking line' with Smyth and Dvorak on the wings next year (with Reasoner/Horcoff between them) this team will really move up a step. York-Hemsky and Torres or 'new guy' can play sheltered 2nd line minutes and rack up big EV+/- numbers, and be hailed as Selke candidates ... this team will be a force 5on5. And Mactavish is a smart guy ... I will be disappointed if the Oilers aren't the 2nd or 3rd best team at 5on5 next year. (only OTT and COL should be better ... and only if Forsberg comes back and both Sakic and him stay healthy and motivated for most of the year).

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04-01-2004, 08:48 PM
  #34
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So

Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
A funny thing happens to medium-scoring forwards that CAN go toe-to-toe with quality opposition reasonably well. When you put them out there against mediocre opposition, and they're still playing responsibly ... (SEE York-Dvorak-Torres this season or RAM in the past couple, Weight before that) their EV+/- goes through the roof. That doesn't make them the best defensive forwards on the team (often not the case at all) ... IMHO it does mean that the coach is doing his job well, and the gm has given him the tools to do it.

A guy like Ryan Smyth, on the other hand, has given the Oilers something they haven't had here in yonks ... a scoring player that makes linemates better AND can go toe to toe with the leagues best players. Even when he's playing against opposition that is all-star quality ... just watch and estimate the % of time the puck
spends in the Oilers zone when Smyth is playing . To my mind Smyth is, hands down, the Oilers MVP this year, and should have been last year too.

Forsberg, Lehtonen, Lindros and Federov are the best checkers in the league IMO ... Sundin, Modano, Langkow, Richards, Ricci and Palffy are pretty darn good too. Smyth isn't too far from being part of this club IMO, probably is in with the latter group.

I think if we see a 'checking line' with Smyth and Dvorak on the wings next year (with Reasoner/Horcoff between them) this team will really move up a step. York-Hemsky and Torres or 'new guy' can play sheltered 2nd line minutes and rack up big EV+/- numbers, and be hailed as Selke candidates ... this team will be a force 5on5. And Mactavish is a smart guy ... I will be disappointed if the Oilers aren't the 2nd or 3rd best team at 5on5 next year. (only OTT and COL should be better ... and only if Forsberg comes back and both Sakic and him stay healthy and motivated for most of the year).
you're worried about ST and netminding

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04-01-2004, 09:05 PM
  #35
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Originally Posted by Matts
you're worried about ST and netminding
I really cannot find any reasons to believe that the Oilers powerplay will be anything but terrible next year. Lately they are scoring some ... but they are doing it without many scoring chances. It will dry up soon enough ... you can only ride luck for so long.

I'm not worried about the netminding though. I don't think Conklin/Markannen are the second coming of Fuhr/Moog, they'll both have their fair share of great, good, mediocre and bad games ... but with 40ish games each I would bet that they will give the Oilers average to above-average goaltending. The competition should be good for both of them too.

Got to like how both of these goalies handle the puck, esp Conklin. Rule changes might negate that though.

The thing I personally like the most about these two guys ... accountability. That's a rare thing in an NHL goalie. And these are both stand-up guys, the kind of guys the skaters usually like to play in front of IMO.

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04-01-2004, 10:18 PM
  #36
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I was just prodding you

I'm fine with the goaltending. It's gonna be cheap and it should be bang for the buck to boot.

Now I know you're deadset against splits home.road with PK but I don't know how else to explain it.

Oilers road PK? beyond terrible

home PK? I didn't even look at the stretch but they wound up 14th so it had to be remarkable beginning with the night they broke the streak in a game on Dec 21??? vs the Dys

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04-02-2004, 10:59 AM
  #37
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Originally Posted by igor
I really disagree, and while many of the players that have the biggest impact on teams results are centres ... there is not a big difference between between impact wingers and impact centres. It becomes a matter of "who's zoomin' who" ... Heatley will continue to contribute to the outscoring of the opposition at a phenomenal rate, regardless of the centre he is with. I also don't think Heatley is necessarily the most talented player ... not even on his team, just the most effective.

The Sedin's are a good example, one is a winger and one is a centre (and both good-value players IMO, as loathe as I am to admit that on a board that Mizral reads ) apply the 'average player' notion ... and they have virtually identical value over any significant stretch where they are both healthy.

To my mind, no coach is really THAT much smarter than any other ... and players will end up in the roles where they are most likely to be successful. Situations like Comrie's in the latter half of last year ... its an anomaly, because no coach with sense would continue to gift Comrie the undeserved ice-time against weak opposition regardless of his two-way play. They want to keep their jobs.

Also ... it depends on the system of the team. There is much less onus on the centre in either of DET or COL for eg. With the Oilers ... centres like Horcoff, Reasoner, Stoll (one day soon) are high-value low-cost players for the system the Oilers play. And it affords Mactavish the luxury of using either York or Nedved in a less demanding role. Coaches adapt ... IMHO none of them are quite as stupid as we often presume.
You've made this comment before in regards to the defensive system that the team plays having a big impact on what players can impact the EV +/-. I'd like to get a little more info from you on exactly what you mean. I'm guessing that you're referring to teams that play the left wing lock, but am not quite sure. This is something I'm going to start watching in the playoffs, but it seems to me that even in those systems, the centre is generally the player with the responsibility down low in the defensive zone. Wingers have some impact, but essentially the impact that they have is making sure the puck gets out when they get it, and not allowing the points to sneak in. In the case of the Sedins, it's not at all surprising that they have amazingly similar EV +/- numbers, given that they spend most of their time on the ice with one another. My point is that Henrik (or Daniel, whichever one is the centre) is still going to have most of the responsibility in the defensive zone. The other one, who plays the boards, and high in the d-zone, is largely at the mercy of Henrik/Daniel's ability to make plays down low, and deny scoring chances in terms of his EV- number.

I also don't really get your comment in regards to the coaches, especially in light of the Neilsen/Bowman love. I look at a guy like Hitch, who has had something like one losing season in his career, including junior, and I can't believe that he doesn't have a little something extra. Even a guy like Pat Quinn, earlier in his career, was a damn fine coach in my opinion, although I think that the game has now passed him by. By and large, the coaches in the NHL are not all that distinguishable from one another, but I think that as with players, the ones who are a step above are really a step above.

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04-02-2004, 11:49 AM
  #38
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Originally Posted by lowetide
The first post in this thread looked at 94-98 and the differences between Edmonton and New Jersey in those years. I think NJ is far more patient with ALL of their draft picks, impact players or not, and the results are impressive.

The Oilers 94-98 rushed their impact prospects to the NHL out of need, New Jersey didn't, probably because they didn't need to. Both teams seemed to require their depth players to spend a season+ at the AHL level.

Now, did anything change 99-02?


Did the Oilers develop more players than New Jersey through the 99-02 drafts? It's pretty even again.

New Jersey has sent 7 players to the NHL already, plus Andreas Salomonsson was an overager. However, Ari Ahonen hasn't played in the NHL yet, so it's 7 with the best prospect on the list (99-02) still to come. Edmonton has sent 7 players to the NHL, plus another 4 (Markkanen, Pisa, Luoma and Haakana) overagers.


Which organization drafted more impact players 99-02? This is open to dispute, and I can't think of anyone less qualified than me to make this call. Still as a starting point, let's include the Devils' Paul Martin and Edmonton's Mike Comrie and Ales Hemsky.

Of these impact players, how many were fast tracked?
Compared to 94-98, the Devils have been fairly aggressive with some of the 99-02 group. Paul Martin (and David Hale for that matter) spent three years in college and stepped into the NHL at age 22. From the 94-98 group only Scott Gomez came to the Devils faster than that (right out of junior, age 20).

The Oilers fast tracked Mike Comrie (or he fast tracked them, one of the two) as he arrived at 20 without a day in the minors. Ales Hemsky was fast tracked, but as has been documented many times, this was a special case.

So, of the three players who have already played in the NHL and look to be impact players from both 99-02 drafts, none have played a minor league game.


Anything to learn from these numbers? Its too soon to tell. Some of the guys drafted may end up being impact players on both sides (Stoll, Semenov, Hale, Ahonen that Suglobov guy). The Oilers fast tracking Comrie and Hemsky is in line with Smyth and Poti's fast tracking, and there's precedent for Martin (and Hale) in that Scott Gomez came quickly.


What about the foot soliders? How were they handled? First let me say I have no idea if David Hale is an impact player. I didn't include him in the impact list because there's no evidence that he's a better player than Semenov, and I don't think we can call Semenov an impact player yet.

So, New Jersey has sent Hale, Mike Commodore, Mike Rupp and Mike Danton to the NHL, and they're all useful players. They spend 0, 160, 196 and 69 games in the AHL respectively. That's a total of 425 games, or an average of 106 per player.

Edmonton has sent Jarret Stoll and Alexei Semenov to the NHL, and they're certainly useful players. They spent 76 and 115 games in the AHL, a total of 191 games or 96 per player.

Among foot soldiers, both 94-98 and 99-02 look pretty much the same for both organizations. If you are Kenny Smith or Barry Tallackson, 1.5 years in the AHL is very likely.

What about Rita? Since I mentioned Rita at the top, I thought it might be time for us to look at him again.

Are there any New Jersey comps for Jani Rita? If we look at all the players in each organization 94-02 who have played over 150 AHL games, we get this list:

Pierre Dagenais-297
Steve Kelly-287
Jason Chimera-237
Colin White-205
Michael Rupp-196
Jani Rita-194
Alex Henry-188
Fernando Pisani-172
Mike Commodore-160
Lance Ward-158

Guess what? They're all foot soldiers. So far, not one of these guys has managed to become an impact player. That's a list of 3-4line players and dmen.

If we say Jani Rita is an impact player, and look for player who might fit his profile, we get Patrick Elias (134 AHL games, began to establish himself at 21) and Mike Sullivan (143 AHL games, began to establish himself at 22).

However, let's look at their AHL seasons:

Elias
95-96 (age19) 74 27 36 63
96-97 (age20) 57 24 43 67

Sullivan
94-95 (age20) 75 31 50 81
95-96 (age21) 53 33 42 75

Rita
01-02 (age20) 76 25 17 42
02-03 (age21) 64 21 27 48
03-04 (age22) 54 16 22 38

I understand the hockey world has less offense than it did in the mid-90s, but do those numbers look in any way similar? igor, if you're still reading, how much is the difference between the two eras?


Anything we can learn?
The Oilers were fast tracking the impact players in both clusters, and they seem to be patient with the foot soldiers in both clusters. New Jersey seemed to be a bit more likely to be patient on both impact players and the secondary guys, although from Gomez through Martin/Hale they seem to be willing to bring a guy in if they feel he's ready. I guess we'll see with Parise (who could be signed by the time I finish writing this damn thing).

What about Rita dammit? He's either a very unique, slow developing impact player or he's a 3rd liner. There's no evidence I can see that he's going to turn into Patrik Elias. He hasn't flown through the AHL, and he hasn't dominated there either. He's shown flashes.

One final note: I didn't include Jason Bonsignore in this because he didn't play 100 games. That was my requirement for the 94-98 period. btw, he did play for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL this season, going 5gp-2-5-7.

It is the first time in his pro career he's exceeded a point per game average.
Outstanding work again Lowetide. If you want a comparison for Rita in the Devils system I think you need to look no further than Christian Berglund. Berglund is a year older but has followed a path that given the difference in depth in the minor league systems fr both teams, is very similar. I think both players can be looked at as guys with second line potential but are most likely third line contributors. What makes Rita's situation uniqu is that the Oilers have far more wingers that Jersey had to protect from waivers at the start of the year (relevant at the start of camp next year) and Berglund was also not held back by a large rookie cap contract like Rita is.

I think it is going to be very interesting to see what happens with Rita in the off-season. I think it likely that Lowe will try to get him to agree to a one way deal at 500k er year similar to what the Canucks did with Warriner a couple of season ago. With Rita facing a ton of uncertainty, I am sure he would go for this type of deal. If he does not look like he is going to make the team out of camp, they can try to move him before losing him on waivers for something they are in greater need of, namely a right handed shooting d-man.

I can see Minnesota, Chicago, and Columbus all being quite interested in the guy, especially at that price. At one point I thought he would be a good fit in Vancouver but Burke informed me that his scouting staff is not all that high on him. You better believe that the contract situation and his waiver status are going to change things for him next year. What the end result will be is anyone's guess. I am going to predict Chicago, but would still love to see him in Vancouver. How does McCarthy for Rita sound to you?

Great analysis again. You, Slats and GuyF certainly come up with interesting material. Here's hoping the nux win tonight and Colorado loses so we can all cheer for Edmonton in the final game.

Ginner

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