The Case Against Kris Russell Part 2

Matt Henderson
December 03 2016 10:00AM

As we discussed yesterday, Kris Russell is dragging down almost every player on the team when they share the same ice as him. This is why it’s alarming, for me, to see and hear people like Drew Remenda, Jack Michaels, and most recently Jim Matheson praise Russell so profusely and in some cases openly discuss signing him to an extension. The Edmonton Oilers, in any sane and rational world, should be figuring out how to move Russell away from the team.

This is part 2 of the case against Kris Russell. You can see the first part here where we went into more detail about the Risk/Reward benefits of Russell. Cole's Notes version is that the Oilers struggle greatly to move the puck up the ice when number 4 is out there and that even affects Connor McDavid. As we get closer to January, the possibility of a Russell extension becomes more real and this is a terrifying prospect.

If the most senior and plugged in members of the media who cover the team are writing or speaking about extending Russell then we can start to worry that they are telegraphing moves about to happen. The Oilers can’t sign Russell to an extension until after January 1st, but that doesn’t mean the parties haven’t been speaking off the record and are coming up with plans for an extension. Before the Hall for Larsson trade, Bob Stauffer on his OilersNow radio show floated the Larsson name days in advance. Sometimes you learn things that you cannot, for one reason or another, report on and instead talk about “What Ifs” and “Maybes”. It happens all the time in sports coverage.

So forgive my distress at the constant praise of Russell despite his poor play. I am very sure the Oilers are on a path that leads to signing a poor defender to a long term deal. Here’s what Matheson had to write about it.

Russell is an unrestricted free-agent July 1. Teams can’t sign their own UFAs until after Jan. 1, 2017, but shouldn’t the Oilers do that considering how valuable Russell’s become? He’s only 29; they don’t want him walking away July 1, do they?
No player has stabilized the Oilers more than Russell.

So what if the Oilers offer him four years and $16-million, the same ballpark salary Klefbom and Larsson are getting, and they get a verbal OK, a gentleman’s agreement with Russell that he likes it? They keep the contract details hidden away.

No. Nope. NOOOOPPPPPEEE.

No player has stabilized the Oilers more than Russell? This is madness. Madness. Russell has been caved in by every metric available and almost every player performs better without him than with him. This is just what we’ve managed to record through 25 games so far. The illusion that he has stabilized the defense is a product of a fantastic on-ice save percentage, something he has almost no control over at all and that he hasn't experienced in the past.

Not only should the Oilers be trying to get away from this player, there should be no team in the NHL that is willing to pay him MORE than what he makes right now and for longer than he’s signed right now. If Russell is to return then he should be signed after free agency, just like this year, and for less money than he’s currently contracted to.

This is not a player 29 other teams were trying to sign. He went all of the off-season without getting a contract. He was signed with days to go before the season began. His last two teams took a hard pass on bringing him back, even after the Stars gave up assets to get him. Mix in the fact that he is turning 30 soon and there is absolutely no reason to give this player multiple years.

However, the real reason why the Oilers shouldn’t sign Kris Russell to an extension is because he doesn’t fill the needs that the Oiler defense has. Edmonton doesn’t need another left handed defender with limited offense. Russell hasn’t been able to displace Sekera or Klefbom from the power play. He doesn’t move the puck up the ice very well (or at least very frequently). He's on pace for roughly 15 points. And,he doesn't fix the handedness problem Edmonton has in its top four.

The reason the Oilers need to avoid a Russell extension is because they need to get better in the exact role/position that he occupies right now. The Oilers need to enhance their 2nd pairing and they need more right handed shots. They need a QB for the power play or at least someone who is a danger from the point. Players who can fill those roles do not come cheaply. 

The Edmonton Oilers need to use every penny available to enhance their defense and they need to do it next year. This team is trending in the right direction for the first time in years, but we need to be careful of assigning credit for that to Russell when it's surely due to McDavid and Talbot. Choosing to settle for what the blueline is now would be a bizarre choice.

Why wait for next year? Why not now?

vegas

The expansion draft is a problem for the Oilers. Edmonton wants to get better, but better now means exposing good players to the draft and losing someone difficult to replace to Las Vegas. Given the team’s current strengths the 7-3-1 protection list makes the most sense. Edmonton is forward heavy and they can protect a good number of talented players because of their age/experience. Should the Oilers sign Russell to an extension before the expansion draft, then one of Klefbom or Larsson or Russell himself would have to be exposed OR possibly a Maroon will have to be exposed if the team switches to the 4-4-1 list. It’s not ideal at all.

The other issue with spending money on Russell is that it will be a lot of money directed to a non-impact player when the Oilers will be looking to pay Draisaitl, McDavid, Nurse, and shortly after them Puljujarvi. I'm not sure how Russell could possibly fit into the long-term plans of the team. Either they will continue to look for serviceable 4-5 defenders at low prices or they need to commit more money to a big-ticket player.

Either way, paying somewhere near the $4 million range over multiple years to a middle of the order defender who objectively hurts the team is not something the team can afford to do.

The facts are plain when it comes to Russell. The Risk/Reward benefits for the player do not add up at all in Edmonton’s favour. Almost every Oiler performs worse the second Russell steps on the ice. His performance is being masked by factors outside of his control. The team needs every penny possible to upgrade the defense and pay for the coming years of Draisaitl and McDavid. And, we have years of data to support that what we’re seeing through 25 games in 2016-2017 is exactly what we should expect in the future.

Russell isn’t a stabilizing force. He is actually a destabilizing force that has otherwise bright hockey people fooled. That’s the calling card of his NHL career. On the ice, he has been hemmed into his own zone more than anyone else on the defense. Off the ice, an extension would be a grenade thrown at the expansion process and at the stability of the roster post-McDavid's second contract. 

Extend at your own peril.

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Arch has a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Classical Archaeology. He once shook Don Cherry's hand immediately after handling raw meat. He writes for HockeyBuzz and OilersNation covering the Oilers. Tweet him @Archaeologuy
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#101 Towersofdub
December 03 2016, 03:25PM
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rnj wrote:

Matt I think your articles would be appreciated a lot more if you explained variability.

It seems like most of ON looks at what you're saying (he's bad) and compares it to what they see (wins, +/-) and conclude that you're biased or an idiot.

Useful analogy is Russel is like a guy playing poker and winning with 2-7 off suit. Sure you might win the odd hand, but overall playing 2-7 is a really bad idea and the correct move is to fold the hand (don't re-sign Russel)

You can have bad stats and still win in the short term. That Russel has a positive +/- and the Oil win with him does not mean Arch is out to lunch

Advanced stats don't explain why.

There is a reason why the Oilers win more with Russel in the line up and no one on the planet can explain.

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#102 Gravis82
December 03 2016, 03:36PM
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Towersofdub wrote:

Advanced stats don't explain why.

There is a reason why the Oilers win more with Russel in the line up and no one on the planet can explain.

To add to that, most statistics dont explain why.

You first need to have a hypothesis of why you think a better fenwick = better player, and are able to explain how you think that happens. Once satisfied with that, you can test the numbers.

If you dont agree with fenwick, you are essentially disagreeing with the theory that shots, as they are counted for fenwick %, have no bearing at all on goal scoring (both for or against).

Or, that they do, but something more important that we are not yet measuring, is missing. Which is fair.

But what is that missing thing? Why do you think it is important? How do you think it affects goal scoring? And how could you test it?

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#103 L
December 03 2016, 03:39PM
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Coach My PP wrote:

Don't get mad at him and insult him. Most of the writers on this site are groupies: they ignore their eye sight and stats and just judge by their affection and heart.

Screw that. Henderson can screw off

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#104 Oilcan
December 03 2016, 04:01PM
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Towersofdub wrote:

Advanced stats don't explain why.

There is a reason why the Oilers win more with Russel in the line up and no one on the planet can explain.

And the reason is we are playing a game called hockey. There are too many variables to be able to break the game down on an Excel sheet, cataloging different scenarios. The things too look at are the standings, goals assists and results. Everything else is just a micro analysis that doesn't have any credability unless it is backed up by wins and losses, goals and assists.

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#105 Oilerchild77
December 03 2016, 04:14PM
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Rock11 wrote:

I would expect he probably has done that plenty of times but considering the "hatchet job" being done on him right now I'm not sure why he would. My guess is the minute the KR true believers admit that hey maybe the numbers might show he isn't as good as I thought and I might need to re-evaluate instead of resorting to name calling the messenger he might be more open to the idea.

Who's name calling? I'm just telling it like it is. Don't like it? Don't read my comments.

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#106 Jason Gregor
December 03 2016, 04:21PM
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You use terms like dragging everyone down, which is rather misleading when you look at all numbers.

Most important stat for me in games is goals, with shots on goal 2nd most.

Here are some EV numbers I think are important.

Goals For/against 14-7. Shots For/against 140-136

I'm not sure where he is dragging people down.

He also has been playing is offisde. He has versatility to play both L and R, which really comes in handy with the injury to Nurse.

Russell isn't a dominant top pair defender, nor is he paid close to one, but he is a solid player and by no means is he dragging those around him down. I don't see.

The % you used are rather misleading when you look at actual numbers and a 48.9FF% is him being 186-194. Far from dragging anyone down.

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#107 IRONman
December 03 2016, 04:36PM
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Keep him to the end of season.

He is plus 8 tho. That's a positive.

Let's see

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#108 whateverhappenedtoearledwards
December 03 2016, 04:51PM
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I think Russsel has fit in well with the Oil, despite what the analytics crowd perceive. Having said that, any extension would need to be at$ and term that make sense.

Hendo would have more credibility if he has not written about a year ago that the Oil had dodged a bullet by not trading Nuge for Seth Jones because 'Jones is a 3rd pairing Dman".

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#109 Friesenhan
December 03 2016, 04:54PM
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This is getting ridiculous.

What games are you watching? How can we be seeing something so very different?? Oh wait, it seems as though I am watching a game, whereas you are watching a chart. I find hockey more interesting than charts, so I will have to take your word for it. But MY Russell has benefit this team more than he has burdened it.

I don't want to make this personal... but Matt... since the Hall trade, you have lost it. Your articles were once interesting perspective and informative opinion. But since the day Hall went away, you have just basically turned into the 2nd coming of Richard Cloutier (less of a 'I just say stuff to annoy people', but more of a 'I am miserable and I don't care how annoying it is' thing), to the point where I once again check the writer before reading the article.

Tough decisions are made in the hockey world, and Taylor Hall was my favourite Oiler as well. But at the end of the day, we're not talking about the top picks at next years draft, so for that I am happy. You should be too, no one wants to hear you consistently whine about how horrible everything about the Oilers is. Seriously. Smoke a J or something, man. Kiss a girl. Get out of this funk!

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#110 hockey1099
December 03 2016, 04:56PM
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Matt first off thanks for submitting part two of the article and removing all doubt that you have no knowledge of the game of hockey. I guess the game is too hard for you to learn so you have tried to use advanced stats to understand it and explain it. It's not working for you.

Henderson's stats tell him yak and fayne are good and that Russell is bad. Fayne clears waivers, yak is a healthy scratch and Russell got Calgary two prospects and a second round pick as rental player. Statistically speaking hendo's fav players sit in the press box and his least liked fetch great returns at the trade deadline and help the Oilers win games.

In order to improve your writing I suggest looking at the following stats. Wins and loses it's pretty important but not very fancy almost anyone can calculate it. Gf and ga also import some might call it +/-, fancy statters hate it but you know it's kind of important and has been used to assess the game for maybe 100 years. Finally I know you really like numbers so think zeros and ones, it's really hard to follow the game in zeros and ones but if you have digital cable box and high def tv you can do this called watching hockey. It's pretty fun as long as you don't try and break it down in to a math problem. Hockey is an art form it needs to watched to be appreciated. You don't go to an art museum and count the number of people looking at certain instillations you just go and appreciate the instillations.

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#111 Gravis82
December 03 2016, 05:06PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

You use terms like dragging everyone down, which is rather misleading when you look at all numbers.

Most important stat for me in games is goals, with shots on goal 2nd most.

Here are some EV numbers I think are important.

Goals For/against 14-7. Shots For/against 140-136

I'm not sure where he is dragging people down.

He also has been playing is offisde. He has versatility to play both L and R, which really comes in handy with the injury to Nurse.

Russell isn't a dominant top pair defender, nor is he paid close to one, but he is a solid player and by no means is he dragging those around him down. I don't see.

The % you used are rather misleading when you look at actual numbers and a 48.9FF% is him being 186-194. Far from dragging anyone down.

While I tend to agree with the use of advanced stats, and will vehemently argue against those who choose to use them only for checking to see if their eyeballs are right (it works both ways; if they say something you don't think is right you have to at least consider it and look into it)...the biggest issue here is actually lack of confidence intervals.

In any real research that use methods like this to make comparisons between groups that actually mean something in life (like, crime, poverty etc), they will ALWAYS state the confidence interval of two percentages. These confidence intervals MUST NOT overlap if we want to conclude the two groups are really different. If they do overlap, then the difference between the two percentages is likely meaningless, and just due to random chance.

I love advanced stats, and I think they are useful to use for hockey analysis, but I have always wondered why confidence intervals and significance tests are never reported.

Differences between two groups can be real, or they could just be random and meaningless. To sort through that using statistics, you also need to report on these.

So is the difference in Russells fenwick vs. rest of team meaningful, or just random variation? Present the confidence intervals you are better able to answer that question.

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#112 ChinookArchYYC
December 03 2016, 05:31PM
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You know who could be had on the right side D? Dennis Wideman, PP specialist. Unite Widedog with Russell. Pure magic!

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#113 L
December 03 2016, 06:27PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

You use terms like dragging everyone down, which is rather misleading when you look at all numbers.

Most important stat for me in games is goals, with shots on goal 2nd most.

Here are some EV numbers I think are important.

Goals For/against 14-7. Shots For/against 140-136

I'm not sure where he is dragging people down.

He also has been playing is offisde. He has versatility to play both L and R, which really comes in handy with the injury to Nurse.

Russell isn't a dominant top pair defender, nor is he paid close to one, but he is a solid player and by no means is he dragging those around him down. I don't see.

The % you used are rather misleading when you look at actual numbers and a 48.9FF% is him being 186-194. Far from dragging anyone down.

*slow clap, medium speed clap, fast clap, screaming in happiness*

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#114 Admiral Ackbar
December 03 2016, 06:29PM
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Sorensenator wrote:

It was also under Eakins while Dellow was employed who advocated the same advanced stats mentality. Didn't work out so well.

What sublime conjecture as he joins the pitchfork mob accusing Matt of the same obtuseness. Homegrown hypocrisy at its best.

Advanced stats are currently flawed in that they lack a large enough data pool to have sufficient strength to be a quality predictor of success. The only stat with enough data is Corsi and even those P-values are high with wide confidence intervals - yes, most of you don't like math but this is a math argument against the current brand of analytics.

Advanced stats in hockey are in its infancy because trials (shots) has such diversity in its quality that can't easily be reduced to a number. Baseball on the other hand is beautiful in how all trials (pitches) are equal.

Kris Russell is an OK hockey player. I'd use him as a good 5-6 option. It's obvious that he leaves a wide gap against his opposition and allows easy entry. He also cleans up his own zone well. That puts the Oilers in a worse position than simply preventing the zone entry by closing gaps before or at the blue-line (Klef does this masterfully).

Russell is a stop-gap, a band-aid at best. He's not as good as Brandon Davidson (who's cheaper). If he can be signed for less in the identical scenario next year, worth a thought.

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#115 Towersofdub
December 03 2016, 06:41PM
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Gravis82 wrote:

To add to that, most statistics dont explain why.

You first need to have a hypothesis of why you think a better fenwick = better player, and are able to explain how you think that happens. Once satisfied with that, you can test the numbers.

If you dont agree with fenwick, you are essentially disagreeing with the theory that shots, as they are counted for fenwick %, have no bearing at all on goal scoring (both for or against).

Or, that they do, but something more important that we are not yet measuring, is missing. Which is fair.

But what is that missing thing? Why do you think it is important? How do you think it affects goal scoring? And how could you test it?

i think in the Kis Russell example, he understands that he's a good skater, can strip an attacker of the puck, get it out of the zone, and make the opposition clear the offensive zone with only achieving a low percentage shot or 2. I think he understands that if he does that 3 or 4 times in a row, the other team is constantly retrieving the puck, getting worked over in the corners, and not generating much offence, and he's killed off another 60 seconds. He expects his goalie to stop the stoppable shots. The goalie is thankful that Russell literally pads his save percentage. That is the thing for which there is no metric. If you can have a guy make the opposition play chase the puck and shoot from 60 feet for 22 minutes a night, that's a good thing to have on your team.

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#116 Towersofdub
December 03 2016, 06:51PM
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Admiral Ackbar wrote:

What sublime conjecture as he joins the pitchfork mob accusing Matt of the same obtuseness. Homegrown hypocrisy at its best.

Advanced stats are currently flawed in that they lack a large enough data pool to have sufficient strength to be a quality predictor of success. The only stat with enough data is Corsi and even those P-values are high with wide confidence intervals - yes, most of you don't like math but this is a math argument against the current brand of analytics.

Advanced stats in hockey are in its infancy because trials (shots) has such diversity in its quality that can't easily be reduced to a number. Baseball on the other hand is beautiful in how all trials (pitches) are equal.

Kris Russell is an OK hockey player. I'd use him as a good 5-6 option. It's obvious that he leaves a wide gap against his opposition and allows easy entry. He also cleans up his own zone well. That puts the Oilers in a worse position than simply preventing the zone entry by closing gaps before or at the blue-line (Klef does this masterfully).

Russell is a stop-gap, a band-aid at best. He's not as good as Brandon Davidson (who's cheaper). If he can be signed for less in the identical scenario next year, worth a thought.

Who cares about zone entries if the guy can control the zone once the team has entered. He knows what he's good at. The oilers outscore the opposition when he's on the ice, and they win more than they lose when he's in the lineup. What has that got to do with zone entry?

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#117 Harry2
December 03 2016, 07:00PM
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MacT's Neglected Helmet wrote:

Tough call. The boring and correct answer is that we're going to have to wait and see how Davidson plays after returning from injury. If he's as good as he was last year, I say protect him.

Yes, that means you protect 4D and expose an extra forward (Maroon/Pouliot). Yes, that means you now have 4LD: Klefbom-Sekera-Nurse-Davidson (nevermind Russell). But top-4 dmen are so, so, so valuable.

What about Larsson?

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#118 Harry2
December 03 2016, 07:03PM
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Corbs wrote:

Henderson...you are a complete idiot and just single handedly made every possible argument against advanced stats valid. If you can't see that Russell is playing well and is a valuable member of our D then you shouldn't be covering hockey. He has played very well when in the line up and he team as a whole has been better when he's been in the line up. Take your stupid stats and shove them where they belong. It's hockey, not math class!

^^^^^^^^^^

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#119 Rock11
December 03 2016, 07:11PM
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hockey1099 wrote:

Matt first off thanks for submitting part two of the article and removing all doubt that you have no knowledge of the game of hockey. I guess the game is too hard for you to learn so you have tried to use advanced stats to understand it and explain it. It's not working for you.

Henderson's stats tell him yak and fayne are good and that Russell is bad. Fayne clears waivers, yak is a healthy scratch and Russell got Calgary two prospects and a second round pick as rental player. Statistically speaking hendo's fav players sit in the press box and his least liked fetch great returns at the trade deadline and help the Oilers win games.

In order to improve your writing I suggest looking at the following stats. Wins and loses it's pretty important but not very fancy almost anyone can calculate it. Gf and ga also import some might call it +/-, fancy statters hate it but you know it's kind of important and has been used to assess the game for maybe 100 years. Finally I know you really like numbers so think zeros and ones, it's really hard to follow the game in zeros and ones but if you have digital cable box and high def tv you can do this called watching hockey. It's pretty fun as long as you don't try and break it down in to a math problem. Hockey is an art form it needs to watched to be appreciated. You don't go to an art museum and count the number of people looking at certain instillations you just go and appreciate the instillations.

Dallas paid Cgy 2 prospects and a pick and were so pleased with their investment that they promptly told him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. Think about that for a second. One of the worst D teams in the league made a major investment in a player and then after fully realizing what they bought refused to even offer him a contract just months later. But Jim Nill must be an idiot and all the "eye" guys here on ON should be running an NHL team instead.

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#120 camdog
December 03 2016, 07:14PM
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Maybe Oilernation can get the spydyr man and I ate batman to write a sensationalist blog on why Eberle and RnH's game is sub par? I'm sure they'll even be able to cherry pick some numbers to support their claims.

Russell is a good d-man, not great but he's definitely better than the a many number of Oiler d-man the past few years. Problem with Russell is when he loses that step he's going to fall off a cliff sort of like Ference did, that's the danger with signing him long term.

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#121 Harry2
December 03 2016, 07:19PM
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Gravis82 wrote:

I wouldnt be so sure of that.

5 years ago, those blogger nerds who apparently were working out of the moms basements watching hockey with their spreadsheets...well now most of them are employed by an NHL TEAM.

One of them is even an NHL GM.

Seriously, you'd think that that would carry some weight. But no, Advanced stats = Eakins in this town, and it will take a generation to undo that damage.

Arizona is dead last in the west with an "analytics" approach from a 27 year old GM. What the hell are they thinking? Again this isnt baseball.

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#122 camdog
December 03 2016, 07:23PM
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Rock11 wrote:

Dallas paid Cgy 2 prospects and a pick and were so pleased with their investment that they promptly told him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. Think about that for a second. One of the worst D teams in the league made a major investment in a player and then after fully realizing what they bought refused to even offer him a contract just months later. But Jim Nill must be an idiot and all the "eye" guys here on ON should be running an NHL team instead.

PC signed Russell to take Mark Fayne's minutes, he's the guy the numbers guys like. Fayne couldn't crack the worst defense in the league last season. Think of that for a minute. Mark Fayne's was on waivers multiple times and nobody will take a chance on him. I know I know the numbers guys think that they are smarter than 30 NHL GM's...

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#123 Gravis82
December 03 2016, 07:30PM
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Towersofdub wrote:

i think in the Kis Russell example, he understands that he's a good skater, can strip an attacker of the puck, get it out of the zone, and make the opposition clear the offensive zone with only achieving a low percentage shot or 2. I think he understands that if he does that 3 or 4 times in a row, the other team is constantly retrieving the puck, getting worked over in the corners, and not generating much offence, and he's killed off another 60 seconds. He expects his goalie to stop the stoppable shots. The goalie is thankful that Russell literally pads his save percentage. That is the thing for which there is no metric. If you can have a guy make the opposition play chase the puck and shoot from 60 feet for 22 minutes a night, that's a good thing to have on your team.

I do applaud you for giving my questions a go, but I don't think its really possible to answer them sufficiently in a comment section of a blog post. I know I cant answer those questions right now either, but in order to say that Matt is without a doubt wrong, those are steps that you'd have to go through.

Things like that take a team of people to think through. And it would start with tossing a bunch of ideas around at first.

We do need the p-values though as well.

So what I think you are saying, is that D-men who are better skaters can force a higher percentage of the shots against into non-dangerous areas (thus these shots are less likely to be goals) compared to poor skating d-men who will allow more shots from dangerous areas (thus more likely to be goals). Therefore, given the same number of shots against, the stronger skater will have less goals against, but may look worse than he actually is by shots metrics. ?????

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#124 nbandito
December 03 2016, 07:33PM
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His more chaotic/baffling style of play does create a lot of odd man turnovers, which has enabled the team to regain momentum at times where it seems the team will never regain possession....

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#126 albertabeef
December 03 2016, 09:58PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

There’s no question that goals are incredibly important, Jason. The problem is that we’re trying to forecast goals that will come in the future. With the even strength shots as close as they are (and as previously mentioned the 2nd lowest among regular Oiler defenders) we should expect over time that the 2:1 ratio in goals for/against he is experiencing now will normalize.

Here is the list of players whose Fenwick For percentage is better without Russell than with him:

Sekera

Pouliot

McDavid

Nurse

Gryba

Puljujarvi

Eberle

Letestu

Benning

Lucic

Klefbom

Maroon

Nugent-Hopkins

Kassian

There is pretty much no way you can objectively look at how the team performs when he’s on the ice and his WOWYs and conclude that Russell isnt a drag on his teammates. That the team is good enough to overcome his effect on them is fantastic, but he’s most certainly a drag.

I do, though recognize that he’s playing his off side. It factors heavily into why the Oilers shouldn’t extend him beyond this year. He’s clearly shown an inability to be effective on the right side and he cant displace the other established left-handers without injury. Depth is good. I’ll take it, but some fantastic luck is not a good reason to overlook a player’s many and well documented flaws.

Your computer model says Russell is the worse Dman. Al Gore's computer model said New York City would be 7 feet under water by now. The numbers aren't always right.

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#127 dw
December 03 2016, 10:10PM
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No offence to you Matt, as everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, when Matheson provides his I am typically going to accept that as fact.

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#128 Harry2
December 03 2016, 10:45PM
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Another win for Russell. Hey Henderson, you mad bro?

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#129 GK1980
December 03 2016, 10:52PM
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I see the case with not resigning russel. He is a "reactive" defencemen. That's why he is on his stomach more than he should be and why he blocks so many shots.

I'm on the fence. He does look like a keeper but why was no one willing to sign him this off season? I hope the oilers really do their homework on the guy before giving him his retirement money.

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#130 Sorensenator
December 03 2016, 11:06PM
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Admiral Ackbar wrote:

What sublime conjecture as he joins the pitchfork mob accusing Matt of the same obtuseness. Homegrown hypocrisy at its best.

Advanced stats are currently flawed in that they lack a large enough data pool to have sufficient strength to be a quality predictor of success. The only stat with enough data is Corsi and even those P-values are high with wide confidence intervals - yes, most of you don't like math but this is a math argument against the current brand of analytics.

Advanced stats in hockey are in its infancy because trials (shots) has such diversity in its quality that can't easily be reduced to a number. Baseball on the other hand is beautiful in how all trials (pitches) are equal.

Kris Russell is an OK hockey player. I'd use him as a good 5-6 option. It's obvious that he leaves a wide gap against his opposition and allows easy entry. He also cleans up his own zone well. That puts the Oilers in a worse position than simply preventing the zone entry by closing gaps before or at the blue-line (Klef does this masterfully).

Russell is a stop-gap, a band-aid at best. He's not as good as Brandon Davidson (who's cheaper). If he can be signed for less in the identical scenario next year, worth a thought.

You accuse me of conjecture then go on to say he's a soft defender when it comes to shutting down opposition entering the zone. Is it his +9 plus minus that leads you to this conclusion? Do you even watch the games bro? Or just star wars?

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#133 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
December 03 2016, 11:46PM
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Rock11 wrote:

Dallas paid Cgy 2 prospects and a pick and were so pleased with their investment that they promptly told him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. Think about that for a second. One of the worst D teams in the league made a major investment in a player and then after fully realizing what they bought refused to even offer him a contract just months later. But Jim Nill must be an idiot and all the "eye" guys here on ON should be running an NHL team instead.

Well the joke's on Russell, right? Because the Stars D this year is . . . the worst in the league. Wait, what?

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#134 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
December 03 2016, 11:48PM
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albertabeef wrote:

Your computer model says Russell is the worse Dman. Al Gore's computer model said New York City would be 7 feet under water by now. The numbers aren't always right.

Al Gore's computers were talking about a Trump election. Worse they had a real bad Al Gore Rhythm. j/k

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#135 Hadley
December 04 2016, 01:05AM
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Henderson, what is your goal? To hope to one day say "I told you so"? Or are you hoping some NHL gms are trolling these boards looking for the new, hot, breakthrough analytics guy to hire? I wouldn't hold your breath for either of these to happen. I feel bad for people that have to sit and watch a game with you. Talk about a fun sponge

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#136 Sorensenator
December 04 2016, 02:42AM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

Shot attempts were 10 for and 26 against with Russell on the ice. The Oilers won in spite of his pair.

Defensive zone starts? PK?

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#137 Harry2
December 04 2016, 09:13AM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

Shot attempts were 10 for and 26 against with Russell on the ice. The Oilers won in spite of his pair.

The fact that you responded to my chirping proves that your rattled Edm wins with Russell.

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#138 Harry2
December 04 2016, 09:14AM
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Sorensenator wrote:

Defensive zone starts? PK?

Henderson is a classic cherrypicker.

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#139 15w40
December 04 2016, 09:30AM
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Kris Russell is the anti-christ & Yakupov is the messiah.

With both the truth is somewhere in the middle. The Oilers have more success with Russell in the line up and Yakupov sits in the press box more than he plays.

I would be curious if anyone would or has run an "Analytics League"

Set up a model for all of the regular season games and playoffs and see how close it mimics real life. I understand it would be a huge undertaking but it would show how accurate using strictly analytics would be to predicting outcomes.

Small sample sizes would all normalize and players that should "regress to the mean" would be allowed enough time to do so.

Statistics can be used to frame the argument for whatever side you want to support.

Time for some new material for this particular "voice of the nation" - same reason I unfollowed on twitter. Russell - bad, Yakupov - good. Just like a old LP with a scratch.

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#141 West
December 04 2016, 10:13AM
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I never had much interest in advanced stats until the Russel bashing started so I looked up what Corsi is and it seems to be a very speculative stat at best. I mean giving a player a plus in the Corsi column for getting a shot blocked or missing the net seems weak to me. It used to be that defenders who blocked shot or positioned themselves to make hitting the net with a shot hard were valued. Allowing a shot from sixty feet out? That's a Corsi negative. The other thing I have heard mentioned lately is easy zone entries. This seems very subjective to me. Who gets to decide what easy means? Is it like hits where some buildings give them out like candy? I am sure advanced stats have some use, but to say that they can prove a player is good,bad or ugly seems like a reach. If every player played in exactly the same way, the advanced stats might mean everything, but since every player is an individual and some may be successful playing the game "incorrectly", how about you turn down rhetoric a bit.

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#142 Gravis82
December 04 2016, 12:26PM
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West wrote:

I never had much interest in advanced stats until the Russel bashing started so I looked up what Corsi is and it seems to be a very speculative stat at best. I mean giving a player a plus in the Corsi column for getting a shot blocked or missing the net seems weak to me. It used to be that defenders who blocked shot or positioned themselves to make hitting the net with a shot hard were valued. Allowing a shot from sixty feet out? That's a Corsi negative. The other thing I have heard mentioned lately is easy zone entries. This seems very subjective to me. Who gets to decide what easy means? Is it like hits where some buildings give them out like candy? I am sure advanced stats have some use, but to say that they can prove a player is good,bad or ugly seems like a reach. If every player played in exactly the same way, the advanced stats might mean everything, but since every player is an individual and some may be successful playing the game "incorrectly", how about you turn down rhetoric a bit.

a certain percentage of times, that shot that the player had a hand in generating would not be blocked and would not miss the net. That percentage would be different for different shots, but we cant measure that. So we just measure the shot itself, and collect enough data to be able to say that, yes, shooting is required for scoring because granted we know players are shooting to score, not shooting for shootings sake to increase corsi.

The act of participating in generating a shot, is REQUIRED for scoring which is REQUIRED for winning.

You need to think in terms of risk and probabilities, instead of absolutes. Because all things in life, as in hockey, are products of a balance of risks, randomness, probabilities, hard work, skill.

Focusing on the last two will restrict your world view.

I am not actually arguing here about the actual numbers presented, what matters is how the numbers are assessed. Once you are confident you are at least assessing them correctly, only then can you draw any valid conclusions from them.

And yes, some corsi negative shots will be meaningless, but for every meaningless corsi negative shot there are other corsi positive shots. So counting a corsi negative shot is always balanced out. Why is this? Because players that make it to the NHL, make it there because they can generate scoring changes at some level. So we can assume that a proportion of every players shots will be good ones, even though we dont exactly know which ones they were.

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#143 Pizzy
December 04 2016, 04:09PM
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@Corbs

Spot On!

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#144 Pizzy
December 04 2016, 04:20PM
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As a long time reader of this site,this may be the worst article I have read about a current a oiler. This a good example of the use of stats to make a case. Where you ask anyone that watches the game, can tell you Russell is a good defenseman. When I was in Calgary for the 2nd game of the year against the oilers, the fans gave him a standing ovation. Now i see why! Lost a lot of respect Matt.

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#145 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
December 04 2016, 05:57PM
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Pizzy wrote:

As a long time reader of this site,this may be the worst article I have read about a current a oiler. This a good example of the use of stats to make a case. Where you ask anyone that watches the game, can tell you Russell is a good defenseman. When I was in Calgary for the 2nd game of the year against the oilers, the fans gave him a standing ovation. Now i see why! Lost a lot of respect Matt.

Well, to be fair, a vast number of Calgary fans are idiots, by definition of they're being Calgary fans--it's a near tautology. So I'd be careful that argument.

They also boo McDavid.

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#146 Robin Brownlee
December 04 2016, 07:30PM
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Looking forward to Part III and the Kris Russell contract extension.

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#147 D-rek
December 04 2016, 10:18PM
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I've been trying to understand how the stats can possibly paint such a different picture than most of our eyeballs...I have liked the addition of Russell so far this season.

I think the problem is that some of these advanced stats don't factor in that sometimes shot attempts against aren't necessarily a bad thing. You aren't going to have the puck the whole game, but if you can play defensively in a way that may allow more shots attempts against, but keeps most of them to non-dangerous shots from the outside or shots that get blocked, that should not be looked upon negatively. Bad shots, blocked shots - those are good for the defense.

A defenseman's job isn't necessarily to limit shots (or attempts) against, but actual scoring chances (and goals!) against. For me personally, the main stat I look at for a defenseman is scoring chances against. From part I of this series, Russell in that category is actually not so bad:

Scoring Chances Against per 60: 3rd (19.98 SCA/60)

So maybe he allows a lot of shots to be directed towards the net, but if they are non-dangerous shots, or he blocks them, isn't that just fine?

The stats do certainly show though that he is not contributing offensively, basically not at all. But his job was to come in and help stabilize an atrocious defense, and he has done that by limiting scoring chances against.

As for an extension...I understand the thinking that he is another lefty, without much offense, and he just doesn't fit the Oilers needs. However, he has played his off side and done a pretty decent job at it in my opinion (defensively anyway). So if they can't find a solid second pair, right handed, offensive guy, I'd be quite happy for them to re-sign #4.

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#148 smiliegirl15
December 05 2016, 09:11AM
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Drew Remenda is not an authority on hockey. I don't know how that man has a job. What I see is Russell getting the puck out of his zone, passing it up to the forwards, them turning it over and the other team bringing it back into the Oilers end. How is that Russell's fault? As for forecasting future goals, why not take a kick at the weather too? It's just as predictable.

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#149 @Hallsy4
December 05 2016, 11:32AM
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The first part of this article really bothered me. This one, not so bad. I agree with you 100% that they shouldn't give Russell 4x4. That's too much time and money, and I think most people agree with that. If you combined these 2 articles from the start, and taken out like 5 of the most anti-Russell sentences, there wouldn't have been near the backlash (or clicks, however). I'd be fine with them signing Russell in the offseason, 1 or maybe 2 years max, but with the team now, he helps in the short term, IMO. Weird how the fancy stats show him so negatively when he looks good. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.... he's not as good as he looks and not as bad as fancy stats say.

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#150 belair
December 07 2016, 11:43AM
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@Matt Henderson

All of your stats don't account for special teams, his line-mates or his competition.

Facts are that Kris Russell is on the ice more than Adam Larsson in a game. He kills penalties more than Adam Larsson does. And neither of them get much time on the PP.

Judging by those stats, Kris Russell has been our shutdown defenseman so far this year.

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