Hockey People Who Know

The case for analytics in hockey started on websites not unlike
this one. It was largely fan/layman driven, but it was done publicly
and every idea proposed was scrutinized. I think part of the hubris of the
analytics community comes from the fact that many of their basic principles
have been tested over and over. There’s a confidence that comes from testing
concepts and having them cut the mustard. Surely there’s also a confidence that
comes from spending your entire life in the highest levels of hockey (amateur and
professional). That’s why it’s always entertaining when the worlds of analytics
and traditional hockey collide.

While I will always lean towards ideas that have been
dissected publicly, it’s not as if all people in the analytics community are
right or all people in the traditional hockey world are wrong. No different
than in any other aspect of life, intelligent and idiotic people are scattered all
over. Nonetheless, even now there are people who believe those in positions of authority
got to there on merit alone, meaning their decisions should be
trusted all the time. If they aren’t infallible then they’re very close.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Someone in my position (dissenter) might hear: “Do you think
you know more about hockey than Patrick Roy?” or, “How many more years of
management do you have than Jim Benning?” whenever they dare to suggest either
is making a terrible call. That’s par for the course and while I temporarily
feel sorry for the state of critical thinking, I generally move on pretty

That takes us back to something Peter Chiarelli’s rival and
colleague, Jim Benning, said earlier this week. Benning traded for a rather
unimpressive number four defender this week when he traded Jared McCann, a second
round pick, and a fourth round pick for Erik Gudbranson and a fifth
round pick. The move is almost unanimously panned by vocal members of the
established analytics group. Meanwhile, the people we commonly label as the “traditional”
hockey voices thought the Canucks walked away winners.

Calvin and Hobbes

I’ll be up front: I think Jim Benning got his lunch money
taken from him on this one and the guy walked away thinking he beat the bully.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

That last bit is the most revealing part. Responding to the
immediate negative response the deal received from the staterati (made up word),
Benning doubled down on his position. On hockey analytics he said:

To be quite honest, I
don’t get it sometimes. There’s a place for analytics. We use analytics. But
you use analytics like vitamins — to help you out, not as your staple.

Decisions have to be
made by hockey people who know what winning teams look like and how to build


Hockey people who know
what winning teams look like.
This is basically the “How many more years of
management do you have than Jim Benning?” argument said by Jim Benning HIMSELF.
Now, I’m sure Benning is a good guy. We are both from the north side of
Edmonton. In fact, we’re both from Delwood, so we could have a conversation
about a few things without ever having to mention hockey. My Grandfather
probably delivered his mail. We probably shopped at the same convenience store
(Bing’s, now One Minute Foods).

However, when it comes to hockey I would love to be on the
other side of the negotiating table with someone like Jim Benning. If analytics
are nothing more than vitamins (the thing my wife makes me take because I
forget they exist five days a week) then there’s a great chance that he’s not
using all the information available to him when he makes his decisions. Meanwhile,
the Panthers have been relatively quick to adopt newer voices into their circle
of decision makers.

The Canucks were willing to pay a premium for a player with
size and pedigree regardless of his measurable impact on-ice. The Panthers were
willing to let Benning pay that premium.

Gudbranson is a hulking 6’5” 220 pound former third
overall pick of the 2010 draft. He’s also a righty. But I can also tell you,
after spending no more than three minutes on publicly available databases, that
his offense was one of the worst on the Florida defense over the last several
years, his possession metrics were among the worst of that blueline, he was sixth
in terms of EV TOI/G on their blueline, and despite getting lots of PK time the
team gets pumped for shot attempts against when he’s out there.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Erik Gudbranson is, at best, a number four defender and on a
good team he’s a bottom pair player. The Canucks paid a lot for someone
whose impact on the game is so minimal. Obviously it’s still less than what the
Oilers paid for Griffin Reinhart, but let’s hope the lessons have been learned
from that fiasco.

Hockey men making hockey decisions “because they know what
it takes to win” is exactly the kind of environment that fostered the
development of analytics. There are good and bad hockey players out there
waiting to be discarded or picked up for profit to the teams willing to trust
measurable results more than they do their daily dose of Flintstones vitamins.


There’s still hope for the Oilers to move on from noted boat anchor Lauri Korpikoski, to get back some of the investment put into Griffin Reinhart and to find an actual top four defender because it’s still pretty clear that there are plenty of “hockey people who know what winning teams look like” that are a lot more focused on what players looks like compared to what actually happens when they step on the ice.

We know Jim Benning is one of those hockey men. There’s one number the Oilers GM can keep handy when he wants to unload some of those pieces.

      • Speed Junky

        Dubois. centers are more Valuable

        he is big boy and Heavy

        thanks for actually going to the game

        big difference between watching on tv and live

        Nuge back checks hard. don’t see that on tv

      • Mcline

        Tkachuk was injured all tournament, high ankle sprain. That’s why he couldn’t skate properly… I’m still pro-Dubois, but this decision can’t go wrong.

        • Seanaconda

          On draft predictions one had the oilers taking Olli Juolevi with their pick. Would be interesting as chychrun is the dman most people on this site want.(he was 4th and 5th in the Mocks chychrun was like 7th and 9th)

          • Mcline

   (especially Mike Morreale) still doesn’t understand that the Oilers aren’t interested in more LHD – a position Chia defines as a position of power. The only situation I see Juolevi or Chychrun in an Oilers uniform is if we trade down and they’re available.

            There’s no point reaching for a player at #4 if you don’t have a position of need for that player. Dubois and Tkachuk won’t be coming right to the NHL unless they prove so in training camp. The Oilers need to restock the cupboards with prospects, and our defensive prospects outnumber our forward prospects.

            If we stay at #4 I’d be a betting man that Dubois or Tkachuk is called.

        • Bubba Train

          I prefer Dubois, but just wanted to build on your comment. I think it’s irrelevant to Oilers who is better as it is highly unlikely they pick at #4. I think we turn our attention to defencemen and to “bigger forwards” that Chia mentioned available in first round. Think Logan a Brown and d men 6’3 and heavy.

  • That's My Point

    Read an article that states the Penguins have 8 new forwards that played game 7 against Tampa that weren’t on the team 12 months ago and they are in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Why can’t the Oilers make some wholesale changes?

    • madjam

      Oilers had 6 new forwards on the team and 8 if you include Draisaitl coming back up along with Pakarinen to make team. We had an equal amount of newbies on the defensive side as well . That’s a pretty big wholesale change would you not agree if you include Davidson and Nurse as finally making the team ?

      • BobbyCanuck

        My point meant…Why can’t the Oilers make QUALITY wholesale changes

        Only 2 players left from 2010, but the team has made no significant strides upward in the overall standing

        Forget Reinhart, read up on all the rumors/gossip around that deal, and you will see Chia gave the benefit of the doubt to Green/MacT/Howeson, a mistake he shall never repeat

        This is Chia’s summer to put his stamp on the team, lets hope he can beat out the other 10 teams looking for the same RHD

        • Maybe it’s just that guys like Joel Ward didn’t want to sign in Edmonton? Maybe it’s because outside of 4 or 5 players, the rest of the Oilers roster is laughable, and every GM knows it. Really, what do you expect to get for Nail Yakupov right now? You can’t expect other teams to trade top line players to Edmonton for whatever the hell the Oilers have. The only players who will fetch a decent return will simply create other holes in the lineup if they get traded. Like Hall for instance…trade him for a top pairing defenseman. great, now you’ve got a top pairing defenseman, but you’ve just given up one of the top left wingers in the game to get him. It’s like plugging holes in a colander.

  • camdog

    I get the feeling that PC is going to get roasted regardless of who he trades to fill the black hole on the right side. The analytics community is behind the times in respect to developing a formula that adjusts for the limited supply of right shot d-men.

  • Strange Tamer

    I think Benning lost the deal when he threw in the high second rounder. I do agree with him that analytics don’t tell the whole story, Fayne is beloved by the analytics community, yet he cleared waivers and spent time in the minors, 30 teams literally passed on him for free. The biggest issue with Gudbransen is that he turned down a 4 year 18 million dollar deal and is a restricted free agent next year and a total free agent in two years who thinks he is worth more than 4.5 million on a long term deal. This will turn out to be very poor asset management in the near term and you don’t need fancy stats to figure that out.

  • Ed in Edmonton 1

    Benning was PC’s assistant in Boston so one might assume they have a similar outlook on these things. I’m fairly confident PC will be very active this off season. It will be interesting to see how hos moves are analyzed.

  • OilCan2

    Read the Stats. Addition by subtraction. Korpikoski should be traded for a draft pick. Reinhart may amount to something; hopefully in this year.

    Benning had to do something. Wait and see,….

  • To all you dimwits criticizing the Gudbranson trade: Jim Benning won this deal. Gudbranson is 24 years old, 6’5 and 230 lbs. He is a right shot, 2nd pairing, stay at home defenseman. He is a physical, proven #4 with 300 NHL games played on Floridas 2nd pairing. He played around 19-20 minutes per game during the regular season, and 27 minutes during the playoffs. In Vancouver he will team up with Ben Hutton, a young puck moving defenseman. He is now entering his prime years. In Nick Kypreos own words, guys like this don’t grow on trees.

      • As a proponent of using analytical methods to evaluate a player, can you explain the “why”. Do analytics explain why a player has a bad CF%, or consistently outshot, or makes weak clearances, or whatever else analytics say occurs when a player is on the ice.

    • Mcline

      So, let’s recap. Your facts on Gudbranson:

      1. Physical – Indeed, Gudbranson is known for his physical game. You know who else I can acquire for a 2014 first round pick, an early 2nd round pick (basically late 1st), and an early 4th round pick? Probably a checking defenseman… Physicality is basically expected if you’re a “stay at home defenseman…”

      2. Proven #4 – He actually played on the bottom pairing at times on Florida. His ever highest position this season was as the #4 defender. You mean “Proven #4 on the Canucks?” When I say proven #4 defender, I mean that on a Cup contending team, he would be the #4 defender. On the Panthers he was a role player, and a big minute eater in the playoffs.

      3. 300 NHL Games Played – Proves nothing; Justin Schultz has 250 games played. All it shows is that your player can actually be an NHL player – which I hope JB would confirm before throwing away assets like he has been doing in his last few trades…

      4. 20 minutes per game during the regular season – Well, yes he does play 20 minutes per game. BUT, so do most defenders in the NHL. According to this list (, Gudbranson played 20.11 minutes a game. A funny tidbit? Nurse played more minutes at 20.22 min/game. I hope it doesn’t hurt you that Gudbranson was 107th in the NHL in TOI/game in the NHL last season. It’s not like this is a 25-30 minute guy on a consistent basis.

      5. Doesn’t grow on trees – Sure, a 6’5, 230 lbs. player doesn’t always come around. EG is a great pickup for the Canucks, but at the price they paid for it – why go around saying “We beat everyone else to the game” when you overpaid for a defenseman who, as most insiders like Nick Kypreos say, has hit his ceiling and is done developing. Their statement “players like this don’t grow on trees” are aimed more at his size and physicality. I can find numerous other defenders that are capable and AVAILABLE this off season as a #4 defender, or even better. Jim Benning went with the safe choice – a player that is capable of playing 2nd pairing or bottom pairing defence roles. This is pointless when there are players comfortable at a second pairing role AND CAPABLE of moving up to a first pairing role if needed.

      Jim Benning did not win this deal. Gudbranson has a ceiling of #4 defenseman AT BEST. Trading down 50 positions in a draft, and giving up basically another 1st round pick, AND a high-end prospect for a fully-developed player (albeit with a lower ceiling) is not smart from a GM that touts himself as a master drafter.

      But of course every team makes stupid trades and their fans are quick to defend a stupid trade…

      Schultz and Gudbranson have similar advanced stats, minus the goalscoring stats – in which Schultz takes the cake… Though Schultz is a terrible player that was played over his head in Edmonton, I hope Gudbranson has a decent career in Vancouver and doesn’t ask for an 18M/4 year contract next year. If not, the Canucks have royally screwed themselves over when they should just blow it up now…

      • Seanaconda

        Canucks fans were high on McCann(sp) too .

        gudbranson was supposed to be Florida’s next captain apparently because of his character and leadership/stuff he does in the community but none of the Florida fans thought he could be better than a number 4 dman.

        While Florida doesn’t need centers McCann is projected as a number 2 center apparently? Plus the 33 pick

        • Mcline

          I remember Canucks fans saying Horvat/McCann would be comparable to McDavid/Draisaitl for years to come after the first couple months of the season.

          I also remember people saying McCann would be the next best thing from Vancouver, and that McCann, Horvat, Boeser, and Virtanen would decimate the Pacific for years to come..

        • Mcline

          Not necessarily the math that goes into determining a 3-4 defender. Some second pairing D play less minutes because of workhorses being the 1st pairing D.

          What I’m trying to say, is that using that chart, you can see that the defensemen around Gudbranson’s TOI/game levels are all average defenders in the league. Nothing special. The average defender is expected to play around the 19-22 range of minutes. 20 minutes a game during the regular season is nothing to brag about.

          I followed the Florida-Islanders series very closely in the playoffs and the only reason he played 33 and 35 minutes is because those games went to 2OT… He didn’t play over half a game like Blackhawks defenders would do. Don’t put him on a pedestal and say “this is a player that we can play for 30 minutes a night because he did it twice in a playoff series”

          Game 3 went to OT as well, which explains his 25:06 time. In game 2, the only reason he went over his normal 20:00 was because the Islanders spent a lot of time on the PK, and Gudbranson spent over 4 minutes on the PK.

          On a normal situation, this isn’t a guy that deviates from 20 minutes a game – and for good reason…

          Please stop throwing out high numbers and expect people to just accept them for no reason..

      • I usually don’t get involved in this, but here it goes.

        McCann is a good, but not great PROSPECT. He is soft skill(Oiler like), undersized, non physical and awful at taking faceoffs. His projected ceiling is 2nd line center with skill. Vancouver does not have a spot available for his skill set. The #33 pick in this draft is an unknown, and giving it up is the cost of doing business. A player like Gudbranson has plenty of value and you can’t get him for free. The price for right shot defensemen is high, as Oiler fans will find out. You have to give to get.

        • Mcline

          The price for an impact right shot defenseman is high. Gudbranson’s advanced stats are among the worst in the NHL. Sure he’s a physical machine and can be allowed to play 2nd pairing minutes, but he’s not effective in it.

          Even with defensive/offensive zone starts taken into place, Gudbranson is nothing more than below average with his analytical stats. This is why Benning is so defensive about “not using analytical stats as everything.”

          I’d much rather overpay on a player that’s a top 4 defender than one that’s locked in as a bottom 4 defender. I’m fully aware of the price of a defenseman and I’m sure Chiarelli is as well. This wasn’t the one to overpay on. The Hamonics, Barries, Vatanens, etc. are the players to overpay on.

          This is similar to Canucks fans trying to defend somebody like Cowen, who’s stats, advanced and boxcars, all pretty similarly line up with Gudbransons.

          EDIT: I just saw that your very own CanucksArmy writers compared Gudbranson to Cowen and basically said they do the same thing.

      • Mcline

        Didn’t you hear? He has those YouTube videos of him hitting and fighting people!

        Also that one time when the team played 35 minutes in a 91 minute game. He played the equivalent of 23 minutes in a normal 60 minutes game!

        Well I guess anything works for the Canucks if they’re going around saying Gudbranson played 27 minutes average every game in the playoffs – and conveniently forget to mention that the minutes include 2 double OT and 1 normal OT games..

        The Panthers played an extra 62 minutes of hockey onto of the 6*60 = 360 minutes they played in regulation. We’ll basically say they played 7 games worth of periods.

        Gudbranson played around 162 minutes, and thus really played 23 minutes per every 60 minutes of hockey played in the series, or essentially 23 min/game.

        So essentially Gudbranson played just above average minutes per game than he did in the regular season. An important note is that the Panthers relied heavily on him on the PK in the playoffs, which led to a large increase in minutes in the playoffs as well.

    • Seanaconda

      Idk Florida has replacement d ready on the right side and didn’t wanna pay him what he wanted and got 2 prospects for him.

      Most canucks fans thought it should of been 1 for 1 mccann for gudbranson but they got the second pick too. Time will tell tho. If they end up letting gudbranson go to ufa in 2 years or have to majorly overpay him it’s Florida’s win. Canucks should of gone rebuild in my opinion cuz I don’t think they will be cup contenders before the sedins retire.

      • Mcline

        Not to mention that after the bridge deal is over at the end of the season, Gudbranson is due a massive raise from 3.5M if he stays as a 2nd pairing D on the Canucks.

        Any contract over 1 year would be going into his UFA years, which as many teams end up having to do, lead to increased money requests. If the Canucks are dumb enough to sign him to another 1 year contract, he’ll easily walk if he doesn’t get the money he wants (presumably 5M a year from now).

        Jim Benning is probably too proud to let a guy he paid such a premium for walk, so expect him signing long term (over 4 years) at a ridiculous and unwarranted money amount.

  • birdie boy

    Hey Matty

    Defending the analytical boys who got raked over the coals in canucks army mixed in with a little sour grapes. You do know they offered yakapuff

  • madjam

    Matt’s analytics on Gudbranson flawed and if he opened his eyes and actually seen him play more often he might see why it is so . He says he is not very good and should be on 3rd pairing on a good team . Does he honestly think Florida was a bad team this year , and he has he missed they used him extensively on second pairing to their betterment not detriment ? The ice surface in Florida is not the best to have to play on . There is very few teams if any he would not be top 4 and still an improving 24 year old . Does Matt think Eric is somehow going to get worse over next couple of years or even remain stagnant , maybe if he were over 34 . To his error he has based his opinions on another flawed anayltic opinion that does not encompass entire package .

  • crackerjack14

    Not disagreeing Matt but it’s interesting that traditional hockey minds can at least see how analytics can be used in conjunction with their traditional way of thinking. The analyticals can only see it their way.

    Again, not disagreeing with the value of analytics, but is there any evidence of a winning team being constructed solely on analytics? I suppose ARZ, FLA and TOR are the teams leading with this mindset, but they have yet to win anything.

    Looking back over the last 10years, have the Cup champions led their counterparts in all metrics?

    • Gravis82

      there is only one way to use analytics. Either you believe them and follow them, or you don’t. If they turn out to be wrong, you re-evaluate and figure out how to improve them for next time…and keep using them. If you only use them in a supporting role, then what ends up happening is that the data is looked foldly upon only when it matches up with what you would traditionally think…and then discarded when it doesn’t. The true wins occur when the numbers say something that you don’t believe to be true, but you trust them anyway and come out ahead. Those situations are transformative. Some GM’s are much farther along than others.

    • Leading in ALL metrics is really hard to do. That said, just CF% has done a pretty solid job identifying the truly good teams (minus goaltending).

      LA and Chicago have been back and forth for tops in the NHL as they’ve been winning Championships. But that’s one metric. ALL metrics is not realistic. LA, for example, has a nortoriously low sh% that has persisted for years. It’s the kind of thing you think will bounce back up but just never did. But I digress.

      • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

        Like many on this blog and the rest of the Oil blogosphere, I really want to learn about anylitics and what effect does it really add value?

        I wonder, because a lot of time anylitics just doesn’t add up to what teams are doing or go right in the face of everything we read about players.

        Also. Because a lot of times what I’m reading and seeing aren’t the same at all.

        So Arch, unfortunately for you this quote set me off, please set me straight.

        Why does L.A have such a low shooting percentage yet every year there a contender for the Stanley Cup.

        By that very stat at 5×5 the L.A kings should be beaten by any other team that has a higher shooting percentage playing 5×5?

        Yet, L.A keeps winning, so does that mean possession is the stat at which we should look at when analyze the L.A Kings?

        Does Low shooting percentage equal better possession, if the saying goes, if you have possession you are able to pick your shots yet not be so worried about making a poor shot and turning over possession?

        When does score effect start and when does it stop? If L.A are up by 3 in the first and yet the Oilers are still out shooting L.A but the Kings are just sitting back……..does it really mean the Oilers stats really tell you anything?

        I used those examples just because of what that coach has said….

        *paraphrasing* Darryl Sutter
        “They think there defending in today’s game, no. It’s about how much you have the puck”

        On the flip side….

        “Volume shooting, I don’t know what that does for Corsi or Fenwick because I don’t know what those things are, but volume shooting is important”

        Now, both these to me are polar opposite coaching philosophy’s, on one hand you have a coach saying keep possession, don’t be taking a shot just inside the blue line along the half wall.

        Then on the other side you have a coach saying blast away, drive the net, look for rebounds. Get the defenders moving.

        Who’s right and who’s wrong?

        Problem is, both coaches probably are both right and both wrong.

        That was a long Segway by the way……

        So when using analytics how much effect does the coach actually have when analyzing players?

        I guess the great thing about analyzing the Oilers is that the core group has had 5 coaches each having different styles so getting good samples out of the Oilers players are probably pretty good reflection of what they can do.

        We got to read how Dellow hammer Eakins on how Eakins used Taylor Hall in a dump and chase, instead of possession or possession on entry, examples like that.

        However, take Gudbranson, Barrie or even Demers, players that have been talked about and researched using anylitics.

        Once traded, who’s to say there advanced stats will even be close to the same?
        What if putting any three of these players in different positions on another line will work? or better yet what if they explode?

        I guess my point is, does analytic tell us something about a player and team, but can be completely manipulated by the coach and GM?

        Sorry for the ultra long post, I really never do this.

        • finn_fann

          Barrett’s: I’ll do my best to answer your questions, but sorry if this turns into a wall of text!

          Goals are a product of shots x shooting percentage. If you are not scoring on as many shots, but you are getting more shots on net, then you can still out score the other team. In fact, LA has been a monster at outshooting other teams, and this is a major reason for their success. If anything, I would say that this seems to prove the value of having strong possession stats and “higher volume shooting”.

          When Sutter says “there is no defense in this game”, what he really means is that it’s not about boxing the opponent out of the slot, blocking shots, or out-hitting the opponent – the key to defense is getting the puck to the other team’s side of the ice. This is why defensive defenders are being valued less and less in the NHL (hello Fayne!), and things like strong transition play and footspeed are becoming more highly valued, since it makes it easier to get the puck out and into the “good side” of the ice.

          In this way, McLellan is actually very similar in philosophy to LA, since both see the generation of more shots as a necessary element to outplaying other teams. He may not exactly be an advocate of “corsi”, but the idea of having volume shooting runs parallel to the idea of maintaining possession over the other team (if you don’t have the puck, you can’t shoot). It’s also important to keep in mind that teams can use different systems to accomplish this – but the desired result should be maintaining possession and outshooting the other team.

          I will grant you that applying these stats to individual players is a bit more contentious. This is largely because they have fewer events to measure their performance by, and they can be affected by team mates (are they playing with Lauri Korpikoski?), score effects (do they play more when down or up a goal?), and usage (are they always starting in the defensive zone?). I’ve found that analytics is sensitive enough to pick out the strong players and the weak players, but separating out the average players can be tough.

          However, if the numbers show that a player trails their team in every stat, that is not good. If they have the lowest time on ice, the easiest opposition, and the best zone starts (ie. offensive), yet have one of the worst corsis on the team, that is a sign that they are a drag on the team and are not helping. You can also look at how other players play with or without the player of interest… if other players turn into super stars when your guy is on the ice, they’re probably pretty good. If everyone gets worse with them, they’re basically Cam Barker (or Lauri Korpikoski this year).

          What Vancouver did in this trade was ignore all of the red flags. They traded for a player who is not particularly valuable on his own team, and is not likely to increase in value on his new team. There is a small chance that all he needed was a change in scenery, but it is more likely that he will continue to be a fringe top-four/bottom-pair defenseman. This makes it a bad bet on Vancouver’s side, since Florida is more likely to get the best player out of the deal.

          This is a case where analytics can really help. They can point to a bad deal before it happens, and prevent one or two years of pain finding this out through experience – like the Cam Barker or Nikitin signings of yore. It can also prevent you from letting a valuable player walk for nothing, as with Jeff Petry.

          They cannot definitively say “yes” or “no”, but they can give you an idea of whether a bet is worth making or not, and that has a lot of value when trading or signing players.

        • Burnward

          Then, there’s this…from HFboards. Maybe the math is whack, but is hilarious nonetheless.

          So, I’ve been messing around with some data from War on Ice for the last few minutes. I basically did a very simple analysis to determine how often the team that wins the Corsi battle also wins the game.

          The results were surprising, to me, so I’m wondering if I’m just overlooking something. Here’s what I found, using dating from WOI going back to 2002-03 (14,861 games):

          In the regular season, the team that wins the Corsi battle only wins the game about 43.7% of the time.

          In the playoffs the results are similar but slightly muted. The team that wins the Corsi battle wins the game about 46.3% of the time.

          In both cases, losing the Corsi battle leads to winning the game (or is associated with winning the game, correlation doesn’t equal causation) a lot more often than winning it. So why are so many people so worked up about CF% being such an important part of being a winning team? What am I missing?”

          • Burnward

            Oh, I know. “Score effects” and the such.

            Wouldn’t a true defensively reliable defender on a good team then be in tough to have positive Corsi if the game plan changes with the lead?

            Too many silly variables. Do your best to get smart people that can critically evaluate someone based on everything.

          • camdog

            I find that defenceman have better advanced stats when they get to play with their teams first and second line forwards. And the same defenceman who play with the third and fourth line forwards have worse advanced stats.

            Generally on the Oilers Sekera and Fayne got to play with the Oilers first and second line forwards, some of their advanced stat metrics were inflated. The analytics community is starting to understand quality of competition, but they still struggle with evaluating below average players whom get to play with higher quality players. Case in point would be the blog comparing Seabrook to Fayne on this site not long ago. I know it’s a novel concept but if you are the worst player on the ice (Fayne) odds your advanced stats are going to get pulled up by playing with quality players.

  • madjam

    Hear are some stats I do find rather relevant and telling – points gained in season (win loss) and positioned finished . Goal differential . Points home and away . I can clearly see with my eyes how good or poorly each player is playing each game and also how the entire team is doing .

  • JimmyV1965

    I don’t have an issue with advanced stats but I’ve read a lot of people defend the Reinhart trade by saying he can still develop into a top 4 dman. Many of those same people have ripped the Canucks deal because Gubrandson is a bottom six guy. Well he’s only 24 and can still develop further and he shoots right. Think there’s a little bit of homerism there.

    • Mcline

      The Reinhart deal was terrible, as the player coming back was not the NHL ready defenseman everyone thought would have come back.

      Gudbranson and Reinhart had comparable Corsi% (Gudbranson advantage on this stat) and GoalsFor% (Reinhart advantage on this stat) this year (HERO charts), and Gudbranson played on a pretty solid Florida team, while Reinhart played on a pretty lacklustre Oilers team this year.

      That pretty much reaffirms what Travis Yost said on TSN about how Gudbranson’s stats are honestly really bad. Griffin was a fringe AHL’er for most of the season.

    • Seanaconda

      Hasn’t he been playing 5 or 6 years tho ? He probably wont improve significantly . Could giordanno it tho.While reinhart has played half of one. I would prefer gud over reinhart tho just cuz of the rh thing.

  • Calling Nurse McNuge!!!

    I grew up in Delwood going to Bing’s (One minute foods) too. Small world Matt, small world.
    I gotta say though, that I compare analytics and hockey sense like a computer chess program playing Bobby Fischer. There’s something about the human element, gut feeling (whatever you want to call it) that analytics will never replicate.

  • DannyGallivan

    “If analytics are nothing more than vitamins (the thing my wife makes me take because I forget they exist 5 days a week) then there’s a great chance that he’s not using all the information available to him when he makes his decisions.”

    He suggested analytics was a tool to help, comparing it to vitamins. You suggested he is not “using all the information” and I would suggest that he did likely consider it so I am not sure why you would say “..he’s not using all the information available to him…”. Analytics should never drive decision making. I am not suggesting that he made the right decision, only that analytics is a tool.

  • JimmyV1965

    I just read on a Panthers blog that EG had 70% starts in the dzone. And that they did this because Luongo was weak on the right side. Are these factors accounted for in the advanced stats? It seems to me that the Cats relied heavily on him in the dzone, but as soon as they transitioned they wanted him off the ice. A player like that still has value.

  • @Hallsy4

    Advanced stats are a tool. Prudent GM’s should obviously use all the information available to them, but it’s nothing more than a tool. There are way too many variables in hockey.

  • Aitch

    A little late in reading and I don’t have the time to read through all the comments, but I just want to pat Arch on the back for not comparing Benning’s quote to Lowe’s infamous quote about knowing a thing or two about winning. That must’ve taken a lot of effort. I know it was the first thing that came to my mind when I read it.

  • Is it just me or has the us vs them narrative become a tired old hag?

    the straterati would be well served with a few more leaders with an element of charismatic appeal: IMO. The rapid rise of Kyle Dubas a case in point, he has the intellectual and social capacity to meld two schools, this observation evades others who aspire to a similar station using stats as a platform for advancement.

  • I have no idea who “wins” a trade when neither player has played/practiced a single second for their new teams so I can’t comment on that.

    I do have some question regarding this trade (or any trade) and stats. If a player is being traded, I’d think rarely is the new team playing the same system and as such, the newly acquired player is not going to be used the same or in the same way so how does that factor into analytics? What if Benning “saw” some rarely used skill that Gudbranson had that he liked but wasn’t being fully utilized in the Florida system? If Gudbranson was used primarily for defense only, of course his offensive stats would diminish. His possession would also probably be low because he’d be fighting for it and once got it, get off the ice not allowing any offense. Are there analytics that account (some sort of adjustment) for players playing for different teams or systems?

  • JimmyV1965

    Hey MH. I also have a question about the impact of Nick Bjugstad on Gunbrandson. Bjugstad was -17 on a team where virtually everyone was a plus, with some guys +33 and many others +15 and more. Do we know if Gunbrandson spent a lot of time on the ice with Bjugstad and what impact did this have on his numbers?

  • Dobbler

    I generally agree with the sentiment of this article, but I have to point this out:

    “Nonetheless, even now there are people who believe those in positions of authority got to there on merit alone, meaning their decisions should be trusted all the time. If they aren’t infallible then they’re very close.”

    Coupled with “I temporarily feel sorry for the state of critical thinking”

    The first statement is a called a strawman argument, a logical fallacy where you create a weak form of your opponent’s argument so that it’s easy to knock down. No one believes that Jim Benning is infallible or even close. I think that they believe that his judgement on hockey matters is superior to yours or mine. That’s a different proposition. Using a strawman argument would qualify as a failure in critical thinking, which makes the second statement arrogantly hypocritical.

    All that said, analytics are facts, and anyone who doesn’t think facts are important to making good descisions is functionally insane. The problem with analytics is when they are aren’t accounting for some relevant facts, but are taken to be telling the whole story. A simple example would be plus/minus as a primary way to judge a stay at home defenseman. It just misses so many other pieces of the story.

    Analytics keep getting better, so they tell a more and more detailed story, but it is still possible that they are missing part of that story. The idea that someone with a great deal of experience might see what they miss isn’t ludicrous, but I don’t think we should take it for granted that just because someone has experience he also has some magic “hockey sense” that makes judgements that are at odds with facts good judgements.