The Brad Richards Question
With Brad Richards reportedly on the trading block, there has been a lot of discussion about this hockey player in this corner of the internet.
Bruce, mike w, slipper, Dennis, Lowetide, Tyler ... hell pretty much everybody else around here as well, they have all weighed in with a nay vote. Bruce has written dissertations on the subject in various comments sections, I'm expecting him to start the www.bradrichardsiscrap.blogspot.com site any day now.
Off the top of my head, kinger and jon k are the only yea votes down here in blogland.
The first real blast of Richards criticism that I read came in the comments section of this post comparing Lecavalier to Zetterberg, this post was written on December 20th, just a bit past the midpoint of the season to date.
At the time Richards had abysmal counting numbers, but good underlying numbers. The lightning were outshooting the opposition at a good clip when he was on the ice. The save percentage behind him at evens was a brutal .862, and the EVshooting% when he was on the ice was a 4th line calibre 6.4%.
So I thought I'd check and see what happened to the underlying numbers since, this just for even strength:
The ZoneNumber thing is an indicator of where shifts are starting and ending. A negative number indicates that your shifts are ending in your own zone more than they should. And it's going to be highly repeatable of course, because leopards rarely change their spots. Simply put, a lot of Vinny's shift start in the good end of the rink and end with him trying to beat one last defender one-on-one, and that won't change anytime soon.
All these underlying numbers are obviously very steady, which tells us that neither player has been playing injured or had a significant change in role. Hockey players really don't get that much better or worse over stretches, the bounces are the only thing that are madass.
And on the EV+ and EV- front:
The biggest factor here is the EVsave% behind Richards, which has improved from nightmarish (.862) to decent (.908). Or at least decent for that Tampa team, which continues to struggle to find good goaltending. The EVshooting% has improved while he's been on the ice too. Tied into that is the fact that the goalpost gods grew tired of bitch-slapping him, and have been very kind since December 20th.
I have more to say on this, and probably will add to this when time permits. Just generally I think that for a team that finds themselves in a the situation that the Oilers are in ... it might not be a bad bet to make.
A couple quick notes before I go back to bed:
* I've seen Richards good in the past.
* He is a very effective PP point man, which is an expensive commodity in this league.
* I'm not at all sure that he can create enough offense to justify the salary.
* The reason that everyone talks about 'buying low' in hindsight, but very few ever did ... that's because the price was low for a reason, and it didn't seem like a good idea to anyone at the time.