Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Discussing Two Deadline deals

(1)

To ATL: Christensen, Armstrong, Esposito, 2008 PIT 1st
To PIT: Marian Hossa, Dupuis

Darren Dreger
and Bob McKenzie imply that this is a decision that came from above. This sounds pretty reasonable, if you look at this deal as McKenzie does in tradional hockey fashion; that the team is close to winning now, the conference is tight, and this move may well put them over the top. It could also, potentially and maybe even probably, be a smart move from a business perspective.

When I was thinking about this last night after the deal was completed, I was looking at it in a simple fashion. If adding Hossa and Dupuis, even as pure rentals, gets PIT into the 3rd or 4th round instead of the 2nd, or the 3rd round instead of bounced in the 1st or 2nd, this deal is probably a winner for PIT. They would earn whatever additional profit they would generate from 2-8 extra home playoff games. That is probably worth somewhere between 2 and 10 mil, maybe even more (since I'm assuming ticket prices rise in PIT as you get to the next round). PIT picks up ~ 1.55 mil in salary by adding Hossa and Dupuis while removing ~0.4 mil in salary by subtracting Christensen and Armstrong, for a net addition of 1.15 mil. Having seen MC's recent (and not so recent) postings, I feel obligated to mention that this analysis is unlikely to be complete enough, but as a rationale for why they would have gone after Hossa, I think it still illustrates the general point in any case. I'll try to look at it more in depth in the comment section.

It appears that PIT feels it is worth gambling by spending 1.15 mil now for a chance at boosting their playoff revenue. That is without considering that, perhaps, they can boost season ticket prices for next season and beyond with a long playoff run this season, and without considering their ability to re-sign either Hossa or Dupuis.

(2)

To TB: Smith, Halpern, Jokinen, 2009 4th
To DAL: Brad Richards, Holmqvist

First, congrats to Vic on calling Richards to DAL, can't remember where I read you calling that one, but right on the money.

This deal is pretty interesting to me, because when we talked about it a bit at LT's site, we figured that something like Roloson, Stoll, Torres would be more or less money neutral for the Oilers.

Interestingly enough, that's kind of what they package ended up being. Halpern is signed for 2 years after this at a 2 mil cap hit, while Torres is signed for 2 years after this with a 2.25 mil cap hit (but at 2.5-2.6mil in real dollars). Jokinen's signed for another year at a 1.82 cap hit (makes 1.875mil) while Stoll reaches UFA 1 year earlier and is due a 2.2 mil QO this summer (but can be taken to arb, where theoretically he could be awarded 85% of 2.2 mil. Hard to know what he'd earn thru arbitration, but with no look at comparables I'm not sure he'd be due a paycut).

Smith is obviously way younger than Roloson, and makes 2.7 mil less, but both are UFA's after next season.

If EDM had offered Roloson, Deslauriers, Stoll and Torres for Richards and Denis, would that seem like an offer somewhere in the ballpark of the DAL offer*? Would anyone have been for that, from an Oilers perspective?

* = this is mostly just for argument's sake. I think TB must like Smith quite a bit, and Jokinen as well, and so they probably prefer the DAL offer in any case.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

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.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Goalpost Luck

I did this back in November as well. The Oilers were being favoured by the goalpost gods then, and immediately after that the pendulum swung the other way and they had a terrible stretch of goalpost luck. The worm has turned again recently though.



Now if goalpost thunderbolts were thrown from the sky at random by the hockey gods, causing the next shot on goal to hit a post, well then obviously the teams that outshoot their opposition a lot are generally going to hit more iron, and be saved by it less.

And because there aren't all that many posts hit in a year, random chance dictates that some teams will be more fortunate than others. Because they have to be, and in the right measure. Which is exactly what you see above.

Now any fool can look back and rationalize why one team hit more or less of their share of goalposts, or were saved by them over or under the odds. In fact a fool is the best choice for that assignment.

If we were to try and predict who will get extra love from the hockey post gods in future weeks ... no person will be able to consistently outperform a monkey.

If you are keen to check for yourself:
http://timeonice.com/xposts.php?first=20101&last=20200
http://timeonice.com/tshots.php?team=EDM
http://timeonice.com/tppshots.php?team=EDM
http://timeonice.com/tshshots.php?team=EDM

Change the variables accordingly. It's a binomial distribution folks, just like the goalpost lightning bolts example.

And though I haven't checked, all the arrows of reason point to goalpost +s and -s landing on the players in random fashion too. Both skaters and goalies.

.

And the Rangers, Blackhawks and Hurricanes have a genuine beef with the goalpost gods. And Dallas, Colorado and Boston have caught some breaks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bobo: c.1994-2008

I first met Bobo (aka Boris) in 1999, in a cage at the Humane Society. He had been found wandering in Strathcona County, and had gone unclaimed. Some person or animal(s) had beaten him pretty badly, he had a lot of marks. Bad marks that didn't look like they'd ever heal. He was a big dog, and he looked scary at first glance even though he was rail thin.

He had a good heart though, I could see it, and I'm not usually the sentimental type. And I worried that nobody would take him if we didn't, because there isn't a lot of call for big, rough looking dogs in a row of puppies.

We had gone there in the first place because my wife was yearning for a puppy. Hours later, and after several walks with Bobo, and a lot of long conversations at the shitty coffee shop just south of there, we left with Bobo.


Bobo healed up well, no trace of the scars. And he gained about 20 pounds in short order, and loved every minute he lived from there on, or so it looked to me anyways. Saying that you love dogs is a bit like saying that you love movies, it just doesn't make sense. This though, was a remarkable dog. He just was.

Bobo was kind, resilient, patient, courageous but never fierce, always up for play. Always happy to be where we were, with no intention of hiding that fact. And at night he protected our house from the scourge of our times (pirates and monsters), allowing children to sleep.

I have never met a person that deserves a better eulogy than Bobo, I suspect that there isn't one. This is the best that I can write though.

Bobo died two nights ago of cancer, and I miss him so much. We'll all remember him forever.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gilbert is arbitration eligible, with a catch

*EDIT* I just want to correct some misinformation from this post that I just found out about...

I was partially correct in that Gilbert, Stoll, Thoresen and Grebeshkov are all eligible for team arbitration. However, ONLY Stoll can be completely shielded from an offer sheet. Gilbert, Thoresen and Grebeshkov will all have a 5 or 6 day window in which they are free to negotiate with all 30 teams.

Section 12.3.a says that any player who makes 1.5 mil+ may be taken to arbitration by the Club instead of being given a QO. The deadline to do so is June 15th or 48 hours after the last Stanley Cup Final game, whichever is latter (at least, that's how I read it).This applies to Stoll, and if EDM takes this option, Stoll can be given a salary no less than 85% of what he makes this season.

According to section 12.3.b, if a player makes less than 1.5 mil, as Thoresen, Gilbert and Grebeshkov all do, then the team must give them an standard QO by the deadline to retain their rights. After that, a player has until 5pm EST July 5th to opt for arbitration. Presumably this window was set up so players would have 3 or 4 days to talk with all 30 teams, and then have the information necessary to decide whether or not they should file for arbitration. If the player does NOT opt for arbitration by the July 5th 5pm New York time deadline, then the club will have a 24 window in which it can opt for club arbitration, the deadline being July 6th, 5pm New York time.

In effect, there is nothing the team can do to prevent Gilbert, Thoresen or Grebeshkov from receiving an offer sheet before July 5th 3pm EDM time (unless, of course, they are already re-signed). After that, the Oilers can take one of the three to arb if they are so inclined. That is assuming they have already taken Stoll to arbitration. If they have not taken Stoll to arbitration, then they could take two of the 3 to arbitration were they so inclined.
ONLY Stoll can be completely shielded from an offer sheet. Gilbert, Thoresen and Grebeshkov will all have a 5 or 6 day window in which they are free to negotiate with all 30 teams.

Section 12.3.a says that any player who makes 1.5 mil+ may be taken to arbitration by the Club instead of being given a QO. The deadline to do so is June 15th or 48 hours after the last Stanley Cup Final game, whichever is latter (at least, that's how I read it).This applies to Stoll, and if EDM takes this option, Stoll can be given a salary no less than 85% of what he makes this season.

According to section 12.3.b, if a player makes less than 1.5 mil, as Thoresen, Gilbert and Grebeshkov all do, then the team must give them an standard QO by the deadline to retain their rights. After that, a player has until 5pm EST July 5th to opt for arbitration. Presumably this window was set up so players would have 3 or 4 days to talk with all 30 teams, and then have the information necessary to decide whether or not they should file for arbitration. If the player does NOT opt for arbitration by the July 5th 5pm New York time deadline, then the club will have a 24 window in which it can opt for club arbitration, the deadline being July 6th, 5pm New York time.

In effect, there is nothing the team can do to prevent Gilbert, Thoresen or Grebeshkov from receiving an offer sheet before July 5th 3pm EDM time. After that, the Oilers can take one of the three to arb if they are so inclined. That is assuming they have already taken Stoll to arbitration. If they have not taken Stoll to arbitration, then they could take two of the 3 to arbitration were they so inclined.

ONLY Stoll can be completely shielded from an offer sheet. Gilbert, Thoresen and Grebeshkov will all have a 5 or 6 day window in which they are free to negotiate with all 30 teams.

Section 12.3.a says that any player who makes 1.5 mil+ may be taken to arbitration by the Club instead of being given a QO. The deadline to do so is June 15th or 48 hours after the last Stanley Cup Final game, whichever is latter (at least, that's how I read it).This applies to Stoll, and if EDM takes this option, Stoll can be given a salary no less than 85% of what he makes this season.

According to section 12.3.b, if a player makes less than 1.5 mil, as Thoresen, Gilbert and Grebeshkov all do, then the team must give them an standard QO by the deadline to retain their rights. After that, a player has until 5pm EST July 5th to opt for arbitration. Presumably this window was set up so players would have 3 or 4 days to talk with all 30 teams, and then have the information necessary to decide whether or not they should file for arbitration. If the player does NOT opt for arbitration by the July 5th 5pm New York time deadline, then the club will have a 24 window in which it can opt for club arbitration, the deadline being July 6th, 5pm New York time.

In effect, there is nothing the team can do to prevent Gilbert, Thoresen or Grebeshkov from receiving an offer sheet before July 5th 3pm EDM time. After that, the Oilers can take one of the three to arb if they are so inclined. That is assuming they have already taken Stoll to arbitration. If they have not taken Stoll to arbitration, then they could take two of the 3 to arbitration were they so inclined.

I hope this may clear up any misunderstandings I've caused, and hopefully this will be the last time I need to clear up any such misunderstanding on this matter. What follows is the original post, with whatever corrections were required.

*****************************************************

I'm writing this post mainly to mention that, having looked at the CBA (and what I believe are the relevant sections), Gilbert is arbitration eligible.

Meaning that if Lowe files for team arbitration with Gilbert between July 5th and July 6th, Gilbert would NOT be eligible to receive an offer sheet beyond that date. However, Gilbert WOULD be eligible to receive an offer sheet between July 1st and July 5th, even if Lowe is planning to take Gilbert to arbitration. This is also true for Patrick Thoresen and Denis Grebeshkov. The team can, however, completely shield Stoll from an offer sheet should they so chooses, because his salary was above 1.5 mil for the 07/8 season.

The players who are certain RFA "worries" for the Oilers this summer, are (I believe this to be accurate, but am certainly willing to correct the list if I'm mistaken):

Pitkanen
Nilsson
Stortini
Pouliot
Jacques
Deslauriers

*NOTE* this isn't a complete list, it's simply of those listed at http://nhlnumbers.com/overview.php?team=EDM

Friday, February 08, 2008

Patterns

Inspired by some commentary on Jarret Stoll in the blogs, yet another exploration of context.

You will have to click on the image to view it.

The 33 players in the NHL this season who have been on the ice for more defensive zone draws are at the top. By way of example Bobby Holik has been on the ice for a whopping 225 MORE defensive zone draws than ones at the other end of the rink. It turns out that you get a lot of practice at that when you play on the same team as Kovalchuk. And all things considered he's holding up pretty well, a Fenwick of -85 is pretty respectable, all things considered, he's playing a lot against good players too. The guy still has game.

At the other end of the spectrum, and at the bottom half of the chart, Renney has gotten Jagr onto the ice for 123 MORE offensive zone draws than ones in his own end. Jaromir is kicking ass with that opportunity as well in terms of chances, though they haven't been going in for him too easily this year. And the +225 Fenwick number will translate into results soon enough. That whole Ranger team has hit an absurd number of goalposts as well. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Anyhow, clearly if you're playing one type of ice time vs the other, it has a profound effect on your results. If the correlation between Fenwick number (and by extension, 5v5 +/- ) and own-zone draws is a coincidence, it's an absolute belter.

And I shudder to think where the Oilers would be without Stoll and Reasoner, Who have been playing very tough minutes as well since late November. Of course this was usually Horcoff and Smyth's gig in years past, including the year that Peca was an Oiler.

As an aside, I was going to write a bit on Mike Richards' fluky season, but there is a rookie defenceman on the Thrashers named Enstrom, and he clearly has made a deal with the devil. Both bubbles that just have to burst eventually.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

To the other end of the rink

A lot of talk about Pitkanen's value lately. That's moved me to post this, because to me his greatest strength is getting the puck out of his zone and into the good end of the rink with purpose. This is the same metric as used in the Zetterberg post down the page, essentially it's a sample of where shifts started and ended, using the only hard counts we have readily available; goals, stoppages and faceoffs, and who was on the ice when they happened at 5v5.

In true Bill James fashion, I knicked the 'shift started in a faceoff numbers' by 20%, just because that smooths things out best for the league as a whole.

All the rules about applying common sense apply; there is no account for linemates or opponents here, good offensive players can be forgiven for taking a few more chances at the blue lines, some guys have been playing hurt, etc.


So in round numbers, at 5v5, Pitkanen has started in his own end with faceoffs 31 more times than in the offensive end. And his shifts have ended in the offensive zone with stoppages 1 more time than in the bad end. That's impressive considering where he's mostly started from, and the fact that most of the forwards on this team struggle to move the puck forward and keep it there.

To my eye there are only a few surprises there. Notably Penner and Stortini. And it's impressive to see how much clearance Horcoff and Pitkanen have gained over their most frequent linemates. And Pisani would surely be at or near the top if he had been fully fit.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, and a lot of teams in their situation, the players that are good at this don't have much finish, and the guys that can finish aren't very good at this.

Souray and Salary cap/RFA offer sheet notes

(1) I have seen a few mentions around the blogs, in the comments, regarding buying out Souray's contract. If the Oilers are determined to dump Souray (which I don't think they are), they may not have many options besides a buyout. Obviously the first move would be to trade him if possible. If no one wanted him, he cannot be sent to the minors dues to his NMC (at least, not without his consent). Depending on his injury status he may qualify for LTIR, which would be ideal for EDM from a cap perspective - provided EDM is willing to spend his money again on a replacement - though they would still have to pay him all his money. IF EDM were to buy out Souray they would have to pay ~ $13.8 mil in cash, spread out evenly over 8 years. The following would be the resultant cap hits:

1: $879,166.67 (Year 1 = 2008/9 season)
2: $1,629,166.67
3: $2,629,166.67
4: $2,629,166.67
5: $1,729,166.67
6: $1,729,166.67
7: $1,729,166.67
8: $1,729,166.67

That is a lot of money/cap hit, and you still have to replace Souray. Can you do better on the UFA market than Souray for 4.5 mil next summer (5.4 mil - 0.9mil cap hit for Souray's buyout)? Maybe/probably.

What about in year 2, with 3.8 mil avail? Or years 3 and 4, with 2.8 mil avail? Plus you'd be stuck with a cap hit of 1.7 mil for the 4 years after that.

(2) The Star projects a ~ 3 mil rise in the cap next year, which would place the cap at ~ 53.3 mil.

Given that cap increase, the following would be the new RFA compensation chart:

Compensation Due
$819,571.74 OR LESS None
$819,571.74 $1,241,775.56 3rd round pick
$1,241,775.56 $2,483,551.12 2nd round pick
$2,483,551.12 $3,725,325.62 1st and 3rd round pick
$3,725,325.62 $4,967,101.17 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick
$4,967,101.17 $6,208,879.91 Two 1st's, one 2nd, one 3rd round pick
$6,208,879.91 OR MORE Four 1st round picks

I also wanted to note something that I wasn't aware of that perhaps others didn't know either, with regards to RFA offer sheets. Section 10.4 of the CBA states:

The number and quality of draft choices due to the Prior Club shall be based on the average annual value contained in the Principal Terms (as defined in Section 10.3.(e) hereof) of the New Club's Offer Sheet (determined by dividing such compensation by the lesser of the number of years of the Offer Sheet or five),...


Meaning that, given the above RFA compensation grid, a 10 year 60 mil deal would be worth 4 1sts as compensation for declining to match an offer sheet to Pitkanen, while a 5 year 30 mil deal would be worth 2-1sts, 1-2nd, and 1-3rd.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tough Minutes in Motown

There are a lot of good writers and commentors on the hockey blogs that I read, and more and more of them are referencing Desjardins' Quality of Competition numbers to support their positions. This seems reasonable to me, as I think that the context in which a player's goals, assists and +/- are registered makes a big difference to his value to the team.

A couple of days ago Tyler made a compelling argument for the Oilers being in a better position to improve at 5v5 than many of the other also-rans in the league, based on the fact that the Oiler 5v5 results-getters are the same guys that are staring down the other team's best players in many games. In short, it's easier to rebuild your forward depth if you don't need them to play really tough minutes without bleeding. I'm sure he's right.

The merits of Desjardins' methodology have been discussed at length before, in threads at this site and elsewhere. In short, if you stand too close it looks like a mess. Look at any one game and you'll see a lot of the wrong guys getting 'tough minutes' credit from him. But if you stand back, you can see that there is a clear picture there, and it makes sense. Give it a few weeks and, for whatever reason, his numbers have drifted to closely match the opinions of the hockey fans who pay attention to context in a hockey game.

What I hope to do in this post is remove a bit of the magic from this stuff, and check Desjardins' results against other sensible measures. It's not easy to describe 'tough minutes', but I think generally we would all agree that we're looking at position and opposition. If you're playing a lot against Joe Thornton, clearly that makes it harder to get good results, especially 5v5 +/- results. On the other hand, if you're on the ice for way more offensive zone draws than ones in your own zone, and your coach is throwing you over the boards against tired players a lot, and sending you out as the puck is heading through the neutral zone towards the other team's net ... well you'll probably put up good numbers at 5v5, you would be hard pressed to do otherwise. This even if you've logged your fair share of Thornton-minutes.

So, for starters, a quick look at Detroit. Babcock runs a rational bench, and a fairly consistent game plan, plus most of us are familiar with that team without being emotionally attached. So it's a good start.


If you click on the image it should enlarge. The first column is a tough minutes measure derived from the shots-against that happened while a player was on the ice at 5v5, and the 5v5 +/- of the players that were on the ice against them when these shots happened. No ice time used at all. It's just a matter of summing up the GF/(GF + GA) of every player who was on the ice for the other team when they got a shot on net against you. Simple as that. We'll call that the "shots metric". And the correlation with Desjardins (.92) is extremely strong. Really it's just Maltby and Draper moving up a bunch, everyone else is static. Possibly Babcock is relying on them more in defensive situations than Desjardins' numbers allow for.

The third column is the simple sum of two things:

1. The percentage of the faceoffs that happened in the defensive zone when a player was on the ice. Just that.

and

2. The average time-on-ice per game (EV + PP) of the opposition that a player faced. I excluded defencemen from that, otherwise I presume that it would be a dog's breakfast. No other stats used.

Equal weighting to both (1.) and (2.). Obviously (1.) is more in line with the shots metric, and (2.) is more in line with Desjardins. Give them equal weight and they end up with an overwhelming correlation to both (.93 and .91 respectively), even though all of these measures are built from different stats, the end results are linked together with a strong thread of reason. It's just hockey after all.

There are hundreds of ways to skin this cat, and frankly none of those listed above are great IMO. But they all start in different places, that's the point really. These seemed relatively simple, easy and independent, that's why I used them. The results are compelling and obvious think, so I didn't bother farting about, refining things, or looking other directions.

A mathy aside: I've multiplied everything by constants to get numbers in the same range that are easy on the eyes, this doesn't have a significant effect on the correlations. I also tacked an exponent onto Desjardin's numbers to spread them out a bit, because for whatever reasons they always want to bunch together more than the others (x110 and ^1,2 iirc). Again, this doesn't affect the correlation, just the presentation. It brings the numbers into the same range for the eyes to make comparison.

I'll get back to this later, for now I hope this is at least a point of discussion, and gives some confidence to the people who have been using Desjardins' QUALCOMP numbers. Of course comparing team to team with these is pointless, they are only relative to teammates. And some coaches run the bench more on position and tiredness of opposition than by the player matchup. Still, for 27 teams in the league, Desjardins' QUALCOMP arrows seem to be about the right size and are almost always pointed in the right direction, at least compared to these two other measures. EDM, CAR and especially PHI are the clear exceptions.

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Next up, Columbus. Hitchcock is always an interesting guy.