This was the first thing I thought of, when I started wondering about synergy.
At first I thought, can I really make a post with this picture? Jem and the Holograms is more than a little embarrassing for anyone, let alone a middle-aged guy talking about hockey. Then I read the latest at BDHS and I said, "Fuck yeah, I can do what I want."
Anyway, this is just a quick note on Penner, who happens to be a hot topic these days.
Here's an overview of the key stats at 5v5 for Penner and the first line in 2008/2009. (XX represents any Oiler forward except Penner, Hemsky or Horcoff.)
So is that synergy on the first line? I have always found that synergy is always an elusive thing to identify in reality, but Penner looks pretty good here. There are clearly some mitigating factors here though. First, the comparisons are definitely skewed by the fact that Horcoff and Hemsky have a consistently negative start position. Despite that, they always move the puck forwards no matter who the LWer happens to be, according to the ZoneShift measure. Meanwhile, Penner with other linemates obviously had a more favourable start position. He was helping the territorial game though and that cannot be overlooked. There is one other thing though - the goal data is a little skewed by the following:
OK, now. 107.6% is a little bit much.
I kind of believe in the EV shooting percentage, for the simple fact that when Penner is out there I'm guessing they get more opportunities in close. I haven't looked lately, but I believe Penner led the team in average shooting distance in 07/08 according to behindthenet.ca. The .955 EV save percentage is a different story. It's probably not sustainable and I can't think of a good reason why it might be.
Things are a little different in 2007/2008:
The first line is pretty good by goal differential and Corsi, but they had a positive shift starting position to help that and actually moved backwards when Penner was the LWer. Hemsky and Horcoff didn't play much without Penner that year due to injuries, but as usual they had to start the shifts going uphill and moved the puck forward by ZoneShift. In this season, Penner is just pretty bad by the underlying measures with other linemates. Corsi, GD, faceoffs - everything is negative.
The percentages for 07/08 at 5v5:
Now there's another reason to believe in the 12% EV shooting first line - nearly 75 games of this kind of efficiency with both seasons included. We see a more human EV SV% now though and the PDO number for this season is probably closer to true ability. Penner and his other linemates probably had some bad luck by this measure in 2007-2008, but the underlying numbers were indeed bad, so he wasn't earning his dough at EV that year.
So I guess my conclusion is that Penner is a pretty good option for that line. There seems to be some synergy with those three players, probably because they are indeed the best LW, C and RW on the club. At the same time, don't believe the hype. These numbers aren't killer and all the 08/09 goal data gets skewed by the percentages. If you bring in the 07/08 numbers, I think you get a more realistic picture of Penner's value - he's the best option available, but that has more than a little to do with the Oilers' elevator shaft on LW.
It turns out you can't let Smyth and Torres walk in just a couple of years in exchange for a bunch of junk and hope to maintain a competitive left wing depth chart.