17 May 2013

NHL Awards 2013 - meet the contenders

In most part due to certain events occurring in the approximate timeframe of September 2012 to January 2013 that nobody connected with the NHL will talk about until Jeremy Jacobs next holds a friendly season-opening press conference EVER again, the usual lamevish Las Vegas awards bash is apparently on hiatus for at least a year.

Instead, this year's winners "will be revealed in two live television specials during the Stanley Cup Final", which I presume means Pierre McGuire will be carrying out at least some of the envelope-opening, hardware-giving duties in between the benches late in the third period of a tied Game 7.

The Great One later discovered barricading his daughter in her bedroom would be futile in the digital age
Until that time, here is a quick rundown of the main awards (those that are voted on) and those in the running:

Hart Memorial Trophy

Voted on by: Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association
Supposed to be awarded to: The player adjudged most valuable to his team
In practice, normally awarded to: Whichever player got the votes of the only two writers who interpret "most valuable" in the same way

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
As well as his high skill level and competitive drive, famed for his high hockey IQ, although this apparently is not quite high enough to realise that the safest place to be to avoid a Brooks Orpik shot is directly in front of goal.

Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
After something of a bounce-back campaign, now stands only 729 behind Pierre Turgeon's NHL record for most points scored after being buried by Dale Hunter.

John Tavares (New York Islanders)
Provides significantly more value than at least two of the players on the Islanders' payroll who have being a major award finalist on their résumés, by actually playing in games for the New York Islanders.

Ted Lindsay Award

Voted on by: Members of the National Hockey League Players' Association
Supposed to be awarded to: The most outstanding player in the NHL
In practice, normally awarded to: Ron Hainsey or Ryan Miller, if Don Fehr really wants to screw around with Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Earned respect from the rank-and-file NHLPA members by spending much of October to January listening to a stream of extremely dull, PR-controlled rhetoric.  In between re-watching his DVR collection of interviews of himself, also found some time to attend a few labour meetings.

Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
During the lockout, racked up 40 points in half a season playing against non-NHL calibre opposition.  In unrelated news, later scored 29 points in 18 games against Southeast Division teams.

Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Before achieving great success with the Lightning, was let go by the Calgary Flames for nothing at all, which is now widely regarded as the best return for a departing player the Flames have secured in the last 15 years.

James Norris Memorial Trophy

Voted on by: Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association   
Supposed to be awarded to: The defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position
In practice, normally awarded to: Nicklas Lidstrom

Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins)
No stranger to individual awards, having won in 2007 the QMJHL's Kevin Lowe Trophy, presented to the defenseman adjudged most likely to bitterly reminisce about his success as a player while sustaining a failed executive career.

P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens)
Believed to have the opportunity to become the first player with a hockey term within his name to win a major individual award, after the failed attempts of Victor Hedman, Tanner Glass, Paul Postma, Lindy Ruff and Rudy Pokecheck.

Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)
The free agent lured away from the Nashville Predators by the extremely lucrative, decade-plus contract sanctioned by an owner with close ties to the NHL commissioner, instantly solidified his playoff-bound team, almost exactly as Paul Holmgren drew it up.

Vezina Trophy

Voted on by: General Managers of all NHL clubs
Supposed to be awarded to: The goaltender who is adjudged to be the best at this position
In practice, normally awarded to: The goaltender who is adjudged to be at least as good as Jim Carey and Jose Theodore turned out to be

Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Aiming to follow in the footsteps of the last Columbus goalie to be nominated for the award, by playing wretchedly enough to be wanted by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)
Has a chance of being the second European repeat winner of the award, following Dominik Hasek, recipient in 1994 and 1995, 1997 to 1999, as well as 2018 and 2019.

Antti Niemi (San Jose Sharks)
Famously worked part-time as a Zamboni driver during his junior days in Finland, the hockey player/rink maintenance combination giving him something in common with teammate Scott Gomez, who is responsible for the sharp decline in coins and beer cups being thrown on the Bell Centre ice during Montreal Canadiens games.

Calder Memorial Trophy

Voted on by: Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association 
Supposed to be awarded to: The player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League
In practice, normally awarded to: The player selected as the most proficient in what might be his third year of competition in the National Hockey League after what might be no or several years of competition in another professional league

Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens)
As a Canadian with an Irish name who was drafted by the Canadiens one spot after the Maple Leafs selected a Swede, has already ensured a legacy of providing Don Cherry with at least 15 years' worth of content for Coach's Corner.

Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers)
Born in 1993 and scorer of 14 goals in 48 games, making him the only candidate whose bio could also describe the team he plays for.

Brandon Saad (Chicago Blackhawks)
Led all rookies by a distance in the statistical categories of most goals scored while playing with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and most assists gained while playing with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.

Frank J. Selke Trophy

Voted on by: Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association 
Supposed to be awarded to: The forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game
In practice, normally awarded to: The 50-point forward who best excels in probably taking a few faceoffs, being "gritty" and showing "hustle", plus faring well in the ultra-reliable defensive statistics of plus/minus and takeaways

Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
As well as being a member of the prestigious Triple Gold Club consisting of players who have won an Olympic gold medal, a World Championships gold medal and the Stanley Cup, is also in the even more select group of players who have scored a playoff series winning goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs and do not have English as a first language, following in the most recent footsteps of Jeremy Roenick.

Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings)
Looking to win this award for the fourth time, which would tie him with Hall of Famer Bob Gainey, who was credited with significantly reducing the number of goals conceded by the Montreal Canadiens between 1973 and 1989 as well as the New York Rangers between 2011 and 2013.

Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)
The youngest person (at 22 years, 41 days) to gain entry into the aforementioned Triple Gold Club, a feat to impress everyone except teammate, Patrick Kane, who boasts of earning VIP membership of at least 75 different clubs in Chicago by the age of 20.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Voted on by: Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association 
Supposed to be awarded to: The player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey
In practice, normally awarded to: The player who missed the most games through injury the season before

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
"Continued to evolve his game" and "a career-best plus-26 rating" are among the irrelevant reasons for his candidacy noted in the NHL.com awards feature, the Penguins' actual endorsement of "definitely not being Matt Cooke" mysteriously not being referred to.

Josh Harding (Minnesota Wild)
Among his other career accolades, winner of a silver medal at the World Junior Championships, so presumably the Masterton nomination is for finally escaping the prison to which Hockey Canada sends all its junior players that disgrace the country in that way.

Adam McQuaid (Boston Bruins)
Recovered from two surgeries resulting from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a condition sometimes developed by athletes who frequently raise their arms above the head, meaning Zdeno Chara now has at least one fewer congratulatory tap on the helmet when he scores a goal.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

Voted on by: Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association 
Supposed to be awarded to: The player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability
In practice, normally awarded to: The player adjudged to have had the fewest penalty minutes when the voters quickly skim down the list of top 20 scorers five minutes before the deadline to send in their ballot

Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
Presumably distraught on eventually finding out he wasn't in fact a finalist for the Lady Banger Trophy.

Matt Moulson (New York Islanders)
Drafted in 2003 by the Pittsburgh Penguins and quickly becoming the best goalie drafted in 2003 by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Travels at high speed around the rink, most often directly towards goal, seemingly only a few feet from the ice, all characteristics that have the unfortunate side-effect of making him invisible to Lightning goaltenders.

Jack Adams Award

Voted on by: Members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association 
Supposed to be awarded to: The coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success
In practice, normally awarded to: The coach adjudged to have the most candidates for the Masterton Trophy next year

Bruce Boudreau (Anaheim Ducks)
After being dismissed by the Washington Capitals in 2011, became the fastest coach to be hired after being fired in the NHL, although that sentence from Wikipedia possibly contains a small typo.

Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators)
Famously spotted in close proximity to his doppelgänger near the bench during one game this season, bringing back memories of the Jack Adams winner in 1994, when Lou Lamoriello threatened to replace Jacques Lemaire late in the season with his reliable fall-back option, Jacques Lemaire.

Joel Quenneville (Chicago Blackhawks)
With 660 career regular season wins on his coaching record, on his current pace, can look forward to celebrating #700 around 15 games into the Blackhawks' 2013/14 season.

General Manager of the Year Award

Voted on by: General Managers of all NHL clubs and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media 
Supposed to be awarded to: The top National Hockey League General Manager
In practice, normally awarded to: The National Hockey League General Manager Thought Most Likely To Be Persuaded By Other National Hockey League General Managers Not To Sign Any Restricted Free Agents To Offer Sheets This Summer

Marc Bergevin (Montreal Canadiens)
Notorious prankster who smoothed relations with the Francophone media and fans after the Randy Cunneyworth fiasco with his unique ability to conduct bilingual interviews using only a hand cupped under his armpit and squeezing his elbow to his ribs.

Bob Murray (Anaheim Ducks)
To avoid a repeat of a 2009 chair-throwing incident, the Ducks now employ Brian Burke to sit in the GM's seat whenever his former understudy returns to his office. At least that's the reason Burke is giving.

Ray Shero (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Made a series of smart in-season deals that would significantly enhance his credentials for this award by concentrating on making those deals with GMs who would be most likely to ensure that fewer than 30 GMs would be GMs when the voting took place.

1 May 2013

The Pain Game 2013 - end of season wrap

Injury stats update – end of season awards

This is my final update for the 2012/13 regular season looking at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.  (If you want to see the Q3 analysis, here is the Q3 analysis.)

[At some point in the summer, I'll probably rework the numbers using GVT again and try to do another summary analysis of the last five years' of CHIP figures, maybe with attractive charts of CHIP vs standings points and other exciting stuff like that. Stay tuned.]

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his (annual) 2012/13 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Note that for reasons of comparability, players' cap hits being published as full-season equivalents and above all, laziness, I have made no attempt to adjust the calculations to account for the 48-game season.

Again, for a different indicator of player "value", I've also illustrated a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.  Clearly, neither cap charge nor TOI/G are perfect measures of player value, since each have a number of limitations and inconsistencies, but they provide a decent comparison and the results do vary somewhat.

A quick summary of the alternative metric:
  • TOI/G replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For* - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on).  [*Actually, "Games Played by Team - Games Missed by Goalie" - I'm not inclined to disentangle any three-goalie systems or minor-league conditioning stints.]
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games, I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...
The table below (playoff teams highlighted in yellow) shows:
  • Total CHIP for each team over the 48-game regular season, as well as the distribution of CHIP by position
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season) 

The following is a ranking of teams by CHIP over Games 37-48 only, to further illustrate some of the biggest movers since last time:

10 second analysis...
A tight race between the three teams that achieved some separation from the rest was eventually won by the Flyers by a thin margin, but with the usual caveat that $3.2m of their total comes from the known/permanent absences of Chris Pronger and Marc-Andre Bourdon.  Ed Snider is presumably briefing Bob Clarke on exactly which unfortunate injuries to administer to protect Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov against prior to next season.

One or two fairly stark differences between the man-games lost figure and the corresponding CHIP ranking are evident, e.g. Detroit, Pittsburgh, Calgary, Montreal.

The Pacific Division seemingly very healthy, with no team higher than the Kings' 16th place, despite Raffi Torres staying within the division at the trade deadline.

Winners of positional crowns:
Goaltenders: Hurricanes [Cam Ward with a destroyed MCL still the least-worst goalie in the Southeast]
Defensemen: Flyers [nope, I didn't realise they ever had any defensemen either]
Forwards: Panthers [bad idea for Dale Tallon to arrange delivery of the players' medication]

And the paper hats:
Goaltenders: 7-way tie [mostly successful workhorse starters, plus Ryan Miller]
Defensemen: Blues [presumably the only reason they could find to trade away Wade Redden]
Forwards: Kings [34 fewer chances for Carter and Richards to be "ill" and miss a game]

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:

So the Senators had some key players out for a while, huh?

Players under contract who missed all 48 games:
Mitchell (Los Angeles)
Sutton (Edmonton)
Savard (Boston) [second full season out]
Sauer (NY Rangers)
Pronger (Philadelphia)
Bourdon (Philadelphia)
Bergenheim (Florida)
Ohlund (Tampa Bay) [second full season out]

Where does it hurt?
This is another update of the crude injury-by-location analysis. Again, I’ve just used the descriptions found in the player profiles on tsn.ca, so the figures will encompass all the inaccuracies and vagueness within them. It should give a broad indication, if nothing else, though.

No massive shift in the distribution of injuries compared to last year, unless you count Colorado's new-found liberal use of "torso" injuries as a descriptor.

Man-games lost in Q4 total 1,218 compared to 1,178 in Q3, 1,126 in Q2 and 816 in Q1.  The crude rate of injuries (instances / total games played) ended up at 0.80 per game compared to 0.78 per game last year (0.76 per game in 2010/11).  Man-games lost per game this year ended up at 6.0, down from 6.8 last year (6.6 in 2010/11).

Finally, a look at the Evasiveness Index.  This is basically the proportion of injury instances for each team that have been described as either "Undisclosed" or the helpfully pointless "Upper/Lower Body" in the same TSN profiles.  I have made no judgement about whether the many instances of "Illness" (i.e. concussion), "Flu" (i.e. concussion), "None of your business" (i.e. Rick Nash concussion) or "Helmet heat" (i.e. Maple Leaf concussion) should also be included.

A lot of the usual suspects at the top end of the list, while Edmonton repeat as disclosure champions (which Kevin Lowe will angrily remind everybody of at a press conference to unveil Johnny Muckler-Tavish Jr as the Oilers new GM in 20 years' time), controversially tying with the Red Wings who mysteriously un-undisclosed an injury since my last update.

  • Figures exclude a few minor-leaguers / marginal NHLers (usually an arbitrary judgement on my part - you tell me whether Matt Taormina is/was still an NHLer at the start of the season...) who had been on the NHL club’s IR since "pre-season". Generally, if a minor-leaguer gets called up and then injured in an NHL game, his games missed will then count towards the CHIP though.  Minor-league conditioning stints immediately after/during a period on IR might be included in the man-games lost figures (but can't guarantee I get it right every time)
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I do the best I can with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure obviously doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (RIP), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams). I have taken a similar approach to players traded where cap hit is retained by his old team - only Jason Pominville of these cases so far has been injured
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com - man-games lost info more than likely does not exactly match up with the "official" figures released by individual teams
  • Cap info courtesy of capgeek.com