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JamesB last won the day on May 1 2015

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3,075 Gaming the system

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  1. 2017-18 Utica Comets Thread

    Great to see the Comets come out strong. Hope they can keep it up. And thanks in advance to any of the guys in Utica who can provide first-hand observations of the game.
  2. You are right that my view on Hutton has changed. Part of it is just that he really struggled this year. Part of it was watching his play more critically. And part of it was just looking at a variety of numbers on which he did poorly. However, as @SID.IS.SID.ME.IS.ME pointed out, his zone exit and entrance stats paint a better picture. I had seen some of that before but not all. One problem I have is that it is hard to aggregate all the different stats. Each stat is an imperfect or noisy measure of some aspect of performance and, with that much variability in the data, if we look at enough stats we will almost always something where a player looks good and something else where he looks bad. And I remain convinced that properly accounting for quality of opposition is a very big issue that is hard to deal with. Anyway, my bottom line is that my read on Hutton has been trending down. But I am not alone in that assessment. I hope he comes back after the summer ready to make a big step forward. I view Goldy and Hutton in kind of a similar way. They are both fairly happy-go-lucky guys who want to have fun playing the game. Turning the game into a tough grind does not come easily to them, I also think that was a hard transition for Virtanen, but he seems to have turned the corner. Relentless workers like Horvat and Stecher don't have that problem. Their personalities fit more easily with the NHL grind.
  3. Canuck's Top 10 Prospects

    Getting carried away is much too easy. I certainly do it too often. But great work. I enjoyed your lists. I figured you need a beer after all that effort so I gave you one. I agree there is a lot of guesswork here but what you have looks good to me. Your lists are not identical to what mine would be, but are pretty close. I like where you have slotted in this year's draft picks. They look about right to me. The only place where I would have a significantly different view is with the trade values before the draft. I think they are more optimistic than my expectations would be. With MDZ and Gagner, they are obviously legitimate NHL players and should, apart from their cap hits, be worth more than a mid-round pick. But their cap hits are pretty high for what they do, so I don't see much of a market for them until the trade deadline gets close. I think the Baertschi value is about right. But the Tanev trade is high given his injury history. I don't see a lot of trade value for the other guys. I also agree that this is an exciting time. I have been critical of Benning, and continue to be critical of his handling of most aspects of the job. But I think he has done a good job with the draft and acquiring prospects. That is clearly his comparative advantage and I think he should have played to it by acquiring more draft picks along the way. But, even without that, by the time the 2018 draft is over I think the Canucks could have best prospect pipeline or under 25 group in all the time I have been following the team. They were good just before the Sedins turned 25 and Kesler, Edler, Hansen, and Bieksa were in the system. And the young guys were impressive in 1994-95 (just before Linden turned 25) as, in addition to Linden, Bure, Gelinas, Odjick, Aucoin, and Mike Peca were all young guys on the team and Ohlund was in the system. (but Linden had turned 25 before Naslund arrived up the following year). But, after this draft, the current young group could be the best ever. We just need one more really high end talent (preferably on D) to add to Pettersson, Boeser and Horvat to provide that nucleus that you need to build a cup contender. (You also need a good goalie, so Demko is important also.)
  4. Canuck's Top 10 Prospects

    Lot's of reasonable lists, including the one above. I would like to try a different angle. I realize that this is about prospects -- guys not on the team. But I find it more interesting to think about "young players". After all, if we are trying to think about what the team will look like in two or three years, a 20-year old who is on the team now is more relevant than, say, a 23 year-old who is still in the minors. The 20-year old will probably still improve quite a bit and is very likely to be on the team in two or three years. The 23 year-old who has not made it yet has a good chance of never making it and usually does not have a lot of additional improvement ahead. So I am going to use a cut-off of not more than 21 right now (with the normal goalie exception that we will add a year, so Demko is included). Here is my list of the top 10 "young players" in the system. I have added the age of the player and my projection of the "expected value" category the player will be in in his prime. I use standard categories: franchise (serious contender for major trophy like Hart, Ross, Norris, or Vezina), elite (high level first liner or top of depth chart D), core (other guys who are good top 6 forwards or good top 4 Ds), regulars (good bottom 6 forwards and bottom pairing Ds) and fringe or marginal or replacement (7th or 8th man on D, 13th or 14th forward, injury call-up), It goes without saying that there is a lot of uncertainty in projecting players. All I am doing is basing projections on their trajectory so far. (I have in the past spent a lot of time looking at trajectories -- possibly without learning anything.) Anyway, here is my list: 1. Pettersson 19 (franchise) 2. Boeser 21 (elite) 3, Demko 22 (core -- good #1 goalie) 4. Gaudette 21 (core -- that's what his trajectory says) 5. Juolevi 19 (core, possibly a bit optimistic based on his trajectory, but he is still pretty young) 6. Dahlen 20 (core, but still a lot of uncertainty) 7. Virtanen 21 (regular, yes applying standard translation factors, Gaudette projects better than Virtanen) 8. Lind 19 (regular, not a lock but should make it.) 9. Jasek 20 (regular, not a lot to go on but has great speed, 200 ft game and has shown a lot of character. I like his chances) 10. Gadjovich 19 (regular, a bit optimistic, but probably better than 50-50) I don't think any other young guys in the pool are 50-50 or better to make "regular" status. Goldy is too old for my list, but I have Jasek and Gadjovich beating him out anyway. Not a bad list. Horvat is a bit older (age 23) but is obviously very good and can still improve to some extent> He is core right now and might reach the elite level. And he will be around for a while yet. And the Canucks will get add another good prospect in this year's draft. Actually, with a high second round pick in a deep draft, they should add two. Looking at this list and adding in Horvat, this is not yet enough for a typical cup run. The big omission is an elite D-man -- a legitimate top of depth chart guy on a good team. In addition to that, they need at least one more "core" D-man, even assuming one of the guys a little over this age cut-off develops into a legitimate top 4 D. (Brisebois? McEneny? Stecher? Hutton? Pouliot? etc.)
  5. Both good points. 1. Making a clean first pass to create zone exits with possession is a very important part of the game. 2. The biggest problem with the Canuck D this year was a failure to generate offense. Guddy is a classic defensive D. So is Tanev, although his good first pass provides some support to the offence. Stecher and Hutton both seemed to focus on defence this year. Pouliot and MDZ look more offensive but their offense is still not particularly good and they make a lot of defensive mistakes. Edler is the only guy who generated significant offence. And he combined that with the tough job of playing shutdown on a poor team. 3. And I love the quote from Babcock. I think it captures a lot about the Canucks's results for the last three years. They have the worst record in the NHL over that period. Why? Not enough talent. It is probably that simple. Fortunately, there is some impressive talent in the system. Horvat and Boeser are blue chip guys on the team, and Pettersson looks great. Add in Demko, Gaudette, and Dahlen (and this year's first round pick) along with quite a few other guys with a decent chance to be good NHL players, and we can see that the the talent level will obviously rise over the next few years. Let's hope one or more of the D's in the pipeline makes a big jump next season.
  6. Elias Pettersson | C/RW

    I don't have much new to say but I thought I would like to join the party anyway. I have been a Canuck fan for longer than I like to admit, but I think Pettersson is about the best Canuck prospect ever at this stage of his development (end of draft+1 season). He is certainly way ahead of Bure and the Sedins. Realistically, he might be behind Linden, who was picked second overall and who played in the NHL in his draft+1 season and had 59 pts. in 80 games (and was -10), Scoring was easier then, though. In terms of today's scoring levels Linden's year probably translates to high 40's in terms of points -- still very good. But I agree that there is something really special about EP. At this stage it certainly looks possible that he will be the best player drafted from the 2017 draft. Hischier had 52 pts in 82 games for NJ this year and was +10 -- an excellent start, but I kind of expect EP to beat that next year, assuming he plays on the PP and on the first line. Given his talent level, he should. But you know that a lot of people criticize the +/- stat, right? . Yes, EP is going to be one on those guys (like the Sedins in their prime) who puts up good "defensive" numbers because he controls the puck so much and it is hard for the other team to score when they don't have the puck. He is not a "cycle" player like the Sedins, of course, and is much more explosive. But when he is on the ice the other team will be focusing mostly on trying to contain him. Usually I don't like sarcastic one-liners of this type -- but this one made me laugh. I admit that I was hoping and expecting the Canucks would pick Glass and was surprised by the Pettersson pick. As I have said before, there is so much scrutiny on top prospects that I tend to assume (as is supported by a lot of evidence) that just following the board is the best strategy. And the fact that Glass was relatively local (from Western Canada and playing in the WHL) was a bonus. And Glass is a very good prospect. I would love to have EP AND him. But obviously Benning made a great decision to go slightly off the board and pick EP. At the time, someone on the Canucks (maybe Benning) said that they saw a lot of Pettersson when watching Dahlen. If that was actually important, then the Burrows trade is looking even better -- not just getting Dahlen, but also leading to the selection of EP. Alex Burrows has helped the Canucks in a lot of ways and I hope he joins the team in some non-playing capacity as soon as his career is over.
  7. Great post Sid. In addition to tracking the prospects you are also putting in a lot of time on the big team. As I have said before, the Canucks really should put you on the payroll. Good points about Hutton. I would summarize your analysis as follows: 1. Hutton's defence is not bad. And I like your discussion of zone exits and zone entrances a lot. That makes me feel better about Hutton. I have often thought that clean zone exits and preventing zone entries are key stats but I did not look into them for my OP as only small amounts of data are available (and I am too lazy to track it down). 2. What really hurts Hutton is his (lack of) offensive support. I would add the following points. 3. Given his lack of offence and his decent size, you would expect or at least hope that he would contribute more to the the physical game. But he really did not do much in that area. It is as if he shies away from contact -- or at least is not as enthusiastic about it as we would like, unlike Biega and MDZ, who really look for hitting opportunities. 4. As I mentioned, it is hard to measure quality of competition, but he obviously has easier minutes than Edler and Tanev and, using the metric I used, also easier than Guddy and MDZ, (and about the same as Stecher). That helps his numbers. 5.I should have mentioned time on ice per game in my OP. It is harder to put up good numbers in terms of rates if you play a lot of minutes (i.e. you get tired). And of course time on ice indicates how valuable the coach thinks you are. For the Canucks last year the time on ice (all situations) were Edler at 24:16, MDZ at 20:48, Tanev at 19:46, Stecher at 18:48, Guddy at 18:25, Hutton at 18:25, Pouliot at 17:51, and Biega at 15:10. So lower than average time on ice per game probably helped Hutton a bit in terms of rates but it is interesting that the coach had him almost exactly the same as Guddy. Biega's rates were obviously helped by lower TOI. And, once again, Edler's TOI is impressive, especially as a lot of it was against the other team's first line.
  8. Travis Green has said the D needs to be better next year and I doubt if anyone would disagree. We can hope that Tanev and Guddy are healthier, we hope the Canucks win the lottery and draft Dahlin, and we can hope that younger guys come back better and ready to play at an NHL level (Juolevi, Hutton, Stecher, Pouliot). And there is always the possibility of a trade or UFA pick-up. While we are waiting for any of those things to happen, I think it is interesting to take a careful look at the advanced (and not-so-advanced) stats at CORSICA and Natural Stat Trick to pick out what I think are some interesting and/or important numbers in assessing the D. There are no big surprises, but here are some interesting points. 1. Scoring. Travis Green has complained (rightly) about the lack of scoring from the D. And we can easily see the scoring numbers from this year. (Edler led with 34 pts and MDZ and Pouliot both had 22). But of course guys who play more, especially on the PP, will get more points. So I looked at points per 60 minutes played at even strength. The leader was still Edler (no surprise) at 0.88. Second spot is a surprise. It goes to Tanev at .8. He only had 11 pts but he only played in 42 games and had basically no PP time. Third place went to the Biega at 0.78 -- also a surprise. At the other end, Guddy was low, as we expect, at 0.37 but he was not the lowest. Hutton had an abysmal number of 0.19. Using round numbers, to be a legitimate "offensive D-man" you should be at least at 1.0 or better on this stat. Edler is not too far away but, obviously, the Canucks do not have a legitimate offensive D-man. And MDZ and Pouliot are not as good as we might think. Correcting for time on ice and PP opportunities they are both well behind Tanev and Biega! I am not sure where improved scoring on the D will come from next year. Let's hope we win the lottery and draft Dahlin. Or can Pettersson play D? 2. Hits and Blocked Shots. Turning to defensive play, we expect D's to make hits and block shots. Most people probably know that MDZ led the team in hits, but if we look at hits per 60 minutes, the leader is Biega, by a pretty big margin at 11.4. MDZ is next at 9.7, then Guddy at 8.4 and Edler at 6.4. Frankly, I think we should expect more out of Guddy given his skill set, but I assume his shoulder injury was a problem. On the low end, Tanev was at 1.7 -- but he is a guy we don't want making hits given his defensive value and all the punishment he takes anyway. Hutton was also very low at 2.5 -- much too low for his role on the team. As for blocked shots, Edler has a comfortable lead at 7.4 per 60 minutes followed, interestingly, by Pouliot at 6.2 then Tanev at 5.2. Low guys are Stecher (3.0) and Hutton (3.4). As has often been pointed out, blocked shots is a hard stat to interpret because you only block shots when you don't have the puck. If you control the puck a lot, your blocked shots go down. On the other hand, if you don't have the puck it is better to block a shot than to not block a shot. Anyway, not much going on with this stat. 3. Quality of Opposition. The main job of the D is keep the other team from scoring and turning the puck around to go the other way. How do we measure that? We can use plus/minus, corsi, or other shot metrics but there is a lot of controversy over how to do it. A big issue is quality of opposition. If you are out there against McDavid or MacKinnon you are going to give up more goals and more shots than a D pairing that is usually up against no-name 4th liners, or even against pretty good 3rd liners. But there is no good way of adjusting for quality of competition. There are some metrics, but they are generally very poor. Using Corsi numbers to assess quality of competition is particularly bad. However, I think the best simple metric is time on ice as calculated by CORSICA. I used time on ice based on all situations (not just even strength), which I think is the best measure. The idea here is to measure the quality of the players you are up against by looking at their share of time on ice in a given game, as the better players generally play more. There is generally a big difference in quality between forwards who play, say, 20 minutes a game (first liners) and those who play 10 minutes a game (4th liners). I won't report the numbers here but will state the rankings. Edler has toughest quality of competition, followed closely by Tanev. There is a bit of a gap, then comes Guddy, MDZ, Stecher, and Hutton in the middle group. Pouliot and Biega faced relatively easy quality of competition. Zone starts also matter. For any given quality of competition, you are more likely to give up a goal or a shot if you start in the D-zone and more likely to be on the ice for a goal or shot if you start in the O-zone. Pouliot is the big beneficiary here with 57% O-zone starts. Tanev had the toughest starts with only 42% O-zone starts. Guddy and Edler also had a preponderance of D-zone starts at even strength. The others were fairly close to 50-50. One surprising fact is that, despite his tough starts and high quality of competition, Tanev led the D in even-strength plus minus and was actually in positive territory despite playing shutdown on a bad team. That is unusual and impressive. 4. Plus-minus and shot metrics. There are lots of arguments against plus/minus. The most important is that it does not adjust for quality of competition. Also, there is a lot of luck in +/- (i.e. a lot of variance) in a small sample, or even over a full year, so +/- is not very stable from year to year. That indicates that it is a noisy measure of performance. Shot metrics are more stable and are therefore better predictors of future performance. There are a lot of adjustments that could made to corsi numbers, including score adjustments (teams attempt more shots when they are behind), and not all shot attempts are equal. The shot metric that I like is "High Danger Corsi For". This is based on shot attempts from high danger areas.The leader on the Canuck D is on this metric is Alex Biega! Low man is Gudbranson. This is partly explained by quality of competition and zone starts but, even so, Biega's numbers are surprisingly good and Guddy's are disappointing. 5. One more stat. One more stat that I find interesting is takeaways per 60 min. The leader on this is Pouliot at 1.2, followed by Stecher and Edler at 1.1. Guddy is low man at 0.3. 6. Special Teams: The above is all for even-strength. I won't cover PK and PP but I will note that Edler is clearly the team leader on special teams. Conclusions: Using stats to evaluate D-men is hard, but so is the "eye-test" given the high level of confirmation bias that most people have (seeing what they expect to see or want to see). On the basis of stats there are some warning signs: 1. Edler is far and away the most valuable D. At least he was last year. Calls to "trade Edler" only make sense if the objective is to tank next year. 2. There is not much evidence from last year that Pouliot is a legitimate NHL D. Given his favorable zone starts and relatively easy quality of competition, his +/- (-22 overall) can only be described as dismal. With that level of play it is hard to see how he is even in the NHL. There is a reason Pittsburgh traded him for an AHL player. At age 24, he might still improve, but the years when players normally improve a lot are behind him. 3. Hutton had a bad year. Period. Claims that "advanced stats" tell a different story are not right. At least it takes a lot of cherry-picking to make Hutton look good. (He was pretty good on the PK, but that was against 2nd unit PPs was a pretty small sample.) 4. Guddy did not have a good season. His strengths (physical game, PK) were not as strong as they should be and his weaknesses are real (no offense, gets hemmed in his own zone). We can hope that he will be better if he comes back healthy next year. 5. MDZ is a journeyman. He makes hits, plays hard, and provides some offence. But his defence is poor. With roughly average zone starts and quality of competition, his corsi for and high danger corsi for percentages (both 46%) are not good. And his scoring per 60 minutes is not as good as we might have expected. 6. Tanev is excellent defensively, but obviously his health is an issue and he contributes very little to the physical game. He also is nowhere near being a legitimate offensive D-man but still finished second on the team in even strength points per 60 minutes. A classic example of "good news for Tanev, bad news for the team". 7. I want to say good things about Stecher but, realistically, it is hard to say more than he is "ok". On the plus side he did well playing shutdown with Edler in the last month of the season. 8. Statistsically, a surprising bright spot is Biega. On the numbers he is a better D than Pouliot or Hutton and competitive with MDZ and Stecher. But if a long run NHL-AHL tweener is your bright spot, well, as Green says, improvement is needed. 9. Trade potential: If the Canucks try to trade one of the current D's we should be very, very restrained in our expectations of what we could get in return. Tanev's injuries are a red flag, Hutton and Pouliot are projects, MDZ and Guddy have high cap hits for what they do. And I don't see a big market for Stecher or Biega. Overall, we will have one good pairing (Edler and Tanev) that would be great as a second pairing but not ideal as a first pairing, several guys who would be fine in a third pairing, a good 7th man (Biega), and lot of question marks regarding the second pairing. But we should get one or two good D prospects (and some longshots) in this year's draft, and maybe Tryamkin comes back.
  9. Lukas Jasek | RW

    Congrats to Alexandre on getting breaking the news in the Jasek thread. Appreciate the heads up. Good news after the disappointing OT loss for TPS Turku today. But not exactly a surprise. Jasek has earned a contract. I expect he will be in Utica next year where he could one of the stars on a very good team. I don't know how many times I have seen someone say that a prospect could be "like Hansen" or "like Burrows" -- guys who came out of nowhere to be very good NHL players. I try to avoid it and most times it turns out to be way off the mark. But Jasek does have some similarities to Hansen and is close enough to the NHL that he might have a shot. It is still a lot less than 50-50 that reaches Hansen's level but, like Hansen, he has excellent speed, is willing to drive the net, works very hard at both ends of the ice and can potentially kill penalties. He is the same height as Hansen but needs to add some weight and strength if he is going to contribute to physical game at the level of Hansen, And both good shoot R.
  10. Jonathan Dahlén | C/LW

    Have to agree with this. Dahlen has definitely earned a spot. And so has Jasek. Both those guys have skills that look very impressive at the AHL level and they play hard. Up against a stacked Toronto team the Comets need all the help they can get and Jasek and Dahlen look a lot better than the PTO players up from the ECHL that Utica has relied on so much (and no dis-respect to them -- they have played well). And I hope Goldy is healthy and focused for the playoffs. He needs to get on the board with some points if the Comets are going to have a chance. And Demko will need to play lights out as well. As for Lind and Gadjovich, it should be a case of "just happy to be here", and they will start with a clean slate in Utica next year. If they get into a playoff game or two now, great.
  11. Olli Juolevi | D

    Juolevi made a lot of progress this year but I would still trade him for #1 overall in this year's draft. Realistically, if we ask where Juolevi fits into this year's draft it is pretty clear he probably fits in with the group of 4 D's who are expected to go somewhere in the 5 to 10 range: Boqvist, Hughes, Dobson, Bouchard. It would take a crystal ball to know where exactly he fits in that group. But he is two years further along which makes him more valuable, other things equal, than one of those four guys. But I don't know if other things really are equal. There is also home bias on CDC (as on all fan websites), leading us to overvalue our prospects. Realistically, I think most GMs would happily take picks 1 through 4 this year over Juolevi. And I feel fairly confident that most GMs would take Juolevi in preference to the #9 overall pick or below. As indicated above, the real issue is just where Juolevi slots into the group of 4 Ds listed above. This is quite similar to his draft year, when there were 4 high-end Ds available and the Canucks picked Juolevi first in that group.
  12. Brock Boeser | #6 | RW

    What's Kitsolina? Any relation to Carolina? The neighbourhood is actually called Kitsilano and is derived from 'X̱ats'alanexw', the name of a Squamish chief. It is also conveniently close to Rogers' Arena -- a fairly short bike ride -- and there are a lot of bikes in Kitsilano. I lived there many years ago. It has gone through many iterations over the years -- at one time attracting a lot of Greek immigrants and at another time being a center of the Vancouver "hippie" counter-culture community. Now it is mainly just very expensive. To bring this back to Brock Boeser, when he signs his next contract (which I hope is very soon) he should be able to afford a place in Kits. If he does, he won't be the first Canuck to live there. Not sure if Trevor Linden still lives there, but he did live there for quite a while.
  13. Norris Trophy finalists unveiled

    Yes, I was in with an early vote for Hedman. In this group he leads in goals and scoring by small margins. The margins go up if we look at scoring per game or per 60 minutes, as he missed a few games. Hedman also leads in +/- by bigger margins, which is meaningful given the amount of shutdown he plays. He is big and strong and has a complete game. And I admit this should not matter, but the other two have already won.
  14. Pettersson vs Glass in 2017-2018

    Good comment, but Cassels did not play an overage year in the OHL. His final year was his draft+2 year and he turned 20 in May of that year (2015). He was just in his normal final year. But it is true that a couple of years makes a huge difference in the CHL. And the top scorers are often overagers or guys in their draft+2 seasons.
  15. Olli Juolevi | D

    I agree with this. By all accounts Edler likes it in Vancouver and wants to stay. And he will probably re-sign for quite a bit less than it would take to bring in a comparable D as a UFA -- if anyone comparable is even available. He is still the best D on the team in my view. And next year (the last year of his current contract) he will only be 32. He is at least past his peak but there is every reason to expect that he can be a good NHL D for at least of couple of years after that. WIth respect to Juolevi, I think the point is that the Edler will be taking up one of the LHD spots for a few years yet. But that still leaves room for Juolevi as no-one else on the team has shown himself to be a legitimate top 4 LHD yet, and I don't see any other obvious candidates in the pipeline. I think there is a big difference in physical play between the OHL and the NHL. Guys in the NHL are, on average, quite a lot bigger, a lot stronger, and a lot faster, and they hit harder. Guys can dominate physically in the OHL and get pushed around in the NHL. I am not sure what exactly "snarkiness" is. But I do think that the Juolevi's ability to handle the physical play in the NHL in the corners and in front of the net is a question mark, And we won't know the answer until we see him play. And I am hoping we can have a moratorium on the expression "he will be fine". It is getting kind of over-used. A guy can get his head taken off and someone will say "he will be fine". The LD slot in the bottom pairing has a lot of competition. I agree that neither Pouliot nor Hutton has a lock on one of the LD spots. Juolevi and Sautner will certainly get a long look in camp. And we should not forget McEneny, who did very last year and this year until sidelined with a season-ending injury. I also think Wiercioch should be in the equation as he quietly had a very good year in Utica this season, and of course Brisebois is also in the pipeline. And a UFA pick-up is always possible. I guess MDZ is penciled in as the second pairing LD right now, but I think the Canucks will need an upgrade in that spot if they are going to make the playoffs. I just hope one of the guys in the LD pipeline can make a big step forward next year and move into the top 4. My predicted LD depth chart for next October currently goes like this: Edler, MDZ, Juolevi, Hutton, Pouliot, McEneny, Sautner, Wiercioch, Brisebois. That should cover off the Canucks AND Utica.