Popular Post JamesB Posted August 21, 2022 Popular Post Share Posted August 21, 2022 (edited) It has been a slow month for Canuck news and I was looking for some excitement on a Saturday night so I decided to review Canuck player performance last year using the "expected goals above replacement" (xGAR) metric--which I think is the best metric. In previous posts I have suggested that expected goals for and expected goals against are the best simple measures of performance, and I still think that is true. But the very best measures, in my view, are complicated measures, particularly xGAR calculated by Evolving Hockey, which puts together PP, PK, and even strength performance and includes many factors in addition to goals for and goals against, such as faceoffs, giveaways, penalties taken and drawn, hits, etc. The weights on the different factors are not just someone's best guess but are based on regression analysis to infer the relative importance of these various factors. Last year there were 23 Canuck skaters who played more than 200 minutes. Here are the top 5 and bottom 5: xGAR 1 Elias Pettersson 14.9 2 Conor Garland 14.0 3 Quinn Hughes 14.0 4 J.T. Miller 12.2 5 Bo Horvat 10.1 19 Luke Schenn -1.1 20 Juho Lammikko -1.8 21 Kyle Burroughs -2.8 22 Jason Dickinson -4.4 23 Tyler Myers -7.3 I have highlighted some outcomes that I think are very interesting and that explain part of what we have seen this summer. There is a big drop-off after Horvat at #5. The names are the top are not a surprise, but the ordering is. I don't know how many times I have heard commentators refer to JT Miller at "the Canucks' best forward" or as "the Canucks best skater". But, according to this metric, the skater who has the best season last year was Petey. How is that possible? The most important reason why Petey has a better xGAR than Miller is penalties. Last year Petey took 5 minor penalties and drew 29. Miller was 21 and 21. It turns out this is very important for expected scoring, which should not be a surprise as scoring rates on the PP are much higher that at even strength This is not just someone's opinion. It is based on careful statistical analysis. This stat is kind of like walks in baseball: it is very important for scoring but does not get a lot of credit. Petey also has a much more favorable giveaway/takeaway ratio than Miller. In addition, this is based on expected goals, not actual goals. Miller had a great year for actual goals scored while he was on the ice but part of that was good luck (and that partially explains why he had a "career year" that he is unlikely to replicate). Petey was also significantly better than Miller on the PK. In the analysis, these factors are much more important than Miller's edge in hits and in faceoff percentage. That said, JT Miller is a very good player and his xGAR of 12.2 is excellent, but he is not as good as a superficial look at his scoring numbers from last year would indicate. This might be a partial explanation for why the offers for Miller have not been as good as many people had hoped. (I would have taken the Ranger offer at the deadline.) General perceptions about Horvat and Hughes are probably about right but Garland tends to get underestimated. In terms of value per cap hit dollar (and that is what counts if you are trying to win a Cup) he was arguably the most valuable guy on the team after Miller last year. Calls to trade him to "clear cap space" make no sense. What about the bottom part of the list. This number is based on net goals expected relative to what would happen if a "replacement level" payer played instead. This is, by definition, a player just on the NHL/AHL margin earning about the league minimum. So negative numbers are very bad. Any player earning significantly above the league minimum should have a positive number. Dickinson's number is very bad, but Myers' xGAR was outrageously bad. However, his actual on-ice numbers were not that bad, What is going on. And didn't Schenn have a good year? How can his number be negative. Part of the answer is that both Myers and Schenn were helped a lot by their regular D partners (OEL and Hughes). But the statistical methods can tease out the relative contributions of OEL v. Myers and Hughes v. Schenn. I have no problem with Schenn. His intangibles are worth something and he is only earning about the NHL minimum. And considering that he played top 4 last year, he was actually pretty good value. Myers, on the other hand is terrible value. This is probably why the Canucks have had trouble trading him given their determination not to give away assets to facilitate a trade On the good news front, the additions--Mikheyev, Lazar, and Joshua look like excellent value and Kuzmenko shoiuld also be very good. And, although the D "needs work" to quote JR, there is reason for some optimism with Rathbone, Dermott and maybe even Poolman. And even Myers would probably be okay if he were on in a third pairing role (although you hate to pay 6 million to a guy on your 3rd pairing). Edited August 22, 2022 by JamesB 4 3 4 1 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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