Advanced Stats And NHL Management

I looked at a few of the ways bloggers are out in front of NHL management, and though there are a multitude of other examples, one of the most significant is advanced metrics.  James Mirtle's second article on advanced stats deals with the reasons why NHL teams and fans are slow to adopt advanced statistics as part of a general analytical toolkit.

Why haven’t advanced stats caught on in the NHL? - The Globe and Mail
"Honestly, probably the greatest obstacle in sport is that it’s hard to strip away all the emotion and make completely rational decisions," MacKinnon said. "That’s exactly what analytics is trying to do."

But not all teams are slow to adapt; in fact, Doug Wilson admitted to using those stats in an interview with Fear The Fin.

Interview WIth Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson - Fear The Fin
FTF:  In terms of advanced statistics, if I can try and get this out of you—

DW:  Good luck [laughs].

How can these these numbers impact management decisions?  The most prominent and timely example is Gilbert Brule. Two months into his "breakout" season and six months before the contract was signed, I wrote that the Oilers should take caution in their upcoming contract negotiations because of the warning signals inherent to his advanced stats:

However, a contract like that for an unproven player like Brule can be nothing but trouble for cap-stressed team like Edmonton.  Brule is restricted this year and has had one worthwhile stretch in his entire career.  The Oilers should stand firm on this one and drive the price down.  There is no reason, nor need, to overpay a player with no proven success, currently riding the extremely large coattails of your all-star forward.

Five months later, Jonathan Willis raised even more red flags based on Brule's advanced stats:

What I am saying is that I see a bunch of red flags, and if I were thinking of spending $2.0 million dollars or so, those red flags would bother me a lot. If I were Steve Tambellini, they might even bother me enough to ask what kind of trade value I might get for him at this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

Brule has struggled since the end of 2010 and is now shuffling off to Oklahoma City with his $1.85 million contract, an outcome not surprising to anyone paying attention to his Hockeymetrics.

Speaking of decision making, Steve Tambellini is going to have to find defensive help both short term and long term.  Jake says it will define his reign.

Oil Acumen: 09/28/11 The Trade That Will Define Tambellini
It's possible that that player is somewhere in the organization; be it Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marinicin, Taylor Fedun, Jeff Petry or another as yet undrafted defenseman. The trouble is that Tambellini doesn't have long to wait. It would take a minor miracle for the Oilers to make the post season this year (pray to every God you've ever heard of around Christmas time), which means we're in for six consecutive years of no playoff hockey in Edmonton. That's just sad, and the GM knows it. If that streak runs to seven years, Tambellini's job will be far from secure.

What about the guy rumored to be available in Toronto?

Why Gunnarson is better than you think! - Pension Plan Puppets
Read on after the jump for why I think Gunnarson is a pretty damn good defenseman and deserving of a top 4 role with the club.

Though Oilers' fans prefer good Canadian boys, they shouldn't be afraid of Gunnarsson's heritage.

Driving Play: On Whether Or Not Europeans 'Disappear' In The Playoffs
I finally decided on a simple method to see if European players 'disappear' - I would take European forwards who played on playoff teams who scored at least .5 points per game and played in at least 40 games in a given season. I would then look at their playoff point per game totals and compare them to their regular season totals. If the Europeans did worse in the playoffs than they did in the regular season, they're clearly chokers who hate winning. Simple enough, right?

I talked about how much trouble the Oilers' backend was going to have, even before Ladislav Smid's injury.

Nation Radio - OilersNation
Derek Zona discusses Oilers Forward Teemu Hartikainen, the Oilers defensive corps and Le RNH.

With the defense in tatters, how much improvement can the Oilers expect?  Up front, the sophomores are going to trend upwards for a few seasons.

How SOG rates change with age, part 2 - Broad Street Hockey
However, that's not because some players take great leaps forwards and others stall; it's just simple variance. If it were a disparity of learning curves reflecting actual skill, you might expect to see some young players grow fast and others never improve much, but you wouldn't expect to see about half of them getting worse throughout their early 20's. You might expect to see some players age more gracefully than others, but you wouldn't expect to see about half of them getting better through their mid-30's.

As long as we don't expect too much from them, like, you know, comparing them to the greatest player ever to play the game or something.

It is a curse on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to compare him to Gretzky - Edmonton Journal
You hear some people use the Gretzky — and it’s unfair to compare any kid to Gretzky — but there are some similarities in terms of where this kid is from and where Gretzky is from in terms of what he’s about."

If the Oilers finish in 30th again, does Tambellini have a built-in excuse with the injuries?  Should he be on the hot seat regardless?  What other NHL GMs should be worried?

Which NHL General Managers Are On The Hot Seat? - SBNation.com
As the 2011-12 NHL season begins, the managerial ranks around the NHL are relatively steady. But for several of the 30 men who serve as general manager of an NHL club, those jobs can quickly turn on them. Here are four general managers who could quickly find themselves out of jobs if things don't go well this season.

Other interesting tidbits from around the 'sphere:

Thoughts on the NHL’s Social Media Policy - Artfulpuck
Hockey players are part of a team. They are paid to play well for that team and represent them appropriately when not on the ice playing. Just as in any other profession where an individual is part of a large entity, there are ramifications to an individual’s actions. Would I go so far as to call it censorship? No. It is more in the line of diplomacy.

Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey Rankings: Make These Changes - Fantasy Hockey Scouts
This is for those of you that will be doing a fantasy hockey draft on Yahoo!in the coming weeks. Yahoo has default pre-draft rankings that you can modify and we'd recommend that you do that based on what we advise below or in the heat of the moment you could end up with some pretty wacky picks or miss a real steal. This is particularly important if you plan on doing an autodraft.

Ex-Oiler Stortini Makes An Impression In Nashville | Edmonton Journal
"Possibly. But you have to tip your hat to [Bodie]. At least he stood up and tried to do what he does. That’s part of his game. On the other hand, you’ve got to recognize that you might get burned. Zack Stortini did a good job for them, drawing him into that and then not dropping his gloves."

Brodeur is a Fraud: Why Doesn't Carolina Get Better Backup Goalies?
There has been one NHL franchise in particular that has seemed to not understand this principle, having been repeatedly burned by weak backup goaltending. That team is the Carolina Hurricanes.

And finally, proof that even the Mike Milbury could build a Stanley Cup winner given a long enough time line.

A Few Million Monkeys Randomly Recreate Shakespeare - Jesse Anderson
Today (2011-09-23) at 2:30 PST the monkeys successfully randomly recreated A Lover’s Complaint, The Tempest (2011-09-26) and As You Like It (2011-09-28). This is the first time a work of Shakespeare has actually been randomly reproduced. Furthermore, this is the largest work ever randomly reproduced. It is one small step for a monkey, one giant leap for virtual primates everywhere.

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