Marginal Playoff Efficiency - The Playoffs Mean Everything

The guy even takes pictures efficiently.

As expected, the feedback in various places on the Marginal Cap Efficiency article pointed out that it was flawed, mostly because the Islanders and Avalanche were in the top half of the league, yet finished in the bottom five in the standings.  But we know that it's only a start and that the best measurement of a GM is his ability to get his team to the playoffs.  For that reason, I've created Marginal Playoff Efficiency.  Marginal Playoff Efficiency (MPE) uses the playoffs as the bare minimum of efficiency.  As I've written before, "the playoffs are the goal for every team in the league, not just because they want to win, but because of the revenue opportunities that come from the playoffs.  Players are playing for free, attendance is higher, and those attending the games pay higher ticket prices."

MPE measures the spending efficiency on points earned over the minimum necessary to make the playoffs.  Because luck is often uncontrollable, I allowed for a 5% underage on points.  For example, in 2006-2007 a team in the Western Conference needed 96 points to qualify for the playoffs.  My minimum is 91.  That number is different each season and different in each conference, so I've split the two conferences.  The numbers below are the result.  I've taken the number of points over the playoff minimum divided by cap dollars spent over the league floor.  So Marginal Playoff Efficiency is points over the playoff minimum divided by dollars spent over the salary floor.

Listed below are the results of each team since 2005-2006 when the salary cap was instituted.  PLO AVG stands for post-lockout average.  I've used the heat map concept to categorize similar seasons, where the darker colors are the more extreme values*.  The table is sorted by PLO AVG.


05-06 06-07 07-08 08-09 09-10 10-11 PLO AVG
San Jose Sharks  1.131 0.946 2.898 1.975 1.440 0.818 1.401
Detroit Red Wings  1.892 1.240 2.017 1.655 0.750 0.745 1.359
Nashville Predators  2.330 1.587 3.064 0.112 2.961 0.933 1.249
Vancouver Canucks  0.102 0.848 0.106 2.025 0.813 1.282 0.743
Anaheim Ducks  0.696 1.317 0.853 0.306 -0.079 0.569 0.611
Dallas Stars  1.450 1.024 0.689 -0.293 -0.273 0.357 0.601
Calgary Flames  0.918 0.310 0.528 0.816 0.000 0.103 0.399
Minnesota Wild  -2.703 0.847 0.862 0.182 -0.396 -0.397 0.093
Chicago Blackhawks  -2.392 -1.312 0.103 1.108 1.470 0.424 -0.012
Colorado Avalanche  0.285 0.240 0.624 -1.620 0.620 -240.0 -0.322
Los Angeles Kings  -0.093 -1.785 -1.397 -2.358 1.109 0.504 -0.512
Phoenix Coyotes  -1.032 -1.719 -1.294 -1.168 7.985 0.986 -0.533
St. Louis Blues  -4.963 -1.172 -0.500 0.439 0.000 -4.545 -1.034
Edmonton Oilers  0.377 -1.562 0.100 -0.110 -1.810 -15.00 -1.046
Columbus Blue Jackets  -1.452 -1.537 -1.248 0.515 -1.884 -1.209 -1.094
  • Doug Wilson's stays atop the leader board in the Western Conference and in the league overall. Even more interesting is that he's managed to start this season with more cap space than he started with last season.
  • David Poile's internal budget posts enormous efficiency numbers when he makes the playoffs, even when the Preds snag a low seed.
  • Vancouver ownership hired Mike Gillis to replace Dave Nonis prior to the 08-09 season.  The difference is immediately apparent in the numbers.
  • Scott Howson is likely on the chopping block.  He had a single season in the playoffs that got him a reprieve, but he's now adding salary and most of the resin of Doug MacLean is gone.  It's not encouraging that his efficiency numbers are just as bad.
  • Since taking control of the Oilers, Steve Tambellini has pushed Edmonton's MPE progressively lower.

05-06 06-07 07-08 08-09 09-10 10-11 PLO AVG
Buffalo Sabres  3.667 1.494 0.064 0.263 1.142 0.565 0.873
New Jersey Devils  0.869 0.890 0.750 3.281 1.386 -0.390 0.652
Washington Capitals  -6.861 -6.749 0.534 1.280 2.897 1.065 0.542
Pittsburgh Penguins  -3.646 2.146 1.236 0.699 1.091 0.929 0.434
Carolina Hurricanes  2.884 0.049 0.200 0.882 -0.266 0.308 0.352
New York Rangers  1.088 0.461 0.444 0.421 0.218 0.268 0.313
Ottawa Senators  1.946 1.130 0.347 -0.419 0.667 -1.154 0.299
Montreal Canadiens  0.428 0.171 1.164 0.295 0.282 0.393 0.289
Boston Bruins  -0.941 -0.603 0.256 1.546 0.504 0.833 0.122
Philadelphia Flyers  0.791 -2.067 0.355 0.755 0.275 1.049 0.074
Toronto Maple Leafs  0.174 0.220 -0.416 -0.880 -0.621 -0.426 -0.427
Tampa Bay Lightning  0.301 0.351 -2.242 -1.572 -0.697 2.029 -0.502
Atlanta Thrashers  0.146 0.613 -1.419 -2.617 -0.110 -90.00 -0.678
Florida Panthers  -0.563 -0.126 -0.367 0.351 -0.529 -5.152 -0.713
New York Islanders  -0.700 0.373 -1.187 -3.589 -46.00 -160.0 -1.799
  • Darcy Regier's years of being a spendthrift are over thanks to Terry Pegula, but Regier has worked wonders with that franchise since the lockout.
  • Edmonton fans take heart, the Penguins and Capitals both hit bottom before rebounding near the top of the Eastern Conference.
  • Edmonton fans look out, the Thrashers, Panthers and Islanders all hit bottom and stayed there.
  • The Flyers are my favorite row in the table.  They're all over the map only to break even in the end.
  • Bryan Murray is headed in the opposite direction of Mike Gillis. 
  • Finally, Steve Yzerman is going to be hard-pressed to get into a darker shade of blue given his hefty cap number to start the season, but considering the three seasons prior, even something in white looks quite good. 

One final note:  Bad management or bad ownership is like a chicken or the egg question.  The eight worst teams by this measure:  Tampa, Phoenix, Atlanta, Florida, St. Louis, Edmonton, Columbus and Long Island have all suffered a combination of both.

*I realize that the heat map boundaries used thus far will break down completely as the salary floor approaches the playoff minimum (in fact, 2011-12's numbers might break down), but I've got a plan for next year's map.

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