2005-2011 NHL Playoff Marginal Efficiency Averages

"Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it . . . ; Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine."
David Ogilvy, Marketing Executive and one of the original "Mad Men"

I've written about the pool of remarkable people not currently tapped by NHL Owners and how they will eventually impact the game through tactics and strategies we've yet to consider. They will eventually push the current poor General Managers out of the league, but it may take awhile. After all, it took Don Waddell 10 years to lose decision-making power in Atlanta and Doug McLean 8 to be escorted from the premises in Columbus. I've tried to develop a number of different metrics to judge year-to-year NHL management effectiveness, but each one has some warts.

Marginal Cap Efficiency incorrectly featured poor but cheap General Managers at the top of the list. Marginal Playoff Efficiency eliminated those General Managers who weren't spending money, but also weren't making the playoffs. The numbers showed some weird results, but those results are smoothed out by using longer term averages. They're also smoothed out by using two-year rolling averages, which we'll look into after the jump.

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.

05-07 06-08 07-09 08-10 09-11
Phoenix Coyotes  -1.452 -1.651 -1.205 1.122 2.600
Nashville Predators  1.857 1.751 0.398 0.670 1.563
San Jose Sharks  1.005 1.547 2.274 1.703 1.129
Vancouver Canucks  0.466 0.498 0.710 1.170 1.070
Chicago Blackhawks  -1.752 -0.611 0.617 1.284 1.009
Los Angeles Kings  -0.924 -1.607 -1.610 0.271 0.779
Detroit Red Wings  1.568 1.586 1.828 1.194 0.748
Anaheim Ducks  1.045 1.057 0.608 0.129 0.240
Dallas Stars  1.234 0.857 0.262 -0.286 0.064
Calgary Flames  0.598 0.415 0.671 0.390 0.057
Minnesota Wild  0.376 0.854 0.515 -0.118 -0.396
St. Louis Blues  -2.821 -0.748 -0.069 0.294 -0.679
Columbus Blue Jackets  -1.496 -1.449 -0.056 -0.328 -1.473
Colorado Avalanche  0.263 0.418 -0.364 -0.661 -2.328
Edmonton Oilers  -0.605 -0.657 0.003 -1.026 -3.321
  • It's not been a good ride for Oilers' fans, but it's much more stark than you might first realize.  Once I work out the discrepancies in the Islanders' numbers, the Oilers are going to boast the least efficient management in the league by an enormous margin.
  • The Sharks and Red Wings rule the roost here, pushing Nashville down to a lower level because of the strength of their point totals and playoff appearances.  Doug Wilson and Ken Holland are in a class above.
  • Mike Gillis is about to join that that class, if he hasn't already.  The Canucks have been a force since Gillis took over.
  • I've touched on the Wild before, but I can't imagine ownership allowing Chuck Fletcher to once again add salary without putting some results up in the standings.  
  • Fletcher and Scott Howson of the Blue Jackets are probably (thought maybe not rightfully) the two General Managers most likely to get the axe if their teams don't make the playoffs.

05-07 06-08 07-09 08-10 09-11
Washington Capitals  -6.805 -1.116 1.008 2.019 1.858
Pittsburgh Penguins  -0.725 1.640 0.915 0.899 1.004
Buffalo Sabres  2.069 0.937 0.160 0.780 0.874
Tampa Bay Lightning  0.327 -0.526 -1.816 -1.339 0.862
Boston Bruins  -0.748 -0.180 0.842 1.035 0.679
Philadelphia Flyers  -0.550 -0.822 0.542 0.500 0.665
Montreal Canadiens  0.290 0.621 0.681 0.289 0.342
New Jersey Devils  0.881 0.838 1.493 1.912 0.330
New York Rangers  0.741 0.452 0.433 0.320 0.243
Carolina Hurricanes  1.212 0.128 0.505 0.247 -0.080
Ottawa Senators  1.504 0.766 -0.025 0.178 -0.161
Toronto Maple Leafs  0.198 -0.086 -0.581 -0.712 -0.547
Florida Panthers  -0.247 -0.250 0.014 -0.076 -1.495
Atlanta Thrashers  0.365 -0.148 -1.820 -1.272 -1.726
New York Islanders  -0.186 -0.271 -2.311 -4.139 -103.0


  • If I'm wrong about Fletcher or Howson, my next pick would be Bryan Murray. He's destroyed the Senators in the same amount of time the Oilers were destroyed, and he isn't being cost conscious about his destruction, either. The progression in colors is pretty telling.
  • Though the Lightning were terrible for a brief time, and were able to add Steve Stamkos in that time, they are an example of how competent management can turn a franchise around without first destroying the team. Stable ownership helped as well, but rather than emulate full-scale and widespread destruction and rebuild, teams should be focused on finding competent management.
  • The Rangers' averages are so tightly bunched just north of zero - the lack of color is a testament to the complete medicrity of Sather's tenure.
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