Garik at Hockey Graphs looked into the talent of (not) getting hit and attempted to answer 4 questions:
- Is avoiding getting hit a repeatable skill?
- Is there a relationship between avoiding getting hit with increased scoring?
- Is there a relationship between avoiding getting hit and winning the possession battle?
- Do star players get hit more without an enforcer on the team?
As a fan of a team that is compelled to employ facepunchers and sandpaperers, the last question is relevant to my interests, especially considering the data we have available on the Leafs.
I've looked at deterrence, suggested a true deterrent, the cost of goons and what "tough to play against" really means, but this brings to light new data that can show us demonstratively if the players meant to protect superstars have an impact on the ice. Exploring hit avoidance should be fun because if the Leafs are a valid example, the presence of goons (multiple goons!) doesn't help players avoid hits...
Nazem Kadri [was] one of the top 20% most hit players despite the protection of goons in both years
...but a more in-depth study is needed.