Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mark Cohon and MLSE

Yesterday, CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon announced that he would be stepping away from the league he helped stabilize when his contract expires in April of 2015.

Today, amid recent speculation, Tim Leiweke announced that he would only remain as the President & CEO of MLSE until June 30th, 2015, or until a replacement is found.

I imagine the timing of the two announcements is nothing more than sheer coincidence, but there is a fit between the two that is undeniable.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Draft

Personally, the draft is my favorite event of the NHL season.  There is so much mystery, intrigue, uncertainty, and possibility.  And personally, I love watching or reading up on any number of young players to see where they might go and what they might become.  So with another Entry Drat officially in the books, there is a lot going through my mind.  Not really on one topic in specific, just on what happened at the draft as a whole and in particular what it means for the Leafs.  So in a kind of unorganized, 30 Thoughts-esque post, here are just some things I have to say about this weekend:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Three Reasons Corsi Matters

The advanced stats movement in hockey is gaining serious steam, but there are still some doubters out there.  If you are one of those doubters, I invite you to check out three small tables I put together to help convince you that Corsi does matter.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 NHL Free Agency Fair Contract Table

 Now that the Stanley Cup has been handed out, it's time for trade rumors, draft buzz, and the frenzy of free agency.

That frenzy is particularly interesting to me.  While we don't know for sure what names are on the trade market or which team will draft who, we do have a stronger idea of the free agents set to hit the market on July 1st, and we can actually take a stab at quantifying what those free agents might be worth.

That's where the fair contract table comes in.  I've put together a table of 50 of the most attractive free agent names and compared each player's production with others around the league.  I then averaged out the contracts of players that compare favorably and assigned each potential unrestricted free agent a cap hit and term length.  The results aren't a promise of anything.  Looking at the table there are certainly some contracts that I would consider either too rich or a great bargain (particularly when considering advanced metrics, which based on history I would guess don't come into play very much in contract negotiation - yet).  However, I just wanted to provide a framework for people to get some sense of the contracts that a lot of the upcoming free agents could be looking at.  I also wanted to provide a framework to compare what historically would be a fair contract for a given amount of production versus what a player will actually end up getting (Ryan Callahan asking for $6 or 7 million comes to mind).

Monday, May 05, 2014

Time For An NHL Awards Overhaul

With the regular season in the rear view mirror, the NHL has officially announced the nominees for the major awards to be handed out to some of hockey's best talents next month in Las Vegas. 

The NHL Awards always cause controversy.  Everyone has their own idea of who they think should be nominated and who should win or lose.  And with so many players deserving of recognition each year, there is bound to be some disagreement.

But it seems to me that in recent years it has become especially apparent that the process is in need of an overhaul.  Or maybe the process has always been flawed and only now that I'm increasingly knowledgeable about the game have I noticed some serious flaws to the whole thing.  Whatever the case, it seems to me that something just isn't right.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Just Say No to Barry Trotz

While Randy Carlyle hasn't officially been fired as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, all indications continue to point to him being let go in the coming days or weeks.  This assumption has lead fans and journalists alike to debate and ponder who might be a good fit as the next coach of the Maple Leafs.  One name that many have linked to Toronto is long-time coach of the Nashville Predators Barry Trotz.  After 15 years of service behind the bench in Tenneessee, Trotz was let go earlier this month after one too many disappointing seasons.

Trotz does have an impressive resume though.  For a coach to last 15 years as a head coach in any professional sports league is a great achievement in itself, let alone to do it all with one team.  His 557 career wins are 13th on the all-time list in the NHL.  Most notably he lead the Predators to a 51 win season in the 2005-2006 season.  Along with this, he managed to lead Nashville to the playoffs seven times in eight years between 2004 and 2012.  Other accolades include two Jack Adams nominations (2010, 2011) and three appearances with Hockey Canada at the World Championships as an assistant coach (2002, 2003, and 2009).  Generally speaking, Trotz has long held the respect of hockey stakeholders for years, having the reputation of a coach who does more with less, leading a small-market team often devoid of star talent to numerous successful seasons.  So why don't I think Barry Trotz is a good fit in Toronto?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Randy Carlyle's Puck Possession Issues Highlighted

The 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs season is officially in the books, and with another late-season collapse comes almost certain drastic change to a team desperately searching for stability.  One of the most probable changes is the firing of Randy Carlyle, who despite ending the Leafs nine-year playoff drought will likely be remembered for having his teams being repeatedly outplayed and being bailed out by exceptional goaltending.

That being outplayed, magnified by poor puck possession ability, is really quite disturbing when you look at the comprehensive numbers of Carlyle as a head coach in the NHL.  Below is a chart I've put together highlighting each of the full seasons Carlyle has had as the head coach of an NHL team, outlining the consequent puck possession abilities (or lack thereof) of each team using shot-based metrics.  Warning: the following table is graphic.  Viewer discretion is advised.

Celebrating the 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs

It is often said at funerals not to necessarily mourn or grieve the loss of someone, but rather to celebrate the life they lived and to remember the good memories.  Well, the 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs are officially dead.  And while many have already begun writing about what is wrong with the team and where things went wrong and how embarrassed they are, I am choosing not to grieve the Leafs (not yet anyways) but rather to celebrate the good times they had.  Because as easy as it is to forget it, there were a lot of great moments this season.  What follows is, in chronological order, what I think were some of the highlights of the season:

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Introducing: The GAA Chart

What Is It?
A chart that shows what a team's Goals Against Average (GAA) would be given the combining factors of save percentage and shots against.  This chart can be used to apply to a single game, a ten game stretch, or an entire season.

What Are It's Uses?
This could be a useful tool for projecting what sort of GAA a given goalie or team might have considering either real or expected shots faced/shots stopped.  The chart isn't meant to revolutionize anything but rather act as a practical tool to understand or project goals against averages. 

How Does It Work?
The horizontal column represents a team's shots against, and the vertical column represents a team or a goalie's save percentage.  The number equaled by the matching of any two columns is what the GAA would beYou will notice that save percentage is represented in intervals of half a percentile while shots against are represented in intervals of half a shot against.  This was done to help the chart be detailed without being too overwhelming.

-The numbers in dark green represent GAAs 2.00 or below.  These are elite GAAs and in some cases unheard of.

-The numbers in light green represent GAAs between 2.01 and 2.50.  These are where most good teams land and this is what teams with playoff aspirations should realistically strive for.

-The numbers in yellow represent GAAs between 2.51 and 3.00.  While unideal, it is still possible to have a GAA in this range and have team success.

-The numbers in red represent GAAs 3.01 and above.  You often see teams near the bottom of the NHL standings with GAAs in this range.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

James Reimer: Just Okay

There's been a lot of talk about the way the Leafs goaltending situation has been handled this season.  That talk was refueled by comments yesterday where Randy Carlyle thought James Reimer was "just okay" in last night's 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, to which James Reimer responded he thought he was "good".  Here's my take on the situation.