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Prospect Update (12/4/13)

Update on prospects not playing for Wilkes-Barre or Wheeling.

Matt Murray (G – Sault Ste. Marie): Matt is currently ranked as the number one goalie in the entire Ontario Hockey League.  Through 22 games he has a GAA of 2.28 and a .927 save percentage.  He has posted a 15-4 record including three shutouts. Murray was named OHL player of the week earlier in November.  He was also chosen to play in the Subway Super Series for Team OHL against Russia. Murray was selected by the Penguins in the third round (83rd overall) in the 2012 entry draft.

Tristan Jarry (G – Edmonton Oil Kings): Like Matt, Tristan has also been a formidable goalie in his respective league. He currently ranks as the second best goalie in the Western Hockey League. Through 21 games he has a GAA of 2.08 and a save percentage of .921.  His record is 16-7 with one shutout. Tristan was the Pens’ first pick (2nd round – 44th overall) in the 2013 entry draft.

Sean Maguire (G – Boston University): Sean has seen five games in net for BU.  He has a save percentage of .929 and a GAA of 2.49. Also, Sean gets bonus points for having an awesome twitter. Boston University currently sits just outside the USCHO top twenty rankings.  Sean was drafted in the fourth round (113th overall) by the Pens in the 2012 entry draft.

Alexander Pechurskiy (G – Metallurg Magnitogorsk): Alex is a backup goalie in the KHL. He’s seen four games of action and posts a GAA of 2.30 and a save percentage of .914.  He also has a point, so there’s that.  Metallurg Magnitogorsk is currently in sixth place in the KHL rankings.  We may have a potential Gagarin Cup winner in our organization. Alex was selected in the 2008 entry draft (5th round – 150th overall) by the Penguins. He has played one game at the NHL level. Well, half a game at the NHL level. (And they spelled his name wrong on his jersey because they didn’t have another Y and he didn’t have a Pens mask so he wore a white mask and put Penguins stickers on it)

Derrick Pouliot (D – Portland Winterhawks): Derrick’s gotten off to one of the most impressive starts of the Pens prospects, which isn’t surprising. He’s averaging over a point per game as a defenseman with 7 goals and 16 assists in 22 games. He was one of twenty-nine players selected to the Canada U20 Team Selection Camp.  I have no doubt we’ll see him have an impact in Malmo when the World Juniors get here. (Which is coming up really fast!) Derrick was selected by the Penguins in the first round (8th overall) in the 2012 entry draft. The pick to select him was part of the Jordan Staal to Carolina  trade.

Ryan Segalla (D – U of Connecticut): Ryan is a shutdown defenseman who has tallied two assists in nine games this season..  Ryan was drafted by the Penguins in the fourth round (119th overall) in the 2013 entry draft.</p><p>Dane Birks (D – Merritt Centennials):  Through 18 games, Dane has one goal and eight assists.  He also tallied two assists in four games as a member of the Canada West U19 team. Dane was drafted by the Pens in the 2013 entry draft, going in the sixth round (164th overall).

Clark Seymour (D – Peterborough Petes): The Petes assistant captain has notched three goals, 10 assists, and 48 penalty minutes through 25 games. Seymour was selected by the Pens in the fifth round (143rd overall) in the 2012 entry draft.

Josh Archibald (F – Nebraska-Omaha): Josh is averaging just over a point per game, tallying ten goals and five assists in just fourteen games.  He leads the Mavericks in both goals and points. Nebraska-Omaha is currently ranked sixteenth in the USCHO rankings, and is at the top of the NCHC standings. He was drafted by the Penguins in the 6th round (174th overall) in the 2011 entry draft.

Matia Marcanutoni (F – Kitchener Rangers): The Rangers assistant captain has notched six goals and five assists in twenty games played. However, Kitchener has not gotten off to the start it had hoped for, as they are currently last in the Midwest division. Matia was taken in the fourth round (92nd overall) by the Penguins in the 2012 entry draft.

Scott Wilson (F – UMass-Lowell): In six games played, Scott has two goals and nine points.  After making the Frozen Four in 2013, UMass-Lowell currently sits in the 7th spot in the USCHO rankings. Scott was drafted by the Penguins in the 7th round (209th overall) in the 2011 entry draft.

Oskar Sundqvist (F – Skelleftea): Playing in the Swedish Hockey League, Oskar has played 23 games and recorded two goals and three assists. He is a plus 3 on the year. He also notched one goal in three games with the Sweden U20 team. Sundqvist was taken in the 2012 draft by the Penguins in the 3rd round (81st overall).

 Jake Guentzel (F – Nebraska-Omaha): The second Pens prospect to be currently playing for Nebraska-Omaha has two goals and eight assists in fourteen games. He was taken by the Penguins in the third round (77th overall) in the 2013 entry draft.  Penguins forward Jayson Megna also played for the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.

Blaine Byron (F – U of Maine): Blaine has tallied  four goals and four assists in thirteen games played. Maine currently sits just outside the USCHO rankings. He was drafted by the Pens in the sixth round (179th overall) in the 2013 entry draft.

Jean-Sebastien Dea (F – Rouyn-Noranda): JSD is averaging just above a point per game.  In 27 games he has put up 24 goals and four assists. These numbers have him as the Huskies’ second best scorer. Dea was undrafted, but signed with the Penguins after an impressive rookie camp.

Troy Josephs (F – Clarkson University): Taken by the Penguins in the 7th round (209th overall) in the 2013 entry draft, Troy has notched one goal and two assists in twelve games with the Golden Knights. Clarkson is currently ranked 10th in the USCHO rankings.

Bryan Rust (F – Notre Dame): Notre Dame’s assitant captain has three goals and  nine assists through sixteen games. The Fighting Irish is ranked thirteenth in the USCHO rankings. Rust was selected by the Penguins in the third round (80th overall) in the 2010 entry draft.

Teddy Blueger (F – Minnesota State): Latvia shoutout! Through fourteen games, Blueger has tallied three goals and and six assists. He also had two assists in one game played with the Latvia U20 team. Minnesota State is currently just outside the USCHO rankings. Blueger was selected in the second round (52nd overall) in the 2012 entry draft by the Penguins.

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Black Friday: Pittsburgh Penguins Edition

I’ve never understood the craziness that is Black Friday.  You won’t find me in line at three in the morning to snag a deal.  So instead I decided to participate in Black Friday by looking at some of the bargains the Penguins have been able to grab.  The reality is that the Pens are a top-heavy team in a salary cap league.  We are feeling the effects of this this year more than ever.  It’s great to sign superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but the consequence is that there is less money to go around for everyone else. This has magnified the effect of bargains in the Pens organization. 

Top Line Wingers

There may be no better bargains in hockey than the Penguins first line wingers.  Last year, Chris Kunitz was named to the NHL’s first All-Star team after scoring twenty-two goals and fifty-two points in the shortened season, all while having a cap hit of $3.25 M. Pascal Dupuis put up twenty goals and thirty-eight points, with a cap hit of $1.5 M.  It earned him a new contract with a cap hit of $3.75 M.  For the purpose of this post, I will be using last season’s statistics with this year’s cap hits simply because this season is still too young to provide concrete stats and there is no sense in looking at old cap hits. With that in mind here are Kunitz’s and Dupuis’ dollars per goal and point.

  • Christ Kunitz – $169,318/goal $71,634/point
  • Pascal Dupuis – $187,500/goal $98,634/point

Sure, these aren’t what the average person would think of as a small amount of money, but when compared to players with comparable stats the bargains become a lot more clear. Here are the dollars per goal and point of some other top line wingers who put up similar numbers last season.

  • Alex Ovechkin – $$294,952/goal $$168,544/point
  • Taylor Hall – $375,000/goal $120,000/point
  • Henrik Zetterberg – $553,000/goal $126,700/point
  • Andrew Ladd – $244,444/goal $95,642/point
  • Zach Parise – $418,800/goal $198,380/point
  • Martin St. Louis – $330,882/goal $93,750/point
  • Patrick Kane – $273,913/goal $114,500/point
  • Alex Semin – $538,460/goal $159,000/point
  • Corey Perry – $575,000/goal $239,500/point

The only two players on the list that have a lower dollar/point value are Andrew Ladd and Martin St. Louis, who both only have smaller values than Dupuis.  There is a strong argument that Kunitz was the best bargain in the entire NHL last season. In April, Jesse Spector of Sporting News listed Kunitz as top line left winger on his all-cap team.  

Above Average Players for Below Average Prices

The average NHL cap hit is $2.4 M.  While the Pens have several players signed to contract with much higher value than the average, they have also managed to sign effective players for less than the average cap hit. 

The Pens signed Jussi Jokinen for $2.1 M against the cap. (Actual cap hit $3 M, $900,000 paid by Carolina).  Last year some claimed this was too high of a cap hit for what he brought to the table, especially since he was a healthy scratch for multiple playoff games.  This was a fair thought last year, as it was a waste of money if he wasn’t going to play. However, the Pens had cap space to burn last year and thank goodness they did.  We ended up picking up Jokinen from Carolina for a conditional pick. The condition was never fulfilled, so we got him for nothing. We are seeing the benefits of the signing this season. Jokinen has seemed to find a permanent spot on the second line with Malkin and Neal.  This is one of the best lines in hockey, and it helps that we’re paying one third of the line less than the average NHL cap hit.

Brandon Sutter can also be considered a bargain. He has a cap hit of $2.07 M, and has so far had a very underrated season.  He has been phenomenal on the defensive side of the puck, something that has gone unnoticed by several viewers.  There will always be those who cry, “He’s not Jordan Staal”.  You’re right, he’s not. Sure, Sutter doesn’t have the same goal scoring ability as Staal. He doesn’t have the same physicality.  He also doesn’t have a $6 M cap hit. Sutter comes at a third of the price of Staal, and Sutter is way more than a third of the player Staal is. 

The Pens have also taken advantage of entry-level deals. Had he not gotten injured, Beau Bennett would be playing a prominent role in the Pens lineup. He probably would have put up 15 or so goals this season had he been healthy.  The best part is that we’re only paying him $900,000.  Another entry-level deal that has come into play this season is defenseman Olli Maatta.  Maatta’s entry-level deal carries a cap hit of $894,167.  

Speaking of Olli Maatta, his defensive partner, or at least who should be his defensive partner, Robert Bortuzzo, only has a cap hit of $600,000.  Bort is definitely worth more than that.  We can only hope that Dan Bylsma realizes that too, or we may have to get used to seeing Engelland in the lineup quite often.

Until the salary cap increases, and even then it will be a factor, the Pens will continue to be a top-heavy team.  This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just the reality of the situation. I can complain about how top-heavy we are, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. The Pens have no where near the roster depth they’ve had in recent years.  Thankfully though, Ray Shero has been able to find bargains that have put a competitive win-now team on the ice. 

Advanced Stats Sunday (11/3/13)

Since last Advanced Stats Sunday, the Pens have gone on a four game winning streak. In last week’s post I said, ” I believe we’ll see some good hockey this week. Expect some wins, and some big games from the two-headed monster. They’re mathematically due for it.” Well, at least part of this statement came true. The Pens certainly got some wins, and now have a seven point lead in the Neapolitan Ice Cream  Metropolitan Division. As for the two-headed monster, Sid notched another five points. Hardly his pace at the beginning of the season, but it would have been hard to believe he could keep that up. He still had a solid week. Geno couldn’t buy a goal this week, but had three assists. Anyone who watched the games this past week, though, would tell you that Geno’s playing great hockey right now. He’s been the best player on the ice multiple times this past week, but luck has not been on his side. This week I’m going to keep discussing the progression of the two-headed monster, PDO, and some miscellaneous stats regarding zone starts, save percentage, and penalties.

Two-Headed Monster
In the opinion of many fans, each head of the two-headed monster is moving in different directions. On one hand, Sidney Crosby is putting up a league-leading 22 points, scoring at nearly a 1.5 PPG pace. On the other hand, Evgeni Malkin has 13 points; under a point per game. If you’ve watched Malkin play this past week, it’s quite obvious luck hasn’t been on his side. Crossbars and posts have gotten the better of him, but there have been multiple games in which he has looked dominant. Advanced stats wise, both players are set to keep (or in Malkin’s case, start) producing.

Sidney Crosby currently has a PDO of 977. Since the baseline is 1000 we can expect even more offensive production from him. Last Sunday Sid checked in with a PDO of 1001. Even though he still managed to produce this past week, his PDO has decreased, mostly due to a drop in his on-ice save percentage which is down from 898 to 870 this week. However, a decrease in PDO isn’t a bad thing. Since Sid is below the standard PDO of 1000 we can expect his production to increase. He ended last season with a PDO of 1034 and has yet to reach that mark this year. Yet he’s still leading the league in points. We could see Sid really break out in the two games this week.

article_15222_2While having less points that Crosby, Malkin has a higher PDO, with that of 988, which is up from 954 last week. Opposite of Sid, Geno’s PDO has increased due to an increased on ice save percentage, which increased from 882 to 907 over the past week. It’s only a matter of time until Geno starts putting up numbers. He looked dominant at several points over this past week, and according to his PDO his play should continue to improve. Thankfully, the Pens have received plenty of secondary scoring this week, something that was a concern through the first couple weeks of the season. The Pens are playing in what is by far the weakest division in hockey, but nonetheless they have looked dominant in all but a few games. They’ve managed to win games even when their stars haven’t scored. See last night in Columbus as a prime example. If Geno starts producing like his normal self, and the Pens are able to get Neal and Bennett back in the lineup, we could be in for a real treat of hockey.

Team PDO
Last week the Penguins had an average PDO of 987.21, and I said based on that we could expect to see some good hockey this past week. We certainly did. Now the Pens are at a team PDO of 993.54, still below the baseline of 1000. So what does this mean for this upcoming week? Unlike the past two weeks, where I predicted the losing and winning streaks, this middle-of-the-road PDO doesn’t lead to a firm conclusion. The Pens have two games this week, Wednesday against the Rangers and Saturday against St. Louis. We could see the Pens take both of these games, but the most realistic choice may be for them to split.

Since the PDO of the team as a whole doesn’t provide us with many answers this week, we can look at the PDOs of some individuals to see who should theoretically improve and who should decline this week. On the rise are Jokinen, Malkin, Martin, Crosby, Engelland, and Letang. We can also expect to see Megna and D’Agostini’s (if he plays) game increase. However, since they both have played a small amount of games, we hardly have a large enough sample size on which to base predictions. They could be wild cards. On the other end of the spectrum, some players’ games should decline in theory. Those that fall in this category are Niskanen, Kunitz, Glass, Adams, and Vitale. This is a logical list, as the fourth line has been very productive as of late, but as in most scenarios, a team cannot always rely on its fourth line to be productive for long periods of time. Thankfully for the Pens, the players that are due for a decline are matched by players who should be on the rise. Therefore, everything should remain status quo for the Penguins, and the status quo is winning hockey games.

Miscellaneous #FancyStats
As there’s nothing new in the Corsi and Fenwick department (big shocker, Kunitz is still the leader) I wanted to do something different with this post. However, there’s not a big standout in any one particular category this week, but what I did find was some interesting stats across the board. Enjoy this randomness that is #FancyStats.

IMG_3437_smallThe talk of this past week has been Jayson Megna. I was a big fan of this kid in Wilkes-Barre (he already has two game-winning goals for them this season) and he continues to impress me at the NHL level. While he deserves all the hype he’s been getting and I do believe the kid is legit, we should probably step back and slow down before we rush to images of grandeur. I’m not trying to take anything away from Megna’s accomplishments, but the fact is that he is starting 78.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone, more than anyone else on the team. It’s no wonder he’s gotten on the score sheet. Now I know his first goal originated off a face-off in the neutral zone, but he has seemed to be getting unlimited chances in front of the net. While he is great at going to the net, something that is badly needed on this team, a lot of that stems from his offensive zone start percentage. I do think Megna is going to be up here for a while, and I think he’s a great fit, but eventually that zone start percentage number will decrease, and with it the number of chances he gets around the net will also decrease. This isn’t necessarily his fault, just don’t panic if he’s not scoring every or every other night.

I also wanted to give a shout out to Brandon Sutter. Finally he got on the score sheet, with goals against Boston and Columbus. The reason for the shout out though, is that he is only starting 45.2% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Despite that, he is ending 58.1% of his shifts there. This stat has been pretty constant this whole season, but finally he got a couple goals to prove his hard work at getting the puck out of his own end and into the zone of the opposition. Finally he not only managed to get the puck in the opposition’s zone, but managed to get it in their net. Twice. I love seeing scrappers get goals, so well done Brandon Sutter.

In the three game losing streak the most talked about part of the Penguins’ game was special teams, mostly the power play. This past week they finally turned that around, netting three power play goals. Therefore I thought it was only right to highlight who has been getting us on the power play the most. Tanner Glass leads the team with 2.8 penalties drawn per 60 minutes (not including D’Agostini due to small amount of games played). While Megna has a limited number of games played, it’s worth noting he’s averaging 2.1 penalties drawn per 60 minutes, while not taking a single penalty himself. Additionally, while Malkin hasn’t necessarily been cashing in on the power play, he has been helping his team get there a lot, with his 1.9 penalties drawn average. Another notable player in the penalty drawing department is Joey V, who is drawing 1.8 penalties while taking .5. Currently, the only Penguins who are averaging more penalties taken then drawn are Sutter, Niskanen, Adams, and Jeffrey.

Lastly, the Pens team defense has been receiving the spotlight recently, so I decided to look at some on ice save percentage numbers. Going into this season many fans assumed Niskanen would be on the trading block. Now with the injury to Scuderi I’m not so sure. Niskanen is leading the Pens defense with an on ice save percentage of 951, the main reason that his PDO is also extremely high. The other defenseman who has been receiving a lot of publicity, Olli Maatta, is second with a saver percentage of 943. For forwards, Chuck Kobasew is the leader with his team-leading save percentage of 983. He is followed by Dustin Jeffrey (939) and Tanner Glass (934). Sidney Crosby, Jayson Megna, and Matt D’Agostini are the only Penguins forwards who currently have on on ice saver percentage less than 900. Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, and Kris Letang are the defensemen below the 900 mark.

Final Thoughts
Everything seemed to fall into place for the Penguins this week. Despite not having their greatest showing Friday, they still came away with a 4-2 win. Unhappy with the amount of chances the Blue Jackets received in the first game of the home-and-home series, the Penguins defense rose to the occasion Saturday and held Columbus to just 19 shots on net, helping rookie goalie Jeff Zatkoff earn his first NHL win, and shutout. Hopefully we’ll see more of the same this week. Look for Geno to finally start lighting the lamp and for Sid to stay at the top of the leader board.

Prospect Update (10/31/13)

Update on prospects not playing for Wilkes-Barre or Wheeling

Matt Murray (G – Sault Ste. Marie): Through nine games, he’s 8-1 with a .934 save percentage and goals against of 1.98. He was chosen to play in the Subway Super Series for Team OHL against Russia. Murray was selected by the Penguins in the third round (83rd overall) in the 2012 entry draft.

Tristan Jarry (G – Edmonton Oil Kings): Bit of a rough start for Jarry.  He has a record of 8-6 with a .910 save percentage and 2.39 goals against. Tristan was the Pens’ first pick (2nd round – 44th overall) in the 2013 entry draft.

Sean Maguire (G – Boston University): The college season has just gotten underway, and Sean’s seen three games of action. His record is 1-2 with a save percentage of .941 and goals against of 2.03. Boston University is currently ranked 18 in the USCHO rankings.  Sean was drafted in the fourth round (113th overall) by the Pens in the 2012 entry draft.

Alexander Pechurskiy (G – Metallurg Magnitogorsk): After playing seasons in the VHL, Alex finally got called up to the KHL. He has yet to see action this season. Alex was selected in the 2008 entry draft (5th round – 150th overall) by the Penguins. He has played one game at the NHL level. Well, half a game at the NHL level.

Derrick Pouliot (D – Portland Winterhawks): Derrick’s gotten off to one of the most impressive starts of the Pens prospects, which isn’t surprising. He’s averaging over a point per game as a defenseman with 3 goals and 12 assists in 12 games. Yeah, he’ll probably be in the NHL next year. Derrick was selected by the Penguins in the first round (8th overall) in the 2012 entry draft. The pick to select him was part of the Jordan Staal to Carolina  trade.

Ryan Segalla (D – U of Connecticut): Through three games, Ryan has yet to tally a point. Considering he’s a shutdown defenseman, though, this isn’t a big surprise.  Ryan was drafted by the Penguins in the fourth round (119th overall) in the 2013 entry draft.

Dane Birks (D – Merritt Centennials):  Through 17 games, Dane has tallied 1 goal and 9 assists with 18 penalty minutes. Dane was drafted by the Pens in the 2013 entry draft, going in the sixth round (164th overall).

Clark Seymour (D – Peterborough Petes): The Petes assistant captain has notched one goal, 7 assists, and 26 penalty minutes through 11 games. Seymour was selected by the Pens in the fifth round (143rd overall) in the 2012 entry draft.

Josh Archibald (F – Nebraska-Omaha): Josh is averaging a point per game, tallying four goals and two assists in just six games. He was drafted by the Penguins in the 6th round (174th overall) in the 2011 entry draft.

Matia Marcanutoni (F – Kitchener Rangers): The Rangers assistant captain has notched four goals and four assists in twelve games played. Matia was taken in the fourth round (92nd overall) by the Penguins in the 2012 entry draft.

Scott Wilson (F – UMass-Lowell): In six games played, Scott has two assists.  After making the Frozen Four in 2013, UMass-Lowell currently sits in the 15th spot in the USCHO rankings. Scott was drafted by the Penguins in the 7th round (209th overall) in the 2011 entry draft.

Oskar Sundqvist (F – Skelleftea): Playing in the Swedish Hockey League, Oskar has played 15 games and recorded one goal and one assist. He is a plus 4 on the year. Sundqvist was taken in the 2012 draft by the Penguins in the 3rd round (81st overall).

 Jake Guentzel (F – Nebraska-Omaha): The second Pens prospect to be currently playing for Nebraska-Omaha has one goal and two assists in six games. He was taken by the Penguins in the third round (77th overall) in the 2013 entry draft.  Penguins forward Jayson Megna also played for the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.

Blaine Byron (F – U of Maine): Blaine is averaging a point per game, tallying two goals and three assists in five games played. He was drafted by the Pens in the sixth round (179th overall) in the 2013 entry draft.

Jean-Sebastien Dea (F – Rouyn-Noranda): In just games, JSD already has a team-leading 12 goals. He has also tallied two assists. Dea was undrafted, but signed with the Penguins after an impressive rookie camp.

Troy Josephs (F – Clarkson University): Taken by the Penguins in the 7th round (209th overall) in the 2013 entry draft, Troy has notched one goal in six games with the Golden Knights. Clarkson is currently ranked 17th in the USCHO rankings.

Bryan Rust (F – Notre Dame): Notre Dame’s assitant captain has two assists through six games. The Fighting Irish is ranked second in the USCHO rankings, only behind the Golden Gophers. Rust was selected by the Penguins in the third round (80th overall) in the 2010 entry draft.

Teddy Blueger (F – Minnesota State): Latvia shoutout! Through four games, Blueger has tallied a goal and an assist. Minnesota State is currently ranked 16th in the USCHO rankings. Blueger was selected in the second round (52nd overall) in the 2012 entry draft by the Penguins.

 

 

 

Advanced Stats Sunday (10/27/13)

Between last week’s and today’s Advanced Stats Sunday then Pens have dropped three games in a row, something that hadn’t happened at all in last year’s regular season. While I didn’t quite expect to see three losses, this quote is from last week’s article, “Statistically we can expect the Pens to have some rough games coming up.” Advanced stats really can help predict the future.” This week I’m going to look at how some bad games affect players’ advanced stats.

PDO

Last week, I said the Pens would have some rough games because of the advanced stat, PDO. It can help predict when players will go on a tear or taper off. In the case of the Pens, it happened to about the entire team. Going into this past week, only three players had a PDO lower than the baseline of 1000. Since everyone is supposed to be drawn to a PDO of 1000 I said that we can predict the production of players to taper off, and the team to experience a rough patch. Well, it’s safe to say that happened. Unlike last week, now there are nine players with PDOs less than 1000. While you want to have the highest PDO, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Like I said, the tendency is to average to 1000 so when a team’s PDO numbers are lacking it usually means some wins are coming. I know it’s weird, and sounds like it should be the other way around, but that’s just how it works. Another positive? Sidney Crosby, despite leading the league in points, only has a PDO of 1001.  He finished last season with a PDO of 1034, so we can predict that this coming week will most likely be a big week for him. We can also expect to see big weeks from Evgeni Malkin, Jussi Jokinen, and Paul Martin. 

The average PDO of the Penguins currently sits at 987.21, which means we can expect some big games for the Pens coming up. It should be exciting. Look for it to start tomorrow against the Canes.

Offensive Production

Like last week, the first line is till at the top of both Corsi and Fenwick, and in the same order. However, Matt D’Agostini currently holds the number one spot in both categories.  Matt played a great game last night. He was strong on the forecheck, had a net front presence, and drew a penalty. He was one of the few bright spots from the game. Despite his numbers though, I am not going to include him in the Corsi and Fenwick standings because he has only played one game. It is far too small a sample size to draw conclusions. Similarly, I will once again be disregarding the stat line of James Neal. (Actually, Neal leads in both Corsi and Fenwick ahead of D’Agostini).  So here are the updated stat leaders. In parenthesis is the change from last week.

Corsi

  1. Chris Kunitz 25.78 (-11.52)
  2. Sidney Crosby 22.78 (-12.72)
  3. Pascal Dupuis 19.57 (-9.33) 

Fenwick

  1. Chris Kunitz 33.8 (-3.5)
  2. Sidney Crosby 31.3 (-4.2)
  3. Pascal Dupuis 26.2 (-2.7)

This is what happens when you drop three games in a row. Obviously stats are going to decline. This isn’t to say these are bad numbers, because they are still excellent Corsi and Fenwick numbers. All three of their numbers are greater than their stats from the end of last season. However, this past week certainly didn’t help any.  

Taking/Drawing Penalties

I didn’t write about this last week, but since not much had changed in the Corsi/Fenwick department, I decided I could add this section. Note: in advanced stats, Pens taken and drawn are over 60 minutes of five on five play. 

Sometimes the players who take and draw the most penalties are surprising. For example, if I were to ask the average fan who they thought was the most heavily penalized player, they would most likely say Tanner Glass, Deryk Engelland, etc. You get where I’m going with this. They always think of the fighters and grinders. However, Matt Niskanen is actually the most penalized Penguin. He averages 1.4 penalties taken per sixty minutes. He is followed by Robert Bortuzzo (1.1) and Evgeni Malkin (1.0). Obviously the Malkin PenTaken/60 of 1.0 is a direct result of the daily rage penalty. Sidney Crosby and Joe Vitale (0.9) and Tanner Glass and Brooks Orpik (0.8) round out the top five most penalized players. 

On the other end of the spectrum, players are drawing penalties as well.  This is where I can let some guys off the hook for taking penalties. For example, I had just said how Sidney Crosby takes 0.9 penalties for 60 minutes, making him the fourth most penalized player on the team. However, Crosby also draws 1.3 penalties per game. Vitale, Glass, and Malkin are other heavily penalized players who draw more penalties than they take. Leading the Pens in drawn penalties are Jayson Megna (6.4) and Matt D’Agostini (5.0). Remember, though, they both have only played one game. From the remaining players, the leaders are Joey V (2.8), Harry Z (2.8), and Tanner Glass (2.3).  Including Megna and D’Agostini, nine Penguins players are drawing more than one penalty per game. On the other hand, only three players are taking a penalty or more per 60.  

The problem in the penalty department is when players take more penalties than they draw, which is the case of Niskanen, Bortuzzo, Maatta, and Martin.  Orpik, Sutter, and Dupuis take the same amount of penalties as they draw. 

At the end of the day though, penalties haven’t been costing the Pens games. Granted, the PK has been terrible on the road, but our power play has been atrocious this past week. It will be interesting to see how Letang fits in as he gets back to 100%.

Final Thoughts

This was a shorter update than last week, but I hope I was still able to share something interesting. I believe we’ll see some good hockey this week. Expect some wins, and some big games from the two-headed monster. They’re mathematically due for it.  And with that, I conclude this Advanced Stats Sunday.

 

 

 

Advanced Stats Sunday (10/20/13)

This season I’ve decided to do weekly advanced stats updates which will I’ll post every Sunday. It’s a way to keep people up to date with advanced stats, and also a way to tell who is making the most improvements to his game as the season progresses.  So here is the first of what I hope to be weekly installments of Advanced Stats Sundays.

I’ll briefly touch on the stat categories in this post. To read a more in-depth description go to the “Explanation of Advanced Stats” page at the top of the blog.

First, before I break down the team’s stats I want to throw out James Neal’s stat-line.  He has insane numbers, and would be leading most of the categories, but since he only played just under four minutes, the numbers aren’t an accurate representation, nor have they played a part in the team’s success so far. As of now he has an on-ice Corsi of 47.16 and a Fenwick of 72.7. He also leads the team in Corsi QoC with 8.640. These are great numbers, but for the purpose of this post he will be left out when I talk about who has the best numbers.

Offensive Production 

The most commonly referred to statistics in advanced stats are On-Ice Corsi and Relative Corsi, which is also known as Fenwick.  It’s a way to calculate how much offense and general zone control the team generates when a player is on the ice. So even if you’re not the one shooting the puck, if your team shoots the puck while you’re on the ice that helps your Corsi and Fenwick numbers to increase. On-Ice Corsi is calculated by the following: [SHOTS FOR + MISSED SHOTS FOR + BLOCKED SHOTS FOR] – [SHOTS AGAINST + MISSED SHOTS AGAINST + BLOCKED SHOTS AGAINST]. To clarify, in this case blocked shots against refers to when you are blocking the shot and blocked shots for refers to when you are having your shot blocked.  Fenwick is a calculated the same way except it does not include blocked shots. 

So which Penguins players have had the best Corsi and Fenwick numbers so far this season? 

Corsi

  1. Chris Kunitz (29.79)
  2. Sidney Crosby (27.26)
  3. Pascal Dupuis (23.22)

If you followed my posts from last season, you might have noticed that this is the same order in which they finished last year. It comes as no surprise, as this has been the best line in hockey.

Fenwick

  1. Chris Kunitz (37.3)
  2. Sidney Crosby (35.5)
  3. Pascal Dupuis (28.9)

Nothing new here. Same as they finished last season and also the same order as the On-ice Corsi standings. I doubt this order will change much. Even when it comes to Kunitz ahead of Crosby, it’s likely this order will remain the same.  This is simply because of how  they are used. While Dupuis and Kunitz are both capable at backchecking and playing the defensive part of  the game, that’s not their main role on the team and would not play in defensive situations like a player like Brandon Sutter might. That’s not to say Crosby’s main role is different. He’s there to score goals and to produce offense, which he does better than anyone else in the league. However, Sid is also used in different situations that his linemates are not. Last year we saw Sid get used on the penalty kill to win faceoffs. This year he’s been seeing more PK time. First, I need to point out that Corsi and Fenwick are calculated as 5-on-5 play and so Sid playing on the PK doesn’t affect his stats. I bring up his PK time, though to show that Bylsma isn’t hesitant to use him in defensive situations. We’ve seen time and time again where Crosby will take critical faceoffs in his own zone while centering the third or fourth line, then go for a change once he’s won the draw.  Sid could still end up with a higher Corsi and/or Fenwick than Kunitz, but it makes sense as to why he’s second in the category.

Quality of Competition

Corsi QoC and Fenwick QoC are the same as in the previous section except QoC obviously takes into consideration the opposing players who are typically on the ice against an individual. This generally causes a change in the rankings from regular On-Ice Corsi and Fenwick. Typically it helps the third and fourth lines move up in the team rankings. The Penguins often use the bottom two lines against the top lines of the competition. Similarly the Crosby and Malkin lines usually draw the opposing team’s grinders. So here are how the Penguins stack up against the competition.

Corsi QoC – Forwards

  1. Chuck Kobasew (.354)
  2. Jussi Jokinen (.095)
  3. Evgeni Malkin (-.647)

Corsi QoC – Defensemen

  1. Rob Scuderi (-.857)
  2. Matt Niskenen (-.884)
  3. Deryk Engelland (-1.309)

Fenwick QoC – Forwards

  1. Chuck Kobasew (1.586)
  2. Jussi Jokinen (1.065)
  3. Evgeni Malkin (.622)

Fenwick QoC – Defensemen

  1. Rob Scuderi (.669)
  2. Matt Niskenen (.654)
  3. Deryk Engelland (.618)

As you’ve probably noticed, these are some pretty dismal numbers. First, I’d like to point out that the Pens typically have poor QoC numbers. This is because they are one of the elite teams in the league. The better you are, the better chance you have playing someone weaker than you. Look at last year’s Blackhawks. Niklas Hjalmarsson led the team in Fenwick QoC with a 1.782. The majority of their team had negative QoC numbers in both Corsi and Fenwick categories. At the other end of the spectrum, the last place Florida Panthers only had a few players with negative QoC numbers. None of their numbers were high QoC numbers, but the vast majority were able to stay out of the negatives.

Another reason for the Pens’ low QoC numbers has been the easy schedule so far. Vancouver was the first real test for the Penguins this year.  They should have beaten all the other teams they faced, and with exception of the Florida game, they did. As the schedule picks up and they play some better opponents their numbers may improve a bit. Although judging from the play of the other Metropolitan teams, tough competition may come few and far between.

PDO

One of my favorite advanced stats categories is PDO. I like it because it can help you predict who will start producing soon and who may taper off. PDO is an individual’s on-ice save percentage plus his on-ice shooting percentage. So if your on-ice save percentage is .950 and your on-ice shooting percentage is 8.7 your PDO is [950 + 87 = 1037]. This is a good PDO. The baseline is 1000 and it is expected that players will drift towards this mean. So if a player has a PDO in the 800s it is expected that the player will get hot and put up some points. On the other hand, players with extremely high PDOs are expected to taper off. The Penguins currently have some really good PDO numbers. Only three players are below 1000.

PDO

  1. Matt Niskenen (1125)
  2. Craig Adams (1105)
  3. Chuck Kobasew (1091)

Makes sense considering how solid the bottom six has been both offensively and defensively, something that was questionable going into the season. Like, I said players with very high PDOs are expected to taper off. It then said the Pens have very good PDOs. So yes, statistically we can expect the Pens to have some rough games coming up. This isn’t a guarantee that it will happen, but it’s practical. It also doesn’t mean they’re going to lose a bunch. It just means they might have a bad game or two.

Zone Starts

I don’t really consider offensive zone start and finish percentages to be advanced stats since no math is required. However, it can help explain a player’s production or lack-thereof.  The Pens have pretty good examples of both. The first is Jussi Jokinen. He’s having a great year so far, with four goals and  two assists, including a hat trick against his former team, Carolina. (Moment to reflect on how the Hurricanes are paying Jokinen $900,000 to play against them and he got a hat trick #LOLCarolina). Anyway, Jokinen starts more shifts 5-on-5 in the offensive zone than anyone besides Beau Bennett who is currently out of the lineup.  Not to take anything away from Jussi because he’s been great, but when you’re starting 68.0% of your shifts in the offensive zone it makes it a lot easier to score than someone who only starts 40% of their shifts there.

On the other end of the spectrum we have a guy like Brandon Sutter. Sutter’s played some very solid games this season. Most of the time I notice him for strong defensive plays. He hasn’t been bad offensively either, but has yet to notch a goal. He currently has three points, all assists.  I feel like some people are underwhelmed with his performance so far, even though I think he’s been solid. About the only thing he hasn’t done is score. Let’s look why that is. Sutter is only starting 40.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone. To Sutter’s credit, he has managed to finish 65.7% of his shifts there. So while you can be upset that he’s not scoring, he’s getting the puck out of the Pens’ zone and into the zone of the opposition. In fact, he does that more than anyone else on the team. Looking at zone start and finish percentages, it’s nice that Craig Adams has three goals. He starts only 31.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone, which is last on the team. He finished 46.7% of his shifts there, third to last on the team. So he doesn’t start in the offensive zone, doesn’t finish there, but still managed to score three times. That’s pretty cool.

A couple weeks into the season and the Pens have some pretty impressive advanced stats lines, almost as impressive as their points in the standings. We’ll see next week if the PDO norm kicks in and the Pend drop a game. Who knows, maybe they’ll just keep rolling. I certainly hope so.  Check back next Sunday to see how the players rank after another week of hockey action.

Orpik’s Last Year as a Penguin?

Defenseman Brooks Orpik has been a mainstay in the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup for what seems like ages.  Drafted in 2000 in the first round, Orpik has contributed to the team over the years, including playing in every game of the 2009 Cup run.  However, things change, and Orpik is entering his final year of his contract.  When asked about re-signing with Pittsburgh he said,

No comment. I’d rather not talk about it. (x)

Doesn’t sound too encouraging that he’s coming back.  But that might not be a bad thing. In fact, I believe not re-signing Orpik is in the best interest of the Penguins. There are several factors that brought me to this conclusion and I’ll try to touch on them all. 

AAV and Contract Length

Orpik is currently in his last year of a six-year contract with an annual average value of $3.75 M.  If he were to look to re-sign with Pittsburgh he would most likely ask for a four-year deal.  This makes sense from the player’s perspective and I’m sure there are teams out there who will be willing to give it to him.  However, Pittsburgh should not be one of those teams.  First off, because of the AAV the contact would carry.  Let’s pretend that his new contract would retain the same AAV as his previous one of $3.75 M.  A new contract would kick in during the 2014-2015 season in which the salary cap is expected to drastically increase.  It could go as high as $74 M.  Realistically, the cap will most likely be around $70-71 M.  Let’s go with $71 M.  While the Pens would have more cap to work with, it would also coincide with the new Malkin and Letang contracts going into effect.  So if the cap were to be $71 M, before anyone is re-signed the Pens would have approximately $17.4 M in cap space.  Sounds pretty good.  Until you realize they only have 12 roster players.  This would mean that the average cap hit of the remaining roster spots would be $1.33 M.  If Orpik were to make $3.75 M the average cap hit of the remaining roster spots decreases to $1.14 M. So unless you want to have 12 Tanner Glasses on your team, this probably isn’t your best option. While I know some players will make less it still doesn’t leave you with much room. Now to be clear, Orpik’s AAV won’t kill the cap and it’s not the most important factor when it comes to re-signing him or not, but it is certainly worth noting that it would make a sizable impact.

The second part of the contract besides AAV is contract length.  In this case, I believe contract length is more important than AAV. First, because the salary cap will continue to rise with increased league revenue, therefore diminishing the impact of Orpik’s cap hit. Secondly, and more importantly, because of Orpik’s age.  Brooks is already 32 and will be turning 33 this Thursday.  That would mean that if he were to receive a four year contract, he would be 37 in his final year. That would also mean that in 2016-17 the Pens would have two defensemen (Orpik and Scuderi) who would be ages 37 and 36 respectively.  The Pens need to get younger, not older.  Scuderi is already under a four year contract.  The Pens can’t afford to give Orpik one as well.  

AAV and contract length simply don’t make it practical to re-sign Orpik.  It’s been a good run, but all good things have to come to an end. So after not re-signing Orpik, the Pens next task is to fill a void in it’s defense, something that shouldn’t be a problem.

Prospect Depth

For years the Pens and Ray Shero have been stock-piling defensive prospects, both through the draft and trades.  It’s now time to cash in.  In fact, Olli Maatta, the twenty-second overall pick in the 2012 draft, may make the big club this year.  He’s ready that’s for sure.  Derrick Pouliot (2012 – 8th overall), Scott Harrington (2011 – 54th overall), and Brian Dumouling (acquired from Carolina in Staal trade) are also NHL-ready or close to NHL-ready now.  Now jump ahead a year when Orpik’s current contract expires.  These young kids will be ready to go and tough decisions will have to be made to see who will make it in the lineup.  

Another factor to consider is that the contracts of Niskanen, Despres, and Engelland are also up at the end of this season (Despres will be an RFA) and Martin’s is up the following year.  With all the young kids coming up, and we can still somewhat include Despres in this category, the Pens won’t be keeping all of the veterans.  Out of Niskanen, Engelland, Orpik, and Martin I would most like to keep Martin, even though he carries the highest cap hit. He has a very healthy balance of shut-down defense and contributing to offensive puck movement.  He has much better stick work than Orpik, and has better positioning.  Last season, and most likely this season as well, Martin and Orpik were paired together as the shut-down pair.  The Pens are going to have to loose one of them, and the better of the two right now is Martin.  Additionally, Martin has better advanced stats and he can play point on the power play. 

While reading up on the Orpik contract situation earlier today I noticed that several people were making claims that it would be easier to replace Martin than Orpik, and that the Pens won’t be able to find someone who brings what Orpik does to the team.  This would have been a better argument to make when people were arguing about whether or not to keep or trade Letang.  You can’t replace what Kris Letang brings to the team.  Our breakout would hurt tremendously from that kind of loss.  However, you can replace Brooks Orpik.  Maybe not the 2009 Brooks Orpik, but you can certainly replace the 2013 Brooks Orpik.  Enter Robert Bortuzzo.  I’m really impressed with this guy.  Just last night I was at the Pens/Hawks game.  I’m a sucker  for good defensive plays and there were a ton in the final minute of overtime.  I was cheering like crazy over good body positioning and stick work by defensemen and I’m pretty sure no one in my section understood why I was cheering when the puck was in our own zone.  One play in particular impressed me.  It was with about a minute left in OT and the Hawks were trying to start a breakout along the right boards.  Bortuzzo was the D1 on the play and made a heads up play to just stand the guy up instead of playing the puck or dropping back in the two-on-two.  The result was the guy losing the puck to the corner and the Pens getting puck possession. It’s such a basic, but heads up play, and things like that are why I enjoy watching certain players play. Bortuzzo is a solid defenseman who brings size and physicality.  I bet if you asked someone why the Pens should re-sign Orpik they’ll say because he brings to the team those two very same things. Bortuzzo is 24 and is making $650,000.  Orpik is 32 and making $3.75 M.  Bortuzzo’s a bargain at twice the price.  

To be clear, I’m not against veteran players.  I know that experience is important.  I’m not suggesting we get rid of all the veteran defenseman and call up Maatta, Pouliot, Harrington, and Dumoulin at once.  What I am suggesting is that we start to filter these guys in.  If we don’t we’re going to end up with a bunch of Despres (not sure how to make that plural).  I’m a Despres fan. He’s looked solid so far this pre-season.  He also looked good last year. However, the organization is ruining his development. They play him every once in a while and didn’t do anything to prepare him for last year’s playoffs.  The same thing can’t happen to the slew of talented young prospects we’re hoarding.  I’d rather lose a few games early on, or even sacrifice a division championship, due to rookie mistakes and have my young guys ready for postseason play than play to win every game just for the points in the standings and not worry about player development.  If the Pens put in effort, they’ll win games.  They won’t have a problem making the playoffs.  They need to spend the regular season getting together the best group of guys to compete in the postseason, as that’s what has been hindering talented Penguins teams the past few seasons.  So you don’t win the division. Who cares? Does anyone care that the Penguins won the Atlantic Division last season? I certainly don’t. Cup or die.  Now this doesn’t mean that playing young guys will cost you the division.  Even with playing multiple rookies I believe the Pens will be the best team in the Metropolitan Division.  All I’m saying is that the priorities within the Penguins organization are a bit out of line.  Development and playoff preparedness, not regular season points, wins you Stanley Cups.

So let’s skip ahead a year to next off-season.  The contracts of Orpik, Niskanen, and Engelland are up (in the case that Niskanen isn’t dealt this season).  Who’s left? Let’s take a look.  We have: Martin, Letang, Scuderi, Despres, Bortuzzo, Maatta, Pouliot, Harrington, Dumoulin, and Samuelsson.  Ten defensemen that could play at the NHL level, three of which have a lot of NHL experience already, and Despres and Bortuzzo have already seen NHL time.  Anyone who’s watched the preseason so far knows that Maatta is good to go and that Harrington and Pouliot are right on his tail.  The Pens certainly won’t be short of defensemen in the absence of Brooks Orpik.

Another factor is a change in defensive pairings.  We’ve all become accustom to referring to Orpik and Martin as our shut-down pair, but I believe the pairing of Martin and Scuderi would be just as effective.  Scuderi is a better defensive-defenseman than Orpik, not to mention his advanced stats are off the charts.  Before anyone says anything, I know Scuderi was brought in and expected to play on a pairing with Letang.  I don’t have a problem with that.  However, him on a line with Martin may be a better option. So who do you pair with Letang?  Easy choice.  Olli Maatta.  I’ve read a lot of tweets and posts the past few days gushing over the Scuderi/Letang pairing.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great pairing, but did you see Letang paired with Maatta? It was insane.  I don’t want to get carried away as he’s only 19, but Maatta could be the next Ryan Suter.  At least he plays like he could be.  He plays the same style as Suter and did I mention he’s only 19?  He had instant chemistry with Letang, and this would allow Martin and Scuderi to be your shutdown pair.  Then the third pair would consist of two of Despres, Bortuzzo, Pouliot, Harrington, and Dumoulin.  

Remember earlier when I talked about replacing Orpik and I mentioned Bortuzzo?  Bortuzzo replaces the size and physicality, but Scott Harrington brings the shutdown defenseman mentality.  I was able to make the roadtrip to Columbus for the first preseason game in which he played.  I was very impressed to say the least.  I’ve been following him for a while now and have watched him excel in the OHL and as part of Team Canada, and was very impressed with his play against NHLers.  

Now lets jump ahead even further.  Pouliot and Letang are your pointmen on the power play.  Harrington and Dumoulin are your shutdown pair.  Despres is paired with Pouliot and Maatta is paired with Letang.  Bortuzzo is your seventh defenseman who plays in games that are expected to be physical.  If a guy gets hurt you have someone who can step in who already has played in the league for years. Basically, exactly what you want in your seventh defenseman. (Which is exactly why Engelland would be a good seventh defenseman this year, but yet somehow he’ll end up playing ahead of Despres and Maatta, but wow is that another blog post). I’d like to think that’s a pretty darn good defensive corps. 

Bottom line is the Pens have enough talented defensive prospects to allow them to be for the most part unaffected by losing Orpik.  The future is certainly looking bright for the Pens’ D.

Entry Level Deals

Something often forgotten in the shuffle is the effect of entry level deals.  Around the league you see some very good hockey players who make very little in comparison to others because they are new or relatively new to the league.  A good example in the Pens organization is left winger Beau Bennett.  Last summer the Pens signed Beau to a three year entry level deal with an AAV of $900,000.  This will be his cap hit for this season as well as 2014-15.  This is very typical of a rookie.  But let’s think of all the things Beau could accomplish in these next two seasons.  Beau will most likely play alongside Evgeni Malkin and James Neal who combined make $13.7 M (for this season, will go up to $14.5 M in 2014-15).  Beau won’t be making much compared to his linemates, but he will be producing at a comparable rate.  Not that Beau is as good as Geno and Neal, but he can certainly hold his own.  Let’s say Beau is a twenty goal scorer and gets around sixty points this season, a very realistic goal for someone on that line.  Beau just became one of the best bargains in the game simply because he is still under an entry level contract.  

So how does this tie into not re-signing Orpik?  The Pens defensive prospects will all be under entry level contracts when they are first brought up.  A typical AAV for entry level contracts is $860,000.  Let’s say the Pens sign Maatta, Pouliot, Harrington, and Dumoulin to EL deals.  If they were to each make $860,000 that would mean we would be spending a total of $3.44 M (less than Orpik alone makes) on four quality defensemen.  You can’t beat that.   

Final Thoughts

Now to make this all work, the Pens have to be willing to commit to the young kids.  If I were writing this for Chicago, Montreal, or Edmonton I wouldn’t be concerned, but knowing how the Pens development system works I have my doubts that they’ll fully commit to these young guns.  However, how they’re developed isn’t up to me and I’m just basing my lack of faith in the Pens development system on observations in the recent pasts of other prospects.  Just because the coaching staff in my opinion mishandled the development of Despres and Jeffrey doesn’t mean they will do the same with Maatta, Harrington, Pouliot, and Dumoulin.  In fact, I expect to see Maatta on a one way contract for the 2014-15 season at the latest.  

So if you were worried that the Pens would hurt from losing Orpik, don’t be.  Losing Orpik and signing young guys to entry level deals would leave the Pens with more cap space to sign bottom six forwards, an area in which the Pens are not quite as deep in this year.  Also, Fleury’s contract is up at the end of the 2014-15 season.  That will bring with it a lot of questions to which we don’t yet know the answers to.  It will all come down to how he performs these next two years, especially in the postseason.  But again, that’s for another post on another day.  

The Pens and Brooks Orpik have had a good relationship over the years, but I think it’s time for both parties to move on.

All numbers for AAVs of players contracts and contract length are from capgeek.com (x)