2013-14 Utica Comets: Analytical Year in Review

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If you’ve been reading my weekly prospect reports here throughout the season, you noticed that I’ve been sprinkling in AHL #fancystats here and there whenever I could. Well, now that it’s over we’ve got ourselves a large enough sample size to deconstruct everything, and attempt to make sense of what exactly happened to the Utica Comets in 2013-14.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, most of this stuff should make intuitive sense since it’s just an extension of what we use to analyze the Canucks on this platform. If not, don’t worry, because it’s all fairly simple and broken down into easy-to-read segments as we go along.

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Just to shill myself — if you have an AHL blog, or an NHL blog, and want the equivalent data for your (farm) team let me know. You can also feel free to follow me @joshweissbock (my personal account), and @nuckprospects for the latest in Canucks prospects news and stats. 

For now make sure you’ve your snacks handy, settle in, and continue past the jump for an extensive report filled with all sorts of interesting little analytical nuggets. 


Cam Charron posted this image towards the end of April which was inspired by the guys at @JapersRink; it suggests that the success (or lack thereof) of an NHL’s team can be forecasted by the success of their AHL team. Well, in the last few years the Canucks’ farm team hasn’t had much success and more recently neither has Vancouver. So that checks out. 

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We also have the Filipovic Rule, which suggests that the interest of a fanbase in their prospects has an inverse relationship with how well the parent club is currently performing. Once again, that checks out with the Canucks. With the parent club having their worst campaign in recent memory, a lot of attention shifted to how the kids were doing in Utica with the Comets.

While the Comets may’ve deceived some casual fans with their final record, there are some layers there that need to be taken into consideration. The made an admirable last-ditch effort for a playoff spot after a disastrous start to their inaugural season, and a lot of it had to do with some underlying numbers that we’d been harping on in the weekly reports right from the get-go.


The Comets ended the year 4 points out of a playoff spot, sitting at 3rd in their division, 10th in the conference and 19th in the league overall. The team posted the above photo for their own year in review, and in addition to it, have their own post on up called “Comets by the numbers“. The biggest thing to take away from that snazzy graphic is the points percentage by month; specifically the first month.  

They definitely improved as the year went on, that much we know. But *why* did they start winning more games as the year went along? What spurred their improved success?

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If you’re a fan of this site, or hockey analytics, you probably have a healthy appreciation for the importance of puck possession. Teams that have the puck more often over the long-term are more likely to score, less likely to be scored against, and as a result, have a higher chance of winning games.  

In the NHL we measure possession with Fenwick or Corsi, but in the AHL we don’t have the luxury of detailed play-by-play sheets, which means we have to improvise instead. Thankfully we have smart people like Nick Emptage who looked into the correlation of Shot For% and Fenwick Close and found an r-value of .925. Looking at just the first two periods of each game helps further reduce the impact of score effects that are most common in the third period, when the game is more likely to be out of reach for one of the two teams.

So with all of that in mind, how did the Comets perform? At the end of the regular season the Comets were tied for 15th place in possession with the Hamilton Bulldogs at 49.55%. We can see, by evaluating their PDO, (Sh%+Sv%) they were quite “unlucky” this year with a 98.86%. Most of this has to do with the suppressed save percentage of their goaltenders (.9076), but it surely didn’t help that they only shot 8.10% as a team. If you’re looking to reference these numbers to those from across the league, you can do so right here.

The thing about possession in the AHL is that it can have a lot of wild swings in either direction depending on the moves the parent club makes over the course of the season. If they call up a key contributor, that could result in a pronounced dip. The same holds true in the other direction, if a player is sent down for whatever reason. The AHL is a farm league, and these sorts of moves occur all of the time.  

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Understanding that possession is much more volatile given these circumstances, here’s a visual look at the peaks and valleys the Comets experienced themselves:


Near the beginning of the year the Comets weren’t all that good a possession team, and I’d wager to guess that part of this had to do with the team playing together for the first time. By the end of November, Cal O’Reilly joined the lineup, and there was a huge improvement seen around the 25-30 game mark.

From there the Comets were fairly steady until the end of the season, when they saw a number of key players (Corrado, Jensen) called up to Vancouver, while other core members were injured (Tommernes, Stuart, Ferriero).

Overall, it’s hard to take too much issue with this part of the equation, particularly for an expansion-level team that was behind the eight-ball to begin with. It would’ve been a non-issue altogether, if not for..


Name Sv% GS Shutout Shutout% QS QS% RBS RBS% Bail Outs BO%
Eriksson 0.911 51 5 9.80% 28 54.90% 11 21.57% 1 1.96%
Cannata 0.907 23 0 0.00% 14 60.87% 4 17.39% 0 0.00%
Corbeil 0.9 2 0 0.00% 1 50.00% 1 50.00% 0 0.00%

Note: I included Corbeil even though he only played in 3 games, and started just 2 of them. Obviously that sample size is so minuscule that it’s really impossible to draw any sorts of conclusions from his numbers.

I should point out that we define a “Quality Start” for a goaltender as one in which he starts the game, and gives his team the best chance to win by posting a by posting greater than league average
in save percentage (.911 as per Raw Charge),
or saving greater than 88.5% of the shots he faced while allowing 2 or fewer goals. I was somewhat surprised
to see that Cannata actually had a higher percentage of QS than
Eriksson considering the latter’s superior overall numbers, but this could be due to a smaller workload.

Looking at the Really Bad Starts (RBS) — the opposite of a QS, where a
goalie posts < 85%, or between 85-87% and allowing 5+ goals —  Eriksson once again looked worse than his backup. 

Bail Outs (BOs) are an interesting concept, which we’re just starting to really look into; it’s the number of games in which your team wins despite the starting goalie posting a RBS. Unsurprisingly, given the talent in the Comets forwards, Utica only had
1 BO all year. That came on March 8th against the Binghamton Senators when the Comets were down 5-1 and ended up winning 6-5.

Let’s dive deeper into the numbers:


I included a couple of trends here to try and help paint a clearer picture of the overall performance. There’s the game-by-game Sv% (which as expected is the
most erratic), the rolling 10-game Sv%, the cumulative average and
the season average.

There’s three unique points I noticed right off the bat which I’d like to point out. The first
is Eriksson’s abysmal start to the year; this was a large part in why the Comets went
0-8-1-1 in their first 10 games, and I’d imagine that the adaption to North American hockey had a lot to do with it. 

About a third of the way into the season Eriksson started to settle into
his groove and figure this here thing out. He tightened up his play, and as a result
his save percentage started increasing steadily with each start. It increased all the way up to .916 at one point, which was pretty impressive given the early season struggles. Unfortunately he once again went through a lull in play as the year went along, and I wondered whether the large number of back-to-back starts he was being asked to handle were impairing his play by tiring him out. After all, he clearly wasn’t used to this large a workload, and his postseason save percentage in 2011-12 also dropped as his number of games played increased.

In reality, though, it’s quite possible we’re dealing with a sample size issue here; maybe he peaked when he was on a hot streak, and towards the end of the year the dip was just a regression back to his norm.

Finally, in the least fancy of all of my stats, I should note that he’s currently sitting at a .806 save %, 10.0 GAA in his NHL career based off of the one relief appearance he made during the 9 goals against game in Anaheim in the middle of the season. Either he’ll improve on those numbers, or we just wasted a whole lot of digital ink for no apparent reason..


We should discuss Cannata’s campaign, but it’s just not as exciting considering he was the backup this season. While I still believe he should’ve probably been in the ECHL, getting more starts to work on his craft, it’s hard to argue with having him eat up the occasional start for the Comets instead of Corbeil.

Cannata started off the year in net and similar to Eriksson he didn’t perform all that well; for both of these
goalies this may have been a result of the team in front of them
learning the system. After the team went through its growing pains, just like Eriksson, he improved his performance for the most part. By the end of the year, Cannata was riding a personal high. 

After the last game, Cannata told reporters that he started playing better when he stopped
focusing on when he was going to start games and rather started focusing on the things he could actually control himself. There may be some truth to this since he did improve over the
year, but it also sounds a tad-bit cliche. While Eriksson will be starting in net next year in Utica once again, Cannata is an
RFA this summer, which means it’ll be interesting to see how the Canucks handle things. Will they re-sign him to be the backup? Will they trade him for a pick? Or will they draft another goalie later in the draft, signalling that Cannata is more bottom-of-bin goaltending depth than anything else? 


I am including Corbeil in this section, but I can’t say anything of importance about
him. He started 2 games, posted a shutout in one, and came into a game in relief in another. We can’t draw any conclusions from this small of a
sample size. That being said, his ECHL work suggests there is much to
be desired; in six games in the CHL he posted a .831, followed up by a .881 and a .911 with Gwinnett and Wheeling. Ouch. 


# Player GP G A PTS PPG SOG SOG/G SH% IPP On-Ice Goals NHLe Contract
17 Nicklas Jensen (X) 54 15 6 21 0.39 147 2.72 10.2 0.48 44 13 ELC 15/16
78 Benn Ferriero 54 19 20 39 0.72 145 2.69 13.1 0.74 53 24 UFA
24 Brandon DeFazio 76 17 17 34 0.45 204 2.68 8.3 0.69 49 15 RFA
10 Colin Stuart 54 17 8 25 0.46 139 2.57 12.2 0.64 39 15 UFA
28 Alexandre Grenier (X) 68 17 22 39 0.57 156 2.29 10.9 0.62 63 19 ELC 14/15
25 Darren Archibald (X) 59 10 12 22 0.37 126 2.14 7.9 0.56 39 12 RFA
23 Pascal Pelletier 69 22 40 62 0.90 138 2.00 15.9 0.83 75 29 UFA
7 Henrik Tommernes (X) 54 4 14 18 0.33 103 1.91 3.9 0.39 46 11 ELC 14/15
3 Alex Biega 73 3 19 22 0.30 133 1.82 2.3 0.35 63 10 UFA
15 Jeremy Welsh 49 7 8 15 0.31 86 1.76 8.1 0.56 27 10 UFA
26 Frank Corrado (X) 59 6 11 17 0.29 94 1.59 6.4 0.37 46 9 ELC 14/15
14 Patrick Mullen 46 7 13 20 0.43 72 1.57 9.7 0.49 41 14 N/A
4 Yann Sauve (X) 67 1 13 14 0.21 104 1.55 1 0.37 38 7 RFA
16 Cal O’Reilly 52 7 38 45 0.87 78 1.50 9 0.74 61 28 AHL SPC
19 Kellan Lain (X) 63 7 12 19 0.30 75 1.19 9.3 0.73 26 10 ELC 14/15
8 Alex Friesen (X) 54 6 14 20 0.37 64 1.19 9.4 0.77 26 12 ELC 14/15
12 David Marshall 66 2 4 6 0.09 74 1.12 2.7 0.50 12 3 AHL SPC
9 Zach Hamill 21 3 6 9 0.43 23 1.10 13 0.60 15 14 N/A
5 Jeremie Blain (X) 6 0 0 0 0.00 6 1.00 0 0.00 3 0 ELC 15/16
44 Patrick Kennedy 40 1 4 5 0.13 40 1.00 2.5 0.50 10 4 AHL PTO
11 John Negrin 16 0 1 1 0.06 15 0.94 0 0.13 8 2 AHL SPC
40 Peter Andersson (X) 58 2 11 13 0.22 50 0.86 4 0.36 36 7 RFA
29 Kent Huskins 65 3 7 10 0.15 50 0.77 6 0.28 36 5 AHL SPC
21 Ludwig Blomstrand (X) 7 0 0 0 0.00 5 0.71 0 0.00 0 0 ELC 15/16
22 Ray Kaunisto 19 1 1 2 0.11 13 0.68 7.7 1.00 2 3 AHL PTO
27 Alex Mallet (X) 59 1 4 5 0.08 30 0.51 3.3 0.42 12 3 ELC 14/15
2 Adam Polasek 2 0 0 0 0.00 1 0.50 0 0.00 0 0 N/A
20 David Pacan (X) 3 0 0 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0 AHL SPC
2 Evan McEneny (X) 1 0 0 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0.00 0 0 AHL ATO

We now turn our attention to the individual skaters to see how they themselves performed this past year. Above is the main table of your traditional statistics for determining and analyzing offense.  Included are all players who played any sort of significant amount of time with the Comets, but mostly focusing on the Canucks players. I cut a bunch of ECHLers who only played 2 games, since their sample size is not large enough, and let’s be honest you probably don’t care about them on this blog. But don’t you worry, Ludwig Blomstrand made the cut! The players with an (X) are players who are typically identified as the Canucks Prospects.

The stats that are included in this table are: Games Played (GP), Goals (G), Assists (A), Points (P), Points-Per-Game (PPG), Shots on Goal (SOG), Shots On Goal / Game (SOG/G), Shooting Percentage (Sh%), Individual Points Percentage (IPP) and NHL Equivalency Points.

If you have knowledge of analytics you know that shot-based data is always better than goal-based data given that players have more control over shots and that shots provide us with a larger sample size. For that reason my preference is to look at the players with the highest SOG/G. Nicklas Jensen led the Comets in this all season; he had the reputation of not being able to score but that was because he didn’t have any puck luck more than anything else, really. He held a 0% Sh% until January and after that it regressed to a much more normal 10.2%.

Shooting percentage, because of how volatile goals are, will regress for almost every single player over a large enough sample size. Some Comets players had terrible luck this year, especially on the back-end (most notably Biega, Tommernes and Sauve). One player who had a high Sh% that he won’t likely repeat is Pascal Pelletier (Ferriero as well). His 15.9% Sh% allowed him to earn 64 points, which was the second highest total in his career, only behind the 75 points he notched in 4 more games back in 2007-08 with Providence. His high Sh% is also reflected in his lower SOG/G and high IPP.

IPP is Individual Points Percentage and it’s the percentage of points you have compared to goals that have been scored while you were on the ice. Basically, it suggests how important you are to your teams offense.  Pelletier led the team in IPP, with Friesen right behind him, followed by O’Reilly and Ferriero.

Looking at some other Canucks prospects that we’ve yet to mention, Grenier in my opinion had the most unexpected season. He posted good numbers all over: a high SOG/G, a normal Sh%, and a respectable IPP. If not for an injury near the end of the year, his final numbers would look even more impressive. Kellan Lain on the other hand was quiet; he’s a bit trickier to analyze with goal-based statistics since goals simply don’t go in on either end of the ice with him out there. Yann Sauve, meanwhile, posted terrible numbers at both the AHL and NHL level, while Henrik Tommernes surely climbed up the Canucks defense depth charts with his strong campaign.  

Name Team Number Pos GP ES On-Ice GF ES On-Ice GA ES On-Ice Gf% ES Off-Ice GF ES Off-Ice GA ES Off-Ice Gf% ES Gf% Diff
Lain, Kellan Utica 19 F 63 25 19 56.82% 69 96 41.82% 15.00%
Negrin, John Utica 11 D 16 7 6 53.85% 14 22 38.89% 14.96%
Andersson, Peter Utica 40 D 58 33 31 51.56% 52 76 40.63% 10.93%
OReilly, Cal Utica 16 C 52 26 21 55.32% 51 63 44.74% 10.58%
DeFazio, Brandon Utica 24 LW 76 32 28 53.33% 82 108 43.16% 10.17%
Friesen, Alex Utica 8 C 54 21 18 53.85% 64 78 45.07% 8.78%
Lepine, Guillaume Utica 42 D 6 2 2 50.00% 6 8 42.86% 7.14%
Kennedy, Patrick Utica 44 LW 40 10 9 52.63% 50 58 46.30% 6.33%
Mallet, Alex Utica 27 C 59 12 11 52.17% 79 89 47.02% 5.15%
Hamill, Zach Utica 9 C 21 9 11 45.00% 20 30 40.00% 5.00%
Mullen, Patrick Utica 14 D 46 23 23 50.00% 45 54 45.45% 4.55%
Biega, Alex Utica 3 D 73 46 51 47.42% 65 82 44.22% 3.20%
Archibald, Darren Utica 25 LW 59 30 33 47.62% 57 71 44.53% 3.09%
Stuart, Colin Utica 10 LW 54 23 26 46.94% 57 67 45.97% 0.97%
Tommernes, Henrik Utica 7 D 54 23 30 43.40% 60 75 44.44% -1.04%
Kaunisto, Ray Utica 22 LW 19 2 3 40.00% 22 31 41.51% -1.51%
Jensen, Nicklas Utica 17 RW 54 23 27 46.00% 64 70 47.76% -1.76%
Pelletier, Pascal Utica 23 C 69 38 48 44.19% 69 78 46.94% -2.75%
Welsh, Jeremy Utica 15 C 49 19 24 44.19% 56 63 47.06% -2.87%
Grenier, Alexandre Utica 28 RW 68 29 37 43.94% 75 84 47.17% -3.23%
Huskins, Kent Utica 29 D 65 32 37 46.38% 69 70 49.64% -3.26%
Marshall, David Utica 12 F 66 12 17 41.38% 84 99 45.90% -4.52%
Corrado, Frank Utica 26 D 59 30 40 42.86% 59 64 47.97% -5.11%
Sauve, Yann Utica 4 D 67 27 49 35.53% 74 74 50.00% -14.47%
Ferriero, Benn Utica 78 RW 54 22 41 34.92% 61 60 50.41% -15.49%

Thankfully, the AHL does provide us with on-ice goal data which we can use to derive all kinds of analytics for. The problem with these is that goals suffer from a small sample size which give false interpretations of how good/bad a player truly is. We can look at a season’s worth of data to develop a better idea, but let’s be clear about something — they are not as good as shot-based data. For the AHL it’s all we have, which means that it’s better than nothing.

In the chart above we looked at every player’s Even Strength (ES) On-Ice rel Gf%. This is the goal version of Corsi rel, and allows us to see how the team performed with the player on versus off the ice, at even strength. 

From the leaders we can see Lain leading the pack but a lot of that has to do with the limited number of goals in total. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about how goals just don’t go in the net with him on the ice. This might be suggest he’s good defensively, but it may not necessarily mean that, and it’s not great that he’s not putting up any sort of meaningful points the other way. Andersson also showed off his defensive prowess by being way up the leaderboard.  

Cal O’Reilly, much like on the possession front, provided a much-needed shot in the arm for the Comets two months into the season and I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see him earn a look with the Canucks on their 4th line next year.

Friesen had very positive numbers, especially for a season where he started off with just 2 points in almost 40 games. Jensen was on the slight negative, which could be due to the lack of scoring he saw for half a season or it could be an area of weakness he needs to develop. For whatever it’s worth, John Tortorella praised his defensive play when he was up with the team. But then again, Tortorella was promptly fired, so what does he know?

At the bottom of the list is Sauve, which is not too surprising. Given that he is an RFA this summer I would be really surprised to see him re-signed. At this point he has probably worn out all of the shots a player can reasonably expect to get from one team. Corrado was also surprisingly at the bottom of the list, but honestly, that could very well be because of having been paired up with Sauve all year long.

Pelletier, Pascal 69 15.97 6.18 3.33 25.48
Ferriero, Benn 54 14.95 6.62 2.93 24.50
Biega, Alex 73 17.03 2.68 3.47 23.18
OReilly, Cal 52 11.58 7.76 3.50 22.85
Corrado, Frank 59 15.20 3.13 3.36 21.69
Sauve, Yann 67 14.53 1.89 3.07 19.50
Tommernes, Henrik 54 12.58 4.91 1.91 19.39
Grenier, Alexandre 68 12.44 5.76 0.82 19.02
Hamill, Zach 21 12.20 3.29 2.64 18.14
Stuart, Colin 54 11.63 3.42 3.08 18.12
Mullen, Patrick 46 12.81 4.51 0.52 17.84
Huskins, Kent 65 13.60 0.71 3.29 17.60
Andersson, Peter 58 14.14 0.60 1.78 16.51
Jensen, Nicklas 54 11.86 4.48 0.15 16.49
Welsh, Jeremy 49 11.24 1.88 2.91 16.04
Archibald, Darren 59 13.68 1.76 0.40 15.84
DeFazio, Brandon 76 10.12 2.58 1.98 14.68
Negrin, John 16 10.41 0.72 0.00 11.13
Friesen, Alex 54 9.25 1.07 0.29 10.62
Lain, Kellan 63 8.95 0.18 1.26 10.39
Kennedy, Patrick 40 6.09 0.00 0.20 6.28
Marshall, David 66 5.63 0.00 0.00 5.63
Mallet, Alex 59 5.00 0.00 0.00 5.00
Kaunisto, Ray 19 3.37 0.00 0.00 3.37

We can also use the on-ice goal data to help us estimate time-on-ice for players (which really needs to start being provided by the AHL soon!). It might not be perfect, but it’s as good an approximation as we can hope for. The two sets of data seem to sync up for the Comets, with the top players typically being those in the top six: Pelletier, Ferriero, Biega, O’Reilly, Corrado, Sauve, Tommernes and Grenier. Andersson is actually fairly high up, but he just doesn’t have the special teams time to inflate his total ice time. We see down at the bottom of the list is Lain who is typically in the third line type role and right at the bottom are the 4th line plugs, players such as Mallet and ECHL call-ups Kaunisto and Kennedy. 

On the power play the typical first unit was composed of O’Reilly, Ferriero, Pelletier, Grenier and Tommernes. Jensen and Corrado did receive some PP time, but over the year they were not the primary unit players. O’Reilly, Biega, Corrado and Pelletier were the main penalty killers. 

Another great thing we can do with on-ice data is see which other players one is both playing with and against. We can use the ES rel Gf% from earlier, and take the average of them to determine a player’s Quality of Competition (how tough the players are they are facing) and Quality of Teammates (how strong their linemates are). We present the numbers above for each player along with the rank on the team and the combined rank.

Name Team GP QoC Rank QoT Rank Average
ADAM POLASEK Utica 2 64.948 1 30.695 2 1.5
KELSEY WILSON Utica 9 52.14 5 30.24533333 1 3
MITCH WAHL Utica 2 55.156 4 33.424 4 4
DAVID PACAN Utica 3 59.288 3 37.253 7 5
BRETT LYON Utica 4 62.41 2 39.386 9 5.5
KYLE BUSHEE Utica 2 50.707 9 34.98823529 6 7.5
BRAYDEN IRWIN Utica 5 50.9690535 8 38.41801587 8 8
YANNICK WEBER Utica 7 51.19147059 7 39.48777778 10 8.5
FRANK CORRADO Utica 59 50.66285714 11 44.51819923 15 13
YANN SAUVE Utica 67 50.52834532 13 43.58526119 14 13.5
ZACH HAMILL Utica 21 50.46770701 15 43.42099379 13 14
BENN FERRIERO Utica 54 50.24648897 18 42.96542495 12 15
JEREMY WELSH Utica 49 50.66855457 10 46.2922561 25 17.5
NICKLAS JENSEN Utica 54 50.29779104 17 44.76526462 20 18.5
DAVID BOOTH Utica 3 48.21357143 35 31.95571429 3 19
CAL OREILLY Utica 52 50.56826804 12 46.98449304 29 20.5
COLIN STUART Utica 54 49.92102871 25 44.64437198 17 21
ALEX MALLET Utica 59 50.33608696 16 46.39608696 26 21
LUDWIG BLOMSTRAND Utica 7 32.796 38 34.878 5 21.5
HENRIK TOMMERNES Utica 54 49.80325301 27 44.55272109 16 21.5
KENT HUSKINS Utica 65 50.1676506 19 46.12040598 24 21.5
JOHN NEGRIN Utica 16 51.36724638 6 49.13028571 37 21.5
ZAC DALPE Utica 6 48.17527473 36 40.49 11 23.5
RAY KAUNISTO Utica 19 49.32333333 30 44.74266667 18 24
PASCAL PELLETIER Utica 69 49.46289106 29 44.7609905 19 24
GUILLAUME LEPINE Utica 6 50.06733333 21 46.62821429 27 24
DARREN ARCHIBALD Utica 59 49.48043956 28 45.51789894 23 25.5
DAVID MARSHALL Utica 66 49.24062069 31 44.88144828 21 26
ALEX BIEGA Utica 73 49.96193324 24 46.81763081 28 26
JORDAN SCHROEDER Utica 2 50.48642857 14 59.08571429 38 26
BRANDON DEFAZIO Utica 76 50.03546039 22 48.2637797 31 26.5
PATRICK MULLEN Utica 46 50.15116601 20 48.60491589 33 26.5
ALEXANDRE GRENIER Utica 68 48.96730924 32 45.33504638 22 27
ALEX FRIESEN Utica 54 50.02275556 23 48.84349558 35 29
KELLAN LAIN Utica 63 49.89690037 26 48.67781132 34 30
PETER ANDERSSON Utica 58 48.75904282 33 47.71233596 30 31.5
JEREMIE BLAIN Utica 6 44.2828 37 48.3968 32 34.5
PATRICK KENNEDY Utica 40 48.46232323 34 48.8452 36 35
EVAN MCENENY Utica 1 N/A 39 N/A 39 39
SACHA GUIMOND Utica 2 N/A 40 N/A 40 40
STEFAN CHAPUT Utica 3 N/A 41 N/A 41 41

Because QoC and QoT are based on on-ice events you need plenty of them for any real statistical analysis.  Players with low games played will have numbers that are a bit wonky, and as a result we won’t focus on them too much since they didn’t spend much time in the AHL. The higher the QoC, the tougher the opponents have been; the lower the QoT the harder production becomes for the player, given the worst quality of linemates. When you have a high QoC with a low QoT you have a difficult deployment while a player with low QoC and high QoT is probably sheltered (unfortunately, at this time we do not have zone start data). 

A reference point: for QoC the league average is 50% with a standard deviation of 2.9%, while for QoT the league average is 48.87% with a standard deviation of 7.12%. Players who have an N/A have not seen any on-ice data and we do not likely care about them as they probably have a low games played in the AHL.

Looking at the players most guys had a QoC within one standard deviation. Welsh had the toughest competition with Corrado and Cal O’Reilly just behind him. At the weak end was Patrick Kennedy which is no surprise as he was an ECHL 4th line filler while Peter Andersson was fairly weak too, probably explaining his high ES rel Gf%.  

In terms of Quality of Teammates, Ferriero had one of the weakest teammates all year which wouldn’t help his production (and he did come out with good offensive numbers, which was a testament to his strong play); Sauve and Corrado followed behind. The evidence is building up that Frank Corrado had one of the toughest deployments on the team, which is a good thing to keep in mind when evaluating his season as a while.  

The best way to put all this data together is with some usage charts!

Utica Comets Forwards

Usage Charts are composed of four parts. The x-axis is the Quality of Competition (left signifies easy opponents and right means more difficult). The y-axis is Quality of Teammates; when you play with strong players it will bring you to the top but weak opponents drops you. The size of your circle is your ice time and the the darker blue your circle is the better your ES rel Gf% is. You would like to be a big blue circle, most preferably in the bottom right corner. 

Zack Hamill did well in his short stint with Utica. Once again, Cal O’Reilly did really well here. Kellan Lain also looks pretty good in his limited ice time. Jensen managed to stay about even in a tough deployment, while Friesen looks good with average opponents but strong teammates.

Utica Comets Dmen

With regards to the defensemen, Andersson looks great against tough competition but he does have limited ice time and strong teammates. Tommernes is staying about even with more ice time, weak teammates, and average competition. Sauve looks like a complete tire fire while Corrado isn’t doing too bad with tougher competition, weak teammates and lots of ice time. It is no surprise Biega won defensemen of the year with his huge ice time, about average competition and teammates and a slight positive ES rel Gf%.

And just for fun, a few Comets played in Vancouver this year, so let’s see how they looked with an NHL Player Usage Chart:

Player usage chart - 10 players(1)


Based on all of the data, it’s safe to assume that the early season struggles for the Utica Comets were a combination of a new team that hadn’t really played together before, a goalie that was just getting used to playing in North America, and a slightly below average possession team as whole. Combining that with their 0-8-1-1 start, it’s pretty remarkable that they came as close to the postseason as they did. They were in the mix until the very end, and had they gotten some luck at the beginning of the year or played at their true talent level it’s likely they would have been competing for the Calder Cup.

For Canucks prospects, there’s definitely some positive signs to pick out for a few players. Frankie Corrado didn’t do all too bad in his first full season as a pro, while both Andersson and Tommernes are also looking good as defensive prospects. On the other end, while Nicklas Jensen received all of the attention, it was actually Alex Grenier who was turning the most heads. Friesen had a good end to his year, and Kellan Lain was strong defensively in his limited role.

Come July 1st we will start seeing roster changes both for the prospects, Comets signed players and Canucks players on 2-way contracts. In terms of the veterans I would like to see Pelletier, O’Reilly, DeFazio and Stuart back. But the Comets will also be joined by an influx of Canucks prospects from the college ranks (Zalewski, Costello), Dane Fox will likely be in Utica, and Gaunce could be sent to the AHL if he doesn’t go to the juniors as an Over-Ager (while Shinkaruk is AHL-eligible as well if he doesn’t make the Canucks). 

I definitely learned a lot this year in running this project, from using python for web-scraping, developing AHL analytics and evaluating prospects. I will continue to run with this and will keep posting the prospect reports over the summer (as long as there is news). As I continue to figure out new ways to derive analytics for the AHL I will continue to publish them. Finally, I’d like to thank you all for providing me with an audience all year long. 

If you have any questions or comments feel free to send them my way!

  • Torts

    Great analysis. Nice article. Hopefully our resident Idiot can read this. It’s nice to see empirical evidence in regards to how stupid our local troll really is.

    Comets did offer some hope especially with the finish. I’m hoping Gaunce, Hunter, Fox etc go to Utica and develop properly. No need to rush people up like we did with Jensen.

    • Torts

      “No need to rush people up like we did with Jensen.”

      There’s no need to rush now after 44 years. In fact, tell the cavalry to stay put.

      Stanley Cup, we don’t need it tight now.

      • argoleas

        You’re a special kind of stupid, aren’t you? Why not go get some 12 year olds to play in the NHL too? Wow. First Idiot00 now you. Now there are TWO villages without their local idiots!

        • Mantastic

          You know Ted, if you were smart and had standards you wouldn’t be such a tool for that lousy team known as the Canucks and you wouldn’t be angry all the time.

          But you are a tool and you aren’t even smart enough to hide it and you are angry all the time.

          You’re pretty bad at math too. Canuck = sucking. You like Canucks = they stink = you like things that stink = you’re a stink lover.

          Add it up before you blow another vein from toolabetes.

  • Excellent work Josh.

    I don’t think there is much more you can do with publicly available AHL statistics.

    This piece actually provided me with significant fact-based knowledge that I didn’t have before reading. This shouldn’t be a rare thing, but it sort of is.

    I didn’t know that Corrado played with weak teammates and posted weak possession numbers.

    I had an idea that Ferriero was putting up points thanks to some lucky percentages, but didn’t know how much his teammates mitigated that luck.

    I liked what I was seeing from Cannata, but didn’t know that he was more consistent than Eriksson in his small sample size.

    If you don’t mind, I will certainly use this information over at DobberProspects.com, and will likely link you in the ramblings.

    Can someone who has consistently watched the comets play comment on whether Lain’s estimated TOI numbers seem reasonable?
    I get the feeling that he may play more than the numbers suggest, but that he reduces scoring at both his end (good defensive play) and the other end (limited offense) of the ice.

  • argoleas

    Excellent article — I found the bail-out stat particularly interesting for goalies. It sounds like the experiment we ended up with at the NHL level (two inexperienced goalies as a tandem at the end of the season) is what we started with in the AHL and had disastrous results with. It makes for a compelling case to try and sign some stronger goaltending for next year. It doesn’t sound/look like Ericsson’s anywhere near ready to get some games in at the NHL level, not that Markstrom is about to be displaced as a backup I suppose.

    I can’t see any point in resigning Sauve either, he’s looked so terrible in his call ups. But this gives more evidence that he’s not much good in the AHL either.

    • I thought it was interesting as well.

      I disagree on Eriksson a bit actually, I think he is ready to play the occasional game as the injury call-up and will be ready as full-time NHL backup not next season but the season after. He has a very good track record, and I expect him to dominate the AHL next year.

      His first 20 games can be attributed to the different sized ice and a completely terrible Comet’s squad that started from zero (and stayed at zero for an extraordinary amount of games). If you discount those games, as well as those which were the second of a back-to-back (he was ridden way too much, and that shouldn’t happen at the NHL level), his stats are sparkling across the board. I’m on mobile right now, but I can get back to you with the exact stats. Josh might have the stats handy, if it’s easy for you to do maybe compare those cherry picked Eriksson stats to the same cherry picked stats for Schneider and Lack in the AHL (I.e. Throw out their worst 20 game chunk along with back-to-backs). I bet he comes out favourably.

      • To be clear, I don’t mean to imply that I think Ericsson has no potential, just that the learning curve from league to league means that he isn’t ready for the jump yet. I remember Schneider’s transition from an excellent NCAA goalie to the AHL was really rough his first year, I think he only figured it out about halfway through it. And his first game in the NHL he got absolutely shelled by the Sharks. I think it makes sense to let Ericsson really learn his game before bringing him up. Markstrom has already (I think/hope) figured things out in the AHL but if his game is being broken and remade for the NHL one would think he’d be the one getting 20-25 games to learn more. Or maybe it makes more sense to have him try out his new style in the AHL? I think it still doesn’t make much sense to go into next season with 2 of the 3 Swedish goalies we have as our tandem. Of the UFAs on the market next year the only ones who aren’t exceptionally old (Thomas, Brodeur, Vokoun), bad (Bryzgalov, Dubnyk, Emery) are Miller, Halak and Elliott. Kind of slim pickings given what we’d have to commit to the first and the unreliability of the last two outside of a really good system.

        • Haha that wouldn’t be the least accurate statement in the world.
          If Corbeil counts as a goaltending prospect, you are wrong.

          But seriously, I was higher on both Schneider and Lack than most people. That worked out pretty well.
          I’m also higher on Eriksson and Cannata than most. If we people forgot where we were, and thought this was Nashville for the past five years, we would be lauded as a goalie factory.

          I honestly think all three of our Swedish goalies will become starters, given the opportunity. Markstrom was heralded as the next HoF-level goalie. Given his hip injuries and technique issues, I’d actually give him the lowest shot of being a starter of the three. His potential is still sky-high though.
          I think most of us know what we have in Lack, and he looks like he can be a full time starter next year, though it might take another year before he is ready to produce consistently with a workhorse number of games.

          Eriksson has put up great stats for the last few years, and absolutely dominated the SHL. He had a bad first chunk of the season, and was bad when the coach wore him down, but I don’t see why people think he won’t become a starter.

          Cannata will likely max out as an NHL backup, but he was up for the Hobey Baker a couple of years ago.

          I’m aware of how volatile goaltending prospects are, and many many “sure thing” prospects don’t become starters either due to injury or lack of opportunity.

          What don’t you like about our goalies? That they won’t lead us deep into the playoffs next year? You are damn right they won’t. We aren’t going to win the cup next year, but I think we can win the cup with one of the Swedes in the cease… And developing them would be good for this franchise in the long term.

          • Mantastic

            are you serious? a goaltending factory? produce 1 NHL starting goalie and you’re ready to call Vancouver a goaltending factory?

            The problem I have with the goalies is purely your evaluation on them, when predicting goalies is Voodoo at best. pumping their tires only to be deflated within a year.

            last year alone, you proclaimed that Cannata would be an NHL starter for sure.

          • Nope. Didn’t say he was going to be a starter for sure. I said he had starter potential, and I still think that would be true. He just happens to have a tough road to become even an AHL starter.

            I don’t think we are a goaltending factory, I think “goaltending factories” are mostly made-up. Yes, goaltending is super volatile, especially at the prospect stage. But we have been lucky/smart enough to have a really nice run of goalies lately. I was saying that if Schneider/Lack/Eriksson all came out of Nashville in a five year span, they would be lauded to no end.

            We just happen to be a “goaltending graveyard” (though that has everything to do with how we treat our starters, and nothing about how we develop our prospects.

            I’m not saying that all of our goalies will be starters.
            See: “I’m aware of how volatile goaltending prospects are, and many many “sure thing” prospects don’t become starters either due to injury or lack of opportunity.” from my last post.

            I’m saying that I really really like our goalie prospect depth, and that we have three young goalies that you could legitimately project to be average or better NHL starters from now. The fact that we have three of them means that, notwithstanding some savvy asset management, it is unlikely for more than one of them to reach their potential.

            Find me another team with four young goalies that project as well as the Canucks.
            Anderson and Gibson for the Ducks are probably better, and if Rask counts as young still, then the Bruins win with Rask/Svedberg/Subban.

          • Mantastic

            I think you’re a little overly hopeful about the goalies but I don’t think that’s by any means the weakest part of our prospect pool (not exactly high praise I know). I also think Cannata’s decent — I saw him play in Hockey East (same conference that produced Ben Bishop and Corey Schneider more recently) and he was very good. His ceiling is lower than Markstrom’s but he could make it as a backup, more likely an AHL starter. It will be interesting to see how Lack does next year — if he and Markstrom can actually both handle half a season that seems a better option than getting what’s available on the free agent market.

          • Fair enough. Markstrom’s ceiling is still ridiculous, and I think Cannata has the lowest ceiling of the four. I agree with you though, he could definitely be a NHL backup/AHL starter, and if absolutely everything went right he could have a shot at starting.

          • Mantastic


            Lack and Eriksson aren’t even NHL average starters, no one would be lauding them if they literally were pumped out of a factory that made goalies right now.

            one statement you say that goaltending projection is volatile, the next you proclaim the canucks prospects legitimately project to be average or better NHL starters… seriously?!

            again, i could not give a crap about how well goaltending prospects project because it’s witchcraft and there is zero consistency or linear projection in development of goaltenders. any teams goaltending prospects can develop to become amazing elite goaltenders…

          • How should one speak about prospects then?

            Come on, man. You know what I mean.

            The Canucks prospects aren’t sure things, but they have a much better chance of producing a top-level starter than other system’s projects.

            Do you really think that in 10 years, Zatkoff and Hartzell from the Penguins will have more wins than Markstrom and Eriksson?

            If it is such a crapshoot, maybe trade our system for Philly’s?

            Or maybe the Canadiens. Dustin Tokarski is roughly the same age as our three goalies… Is it so random that Tokarski has the same chance of being a top-end NHL goalie as Lack/Markstrom/Eriksson do?

            All I am saying is that, thus far, they are progressing in a way comparable to others that end up becoming NHL goalies. Many goalies don’t become starters until 26 or so, and our goalies aren’t that far away.

            How much time have you actually put in at looking at goalie development patterns and variance, or are you just pulling all of this out of your butt? Yes, there is a tonne of luck involved, but some goalies have a much better chance than others.

          • Mantastic

            everyone drafts and acquire goaltending prospects to be starters one day, they don’t hope to draft for back-ups or AHL starters. so I don’t see how the “canucks system” is better than any other. they have produced ONE NHL starter. all the rest are still giant question marks.

            i honestly don’t know if Zatkoff and Hartzell will have more wins than Markstrom and Eriksson and neither do you! but it’s safe to say the goaltender with the better team in front will most likely have more wins then one with a worse team in front of them.

            Erikkson was part of Philly’s system before… so….

            I’ve looked at goalies a lot and probably a lot more than you, because if you look at the numbers, they never translate between leagues well. goalies with stellar sv% in SHL more often than not, don’t translate well in the NHL.

            Conclusion: most goalies don’t pan out, what makes the Canucks an exception?

          • Mantastic

            That’s true, if somewhat selective. There was a lot of surprise when Philly didn’t re-sign Ericsson so I don’t know that it was because he wasn’t a decent prospect. I also don’t know that there’s no translation between leagues — I know there’s probably ten “Monster”‘s for every King Henrik — but Lundqvist did dominate here after tearing up Sweden, much like Thomas dominating the Finnish league before coming back to the NHL.

            I also don’t see why goalies are so much more of a coin-flip in your opinion than any other prospect. There’s as many busts amongst skaters as goalies and both can improve on natural talent with the right coaching.

            I think you’re undervaluing the Canucks goaltending prospects as much as I think Austin might be overvaluing them. I think we’re somewhere in the middle of the pack and definitely have moved from goaltending as a position of considerable strength to one that’s relatively suspect.

          • Mantastic

            goalies just don’t progress in the same way as other skating prospects, their development isn’t linear nor is evaluation at a young age accurate. that makes them more volatile than any other kind of prospects out there.

            skating prospects that score a lot in junior translates better to the NHL than goaltenders that have high sv%, it’s just the way it works, look at a large enough sample and you will see the same thing.

            i’m not undervaluing just canuck goalie prospects, i’m undervaluing ALL goaltending prospects.

          • Mantastic

            You could say the same about D-men though. It’s taken Hedman and Ekman-Larsen five years to find their game at anywhere near the level of Tavares and Duchesne.

            The draft isn’t a complete crapshoot but there is a fair amount of luck in predicting that 16-17-18 year-old performances will translate into the pros. Of course some teams have been historically better at spinning the wheel than others. My team has not.

          • Mantastic

            yes but their development is somewhat linear in d-men, yes they take longer to develop than forwards but at least their projections are much more reliable than predicting goalies. that’s what 90% of the goalies go mid to late rounds and very rarely do any get drafted in the top 2 rounds due to the large variability, i’m not the only one else that sees that, NHL teams do the same.

  • Excellent article — I found the bail-out stat particularly interesting for goalies. It sounds like the experiment we ended up with at the NHL level (two inexperienced goalies as a tandem at the end of the season) is what we started with in the AHL and had disastrous results with. It makes for a compelling case to try and sign some stronger goaltending for next year. It doesn’t sound/look like Ericsson’s anywhere near ready to get some games in at the NHL level, not that Markstrom is about to be displaced as a backup I suppose.

    I can’t see any point in resigning Sauve either, he’s looked so terrible in his call ups. But this gives more evidence that he’s not much good in the AHL either.

  • Does anyone know what happened to the rangers? The pens are storming back with two consecutive shut outs! And the rangers power play hasn’t scored in 29 straight games! Not to mention the team look predictable with no push back or answers on the ice. Where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, AV from Vancouver, that’s where! Haha!

    Where are the AV fans now? Play off sleeper AV is going to get knocked out in the second round again with his classic stoned AV look we are all used to seeing. The look that says, I have no idea how to coach, especially in the play offs.
    This is what happens when you have a coach who never learned from his mistakes.

    That luck Stanley Cup final run with Van is the only thing that got him the job in NY. The guy is a Sedin and the Canucks core, just can not get it done and never will.

      • argoleas

        “Check how many games the Rangers played in the last week or so. They are worn out.”

        But but but… how could they be worn out? I thought the great AV knew how to use his players well so that they don’t get worn out or tired like Torts?

        The great AV knew how to pamper his players to get the best out of them when he was here with the Canucks so this shouldn’t be an issue for them. Now can you imagine if they had the Sedins and Edler, they would be lighting it up….not.

  • Anyone else notice a similarity between the Kings run the last 5 games and 2012?!

    In ’12 it took the last game of the year to make the playoffs then boom! Yes San Jose was up 3-0 but they didn’t deserve to win the 3rd game and now the Kings are up 2-0 going home vs the Ducks. It reminds me of the frustrating 1st round series vs the Kings in which Danny was out because of Kieth and they just couldn’t beat Quick….. Then all it took was on e turn over and boom! The San Jose playoff loss was embarrassing because of a lack of effort, but this Kings team is frustrating too play against. The Ducks out skated out shot out everything end except for the final score.

    A good regular season doesn’t always mean an automatic birth in the finals. This year was a n anomaly in my eyes. Yes there needs to be a serious youth infusion plus a quality FA shake up but with a proper coach the Canucks still have some life left ,

    The Canadians and Kings show that the Playoffs are a season all unto themselves .

    • Mantastic

      I don’t think the Canadians are anywhere near the Kings. And I think for the Kings it’s all about Quick — the difference between the first 3 games of the SJ series and the last four.

      I think the Kings should be the favorite to win the Cup — better goaltending than Chicago, better depth than Boston. The Penguins have Fleury who despite his goalposts is capable of Tommy Salo moments at the drop of a hat.

      • Mantastic

        I agree the Kings are better than the Habs, but I was pointing out that teams that were so so in the regular season can hit a stride and be unbeatable in the playoff second season.

        A Kings/Hawks and Habs/Pens semis would be some fun hockey to watch.

        P.S trolls out there look at what a change can do for guys like Richards, Carter Gaborik….. The right coach and a GM that can wheel and deal could put the Nucks back in the thick of things. Kass/Jensen/Horvat/Corrado give four young players that can inject youth add in FAs and a stale core can become hungry once again.

  • Mantastic

    I really appreciate the analysis. Thanks for the interesting read!

    I’m honestly hoping we get that influx of 6 or so prospects into Utica just to see how next year will shake out, especially if those players include Fox, Gaunce, and Shinkaruk.

    Also, you really have to figure that if the goalie situation stays as it is, it’s going to be a battle between Markstrom and Eriksson for the backup position in Vancouver next season.

    Also, I know we all enjoy hockey, but don’t forget to get out and enjoy your summer!

  • Mantastic

    Well well well, the Rangers are now down 3-1 in the series. looks like second round AV is back to being the best he can be…losing in the second round. Maybe Sather can hire Gillis as AV’s new assistant.