Asset Managment and Defensive Defencemen

Being a first-class organization in the National Hockey League requires a lot of different things. This isn’t the dusty copy of NHL 2001 for PlayStation that’s sitting on your abandoned CD rack in the attic; you can’t just trade players for players one overall higher than them until you’ve built an all-star team. You can’t just keep trading draft picks from five years down the line until your career mode finishes. Most importantly, the Salary Cap is a thing that exists now, and building a competitive roster has to be relative to a dollar restriction.

Keeping all of this in mind, I present you a comparison.

Player A

All Statistics other than Corsi-For Rel (PK) at Even Strength

Year GP G A 1A P G60 A60 1A60 P60 iCF60 CF% CFRel ZS% ZSRel CFRelPK
15/16 64 2 6 2 8 0.12 0.35 0.12 0.47 8.26 46.4 -3.3 42.7 -8.8 -4.7
14/15 76 4 5 0 9 0.21 0.27 0 0.48 9.83 49.4 -3.2 42.9 -12 2.1
13/14 65 3 5 2 8 0.19 0.32 0.13 0.51 11.73 51.2 -1.2 50.8 0.1 0.9
12/13 32 0 2 0 2 0 0.23 0 0.23 9.01 47.5 -3.6 54.6 -0.6 -4.8
11/12 72 2 5 3 7 0.13 0.32 0.19 0.44 9.47 49.1 -0.5 51.4 2.3 -2.9

Player A is a 6’5, 200something pound Canadian defenceman who is 24 or 25 years old. I forget. People praise Player A for his surprising mobility in spite of his frame, and despite his focus on being a shutdown defenceman, he’s capable of making smart decisions with the puck when need be. Player A is praised for his leadership qualities, and while in hindsight we question picking him as high in the draft as his team did, the team that chose him was happy with him for years until a situation they felt was more favourable came along and they made a trade.

The underlying numbers show that Player A isn’t overly effective offensively and that his relative possession numbers are poor. That may be due to his heavier-than-most defensive zone usage and the emphasis on him being a shutdown defenceman, but I wouldn’t expect a Norris out of them in the long run. Realistically, they’re a #6 defenceman on most teams.

Player B

All Statistics other than Corsi-For Rel (PK) at Even Strength

Year GP G A 1A P G60 A60 1A60 P60 iCF60 CF% CFRel ZS% ZSRel CFRelPK
15/16 37 0 4 2 4 0 0.45 0.23 0.45 7.14 42.5 -5.2 43.9 -7.3 2
14/15 54 2 4 1 6 0.15 0.29 0.07 0.44 6.78 48.1 -3.2 45.9 -4.4 9.2
13/14 68 6 7 3 13 0.32 0.38 0.16 0.7 6.34 50.9 -1.1 50.4 0.3 -1.5
12/13 7 1 0 0 1 0.53 0 0 0.53 8.43 57.1 -1.5 62.2 1.4 -10.3
11/12 82 3 9 3 12 0.15 0.45 0.15 0.6 5.9 51.9 -0.6 56.5 2.5 -0.8

Player B is a 6’5, 200something pound Canadian defenceman who is 24 or 25 years old. I forget. People praise Player B for his surprising mobility in spite of his frame, and despite his focus on being a shutdown defenceman, he’s capable of making smart decisions with the puck when need be. Player B is praised for his leadership qualities, and while in hindsight we question picking him as high in the draft as his team did, the team that chose him was happy with him for years until a situation they felt was more favourable came along and they made a trade.

The underlying numbers show that Player B isn’t overly effective offensively and that his relative possession numbers are poor. That may be due to his heavier-than-most defensive zone usage and the emphasis on him being a shutdown defenceman, but I wouldn’t expect a Norris out of them in the long run. Realistically, they’re a #6 defenceman on most teams.

The Players

One of these players is Erik Gudbranson. The team that traded him away, the Florida Panthers, moved him months after the GM they moved out of office gave him a one-year, $3.5 million bridge contract. Adding a fifth round pick, the Panthers were able to get Jared McCann. McCann was one of the Vancouver Canucks’ best prospects and had above-water numbers in just about every regard, despite being 19 years old playing crappy minutes on a 28th place team. Vancouver also gave up the 33rd and 93rd overall picks in this year’s draft to make the trade happen.

The Canucks plan to make Gudbranson a significant part of their defensive core. Gudbranson’s most frequent partner at even strength this year was elite possession defenceman Brian Campbell.

One of these players is Jared Cowen. The team that traded him away, the Ottawa Senators, moved him with Colin Greening and Milan Michalek in an attempt to get every bad contract they had off the books to make room for Dion Phaneuf. The Senators had to give up one of their better prospects in Tobias Lindberg, a 2nd round pick in 2017, and take on a bunch of Toronto’s D prospects to balance out the contracts, going so far as to loan Matt Frattin back to the team. Not to mention, they took on Dion Phaneuf with no salary retention. 

The Leafs feel that Cowen’s remaining year of service at $3.1 million is such a misalignment in value that they publicly announced that they would be scratching him for the entire season to minimize the chance of injury before buying him out in the summer. Cowen is expected to make somewhere between league minimum and $1 million if a team decides to take a chance on him at some point this summer. Most likely, he’ll have to sign a Pro Tryout to prove he can still keep up. Cowen’s most frequent partner at even strength this season was Chris Wideman, who somehow manages to be the bad Wideman.

Neither of these two players are particularly good. But one cost a King’s ransom and the other will be basically free in five weeks.

Which of these two is Player A, and which is Player B?

  • On every wall of every basement of every bloggers den, should be the words (of a man smarter and worldlier than most) “In life there are three kinds of untruths: lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

    Without context, all of the numbers quoted above become meaningless.

    As would returning for more.

    Context is King.

    Nuff’ said.

  • Cageyvet

    So many great responses to a piss-poor article. The quality of responses (I try my best to ignore the lunatics) and links provided to articles that are credible and provide excellent, balanced insight is why I still come to the site.

    It sure isn’t for the original articles, their quality is dropping like a stone, and actually casting analytics in a bad light. I would be shocked to see CA refer back to their earlier articles that prove the usefulness of their predictions and criticisms.

    So far, the only reference to their past acumen, or lack thereof, has come from the fan base pointing out they are far from infallible themselves. Yet, in an amazing display of arrogance, they continue to make snap judgements, play fast and loose with the numbers, and seem determined to slant every article against the Canucks brass, using whatever methods are required. I expect Hockey Warrior to be their next managing editor, that’s what I think of their ability to assess talent, lol.

  • Cageyvet

    I don’t think Jeff gets it.

    He has been complaining on twitter since this article has been posted saying that fans dont ‘get it’, and that he should not be questioned because Cam Charron use to write here.

    Jeff, with all due respect your not getting it. I don’t think the trade was that great either, but the way in which you tried to analyze it was simplistic at best, basic at worst.

    If your going to use analytics on THIS SITE, you best bring your best, Cam Charron, Josh, etc have set the standard. You didn’t do that, so people are upset.

    You can hide and cry on twitter all you want, but that doesn’t make it correct. Write that the trade sucks, Im fine with that and may even agree, but if your going to use analytics, use analytics, not whatever this was.

    And stop complaining on twitter, your coming off as insecure and immature. When Bob McKenzie says something that people don’t like, he doesn’t sit there and troll him all day, he’s a professional. Look at what others are doing and how they handle criticism. If you make it as a writer, you’re going to get alot worse then this and you need to learn how to handle that, maturely.