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HUSTLE/60: Using NHL EDGE to analyze which Canucks gave it their all in 2023

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
3 months ago
Little over a year ago, ex-CanucksArmy alum and current senior writer for the Vancouver Canucks Chris Faber illustrated his patented DAWG/60 rating.
The formula was designed to capture a player’s effort level and willingness to sacrifice the body for a positive impact in the offensive zone.
With Faber’s patented formula now the property of Canucks Sports & Entertainment under the watchful eyes of Aiden Fox and the team’s analytics staff, CanucksArmy was left to find a suitable replacement.
Enter NHL EDGE and our HUSTLE/60 stat. An easy-to-look-up mixture of skating speed and total mileage combined with individual rate stats from NaturalStatTrick.com at even strength and the penalty kill to best capture how hard Canucks skaters are working to make a difference in their minutes.

 Limitations

NHL EDGE is still new, and the inability to extract raw data or sort player stats by splits makes a full team analysis difficult.
For example, according to NHL EDGE, Zadorov has skated 77.19 total miles at even strength, but we cannot split those miles between his 21 games in Calgary and his 11 games in Vancouver. For the purposes of HUSTLE/60, we have to exclude him from our ratings, as the available data is incomplete in determining which players are hustlin’ for the Canucks.
Another example, NHL EDGE does not provide league summaries by position. They do provide percentile ratings for skaters based on position. However, the lack of a complete dataset makes accounting player position for fair HUSTLE/60 scores difficult to do. I’m sure some analytics nerd has found a way to scrape EDGE.NHL.COM’s data for public consumption. Until I find that, however, I can’t justify transcribing EDGE’s data manually for all 1000+ skaters of the NHL to provide a population sample to appropriately weight HUSTLE/60 ratings by position.

Scope

For the purposes of HUSTLE/60, we broke things down into three sections:
  1. Even Strength
  2. Penalty Killing
  3. All Situations Skating Bursts
Each section was divided into a combination of sub-stats as follows. Some were counted as their individual number, and others were rated relative to how they deviated from the team average.
Even Strength HUSTLE/60
Even Strength TOI/GP: The first piece of the even strength puzzle rated how a player’s even strength (ES) TOI (converted to decimal) deviated from the team average. The Canucks average around 13.56 (13 minutes 33.6 seconds) of time on ice (TOI) per player. Players averaging less than 13.56 TOI weren’t punished with a negative value. Those playing a higher than average amount of ES TOI were given a score equal to the difference between their TOI less the average divided by the standard deviations of the sample, in this case, 2.8 minutes of ES TOI.
Example: J.T. Miller averages 14.1 ES TOI = (14.10 – 9.24) ÷ 2.8 = .196
Event Strength Average Miles Skated per 60: Our first piece of data courtesy of NHL EDGE is factored in at its full value. Skate a lot? Good! Don’t skate much? Less good, but not the worst thing on the planet! Also, see above RE: weighting for position.
Even Strength Hits/60: Another stat relative to the team average. Otherwise, a player like Dakota Joshua would lead all Canucks in even-strength hustle/60 for his absurd ratio of ES hits/60 relative to the team average. Joshua averages 14.69 hits per 60 minutes of ES TOI, and the team averages 4.59 hits/60.
Even Strength Points/60: The next three stats are all courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com and are raw stats at face value. The higher, the better. Like Michael Caine asking Bruce Wayne, “What good are all those push-ups if you can’t move a bloody log?” Call these the Caine Principle because moving your feet and hustling looks best when you’re generating offence to go with it!
Even Strength Shots/60: See above.
Even Strength Penalties Drawn/60: See above, but with the added note that drawing penalties is one of the unspoken best indicators of a high work rate, in my opinion. HUSTLE/60 is a stat that should reward players for all positive outcomes: points scored, shots on goal, and penalties drawn that give the club power play opportunities. If a player isn’t the best shooter or playmaker but draws a lot of penalties to give a lethal power play team an extra opportunity, then they should be rewarded for it!
Penalty Killing HUSTLE/60
Because the PK inherently requires a lot of stationary play, we decided to limit the scope of the PK aspect of HUSTLE/60 to the average TOI per game and the physical contributions relative to the team average since so few players feature on the PK.
PK TOI/GP: Courtesy of NaturalStatTrick, the first piece of the PK HUSTLE/60 piece is a player’s average time spent on the PK per game. Therefore, even the players who haven’t played much total time on ice are rewarded as much for their contributions as PK staples.
PK Hits/60: The next two stats are rated on their deviations from the team average. Hits/60 on the PK is straightforward and values the battles at the netfront by the defence and the work of the forwards patrolling the top of the zone or the boards.
PK Shots Blocked/60: See above. Blocking shots, hustling to get in shooting lanes and denying shots on net are valuable features of a player’s contributions to a winning lineup.
Skating Burst HUSTLE/60
The NHL EDGE-IEST aspect of the HUSTLE/60 rating system! Definitions, courtesy of EDGE.NHL.com!
Speed Burst: Once a player sustains a speed over 18 MPH, he is in a burst. That burst continues until his speed drops below 16 MPH. The speed associated with each burst is the maximum speed the player reaches during that window.
The NHL has bursts tracked into three different categories, with bursts registering over 22+ MPH, between 20 and 22 MPH, and at a minimum of 18-20 MPH.
All Situations 22+ MPH Skating Bursts: All bursts are scored relative to deviations from the team average. Only 11 skaters from the Canucks 24* players listed on NHL EDGE registered one or more bursts over 22 MPH.
*Nikita Zadorov was one of the 11, but we can’t determine whether those came as a Canuck or a Flame.
All Situations 20-22 MPH Skating Bursts: See above. Nine of the Canucks 24* players listed registered fewer than 10 20-22 MPH bursts. Three were forwards, including Linus Karlsson, Pius Suter, and Andrei Kuzmenko, whose lack of skating was discussed recently as reasons he sat in favour of Phil Di Giuseppe.
Sll Situations 18-20 MPH Skating Bursts: See above. Interestingly, just five skaters recorded less than three 18-20 MPH bursts on a per-game basis: Four defencemen and one forward.

Even Strength HUSTLE/60

Is this one a surprise?
Conor Garland has been a revelation for the team’s third line. While the individual point production had not been there through the first chunk of the season, regression has come for him and his linemates in spades over the last ten games. With Dakota Joshua and Teddy Blueger in tow, Garland has amassed a goal and eight assists over his last ten games, and none of it has come at the expense of his work rate.
In 92 minutes of even-strength ice time, that trio has outscored their opposition at 5-on-5, 10 to 2 since December 5th. From the start of the season until December 4th, that line had been outscored 2-nothing at 5-on-5 despite out-chancing their opposition 47 to 24 in 76 minutes of ice time. With luck on their side, their points totals are due for a massive regression toward the positive over the second half of the season.
Dakota Joshua must have had a bonfire lit under him when Rick Tocchet questioned his fitness level at this year’s training camp. The 27-year-old forward ranked 1st in even-strength hits and penalties drawn per 60 minutes. Like Garland, the production has finally started to go his way, with Joshua netting six of his nine total goals and three of his last six total assists over this latest stretch of ten games.
Similarly, Teddy Blueger has picked up three of his four total goals and seven of his eight total assists in these last ten games. Though not a standout in any of the even-strength HUSTLE/60 metrics, he was solid through 2023.
Other even-strength standouts include Ilya Mikheyev, who ranked 6th in average mileage skated per 60 minutes, 2nd in even-strength shots per 60, and 4th by even-strength points per 60 despite missing training camp while still recovering from knee surgery!
Top Five for each even-strength HUSTLE/60 category:

Penalty Killing HUSTLE/60

You never know what you’ve got til it’s gone. A phrase so good that someone should write a song about it or build a parking lot. I don’t know. I’m a writer, not an ideas man.
Carson Soucy last played for the Canucks on November 12th against the Montreal Canadiens. During that game, he and his partner Tyler Myers both ate hard one-timers off their ankles. Myers returned the next game without missing a beat. Soucy returned to the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Canucks have missed his contributions on the PK.
In Soucy’s absence, players like Noah Juulsen, Mark Friedman, Ian Cole, and Tyler Myers were tasked with eating the bulk of the minutes once filled by Soucy on the team’s PK. While they’ve held their own, the Canucks’ PK ranks just 24th-best in the NHL after 35 games played.
The most that can be said is that since Soucy went down with an injury, the club’s PK hasn’t been the worst in NHL history.
It’s a low bar, but it’s something!
Despite having missed the last month and a half with an injury, Soucy still sits atop the leaderboards in hits and shots blocked per 60 minutes of shorthanded ice time.
The other standout on the PK aspect of penalty killing is the absence of even-strength hitz king Noah Juulsen from the shorthanded hits/60 charts.
Top Five for each PK HUSTLE/60 category:

Skating Bursts HUSTLE/60

Finally, the NHL EDGE portion of the HUSTLE/60 rankings.
The Vancouver Canucks’ leader in skating HUSTLE/60 is Sam Lafferty, who finished 1st overall in TWO all-situations skating burst categories, between 18-20 and 20-22 miles per hour. Boy, he really wants me to eat my words on sharing skepticism over the club shedding a 5th-round pick for him before the start of the season.
I concede the L, Samuel.
Please, I have a family to feed!
I digress. Lafferty has been an absolute workhorse around the rink. Despite logging the 8th-most total mileage, he ranks 1st in average miles per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time. The guy only believes in skating at 110% of his ability. He’s logged 30 more bursts in the 20-22 mph range than the next skater (J.T. Miller) and over 20 more bursts in the 18-20 mph range than the next skater (Conor Garland). The dude loves to hustle!
Other standouts include J.T. Miller, who finished 1st on the team with 11 total skating bursts over 22 mph. Nils Höglander, who I’ve praised in the Stanchies for his shiftiness and ability to evade his checks at the drop of a hat from a standstill, registered three bursts over 22 mph, which doesn’t seem like much, relative to Lafferty’s nine or Miller’s 11. Still, it’s a respectable 3rd-place total for someone of his stature.
Andrei Kuzmenko’s 64 skating bursts between 18 and 20 mph still stick out as a sore thumb. Factoring games played, that’s the 3rd-worst rate of bare-minimum speed bursts from any skater, including defencemen. Only Ian Cole and Noah Juulsen have had fewer 18-20 mph skating bursts per game than Kuzmenko. Not great company, considering neither of those two are known for their footwork, nor are they asked to utilize it in a way that Kuzmenko has. Yes, Kuzmenko has scored three goals since returning to the lineup after back-to-back scratches—still, a concerning lack of foot movement.
Top Five for each all-situations skating bursts HUSTLE/60 category:

HUSTLE/60 OVR

Ladies and gentlemen, your leader in HUSTLE/60 for the first half of the Canucks’ 2023-24 campaign:
J.
T.
MILLER!
Joining Miller at the top of the HUSTLE/60 leaderboards are Sam Lafferty, Conor Garland, Dakota Joshua, and Elias Pettersson.
The HUSTLE/60 TOP 10 is littered with players recently acquired by the Patrik Allvin/Jim Rutherford management team. In terms of acquisition cost, the HUSTLE/60 leaders cost this management group a 2023 1st-round pick, a 2023 2nd-round pick, and a 2024 5th-round pick. Not too shabby!
Regarding dollar value, of the 10* skaters making the highest percentage of the cap, six feature in the HUSTLE/60 TOP 10. Even then, Brock Boeser sits barely below Filip Hronek and Phil Di Giuseppe with the 12th-best HUSTLE/60 rating, while Tyler Myers sits one below Boeser at 13. Andrei Kuzmenko’s spot at number 16 sticks out due to his net-zero rating for skating despite his $5.5-million dollar cap hit.
*Zadorov makes the tenth-highest percentage of the cap among skaters, but is excluded from the exercise due to dataset availability reasons.
We’ll revisit this series in the New Year. Hopefully, ahead of playoffs, we can see who contributed most to the club’s first birth with home dates since the 2014-15 season!

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