Articles

By Robert Vollman
September 27, 2014
 
Projecting the standings is the first step in preparing for a fantasy draft, but it's the hardest thing to do. With injuries, roster changes, coaching decisions, rising rooking, declining veterans, and whole lot of puck luck, anything you read in early October is bound to be out of date by November.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 24, 2014
 
Based on last season's breakout, Ryan Johansen is worth around $5.5 million per season right now, with a future upside in the range of $6.0 million to $6.8 million, like the very best of his closest comparables, Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes and Joe Pavelski. If Columbus is unprepared to pay for a player of that potential -- the Blue Jackets have thus far rebuffed the offer of $5 million per season from the Johansen side, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun -- then there could be several NHL teams that are, via an offer sheet.
 
By Robert Vollman
September 20, 2014
 
Will Tyler Seguin win the scoring race? Will Gustav Nyquist lead the Red Wings? Can we expect a bounce back season from Chris Stewart, or break-out seasons from Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg?
 
By Robert Vollman
September 13, 2014
 
Henrik Lundqvist and Tuukka Rask may be the safest picks in nets, but Brian Elliott and Cory Schneider could be great value picks, and Thomas Greiss might be one of the most interesting hit-or-miss late-round gambles. What other secrets can hockey analytics help uncover?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus
September 5, 2014
 
With the recent front office hirings of hockey outsiders like Sunny Mehta, Brian MacDonald, Tyler Dellow, Eric Tulsky, Cam Charron, Rob Pettapiece, and Darryl Metcalf, many independent analysts are getting more serious about their craft, while the previously silent are considering taking a plunge in the world of hockey analytics. If you consider yourself among them, want some advice?
 
By Robert Vollman
September 5, 2014
 
What can we expect scoring-wise from KHLers like Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jiri Sekac, Leo Komarov, Petri Kontiola, and Jori Lehtera? There's no need to get out the Tarot cards and the tea leaves, because hockey analytics can actually shed some interesting light on this topic. Given that the KHL is the league most comparable to the NHL in quality, its data is surprisingly useful in projecting NHL scoring. It's almost reasonably as effective as having actual NHL data on which to base a player's projection.
 
By Robert Vollman
August 16, 2014
 
Hockey Abstract 2014 is all about hockey analytics and their mainstream applications and limitations. It's a book that asks interesting questions, like who will be in the Hall of Fame, who is the best penalty killer, and what actually makes a good players good, and shows how objective statistical analysis can be used to help find the answers.
 
By Robert Vollman
June 30, 2014
 
New-wave hockey analysts have advocated regressing shooting percentages to league average, but is there a more accurate way of forecasting shooting performance?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 28, 2014
 
The unrestricted free-agency period is a great opportunity for teams to quickly fill their holes. For those looking to repair and/or upgrade their penalty kill, who are the most effective available options?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 26, 2014
 
Other than the goalie, a team’s top defensemen are arguably the most important players on the teams. Great ones like Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger can completely alter the outcome of an entire season almost single-handedly. Who were the top pairing defensemen this year, how will they used, and how effective were their teams when they were on the ice?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 24, 2014
 
Every year there's at least one retirement of significant impact, whether it's Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom in 2012, Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff last year, or Anaheim's Teemu Selanne right now. Usually the impact of a player's retirement is far subtler than that of those three, but the loss of a key ingredient can have a meaningful impact on a team's fortunes. Which teams should be most concerned going into next season?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 24, 2014
 
It’s no secret that a shaky defense corps was one of the main reasons for a disappointing 2013-14 NHL season for the New York Islanders, but where did it truly rank, and where does it stand ahead of next season? What would have been the impact of a healthy Lubomir Visnovsky? How did Andrew MacDonald’s departure affect the team? Is Calvin de Haan ready to make the leap? Was failing to sign Dan Boyle as big of a blunder as the mainstream media would have us believe? When will the much-talked-about defensive prospects finally be ready to join the big club?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 21, 2014
 
There are more ways to measure goalies than with wins, losses and goals-against average. Modern hockey analytics has produced many ways to find those who excel in various undervalued aspects of the game. Who were this year's moneypuck netminders?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 17, 2014
 
Thanks to player usage charts there's finally a way to quickly see how coaches are using their players and how effective that deployment has been. These charts are one of the most popular analytic innovations, and they are in widespread use by the mainstream media and NHL front offices. What do they reveal about each of the NHL's 30 teams?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 14, 2014
 
Top pairing defensemen are arguably the most important skaters on any given team, and there's intense competition among teams for those few whose effectiveness have been proven. Any team that can find someone ready to step in and excel in its top unit has a huge competitive advantage. Who are the strongest possibilities?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 10, 2014
 
A great playmaker can help unleash the scoring talents of those around him. They can make 20-goal scorers out of nothing, push an average player to the 30-40 goal range and help an elite sniper top 50 goals and contend for the Maurice Richard. Who are the best playmakers available through free agency?
 
By Robert Vollman
June 7, 2014
 
Where might unrestricted free agent Ryan Miller wind up this summer, or Jonas Hiller? The New York Islanders solved their goaltending woes by locking up Jaroslav Halak and St. Louis re-signed Brian Elliott, but there are still several teams that could use an upgrade.
 
By Robert Vollman
June 3, 2014
 
The St. Louis Blues are bringing Joakim Lindstrom back to the NHL, the MVP of the Swedish league this year. Last summer, it was Carl Soderberg who made the leap, and he tallied 48 points in 73 games for the Bruins. Which European league veterans might be next?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 31, 2014
 
No single player has as much influence over a team's fate than the starting goalie, and no one's performance is more unpredictable either. A team that finds itself a capable low-cost option in nets creates a huge competitive advantage, much as Tampa Bay enjoyed with Ben Bishop last year. Who could be ready to step up in 2014-15?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 27, 2014
 
Although their services don't come cheap, signing the right free agent is the quickest way to address a team's major needs. Just as Marian Gaborik has helped unleash the Los Angeles Kings' full potential with the man advantage, signing a power-play specialist like Mike Cammalleri or Radim Vrbata can make all the difference in 2014-15. Who are this season's best free-agent power-play options?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 25, 2014
 
There's nothing like a strong Stanley Cup run to improve a free agent's bargaining position. Last year, for instance, Chicago's Bryan Bickell scored 17 points on his way to landing a rich four-year, $4.0 million dollar deal that would have been inconceivable just two months previously. Which free agents could be pumping up their offers this year?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 20, 2014
 
The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team during the playoffs, as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA). Being hockey fans as well as writers, the PHWA can sometimes get swept up in a particularly inspiring story from the final series and overlook the player who best fits the award's defined criteria. Who have been history's greatest oversights?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 17, 2014
 
Wins and goals are all that matters in the postseason, but they are created in many ways. Winning faceoffs, drawing penalties and driving possession are just a few of the less recognizable ways that the world's best players are providing that extra value for their teams. Who have been the moneypuck giants after two rounds of playoff action?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 15, 2014
 
Some players have what it takes to put up big points in the postseason. Whether it's due to more ice time, great linemate chemistry, soft opponents, good luck or clutch play, some NHLers know how to light the lamp when the time is right.Who is doing it this year?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 13, 2014
 
They say defense win championships. That means shutdown stars like Patrice Bergeron could be more critical than the scoring leaders they target. Who have been the most effective shutdown players through almost two full rounds of postseason action?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 10, 2014
 
What does it take to win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP? When looking back at the winners over the almost 50 years of the award's existence, certain patterns begin to emerge. These can be used to assemble a list of qualities each of them possess which can be used to predict who might win it this year.
 
By Robert Vollman
May 9, 2014
 
In the playoffs, no position is more critical and yet more unpredictable than the goaltender. Even the briefest cold streak can be enough to knock a regular-season monster out of contention, while a sufficiently hot stretch can carry even the most mediocre teams to the Stanley Cup. Who have been the very best goalies in the modern era?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 7, 2014
 
While NHL teams make the bulk of their major roster decisions in the offseason, the right midseason adjustment can put a great team over the top. Which was the most important addition made by each of the eight remaining postseason teams this year?
 
By Robert Vollman
May 3, 2014
 
A great puck-moving defenseman is one of the key ingredients to Stanley Cup success. How many championship teams can you name that didn't have at least one of the league's most dangerous blue-line threats in their lineup? Teams like Chicago and Montreal could have a critical advantage over the other six remaining teams.
 
By Robert Vollman
May 1, 2014
 
Eight teams remain in the 2013-14 NHL playoffs, each with at least one terrifying weapon. There are many good reasons to fear each of the remaining teams and to respect their Stanley Cup chances, but if you had to select just one, who would it be?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 29, 2014
 
Boston and Montreal are facing off this postseason for the 34th time in history. The bar for this series is set awfully high with the amazing contests these two great teams have had since their first playoff encounter back in 1929. How do they all rank?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 26, 2014
 
Down three games to nothing last year, New York Rangers coach John Tortorella made the bold decision to scratch former Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards from the lineup. Two games later, his team was eliminated and he was looking for a new job, with his inability to use the team's second-highest-priced asset effectively playing at least some small part.
 
By Robert Vollman
April 24, 2014
 
Nathan MacKinnon has been on fire for the Colorado Avalanche, setting up six goals in the first two games. If Colorado's 18-year-old superstar rookie has been the league's top playmaker so far this postseason, where does everybody else rank?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 22, 2014
 
The Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal for every NHL player, and yet, so many greats have gone their entire careers without the opportunity to hoist it. What can be more satisfying than to watch a grey-bearded legend finally lift the sport's most celebrated trophy over his head?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 19, 2014
 
In the Stanley Cup playoffs, experience matters. It's a grueling schedule where players compete at maximum intensity every other night for up to two months, often playing through injuries and extreme fatigue. At some point, even the game's best athletes need someone who has been there before to help pick them up. Who will it be?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 17, 2014
 
How many playoff teams advance every year thanks to a key penalty kill or a timely power-play goal? The advantage a team secures in this game-within-the-game is often the difference-maker in an otherwise evenly-matched series. Who has the special teams advantage in this year's first round matchups?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 14, 2014
 
This series is a showdown between the two teams who earned the most points in close games. On the flip side, they are also the two worst possession playoff teams in the Western Conference, the only two such teams to be outshot in the regular season.
 
By Robert Vollman
April 13, 2014
 
Timing is everything, and catching fire right before the playoffs can make the difference between a deep run and an early exit. A hot stretch to end the regular season not only suggests that everything is working, but gives a team the confidence and momentum needed to get the right start to the postseason. Which teams are the hottest right now?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 10, 2014
 
The wrong injury to the wrong player at the wrong time can derail a season. In some cases, it can be fatal to a team's playoff hopes, such as it was in Nashville with Pekka Rinne. But cases like Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay prove that a team's fate is never truly sealed.
 
By Robert Vollman
April 10, 2014
 
1982's "Miracle on Manchester" between the Kings and the Oilers was just one of many shocking postseason upsets. In a seven-game series, even a heavy favorite will lose about one time out of every eight. What were history's most dramatic underdog victories?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 5, 2014
 
Several teams are potentially going shopping for a new goaltender this offseason; which ones will be available as free agents July 1? Ryan Miller will be highly sought after, followed by goalies like Jonas Hiller and Jaroslav Halak. How do they all rank?
 
By Robert Vollman
April 3, 2014
 
We have all enjoyed Teemu Selanne's exciting highlight reel goals over the past 21 seasons but what about the underlying numbers? He holds the rookie record for 76 goals in a single season, ranks third with 232 goals past age 35 and his career totals are behind only Wayne Gretzky and Jaromir Jagr once adjusted for each era's scoring level.
 
By Robert Vollman
April 1, 2014
 
Defensemen are always in high demand during the annual free-agency period, and the fate of certain teams is often based disproportionally on how well they do after July 1. This year, teams may initially chase aging veterans like Kimmo Timonen and Andrei Markov, but ultimately settle for lesser-known second pairing types like Ron Hainsey and Tom Gilbert. Where do they all rank?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 29, 2014
 
Luck is a controversial term in hockey, but it does exist. Goalies get hot, shooters get cold, refs miss calls, players get hurt and close games are lost when posts are hit. Hockey is a game of tremendous skill, but it's also one with a lot of bounces and breaks that don't always cut in both directions. Which teams were most frequently on the wrong side of fortune's good graces this year?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 27, 2014
 
There are a lot of great free-agent wingers that will be available July 1, and pursuing the right ones will be among this summer's most critical choices. There are aging top-line scorers like Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla, offensive-minded talents like Thomas Vanek and Marian Gaborik and more complementary two-way options like Ryan Callahan. Where do they all rank?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 25, 2014
 
It's exciting to watch for all the new signings that occur every year after the July 1 free-agent deadline, but one team's new arrival is another team's departure. Which teams have the most pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) ready to pack their bags?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 22, 2014
 
Who will win this year's Norris Trophy? It could wind up being a simple coronation for Chicago's Duncan Keith, but a dozen games could be enough for some of the other leading candidates to catch up.
 
By Robert Vollman
March 20, 2014
 
Every year there are at least a handful of teams that completely defy pre-season expectations. This year the consensus choices include Colorado, Tampa Bay and Anaheim. Who are the other biggest surprises this year, and how do they rank?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 18, 2014
 
With one month to go, who are the most valuable players on each NHL team? Some cases are clear cut, like Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh or Alexander Ovechkin in Washington, but in other cases, you need to select from teams with several strong players or from teams with none.
 
By Robert Vollman
March 15, 2014
 
Entering the final month of the 2013-14 NHL season, who are the Hart Trophy favorites? How significant is Sidney Crosby's lead, what are the chances of Alexander Ovechkin defending his title and what other potential candidates are coming out of the field?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 13, 2014
 
This year's pool of free-agent centers is deep, but contains only a few select game-changers. In Paul Stastny there is at least one legitimate top two-way center, along with only a small handful of legitimately strong second-line centers, joined by an abundance of great checking line pivots. Which of them are the best?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 11, 2014
 
Hot streaks are hard to predict but they frequently have a huge impact on the final standings. Last year it secured playoff spots for teams like the Islanders, Rangers and Sharks, but it proved too little and too late for Columbus, Philadelphia and Phoenix. Which teams will get hot this year, and what could it mean for them?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 8, 2014
 
There's no substitute for experience. It is one of those intangibles that have historically given teams like New Jersey and Detroit such an edge in the postseason and why teams like the Blues, Maple Leafs and Rangers competed to acquire as many Oilers as possible in the early 1990s. Which teams have the greatest edge today?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 6, 2014
 
Now that the trade deadline dust has had 24 hours to settle, how has the NHL playoff picture changed? Teams like Montreal, Minnesota, Los Angeles and the Rangers have greatly improved their situations, while teams like Vancouver, Columbus and Tampa Bay have been stung.
 
By Robert Vollman
March 4, 2014
 
Wednesday marks the trading deadline for the 2013-14 season, a day that has changed the destiny for many NHL teams over the years. It kick-started the 1980s New York Islanders dynasty, landed the Pittsburgh Penguins the final pieces they needed in the early 1990s, and got teams like Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Vancouver their franchise players. Which deal was the greatest of them all?
 
By Robert Vollman
March 1, 2014
 
With the NHL trade deadline less than five days away, where should teams be turning to for some help scoring goals? Thomas Vanek of the New York Islanders and Mike Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames are just two of the possibilities, many of whom may be flying low enough under the radar for some real bargains.
 
By Robert Vollman
February 27, 2014
 
A lot of big names will change uniforms over the coming week, but it's often the value players that have the most significant impact down the stretch and into the playoffs. Which overlooked role players might be available this year, and ready to help propel a team towards post-season glory?
 
By Robert Vollman
February 25, 2014
 
The Olympics can be a stressful time for NHL front offices as they watch their most valuable athletes compete for national glory, but at the risk of getting injured. While most of them got off easy, a small handful of teams got hit hard, with potentially dire consequences for post-season participation.
 
By Robert Vollman
February 22, 2014
 
Canada has allowed just three goals in five games so far. Can we expect a third shutout in the gold-medal game against Sweden? That depends on to what extent its defensive success was by the team's very design, how much was the offensive weakness of its opponents and how much was just a hot streak.
 
By Robert Vollman
February 19, 2014
 
Which tilted matchups are most likely to determine the outcome of the Olympic hockey semi-finals? Each game can be broken down into a series of matchups of different kinds and in different situations, and each of the remaining national teams have distinct advantages in one or more of them. These will be the critical sub-games to watch this Friday.
 
By Robert Vollman
February 18, 2014
 
Which teams made roster selections that could cost them dearly? Whether it's USA's Bobby Ryan, Sweden's blue line or the Czech Republic's entire roster, there are certain alternative choices that could have made all the difference. Which selection committees are the most likely to have post-Olympic regrets?
 
By Robert Vollman
February 15, 2014
 
Jonas Hiller has yet to allow a single puck past Switzerland's goal line, while Sweden's star defenseman Erik Karlsson is leading the tournament with three goals and five points. Which other players are off to hot starts in Sochi, and can we expect them to continue?
 
By Robert Vollman
February 13, 2014
 
The Ottawa Senators won the Stanley Cup in 2006 on the shoulders of Olympic star Dominik Hasek. Whoops, no, they didn't! Hasek missed the rest of the season with an injury sustained in Turin, and the Senators made a second-round postseason exit instead. Could a similar injury in Sochi derail one of this year's contenders?
 
By Robert Vollman
February 11, 2014
 
As great as most of these Olympic teams are, they are not flawless. Every team has its Achilles heel which can be exploited by well-coached opponents. This year's Gold medal will likely be awarded to whichever team has the greatest understanding of their main weakness, and how it can be overcome.
 
By Robert Vollman
February 8, 2014
 
It's the Olympic break, and time to check in on the Pacific Division as its teams prepare for the final stretch. Some of the seven teams are in the playoff hunt, others are preparing for the draft lottery, and there are trade deadline possibilities for them all.
 
By Robert Vollman
February 6, 2014
 
When the Olympics are all said and done, which players are going home to join teams with the most difficult NHL schedules? There are some awfully tight playoff races, most of which could boil down to seemingly minor details like long road trips or tough opponents. In that regard, some teams definitely have it worse than others.
 
By Robert Vollman
February 5, 2014
 
There are at least seven hockey nations with elite top lines, but the disparity between them begins to grow as you descend the depth chart. This year's Olympic gold medalists could very well be the team whose secondary lines can best neutralize opponents and generate some scoring. Which nation has the best depth?
 
By Robert Vollman
January 31, 2014
 
What can we expect in net for the American Olympic hockey team in Sochi? Goaltending is absolutely critical, and yet, it's almost impossible to predict. The fate of the team's medal hopes could ultimately rest on the shoulders of one of the team's three goalies, Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick or Jimmy Howard.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 30, 2014
 
Which team would be at the greatest advantage if one of the upcoming Olympics games goes to a shootout? Every nation is prepared with its own masters of this skills competition, but some teams have more weapons than others. It's a tight pack, but there are least a couple of teams with a definite advantage.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 28, 2014
 
Statistics can't do everything, but they can sometimes find something interesting. What's the most revealing stat for each team so far this season? Whether it's a team's late-game record or a drop in shots taken on the power play, there's a fascinating number for every NHL city.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 24, 2014
 
In light of the brawl between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks last Saturday, we must again ponder the question of whether or not enforcers are valuable to their teams. We're not referring to the tough guys who play regular shifts and occasionally fight—only to the one-dimensional fighters.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 23, 2014
 
Getting a good look at NHL players who are likely to be on the trading block is one more reason to tune into the Sochi Olympic games. Even in the preliminary round robin games, watching how players like Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic and Marian Gaborik of Slovakia showcase their talents and interact with potential future linemates and opponents could prove very insightful for the NHL games that follow. Who are the 10 players we'll be watching most closely?
 
By Robert Vollman
January 21, 2014
 
The best faceoff man in the league this year, is it Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews or someone else entirely? These days it seems like most teams have at least one player who can consistently win about 60 percent of his faceoffs, giving his team an instant edge that can correlate directly into shots and goals.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 18, 2014
 
What were the riskiest roster selections made by the American Olympic hockey team? While it's hard to go wrong with a team with so many of the world's best, there are a few players who could put the team at risk, if deployed incorrectly. Inclusions like Kevin Shattenkirk were bold, given the potential consequences if they wind up on the ice with Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin at a critical point of a game.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 16, 2014
 
Which Olympic team can expect the most support from its blue line this year in Sochi? Whether it's Sweden's Erik Karlsson, USA's Ryan Suter or Canada's Shea Weber, each Olympic team has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, which we can combine to form an overall ranking.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 15, 2014
 
Which slumping players are most likely to catch fire in the second half? For each team we will try to find the one single player whose talent and opportunity combines to create the best chance for a second-half scoring surge.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 13, 2014
 
The Olympics are the focus of a special edition of our Take Five feature. This week’s five questions were posed to the following analytics minds of Hockey Prospectus: Timo Seppa, Corey Pronman, Ryan Wagman, Thomas Crawshaw, and Rob Vollman.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 11, 2014
 
Who are the greatest all-time Olympic hockey players for each of the nations competing in the upcoming games in Sochi? Examining only their performances at the Winter Games (or the Summer Games, where hockey was first held in 1920), we can identify which single player made the most meaningful contributions overall on a country-by-country basis.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 10, 2014
 
Despite their perfect record at home, Anaheim is not the team with the biggest home-ice advantage. At least that's the case when you compare a team's record at home to its record on the road. Which teams are at the greatest advantage when playing at home so far this year?
 
By Robert Vollman
January 8, 2014
 
Which players will be most critical at the Winter Olympics in Sochi? It is a highly competitive tournament where up to seven teams have great goaltending and elite top lines.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 7, 2014
 
Now that the Olympic rosters are set, which team do the analytics favor? Statistically, Canada is seen as the big Gold medal favourite, with Sweden and USA evenly matched for the Silver. Russia is only a slight step behind, with the Czech Republic, Finland, and Slovakia trailing behind, in that order.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 6, 2014
 
Which struggling teams will catch fire in the second half of this season? The Oilers, the Islanders, the Rangers and the Blue Jackets are all among teams that were expected to be in the mix rather than the basement. These are just four of nine teams we've identified that should be much improved the rest of the way.
 
By Robert Vollman
January 4, 2014
 
This year's Stanley Cup could very well be California-bound, but will it wind up in Anaheim? The second-place Ducks recently had a 10-game winning streak broken by the San Jose Sharks, who are fifth overall. And then there's the seventh-place Los Angeles Kings, who have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL. Is Anaheim the best of California's three dominant teams?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 1, 2014
 
Sidney Crosby is the player of 2013, according to this week’s Hockey Prospectus panel. Other topics in this week’s edition of five questions posed to the analytic minds of the HP crew include Patrick Kane, the red-hot Ducks, the surprising Sabres, James Neal, and outdoor classics. This week’s answers come from Timo Seppa, Corey Pronman, John Fischer, Ryan Wagman, and Rob Vollman.
 
By Robert Vollman
December 31, 2013
 
Who are the key players that Team USA will need to protect a late one-goal lead? Since every Olympic team will have an elite ability to score, the gold medal could very well end up being awarded to whichever team is most effective at neutralizing their opponents at the right time.
 
By Robert Vollman
December 29, 2013
 
As 2013 draws to a close, which teams appear most likely to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup next summer? We'll rank Chicago, Boston and the league's other top teams, and fill in the rest of the list by tracking down this year's most likely dark horses.
 
By Robert Vollman
December 27, 2013
 
David Clarkson has roughly the same cap hit as Toronto's high-scoring stars Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul ($5.25 million), but has just eight points in 27 games so far this season. What does Clarkson need to do to turn things around and provide the Leafs value for his seven year deal?
 
By Robert Vollman
December 24, 2013
 
Montreal's P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov combined for 49 power-play points last year. That's incredible! While they are clearly the best power-play pairing, individually, neither is the league's best defenseman. Who is?
 
By Robert Vollman
December 22, 2013
 
In extending Alexander Steen for three years, did the St. Louis Blues shrewdly lock down an elite sniper, or get themselves stuck with a $5.8 million 25-goal winger? Though currently second to Alexander Ovechkin in league goal scoring, Steen's previous eight-season best is just 24 goals. Will the Blues get value out of this deal?
 
By Robert Vollman
December 20, 2013
 
There is a great new innovation that can evaluate how effectively coaches are using their players–Player Usage Charts. At the quickest of glances, they show which players are paired up with whom, against what level of opponents, in which zone and how effectively the team plays in such situations. Which team is using their players the best?
 
By Robert Vollman
December 17, 2013
 
Tomas Hertl started the season off with quite a shocking bang, scoring six goals and seven points in just the first three games. What other rookies have stunned fans, coaches and analysts with their unexpectedly strong starts?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 16, 2013
 
We saw Sergei Bobrovsky post a .932 in the KHL during last year’s lockout, then come to the NHL and win the Vezina with that same save percentage. We also saw Semyon Varlamov post a .946 before his solid .923 so far this season. On the other hand, we have seen Karri Ramo consistently top .925 in the KHL, but record just .907 as an NHL goaltender in Calgary this year. Which leads us to ask: who are their real star KHL goalies?
 
By Robert Vollman
December 14, 2013
 
Carey Price and P.K. Subban are top-three at their positions, giving the Montreal Canadiens two key ingredients of a Stanley Cup contender. Having finished fourth overall last year, and briefly fighting their way to the top of the Atlantic division standings, some fans are making the Habs their early dark horse pick. Is that justified?
 
By Robert Vollman
December 12, 2013
 
The sweet spot in an NHL season starts at around the 30-game mark. That's when the gap in predictive power between analytics and traditional analysis begins to reach its widest point. We can use that advantage to determine which of this year's disappointing teams are showing the strongest signs of an imminent recovery.
 
By Robert Vollman
December 10, 2013
 
Most countries have at least a single elite goalie, but which one has the deepest pool of goaltenders from which to select their Olympic roster? The top three are so close that it could essentially be considered a tie, and that doesn't even include the team with arguably the world's best goalie.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 9, 2013
 
Lundqvist, Steen, the Isles, and the Habs are all among the topics for a new feature where five topical questions are posed to the analytic minds of the Hockey Prospectus crew. This week’s panel includes Timo Seppa, Tom Awad, Corey Pronman, John Fischer, Leslie Treff, and Rob Vollman.
 
By Robert Vollman
December 8, 2013
 
Jaromir Jagr just passed Mario Lemieux in career goals and is within 16 of achieving the same thing with assists and points. How does that help Jagr stack up against one of the NHL's all-time greats? It all depends how you value his long-term productivity against Lemieux's shorter but more dominant career.
 
By Robert Vollman
December 5, 2013
 
Is there any NHL team better than Chicago at protecting leads? Probably not, but looking at the fascinating data provided over at NHL.com over the years, we can see which teams are the closest. Surprisingly Boston and Detroit are not among them, two teams with outstanding reputations for defending leads.
 
By Robert Vollman
December 3, 2013
 
To build a winning team, you have to take risks. Risky contracts aren't necessarily bad ones, but rather deals that can make all the difference if they're successful and leave a team holding a very expensive bag if they aren't.
 
By Robert Vollman
December 1, 2013
 
Rick DiPietro was just cut from a professional tryout with Carolina's AHL affiliate the Charlotte Checkers, his career all but over at age 32. This is the same Rick DiPietro that was drafted first overall, started for Team USA in the 2006 Olympics, and was awarded the longest and richest deal in goaltending history just seven years ago.
 
By Robert Vollman
November 29, 2013
 
Which team has the best starting goalie? Henrik Lundqvist and Tuukka Rask are just two of many netminders who are frequently referred to as the league's best. Can analytics help shed some light on where each team currently ranks?
 
By Robert Vollman
November 26, 2013
 
Often the difference between a good penalty kill and a great one is a forward like Jordan Staal or Frans Nielsen who can win faceoffs, block shots and win battles along the boards and in front of the net. Who are the ten best active NHL forwards at killing penalties?
 
By Robert Vollman
November 23, 2013
 
Tampa Bay's high-scoring superstar Steven Stamkos is out indefinitely with a broken leg. But wait! The Bolts also have last year's scoring leader Martin St. Louis.
 
By Robert Vollman
November 21, 2013
 
Who are the most durable players in the NHL? We're looking for players like the recently retired Nicklas Lidstrom, who can log the big minutes, take the harshest physical punishment and yet rarely miss a shift.
 
By Robert Vollman
November 18, 2013
 
Who has turned out to be the best acquisition this past offseason for each team so far? Whether it's by trade like Tyler Seguin and Bobby Ryan, by draft like Nathan MacKinnon, or by free-agent signing like Mikhail Grabovski and Jaromir Jagr, which new arrivals have had the most immediate positive impact with their new clubs?
 
By Robert Vollman
November 16, 2013
 
In one of the season's biggest surprises, Alexander Steen currently leads the NHL with 16 goals and 24 points after 17 games. The 29-year-old Blue is on pace for 77 goals and 116 points, despite previous single-season career highs of just 24 goals and 51 points. It's fair to say that Steen will eventually cool off, but by how much, and how soon?
 
By Robert Vollman
November 14, 2013
 
Josh Harding is one of those rare goalies known to be able to come into a game cold and play at his best. Today we'll look at the ten goalies who have had the most success when coming into a game in relief.
 
By Robert Vollman
November 11, 2013
 
Which NHL teams have been the most effective at killing penalties this year? According to the underlying numbers, it isn't at all who you think it is. In fact, you might even have it completely backward.
 
By Robert Vollman
November 9, 2013
 
The monkey is off his back, but the recent 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers was the Philadelphia Flyers' 16th game, during which time Claude Giroux has just one goal and seven assists. Philly's superstar captain was expected to compete for the Hart Trophy, and his team for the postseason—what went wrong?
 
By Robert Vollman
November 8, 2013
 
Not all assignments are created equally. Some roles require a player to play frequently in the defensive zone, against players like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, and possibly when down a man. Who is taking on those roles this year?
 
By Robert Vollman
November 6, 2013
 
Though NHL hockey is a game of tremendous skill, puck luck can have a huge influence in the standings. Is there a way to quantify those breaks and bounces and figure out which teams have been most fortunate so far in 2013-14?
 
By Robert Vollman
November 3, 2013
 
Who are the league's top defensemen when playing shorthanded? As great as Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are, don't look for them on this list, because we've identified 10 blueliners who are even better at killing penalties.
 
By Robert Vollman
November 2, 2013
 
It is a deal that popular opinion is strongly behind, but will Henrik and Daniel Sedin really be worth $28 million apiece from ages 34 to 37? The answer is only yes if either the Sedins are among the rare few whose scoring doesn't drop off at that age, or if continuing salary cap increases make tomorrow's $7.0 million players the equivalent of today's $6.0 million stars.
 
By Robert Vollman
October 29, 2013
 
Scotty Bowman may unquestionably be the best coach of all time, but who is the best among the active coaches? Can analytics be used to help rank Paul MacLean, Joel Quenneville, Ken Hitchcock and the rest of the current coaches?
 
By Robert Vollman
October 27, 2013
 
Could the lowly Rangers find themselves fighting the Penguins for the Metropolitan division's top seed at season's end? Despite the league's worst goal differential, there's a path that takes the Rangers from the league's basement to a strong playoff seed when all 82 games are complete
 
By Robert Vollman
October 24, 2013
 
Dustin Brown, Patrick Kaleta, Darren Helm and Jeff Skinner are modern day versions of master penalty drawers from the past like Tony Granato, Esa Tikkanen and Claude Lemieux. The penalties these players draw kill the clock, tire out opposing defenders and put goals on the scoreboard. Which of them do it best?
 
By Robert Vollman
October 22, 2013
 
Whether it's Shea Weber in Nashville, Zdeno Chara in Boston or Ryan Suter in Minnesota, a top shutdown defenseman can make all the difference in today's NHL. To which blue liner does each team turn when the game is on the line?
 
By Robert Vollman
October 18, 2013
 
Hockey analytics are at their best when they're properly aligned with how we watch the games. Using some of the more recent advances we can easily determine the context in which the various players are being used, and therefore what to expect from them, and then compare them with the results in a way that's as free of outside factors as possible.
 
By Robert Vollman
October 18, 2013
 
Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all time, retired at age 38, right before the conclusion of the 1998-99 NHL season. Having led the league in assists two of the past three seasons and having led the Rangers in scoring for the third straight season, he certainly retired when he was on top. But was it too soon?
 
By Robert Vollman
October 16, 2013
 
Some may find it silly to decide an NHL game with a skills competition proven to have random results, but that's no reason to neglect that part of the game. Any player who can consistently score a few extra goals in the shootout is giving his team a boost in the standings that is potentially greater than what some players produce in regulation play.
 
By Robert Vollman
October 15, 2013
 
It's a fresh new season, and the time of year that every team has plenty of reasons to be optimistic. San Jose and Colorado have star rookies, New Jersey and Florida have new goalies, and Vancouver and the Rangers are among those with new coaches. Every team has a secret weapon that it hopes will make 2013-14 its big year.
 
By Robert Vollman
October 13, 2013
 
Taylor Hall is one of the more polarizing figures among today's hockey fans and analysts—you either love him or you hate him. If you type “Taylor Hall is” into Google, the first several suggestions are rather unkind, and yet he's frequently lauded by some analysts as practically an imminent Hart Trophy threat.
 
By Robert Vollman
October 9, 2013
 
Certain players are simply deadly on the power play, and can almost single-handedly generate the extra scoring that boosts lottery teams into the postseason and bubble teams into contention. Who are the best of the best?
 
By Robert Vollman
October 9, 2013
 
While goalies and defensemen obviously have the greater responsibility in preventing scoring, the best defensive forwards can make all the difference. For example, take last year's Eastern Conference Finals when the key to Boston's victory was how their solid defensive forwards helped to completely shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
 
By Robert Vollman
October 3, 2013
 
The right prospect can be an immediate game changer, helping thrust a bubble team into contention, or a lottery team into the post-season. Others take a little longer to develop, but can ultimately have an even greater impact. Figuring out which is which can be more art than science.
 
By Robert Vollman
October 2, 2013
 
A great playmaker can make a 20-goal scorer out of a replacement-level player, can help a legitimate 20-goal scorer put up 35 or more and propel a top sniper to the Maurice Richard trophy. Among today's leading playmakers, who rank as the ten best?
 
By Robert Vollman
October 1, 2013
 
One of them is a still-maturing player of limitless offensive potential, and the other is an underrated two-way veteran. One is headed to a rebuilt underachiever, the other to Stanley Cup contender. Which of them will have the greater impact this season?
 
By Robert Vollman
September 28, 2013
 
There are a number of ways to compare Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin to each other. You can evaluate who is the better player overall, who is more valuable to their team, who is the greater scorer or who is more likely to win the Hart Trophy. This last one is the topic of this particular article, and is a matter of figuring out who will avoid certain criteria that is commonly used to rule a player out and then determining which player will provide the most offense.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 27, 2013
 
Every season, Hockey Prospectus uses the VUKOTA projection system to help predict the league's top playmakers. And it's no surprise who came out on top in the projections for 2013-14, as it's a player who has found himself among the league leaders just about every season he's played in the NHL.
 
By Robert Vollman
September 25, 2013
 
In the salary-cap era, it is no longer enough to acquire the league's best players, but now you have to get them for the right price. Pay too much, and even a quality player can actually hurt the team by using up too much cap space. In those cases, you're actually better off with an inferior player if the extra savings allow the team to be upgraded somewhere else.
 
By Robert Vollman
September 24, 2013
 
Journalists and magazines everywhere are publishing their NHL projections for the 2013-14 season, so what makes ours different? This year's projections come exclusively from a new system created in my latest book, Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract. It uses a two-step process to objectively project the standings. Since no personal opinions are involved, it doesn't always follow the mainstream consensus, which can lead to some interesting results.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 23, 2013
 
The Pittsburgh Penguins are big favorites to win the 2013-14 Stanley Cup, at least according to the calculations published in our most recent annual guide, Hockey Prospectus 2013-14. According to our projections, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Penguins are four points up on second place. That might not sound like much, but teams 2-10 are all separated by just four points, as well.
 
By Robert Vollman
September 18, 2013
 
Elite forwards can be complete game-changers, but since they come in different types and with different styles, the trick is in using them in the most effective way. Today's elite forwards ultimately fall into roughly three groups, usually as a result of not only their own strengths and weaknesses but also the needs and goals of their respective teams. The players within these groups often share many of the same traits and experience many of the same results, and moving them from one group to another has similar consequences to both them and their teams.
 
By Robert Vollman
September 15, 2013
 
Hockey's a game of tremendous skill but also a lot of luck. There are days when a team can fire all sorts of shots at the opposing net and run into nothing but hot goalies and goalposts. Sometimes those days can group together into an extended cold streak, and sometimes they can occur at critical stages of either the regular season or the postseason. This can leave a team with the reputation of being a lot worse than it really is.
 
By Robert Vollman
September 12, 2013
 
Eric Lindros leaves Quebec, Wayne Gretzky goes to Los Angeles, Buffalo acquires Dominik Hasek and Boston deals for Phil Esposito. Is there a way to compare these trades? Using a new system developed in my book, Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, we can find the best trades in every franchise's history and even compare them between teams.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 10, 2013
 
Forget whatever you know about the Dallas Stars, because this is a whole new team. More than half of last season's opening night roster is gone, including Loui Eriksson, Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Derek Roy, Brenden Morrow, Eric Nystrom, and many more. Even GM Joe Nieuwendyk, coach Glen Gulutzan and his entire coaching staff are gone, replaced with Jim Nill and former Sabres bench boss Lindy Ruff.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 9, 2013
 
St. Louis is an amazingly strong team from top to bottom -- fast, young, superbly well-coached and a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. The team made relatively few roster changes, other than shoring up their blue line late last season with veterans Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, and replacing Andy McDonald, David Perron and Scott Nichol with Derek Roy, Magnus Paajarvi and Maxim Lapierre. 
 
Robert Vollman 
September 9, 2013
 
Who should be Team Canada’s starting goalie at the upcoming 2014 Olympics in Sochi? Where does Carey Price fit in – should he be the starter, the back-up, or (gasp) not on the team at all?
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 9, 2013
 
All the breaks and bounces that went Nashville's way in 2011-12 turned against it in 2013, and the Predators missed the postseason for only the second time in nine seasons. GM David Poile invested heavily in Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg, Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks for a combined cap hit of $10.85 million per season, which, in theory, should provide a bit more firepower up front after a season in which they were tied for the fewest goals in the league (109 in 48 games).
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 8, 2013
 
The move to the new division means the excessive travel is over, but after two full seasons for the franchise in Winnipeg, the honeymoon may be over, too -- management and fans are now looking for some results.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 6, 2013
 
Minnesota really went all-in with the model of paying big money to secure a handful of elite talent and pinching pennies to fill the rest of the roster. It even went to great expense by trading two prospects and two solid draft picks to get Jason Pominville at the trade deadline.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 5, 2013
 
Not much was working for Colorado last season, as the Avalanche finished 27th in both goals for and goals against, and next to last in the entire league in the standings. The result? Eric Lacroix and coach Joe Sacco are out, replaced by new executive VPs Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy, the latter of whom will be their new head coach.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 4, 2013
 
Chicago made it until Game 25 before its first regulation loss of the lockout-shortened season and finished with an absolutely absurd .802 winning percentage. Though the Blackhawks were strangely overlooked for any individual awards -- including most notably coach Joel Quenneville for the Jack Adams -- they got the one trophy that mattered most: the Stanley Cup.
 
By Robert Vollman
August 9, 2013
 
I know many Colorado Avalanche fans had a bad experience with hockey analytics a few years ago. There are no doubt some significant mistakes and pitfalls to the use of analytics, which is why my new book is focused on its mainstream applications and limitations. That's also why Cheryl invited me to write a fan post to demonstrate what analytics can really tell us.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
July 17, 2013
 
Teams sometimes need to take big risks to compete for the Stanley Cup, and free-agent season provides a prime example of that. You can't get something for nothing, so NHL general managers often have to take some calculated gambles on long-term and pricey deals in order to get the talent their team needs. The shrewdest GMs reveal themselves by taking more calculated risks and avoiding the more reckless gambles.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
July 16, 2013
 
Free-agent season is a risky time, as teams open their wallets wide to fill some of the more troublesome holes in their lineups. But some NHL general managers acquire the talent they need with minimum risk, signing proven veterans to short-term deals with minimal cap hits. Every year we try to find the safest signings -- the players most likely to deliver what the team needs and provide the best return on the cap space committed to them.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 27, 2013
 
It's actually not often that things unfold exactly as analytics would expect them to, but here we are looking at the most statistically likely Eastern Conference Final matchup (despite a first round scare by the Toronto Maple Leafs). In Hockey Prospectus 2012-13, we had the Penguins and Bruins one and two. When our nine analysts published their preseason predictions, six of us picked the Penguins to appear in the Stanley Cup Finals, and one of us picked the Bruins (the other two picked the Rangers). For what it's worth, all six picked the Penguins to win it all, too. So here we are, with 2011's Stanley Cup champion against 2009's, and the fourth Eastern Conference Finals in the past six seasons that features at least one of these two teams. The question here is the same as it was on their last postseason encounter over twenty years ago: Can the Penguins be stopped?
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
May 1, 2013
 
We all knew when the lockout-shortened, 48-game 2013 NHL season began that some borderline team would qualify for the postseason by going on a hot streak it would have had difficulty sustaining over a full 82-game campaign. We just didn't know which team it would be. As it turns out, it looks as if that team is the Toronto Maple Leafs.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 30, 2013
 
In a rematch of last year's conference semifinal of two strong and well-coached possession monsters, including the defending Stanley Cup champions and potentially the league's hottest team, it's quite unfortunate that one of them has to go home so early.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 29, 2013
 
After Chicago started the season with points in their first 24 games, their streak was ended with back-to-back losses to Colorado and Edmonton, of all teams. Minnesota may have improved from lottery team to playoff bubble team with the offseason acquisitions of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, but at great expense. Fortunately, they made the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08 (and for the fourth time ever). On the surface, this already looks like a David vs. Goliath matchup…but when you look under the hood, it's actually even worse.
 
The Trade Deadline Talent Ledger
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
April 12, 2013
 
The trade deadline had a huge impact on a number of NHL rosters, but while some teams loaded up for a big playoff run, it comes at a cost. The Pittsburgh Penguins undeniably improved their team by the widest margin this trade deadline season, but also at a far higher future cost than any of this year's other buyers like the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. On the flip side, the Buffalo Sabres got the most future value and did so while giving up less than half of the next top-two sellers, the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
March 30, 2013
 
Puck-moving defensemen, value players who can log tough minutes and skilled goaltenders are the trade-deadline needs in the Northwest Division, whose postseason participants have been all but decided. The offseason acquisition of superstars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter instantly vaulted the Minnesota Wild into contention with the perennial division-leading Vancouver Canucks, while the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche continue to rebuild with youth (hopefully for the last season).
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
March 28, 2013
 
Four of the five Central Division teams made the playoffs last year, a historically typical result that could be cut in half in this abridged 2013 season due to the struggles of the Nashville Predators and the suddenly mortal Detroit Red Wings. This year's Stanley Cup champions could nevertheless still emerge from within, especially if the surging St. Louis Blues or nearly unbeatable Chicago Blackhawks get the key pieces they need at the trade deadline.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
February 15, 2013
 
Putting points on the board and filling box scores is all well and good, but when it comes to evaluating the NHL's truly great players, you have to consider their production in a deeper context -- you must account for the degree of difficulty. In truth, the NHL's most impressive players are those who are assigned the most difficult playing time and yet somehow find ways to make big contributions. That's why we are using player usage charts (see below), which graphically portray how players are being utilized and producing on the ice, to choose the 10 most impressive skaters to start this season.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
February 14, 2013
 
The most disappointing players are those who are assigned the most favorable playing opportunities and yet completely squander them. That's why we are using player usage charts (see below), which graphically portray how players are being used, to choose the 10 players, excluding goalies and rookies, who are off to this young season's most disappointing starts.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
January 16, 2013
 
Every season we at Hockey Prospectus use the VUKOTA system to help predict the league's top scorers. While there are a slew of familiar faces among the projected leaders, a new name tops the list this season, one of eight coming out of the Eastern Conference. Here are the top 10 projected scoring leaders for the 2013 NHL season, and their predicted goal totals for the 48-game campaign
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
January 15, 2013
 
Every season, we use the cold, dispassionate eye of the VUKOTA projection system to predict who will be the league's top defensemen. Even with the retirement of the legendary Nicklas Lidstrom, a Swede still finished on top. Here are the top 10 projected defensemen for the 2013 NHL season, along with their predicted goals versus threshold mark for the 48-game campaign
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 9, 2013
 
A great use of statistical hockey analysis is to find underrated players, like Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly. While a certain portion of his undeniable talent can obviously be picked up by simply watching him play, the full extent of his highly-disciplined defensive talent and possession-driving playmaking abilities can be more fully grasped when studying the underlying numbers.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 31, 2012
 
We thought we'd start off the new year with a new statistic, one that we hope can start to answer questions including which players are the league's best playmakers, and which players pass when they should be shooting (and vice versa). In so doing, we discovered Brian Campbell's unnaturally strong season in Florida last year, and an underrated playmaking star in Colorado.
 
Robert Vollman 
November 1, 2012
 
It's time for our third and final piece of looking at different statistical ways to project how many points each of the Canucks will score. If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards. We followed that up with a look at the defensemen and finally we'll take a look at the remaining, secondary forwards.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 31, 2012
 
It's time for our third and final piece of looking at different statistical ways to project how many points each of the Oilers will score. If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards. We followed that up with a look at the defensemen and finally we'll take a look at the remaining, secondary forwards.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 29, 2012
 
It's time for our third and final piece of looking at different statistical ways to project how many points each of the Maple Leafs will score. If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards. We followed that up with a look at the defensemen and finally we'll take a look at the remaining, secondary forwards.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 27, 2012
 
Every year we project how many points each of the players will score using a couple of different statistical methods, and why should a potential lockout season be any different? If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards. This time we'll cover the defensemen and then close up in a third and final piece that features the remaining, secondary forwards.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 26, 2012
 
Every year we project how many points each of the players will score using a couple of different statistical methods, and why should a potential lockout season be any different? If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards. This time we'll cover the defensemen and then close up in a third and final piece that features the remaining, secondary forwards.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 26, 2012
 
Every year we project how many points each of the players will score using a couple of different statistical methods, and why should a potential lockout season be any different? If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards. This time we'll cover the defensemen and then close up in a third and final piece that features the remaining, secondary forwards.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 23, 2012
 
The point projections you find in hockey magazines are based on the intuitive guesses of analysts who follow the teams closely, and can therefore occasionally be skewed by personal biases or wishful thinking. That's why it's best to supplement (not replace) them with purely statistically-based projections.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 22, 2012
 
Point projections you find in hockey magazines are based on the intuitive guesses of analysts who follow the teams closely, and can therefore occasionally be skewed by personal biases or wishful thinking. That's why it's best to supplement (not replace) them with purely statistically-based projections.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 19, 2012
 
The point projections you find in hockey magazines are based on the intuitive guesses of analysts who follow the teams closely, and can therefore occasionally be skewed by personal biases or wishful thinking. That's why it's best to supplement (not replace) them with purely statistically-based projections.
 
Flames Projections: Secondary Forwards
Robert Vollman 
October 18, 2012
 
Every year we project how many points each of the players will score using a couple of different statistical methods, and why should a potential lockout season be any different? If you're just tuning in, we explained our methodology in more detail in our first piece, which covered the top-six forwards. Last time we covered the defensemen and here in our third and final piece we'll look at the remaining, secondary forwards.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 10, 2012
 
Every year we like to look back at the best contract values of the season. To determine which players offer the best bang for the buck, we use Goals Versus Salary or GVS. Using both GVT and hockey's 3-1-1 rule, which states that every three goals (scored or prevented) gets you one point in the standings, and costs about one million dollars, GVS can determine how many goals of value a player is providing his team over and above what he's actually paid to produce.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 9, 2012
 
Rob Vollman once again presents projections for all the Winnipeg Jets using the two most popular statistical methods: VUKOTA and Snepsts. This final piece in the three-part series looks at their secondary forwards.
 
 
Robert Vollman 
October 9, 2012
 
For the third straight year we're using statistical methods to project how many points each of the Calgary Flames will score. In the first part, which you can read here, we look at their top-six forwards, as well as explaining our approach in a little more detail.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 8, 2012
 
Rob Vollman once again presents projections for all the Winnipeg Jets using the two most popular statistical methods: VUKOTA and Snepsts. This second piece looks at their defensemen.
 
 
Robert Vollman 
October 8, 2012
 
It was risky enough these past two years to publish scoring projections for each Calgary Flame using purely statistical analysis, but it's an even riskier proposition this year. If we lose the whole season then we'll have no idea how accurate our estimates were, and have even less information on which to base our projections next year. Even if the season starts late and they play fewer games, the luck inherent in the shorter season/smaller sample size could make our projections way off.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 5, 2012
 
Rob Vollman once again presents projections for all the Winnipeg Jets using the two most popular statistical methods: VUKOTA and Snepsts. This first piece looks at their top-six forwards.
 
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 1, 2012
 
As part of the recent two-part series on best and worst signings of this past offseason, we asked a panel of statistical analysts around the league about every single unrestricted free agent signing that carried a cap hit of at least $1.5 million, and whether they basically liked, disliked, or were neutral on each deal.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 25, 2012
 
When Craig Custance observed a positive consensus in the NHL statistical community about Michal Rozsival's one-year, $2 million deal in Chicago, it prompted me to figure out which other offseason deals provoked a similarly universal approval -- or disapproval.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 24, 2012
 
When Craig Custance observed a positive consensus in the statistical community about Michal Rozsival's one-year, $2 million deal in Chicago, it prompted me to figure out which other offseason deals provoked a similarly universal approval.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 31, 2012
 
With career seasons from virtually every member of the team, the Nashville Predators rode extremely fortunate shooting percentages to advance out of the first round for the second straight season, leading those who don't follow the team closely to assume they were a team on the rise.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 30, 2012
 
Not exactly the poster child of successful rebuilds, Columbus finally cut bait and dealt Rick Nash to the New York Rangers, abandoning the franchise player model for one built around versatile young players like the newly acquired Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 29, 2012
 
Unlike their world-killing start in 2010-11, the Blues got off to a slow start in 2011-12, right up until they replaced coach Davis Payne with Ken Hitchcock. While the team didn't necessarily get any better according to its underlying numbers, it certainly got luckier as its team save percentage rose from .913 to an astonishing .943.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 28, 2012
 
The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the league's top possession teams, but have suffered back-to-back first-round exits due to some especially atrocious luck. In 2010-11 they lost to the Vancouver Canucks despite outscoring them 22-16, and in 2011-12 they lost to Phoenix despite taking five of the six games to overtime, and dominating the Coyotes with 58.9 percent of all attempted shots in close-game situations, but scoring on fewer than half as many as their opponents.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 27, 2012
 
Finishing third in their division for the first time since Sergei Fedorov's rookie season over 20 years ago, one can excuse fans who hold the unfounded fear that the Wings' aging lineup will finally slide out of the postseason.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 24, 2012
 
The Flames' desire to safely sell out the Saddledome with a perenially competitive team rather than risk the rebuilding required to improve has left Calgary with a mediocre team that has been the best non-playoff team the past three seasons -- potentially soon to become four.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 23, 2012
 
A historic third straight overall No. 1 and a key summer signing pick loaded up the Oilers with an incredible collection of young talent that includes Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Sam Gagner, not to mention a similar wealth of secondary prospects and young talent.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 22, 2012
 
The Colorado Avalanche missed the postseason for the fifth time in the past seven seasons, which must feel strange for a franchise that previously qualified in 11 straight seasons -- including six appearances in the conference finals and two Stanley Cups. It was nevertheless a strong and promising 2011-12 season for Colorado, which generally controlled the play but simply couldn't convert shots and scoring chances into goals.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 21, 2012
 
The offseason acquisition of two of the biggest unrestricted free agents, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, instantly elevates Minnesota from one of the league's worst teams to a legitimate playoff bubble team -- but likely not beyond.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 20, 2012
 
Last season, a fourth consecutive 100-point and division-winning season for Vancouver came to an early end with the unlucky first-round draw of the highly underrated and red-hot Los Angeles Kings.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 17, 2012
 
Despite back-to-back second-place division finishes and playoff appearances, things didn't look good for the Coyotes this time last year. They lost their star goalie, were devoid of big-name talent, and threatened the Detroit Red Wings as the league's oldest team.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 16, 2012
 
After four seasons of coming up just short of the postseason and two coaching changes, the Dallas Stars reloaded this offseason, losing Mike Ribeiro and Sheldon Souray but adding big-name aging veterans Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, while trading secondary players Steve Ott and Adam Pardy to Buffalo for top-six center Derek Roy.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 15, 2012
 
Though the team has missed the postseason only once since Tomas Hertl, their first-round draft pick this year, was 4 years old, 2011-12 was still a disappointing season for the Sharks. San Jose had enjoyed two consecutive appearances in the final four, five straight 100-point seasons, the last four of which were first-place Pacific Division finishes -- all snapped with a second-place, 96-point finish and first-round exit.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 14, 2012
 
Despite dropping 19 points and missing the playoffs, Anaheim was actually a slightly better team last season, just not nearly as lucky. For example, the Ducks' overtime and shootout record went from 13-5 in 2010-11 to 5-12 last season, a swing that could account for up to 15 of the 19 points by itself.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 13, 2012
 
With the fourth-best possession statistics in the league going into the playoffs, the Kings hardly came out of nowhere. Dominating their opponents all season, their only struggle was the bad luck that kept their shooting percentage to a ridiculous, league-worst 7.5 percent. They became virtually unstoppable once things clicked.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
July 10, 2012
 
The NHL offseason always tends to bring hope to fan bases looking for their teams to improve for the coming season. And the activities of the 2012 offseason have been especially exciting for non-playoff teams. Minnesota opened its wallet wide to acquire Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Carolina acquired Jordan Staal from the Penguins, and the Stars' many moves included signing ageless superstars Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr. Now that the dust has settled to some degree, we can provide an advanced glimpse of who this year's winners and losers will be.
 
Robert Vollman 
June 30, 2012
 
UFA season is upon us, and everyone is looking for the so-called “moneypuck” players – those that make contributions directly related to winning in ways that are currently undervalued. These are the players who can play tough minutes, drive puck possession and territorial advantage, and contribute in other undervalued ways, like winning faceoffs and drawing penalties.
 
Robert Vollman 
June 29, 2012
 
In a previous piece we looked at top line defensemen and found out two keys facts: there will be very few available through free agency, and some of the most effective top pairing defensemen were elite defensemen paired up with guys who were previously on 2nd or 3rd pairings. Given the difficulty in acquiring an existing top pairing defenseman, this week we'll use Player Usage Charts to find which 2nd line defensemen are the most likely candidates for top line duty next season.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
June 26, 2012
 
We often supplement our analysis of goaltenders with an examination of Quality Starts, so with the exciting conclusion to the 2011-12 NHL season, we bring to you a quick recap of the statistic, the 2011-12 leaderboard, and a brief examination of three of this year's more interesting cases, Tuukka Rask, Ondrej Pavelec, and Evgeni Nabokov.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
June 19, 2012
 
With the Stanley Cup finals in the books, it's time for every NHL team to tinker with its roster and see how it can retool for next season. The analysts of Hockey Prospectus provide some help, identifying the biggest shortcoming on every NHL roster using their GVT valuation metric and offering a unique suggestion on how to fix it for 2012-13. The series continues with fixes for the five teams in the Northwest Division, where the Canucks need more depth on defense.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
June 18, 2012
 
With the Stanley Cup finals in the books, it's time for every NHL team to tinker with its roster and see how it can retool for next season. The analysts of Hockey Prospectus provide some help, identifying the biggest shortcoming on every NHL roster using their GVT valuation metric and offering a unique suggestion on how to fix it for 2012-13. The series continues with fixes for the five teams in the Central Division, where the Red Wings need to replace a legend.
 
Robert Vollman 
June 9, 2012
 
This new, regular feature on NHLNumbers will share interesting stats-related posts from around the web every week. This week's includes Player Usage Charts, Zone Entries, the most dangerous leads in hockey and Darryl Sutter's effect on goalies.
 
Robert Vollman 
May 30, 2012
 
The Norris Trophy is awarded every year to the defenseman who "demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position", but how can you truly separate a defenseman from his regular partner? The model adopted by the William Jennings trophy, which is handed out to both goalies despite the fact that you truly can separate their performances, is the one I prefer.
 
Rookie Usage Charts
Robert Vollman 
May 26, 2012
 
In his excellent recent article on 2011-12 rookie scoring, Jonathan Willis hinted how the situation in which a player is used can give them either a great advantage (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) or put them at a great disadvantage (Sean Couturier). One way to graphically represent these advantages and disadvantages is with Player Usage Charts.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 11, 2012
 
Every year, the Selke Award is given out to the "National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game," as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. It's a very subjective choice for almost all of its 180 voting members, but certainly not because of the inability to add some objective criteria, something we'll demonstrate today by looking at 20 leading candidates using a dozen different defensive metrics.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 10, 2012
 
It's the Gretzky Bowl! Two franchises once saved by the Great One face off in an unlikely all-Pacific Western Conference Final in a classic clash of possession vs. percentage. Phoenix has advanced to the Conference Final for the first time in franchise history, even dating back to their time as the Winnipeg Jets. The Los Angeles Kings are poised to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992-93, or if it weren't for Kerry Fraser, ever.
 
Robert Vollman 
May 7, 2012
 
Measuring a player’s defensive contributions statistically is currently one of the most difficult things to do. You can’t just look at goals (or shots) against, because the great defensive players are up against the toughest opponents and in their own end, while the weaker ones are against softer opponents mostly in the opposing zone. Calculating for this is very challenging and even if you could, is there really a way to compare how effectively a player in one situation did relative to someone in another?
 
Robert Vollman 
April 30, 2012
 
In every week's black box we saw how well the Flames fared with each individual player on the ice, in terms of attempted shots, scoring chances, and actual goals (here's the final weekly black box summary). This week we'll take a look back and look at Calgary's even-strength data in a variety of ways, separating offense from defense and seeing with which players the Flames enjoyed the most success converting attempted shots to scoring chances, and scoring chances to goals, and with which players they were most successful preventing opponents from doing the same.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 25, 2012
 
The Sunbelt Showdown (or the Balsillie Bowl, if you prefer), should be a classic goaltender's duel with one of these two franchises advancing to the Conference Finals for the first time in their respective histories. This match-up will also feature the two worst possession teams still alive—Phoenix was 19th in the regular season at 49.2% with Nashville 29th at 46.1%. They also both got destroyed possession-wise in the first round, Nashville finishing 14th at 42.5% and Phoenix dead last with 41.1%. I hope you like dump-ins.
 
By Robert Vollman and Jonathan Willis, ESPN Insider
April 24, 2012
 
Interesting cases can be made for and against the Nashville Predators winning the Stanley Cup this season. Hockey Prospectus take a look at both sides of the coin to determine whether this is the year the Preds hoist the hardware.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 24, 2012
 
Do you like goals? Too bad! Because there will be very few of them as St. Louis continues its tour of California, taking on the equally defensive-minded Los Angeles Kings. The good news is that the lower the score, the more random variations can affect outcomes, which means this series excitingly unpredictable.
 
Robert Vollman 
April 24, 2012
 
For two years now we’ve set pre-season individual scoring expectations for the Calgary Flames, using Tom Awad’s famed VUKOTA system, and our own Snepsts System to set worst-case, best-case and average scoring expectations for each player. As the season progresses sometimes our perception of a player gets skewed, so it makes sense to go back in time and compare their year-end scoring to the actual expectations we had of them before the season began. Recently we did this with the top-six forwards, and last week with the defensemen, and now finally we’ll look at the remaining secondary forwards, starting with David Moss.
 
Robert Vollman 
April 23, 2012
 
How well did Winnipeg’s secondary forwards do this year, scoring-wise? By going back and comparing their year-end scoring to the pre-season projections we established using Tom Awad’s famed VUKOTA system and our own Snepsts System, we’ve gotten a good idea at how well Winnipeg’s top-six forwards and defensemen performed, leaving just the secondary forwards for this final piece.
 
Robert Vollman 
April 19, 2012
 
This week we’ll look at Jay Bouwmeester, Anton Babchuk and Mark Giordano, followed by a look at the scaled down version we adopted for those of more modest scoring like Cory Sarich, Scott Hannan and Chris Butler. We’ll conclude with a look back at the AHL-to-NHL translations we used to predict scoring for those with limited NHL experience like T.J. Brodie, Derek Smith and the relatively unused Brett Carson and Clay Wilson.
 
Robert Vollman 
April 17, 2012
 
How did Winnipeg’s defensemen do this year versus expectations? Before the season began we set expectations using both Tom Awad’s highly respected VUKOTA system and the Snepsts System, which searches NHL’s vast history for players with comparable era-adjusted scoring statistics, and uses their future performance to set high-water, low-water and average scoring expectations for every Jet.
 
Robert Vollman 
April 16, 2012
 
Whose role changed the most from 2010-11 to 2011-12? You'd probably say Chris Butler, who went from Buffalo's depth blue line to Calgary's top pairing, or perhaps Cory Sarich and Matt Stajan, who went from useful secondary players to the depth lines. Fortunately, there's a way to objectively measure player's role changes from season to season using the same OZQoC charts we've reviewed every week this season
 
Robert Vollman 
April 12, 2012
 
It takes guts to put your predictions out there for everyone to see, but perhaps it takes more guts than brains to bring them back for review. On the other hand, it really is a win-win situation. If the predictions are way off, the information can be used to improve the system, and if the predictions are accurate, well then there will doubtlessly be a line-up of ladies at our doors wanting to get with us. Or some other kind of suitable reward, I’m sure.
 
Robert Vollman 
April 11, 2012
 
You see lots of player projections before the season begins, but how often do we take a look back to check their accuracy? While it takes guts to put your theories and predictions out there, it takes even more guts (or perhaps foolishness) to re-visit them after the fact.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 9, 2012
 
Two exceptionally well-coached teams face off in the postseason for the first time, a match-up that pits a classic puck possession team against a group of overachievers playing in front of white-hot goaltending. Both teams would see a first-round exit as a tremendous disappointment, but someone has to go home early.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 9, 2012
 
How important is puck possession? While Nashville improved their team considerably at the trade deadline, they're still one of the league's worst puck possession teams facing off against one of the league's best. They're also a franchise without any history of postseason success (barring what was essentially a bye in the opening round last season) facing off against the most-storied NHL franchise of the past 20 years. Will their goaltending, special teams play, home ice advantage, and a healthy serving of good fortune be enough to overcome the Red Wings?
 
Robert Vollman 
April 9, 2012
 
It's small comfort, but the Calgary Flames are the best non-playoff team for the third season in a row, save for being a single point behind Dallas in 2010-11. They had a better regulation record than the San Jose Sharks, but unfortunately random skills competitions are part of today's game and their 5-16 record were one of the many small things that did them in.
 
Robert Vollman 
April 2, 2012
 
When you're a play-off bubble team whose top lines can't quite compete with opposing teams, you rely on catching a few breaks in order to qualify for the post-season. If instead your team loses 5.5 points on the random OT/shoot-out chance, and are among the league leaders in man-games lost to injury, then you need to build a far better team to be playing hockey in mid-April.
 
Robert Vollman 
March 29, 2012
 
When the playoff hunt is over, the various milestones are the only interesting things worth watching that remain. You know about the big milestones, like Jarome Iginla's amazing 11 consecutive 30-goal streak or Jay Bouwmeester's iron man streak, having recently passed Billy Harris into 7th all-time, but what about the more trivial milestones?
 
Robert Vollman 
March 26, 2012
 
Top lines dominated all year by their opponents in puck possession, shots, scoring chances and goals squandered a season with solid goaltending, good depth and improved special teams play. Unfortunately the exciting race for the final three post-season positions will have to manage without the Calgary Flames
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 22, 2012
 
In their quest to advance deep this postseason and keep their team together, the Predators sacrificed significant long-term potential at the trade deadline in order to rent some useful depth pieces. But now, with the return to the Predators of the KHL's best player Alexander Radulov, has Nashville moved up to stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the Western Conference?
 
Robert Vollman 
March 21, 2012
 
Success in the salary cap era is all about getting value for the dollar. The successful teams find bargains while the non-contenders are paying premiums for every goal scored or prevented. As the season winds down, let’s see where the Calgary Flames have value, and where they don’t.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
March 20, 2012
 
Despite their long history, the league's largest fan base, a lot of money and access to the best hockey minds in the sport, the Toronto Maple Leafs are about to miss the postseason for the seventh consecutive time -- the league's longest active futility streak (assuming the Florida Panthers hang on). What gives?
 
Robert Vollman 
March 19, 2012
 
Going into Sunday nights games Calgary is still hanging on to post-season hopes, with the general consensus being about a 1-in-3 chance. Chicago can probably book their tickets, but no team is yet to drop out of the race for the other three.
 
Robert Vollman 
March 15, 2012
 
The Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, affectionately dubbed Dorkapalooza by ESPN’s Bill Simmons, is an annual student-run hockey stats seminar hosted at MIT in Boston. It was founded in 2006 by Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets and Jessica Gelman to “provide a forum to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry.”
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 14, 2012
 
Quality Starts, awarded to goalies on a game-by-game basis for playing well enough for this team to win, is slowly catching on in the mainstream. First introduced as one of our first offerings back in 2009 (as a blatant rip-off of the similar pitching statistic in baseball), a Quality Start is awarded if the starting goalie stops a league average number of shots (typically 91.2%), or plays at least as well as a replacement-level goalie (88.5%) while allowing two goals or fewer.
 
Robert Vollman 
March 12, 2012
 
Sven Baertschi got his opportunity when nine men were simultaneously unavailable. I know exactly how he felt, thanks to my dating history. As of Saturday night's games, and thanks to their overtime victory over the Flames, Dallas jumped up the list in the playoff probability picture, practically in clinch territory with the Chicago Blackhawks.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 6, 2012
 
The Nashville Predators lead the list of teams that made the largest statistical improvements, moving Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney, a first round choice, and two second round choices for Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Gaustad, and a fourth round choice—which should have a net effect of about three goals the rest of the way.
 
Robert Vollman 
March 5, 2012
 
Calgary's chances of qualifying for the post-season have dropped right back down to the 23%-28% range. Hot goaltending isn't enough to help them squeeze in, they'll need improved possession-based play from their top-six forwards and their top-four defensemen.
 
Robert Vollman 
March 1, 2012
 
Guillaume Desbiens is just one of several AHLers we've seen so far this season. Who else do the Calgary Flames have down with the Abbotsford Heat, and what would they be capable of at the NHL level? A fun and statistical look at depth talent using AHL-to-NHL league translation factors.
 
Robert Vollman 
February 27, 2012
 
A tough 3-loss week for the Flames drags their post-season potential back down to the 27-32% range into the close race for 8th with Dallas, Los Angeles and Colorado. Their only regulation loss of February was at the hands of the 29th place Edmonton Oilers – who actually have a better goal differential than the Flames!
 
Robert Vollman 
February 24, 2012
 
For the past two seasons we have used a system named after Vancouver legend Harold Snepsts to search NHLs history for players similar to Calgary Flames like Jay Bouwmeester, and using their future performance to help set our expectations as objectively as possible.
 
Robert Vollman 
February 22, 2012
 
Using a revised version of the Snepsts system, we found over a dozen players that matched Evander Kane's basic statistics - let's see if any of them match him this season (who is on pace for 30 goals and 50 points), and shed some light on what the future may have in store.
 
Robert Vollman 
February 20, 2012
 
Calgary is yet to lose in regulation time in February, going 5-0-3 in that span, doubling their odds of qualifying for the post-season into the 49%-52% range, their highest of the season. However, they are still 27th in close-game shot-based possession metrics, and their -13 goal differential would certainly be the worst of any post-season participant, so they're peddling uphill.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
February 16, 2012
 
Feb. 27 marks the NHL's trade deadline, and every team in the league -- both the playoff-bound and those likely for the draft lottery -- has needs to address. To prepare for the final flurry of transactions, we're going team by team to see which players could help fill some holes on contenders or provide some foundational stability for teams building for next season and beyond.
 
Robert Vollman 
February 13, 2012
 
Five games into February and the Flames are yet to lose in regulation, boosting their statistical chances of a post-season appearance to the 33%-36% range, just short of their season high set in late December. Calgary's currently in 9th place, two points back of the final playoff position.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
February 11, 2012
 
Alan Ryder's 2011 NHL Review came out a few weeks ago, a 90-page monster of condensed statistical analysis, and as usual it included some pretty stunning conclusions. How unimportant is defense, what part of Hockey Prospectus 2011-12 was "bollocks", which non-Vezina-nominated goalie beat out Tim Thomas as the league's best goalie, which non-Norris-nominated defensemen finished in a three-way tie as the league's best blueliner, and while Anze Kopitar was 10th, which teammate was ranked the league's 18th-best forward (hint: it wasn't Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, or even Ryan Smyth)?
 
Robert Vollman 
February 9, 2012
 
Mike Cammalleri is back! But he has just 2 points - both goals - and is -6 in 8 games. This doesn't seem like the only Flame to beat Jarome Iginla in the goal-scoring race since Valeri Bure in 1999-2000. What gives?
 
Robert Vollman 
February 6, 2012
 
Calgary lost two of three since our last update, dropping their chances of making the post-season to the 20%-23% range. Brendan Morrison is gone, making room for Krys Kolanos, who played his first NHL game in three years.
 
Robert Vollman 
February 2, 2012
 
Calgary's post-season chances are somewhere between 15% and 30%, and based on GM Jay Feaster's recent tweet that "our mandate is to win now" are unlikely to be among the sellers making a lot of waves at the trade deadline. Robert Vollman looks at which players might be on the move should the team struggle through February.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
February 2, 2012
 
Last month, we revisited the Bounce Back Index to find the players whose performance were restored to previously-established levels, so this month we'll revisit the Slide Back Index to identify the players whose previously impressive performances proved to be only temporary.
 
Robert Vollman 
January 30, 2012
 
What are the chances Calgary makes the post-season this year? Depending on your level of optimism, it’s statistically somewhere between 17% and 30%. Robert Vollman looks at a variety of different statistical models to try to pin their chances more exactly.
 
Robert Vollman 
January 25, 2012
 
Measuring a player’s defensive abilities and contributions is very difficult, as we discussed in the recent Babchuk vs Regehr series but perhaps there are a few things to be learned from catch-all statistics, like Hockey-Reference’s point shares, Tom Awad’s GVT, Alan Ryder’s Player Contributions and the WhatIfSports engine, and how they defensively rank Calgary’s current blue line of Anton Babchuk, Chris Butler, Cory Sarich, Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano and Scott Hannan since the lock-out.
 
Robert Vollman 
January 23, 2012
 
After a highly successful road trip Hockey-Reference.com currently puts Calgary's chances of a post-season berth at 28.7%. What impact will having their leading scorer, top penalty-killer and best shut-down forward Curtis Glencross out of the line-up for 6-8 weeks?
 
Robert Vollman 
January 20, 2012
 
In part one we saw how catch-all statistics appear to do a great job in determining the defensive strength of an entire team, but appear to be lousy at assigning those defensive contributions to the individual players. This week we’ll discuss an alternative way of assigning credit, apply it to the Calgary Flames defense for every season since the lock-out, and see if it passes the sniff test.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
January 18, 2012
 
The New York Rangers sit atop the NHL standings with 62 points through 44 games. It is a very impressive achievement, one that led owner James Dolan to address the media for the first time in years and boast that he feels the team is close to winning the Stanley Cup. The Rangers certainly are in the Cup hunt, but a look at how they've reached their league-best point total indicates that they might not be able to sustain their streak of success and, in fact, are in line for a second-half slump. And they're not the only ones.
 
Robert Vollman 
January 16, 2012
 
In his weekly statistical review of the Calgary Flames, Robert Vollman discusses how newly acquired Michael Cammalleri fits in, the gradual slide of Olli Jokinen and linemate Curtis Glencross since being paired up with Jarome Iginla, and share some good news on the blue line.
 
Robert Vollman 
January 15, 2012
 
Last year, Anton Babchuk was not better defensively than Robyn Regehr. I really hope I haven’t blown the minds of anyone that watched even a single game, but that sentence is surprisingly controversial in the statistical community. In this first of a two-part series I’m going to reveal the controversy, and explain exactly why there are statisticians who might lead you to believe that Babchuk is as effective at shutting down opponents as Regehr, then in part two I’ll try to offer up a solution.
 
Robert Vollman 
January 12, 2012
 
Just like on-ice shooting percentage the team’s even-strength save percentage with a particular player on the ice is influenced not only by the goalie himself, but by the player’s linemates, their opponents, the player’s own abilities to prevent high-quality chances, and of course luck.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
January 10, 2012
 
The Anaheim Ducks are off to their worst start in franchise history, and while the early struggles of some teams can be explained by having some bad puck luck, the disappointments in Anaheim are endemic and should be coming as absolutely no surprise. Will new coach Bruce Boudreau help? Probably not, in fact they might finish as the league's worst team this season. However, the Ducks are onto something else that might help turn the franchise around.
 
Robert Vollman 
January 9, 2012
 
In his weekly statistical review of the Calgary Flames, Robert Vollman discusses how strong Mikael Backlund is actually playing, how Scott Hannan is struggling without Mark Giordano and how Anton Babchuk is as good on the power play as he is bad at even-strength
 
Robert Vollman 
January 8, 2012
 
Alan Ryder just published his annual NHL Review over at Hockey Analytics – a 90-page monster full of everything you need to know about the 2010-11 NHL season, which begs the following questions for many of who: Who is Alan Ryder, and why should anyone with even a glimmer of interest in advanced statistical hockey analysis go and read it immediately?
 
Robert Vollman and FlamesNation 
January 6, 2012
 
Robert Vollman and the rest of the FlamesNation panel take a look at Calgary's post-season potential, and what they would do at the trade deadline, especially with Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 5, 2012
 
A cost-effective way for NHL teams to compete is to sign players coming off one or more bad seasons at a bargain rate, and then hope they bounce back to an earlier level of performance. What do these players look like and how do you find them?
 
Robert Vollman 
January 2, 2012
 
Robert Vollman takes his weekly look under the hood, using advanced statistical analysis to see how the Calgary Flames are using their players, and what impact they are having on the team over-all.
 
Robert Vollman 
December 30, 2011
 
The combined shooting percentage of everyone with whom a player has shared the ice at even-strength is a consequence of several factors, including their combined shooting talent, the average quality of their opponents, the player’s own ability to set up his teammates and, of course, lots of luck.
 
Robert Vollman 
December 26, 2011
 
Christmas came right on time for the Calgary Flames, picking up 6 points in 4 games to pull into 10th place in the Western Conference, just two points back of Nashville Predators in 8th, who are 1 point back of the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks. This seasonal treat was thanks to the Flames winning the games they needed to at home, including a tough one against Detroit, and stealing one of their two road games against the Vancouver Canucks. Unfortunately happy fun time might be over thanks to six straight games on the road, where they are currently the worst team in the league, especially when none of them are in Colorado or Edmonton. In the true spirit of Christmas, let’s rip open this week’s black box like it was a GI Joe (with kung fu grip).
 
Robert Vollman 
December 23, 2011
 
Situational effects, like zone starts and quality of competition, are stronger in close game situations, and also more pronounced for forwards than defensemen, according to a quick mid-season study of the Calgary Flames.
 
Robert Vollman and FlamesNation 
December 23, 2011
 
As we find ourselves only two days away from Christmas, we at Flames Nation decided to make a few last minute requests to jolly St. Nick to see if there is a chance at some last minute gift ideas that he might be able to sneak under the Calgary Flames Christmas tree.
 
Robert Vollman 
December 19, 2011
 
Last week we discussed how the Flames were the league's 3rd worst road team (based on close game shot-based metrics), and sure enough they dropped three straight on the road to Nashville, Tampa Bay and Florida - and now they are dead last! Oh well, at least they walked away with two loser points.
 
Robert Vollman 
December 12, 2011
 
The Calgary Flames are making the very most of the soft part of their schedule, and their .517 points percentage now includes them in a gigantic tie for 18th overall, just two points out of the final post-season position to which Nashville is hanging on like Chris Chelios to his NHL career.
 
Robert Vollman 
December 9, 2011
 
There has been much discussion about whether the Calgary Flames need to "blow it up" and rebuild the team with high draft picks just like divisional rivals like the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche or the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders in the East. Unfortunately, there are four fundamental flaws with this approach.
 
Robert Vollman 
December 5, 2011
 
Three very strong games got the Calgary Flames five points, boosting them to exactly where they were last year at this point. Weekly followers of the Black Box know that their goaltending and even-strength play has been reasonable, but they'll need much-improved special teams play and more even-strength offense to get the 73 points in the 57 remaining games (.640, like Chicago and 6 other current teams) to clinch their first play-off berth since Mike Keenan was behind the bench and Mike Cammalleri was their leading goal-scorer.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 1, 2011
 
The Snepsts system doesn't only make projections, but it can also tell us who might make a bigger jump in production.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 1, 2011

One of the more popular new developments this year is the OZQoC Chart (Pronounced "Oz Coke"), which is a handy visual representation of how players are being used. At a glance it's an easy way to understand the roles assigned to each player so we have the context in which to study their statistics.

Robert Vollman 
November 30, 2011
 
A tough week capped a tough first quarter for the Calgary Flames, who find themselves dead last in the Northwest Division, 3rd last in the Western Conference, and 5th last over-all at the 22-game mark. That bad start is already in the books and there's nothing that can be done about that, but what happens from here – is the season truly over?
 
Robert Vollman 
November 28, 2011
 
By searching the league for players being used in similar ways we can see how the Flames are stacking up against their peers on other teams. It will probably be obvious which players are playing their roles very well and which ones might need a change of assignment.
 
Robert Vollman 
November 24, 2011
 
For the past couple of months we've been using the Snepsts System to search the NHL's entire history for players with similar era-adjusted statistics as our beloved Flames, and then basing projections on what happened to those similar players. This week we're going to bring it all together and see what the final scoring totals may look like at year's end.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 22, 2011
 
Wrapping up a four-part series on improving AHL-to-NHL translations, Robert Vollman looks at who's exceeded and fallen short of expectations thus far.
 
Robert Vollman 
November 21, 2011
 
In today's NHL it's normally wise to keep scoring down. The lower the scoring, the greater the chance for shoot-out or overtime, leading to a lot more so-called loser points (plus a roughly 50% chance of a further point) In fact, if you could arrange to end every regulation game tied you'd earn at least 82 points, plus likely another 41 from what is effectively a statistical coin toss, giving you 123 points and the President's trophy. All of sudden Guy Boucher's trap makes a great deal of sense!
 
Robert Vollman 
November 17, 2011
 
Let's take a quick look at the OZQoC charts for the Winnipeg Jets, which tells us at a glance how their players are being used. We'll use OZQoC charts again, to map zone starts against Quality of Competition.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 15, 2011
 
Which teams are most likely to sustain their fast and slow starts? Using just simple box score statistics, early in the season it's difficult to tell which of the strong teams are legitimately strong and which ones are just lucky.
 
Robert Vollman 
November 14, 2011
 
Week six, and the Calgary Flames are tied for 25th over-all with the Anaheim Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes, ahead of just the Winnipeg Jets, the New York Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets. The main reason for having only the Jackets between them and the Western Conference basement floor is having scored just 35 goals scored in 16 games – more than only the Ducks and Islanders.
 
Robert Vollman 
November 13, 2011
 
If you're going to have someone whose only purpose is fighting, they might as well be good at it. The Flames have had goons like Andre Roy, Brian McGrattan, Krzystof Oliwa and Raitis Ivanans – some seriously bad dudes (and I don't just mean their hockey skills).
 
Robert Vollman 
November 12, 2011
 
This year we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's. We've already looked at most of the Flames key forwards and defensemen, and this week we'll look at some of their reserve forwards: Lance Bouma, Stefan Meyer, Paul Byron and Greg Nemisz.
 
Robert Vollman 
November 8, 2011
 
Recently Georges Laraque claimed that enforcers and top-tier NHL athletes are on performance-enhancing drugs like steroids, and claims that you can "prove" this by looking at changes in a player's performance during Olympic years, when NHL players are subject to far more extensive drug tests. Theoretically, Laraque argues, player performance will take a dip in Olympic seasons as they get off the drugs, and return to normal the following season.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 8, 2011
 
We've already started off the new season with a deep dive into the translation factors we use for players coming from the AHL—a veritable treasure trove of data given the high volume of players who make the move every season. These players have been divided into three categories, the young players, the 23- to 26-year-olds, and the past-their-prime players, each of whose scoring expectations need to be treated differently. Having covered the first two groups in previous articles, we'll cover the final group today, in anticipation of wrapping it up and bringing it all together in a final piece.
 
Robert Vollman 
November 7, 2011
 
Five weeks and 13 games into the season and the Flames are playing exactly .500 hockey, just like the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks. I didn't expect to ever put that sentence together. Calgary's offense has been struggling, managing just 30 goals in 13 games, more than just Detroit, Los Angeles, Anaheim and the Islanders. Wow, another sentence I wasn't expecting to assemble.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 7, 2011
 
Still using the classic 0.45 translation factor to predict how well AHL players will perform in the NHL? While that simple approach will steer you right most of the time, we've recently been taking a deeper look at more multivariate models for projecting NHL scoring based on AHL performance.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 31, 2011
 
One month into the season and despite back-to-back wins the Flames are 2nd last in the Western Conference. On the other hand they're only 2 points out of the 8th-place play-off spot. Rene Bourque leads the team with 5 goals, Alex Tanguay with 7 assists, Olli Jokinen with 28 shots (and 2nd to Tanguay with 7 points), and rookie Roman Horak leads the club with +3 (with 5 points thrown in for good measure). Captain Jarome Iginla is leading all forwards in playing time, but is 4th in shots – just 1 ahead of Lee Stempniak – has just 2 goals and 4 points, and sits alone at the bottom with a -3. Ah, but these are just the so-called box car stats, let dive in to something more advanced!
 
Robert Vollman 
October 27, 2011
 
Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. Now that we've moved on to players with limited NHL, we're switching to AHL-to-NHL Translations. We've already looked at most of the Flames key forwards and key defensemen, and this week we'll look at some of their reserve defensemen: Derek Smith, Clay Wilson, T.J. Brodie and Brendan Mikkelson.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 25, 2011
 
Why are missed nets excluded from a player's shooting percentage? For goalies it makes sense not to include shots that missed the net, but why aren't players penalized for attempting to score, and missing the net altogether?
 
Robert Vollman 
October 24, 2011
 
Every Monday we'll be posting a weekly statistical update on how the Flames have fared with each of their individual players on the ice. We’ve included a dash of interpretive analysis, and links to more detailed explanations for what the stats mean, and how to avoid Don Cherry-ing their application. Raw stats, courtesy Behind the Net, minus Kent Wilson's scoring chances.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 21, 2011
 
Robert Vollman returns with the second of a four-part study of AHL-to-NHL translations, trying to improve on the existing approach by breaking the players up into four different groups on age, with a quick look at the young stars.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 19, 2011
 
Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's. We've already looked at most of the Flames key forwards and key defensemen, and this week we'll look at some of their secondary defensemen: Cory Sarich, Chris Butler, Scott Hannan and Brett Carson.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 17, 2011
 
Every Monday we'll be posting a weekly statistical update on how the Flames have fared with each of their individual players on the ice. Last week was rather tame, but now that we have four games worth of data, things ought to start getting interesting.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 14, 2011
 
Every Thursday (and sometimes Friday) we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's. We've already looked at most of the Flames key forwards and key defensemen, and this week we'll look at some of their secondary forwards: Tom Kostopoulos, Tim Jackman and Mikael Backlund.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 12, 2011
 
Last week, we developed a theory that those who underperform scoring expectations after a deadline trade are likely to also underperform the following season. If that's true, here's who may regress.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 11, 2011
 
Every Monday we'll be posting a weekly statistical update on how the Flames have fared with each of their individual players on the ice. This first week will be rather tame not only because they've played just a single game, but because two of the major statistical sites on which we rely aren't set up with 2011-12 data yet. Consider this a trial run, and a good way to see what it will look when it's all put together.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 11, 2011
 
The Snepsts System, which has been featured on Hockey Prospectus (including our latest book), Flames Nation, and Arctic Ice Hockey (formerly Behind the Net) is a projection system that searches the NHL's long history for players with similar scoring-adjusted career statistics, and uses their future scoring to set expectations for today's players. Without any ado, here are this year's leading scorers, according to Snepsts
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
October 6, 2011
 
We love our VUKOTA projections, but we've all got slightly divergent ideas of who's going to be successful and who's going to fail in the upcoming 2011-12 NHL season.Take a look at our individual projections for the major trophies, as well as our best guesses on which teams and individuals have surprisingly good or bad seasons.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 6, 2011
 
Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's. We've already looked at most of the Flames key forwards, including Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross. This week we'll be looking at David Moss and Brendan Morrison. Today we'll look at the key defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano and Anton Babchuk.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 6, 2011
 
Over the past couple of months we've used various types of projection systems, including Vukota, Snepsts and AHL translations, to set scoring expectations for the Winnipeg Jets. In our final piece we'll put it all together.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 5, 2011
 
Did post-trade performance in 2009-10 give indications of which players would perform well or poorly in 2010-11? While it could explain Lubomir Visnovsky's success, other examples are harder to come by.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 3, 2011
 
Every week this season we'll be providing a statistical update on the Flames, broken up into four sections. First, an OZQoC chart to clarify the roles each player has been assigned, then the team's success with them on the ice at even-strength, followed by special teams, and finally a look at the goaltending.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 30, 2011
 
Nobody likes to hear that players on their favourite teams are going to regress, which is perhaps why Detroit Red Wings fans really gave it to us during the Summer Skate series when we dared to suggest that a certain 41-year-old Norris Trophy winner might not improve this season. But the harsh reality is that the projection was made by the cold, dispassionate calculations of VUKOTA -- as was this year's list of the 10 most likely players to regress in terms of our player value stat, goals versus threshold (GVT)
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 30, 2011
 
Mere moments after hoisting the Stanley Cup, Mark Recchi announced his retirement from the NHL. Of him, there are but two things to know, both of which are revealed by typing "Mark Recchi is" into a Google Search, and waiting to see what is automatically generated: Mark Recchi is awesome, and Mark Recchi is old.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 30, 2011
 
Over the years, we've learned to identify the types of players that most consistently match or even exceed the breakout potentials predicted by the VUKOTA system. Looking at such factors as previous history, age and puck luck, we've picked 10 players who have the best chance at breakout seasons in terms of our player valuation metric, goals versus threshold (GVT).
 
Robert Vollman 
September 29, 2011
 
Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's. We've already looked at most of the Flames key forwards, including Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross. This week we'll be looking at David Moss and Brendan Morrison.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 29, 2011
 
Rob Vollman created the Snepsts projection system back in 2009. It does surprisingly well, compared to its famous second cousin, VUKOTA. We have published 29 projections since the Snepsts system was first developed three years ago, and they've been off by an average of just 1.25 points overall, which is excellent.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 26, 2011
 
Every Monday we'll be producing a statistical summary of the Flames, starting with an OZQoC chart to describe each player's role and put their stats into context, followed by their even-strength data, and finally the piece being described today - their performance on the special teams.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 25, 2011
 
To set objective scoring expectations, we've spent the last six weeks searching NHL's vast history for players with similar era-adjusted statistics as virtually every player on the Winnipeg Jets roster with sufficient NHL experience. But what do we do with those who have spent large parts of their recent career in the AHL? This week we'll use AHL-to-NHL translations (NHL Equivalencies) to set expectations for the non-NHL regulars on the roster: Tim Stapleton, Ben Maxwell, Brett Festerling and Derek Meech.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 23, 2011
 
Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's. Previously we've covered Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman. This week we'll be looking at Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 22, 2011
 
As part of an ongoing study on how to predict breakout players, we've been studying players with dramatic changes in their shooting percentages. Recent work has shown that there's a strong correlation between players who significantly exceeded or missed expectations, and changes in their shooting percentages, so figuring out who is due for big swings in shooting percentages is one of the keys to finding players both trending sharply up, and trending sharply down.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 21, 2011
 
As part of a larger study to better predict breakout players, we've researched the correlation between scoring rates and ice-time, to better identify those who might be overdue for either an increase or a reduction. Simply put, the premise is that the more you score, the more ice-time you should get, especially on the power play, and especially for forwards. Using the basic formula we developed to determine how much ice-time a player should get based on his even-strength scoring, we can find which players are getting more or less than their fair share.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 20, 2011
 
Robert Vollman launches the first of a four-part study of AHL-to-NHL translations, trying to improve on the existing approach by breaking the players up into four different groups on age, and taking the different scoring levels into account.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 19, 2011
 
We’ll be presenting weekly statistical summaries of the Calgary Flames every Monday, each update being composed of four sections, the 2nd of which will involve data related to how they spend the majority of their time: at even-strength.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 19, 2011
 
Over the past couple of weeks we've looked at virtually all the Winnipeg Jets players with any significant NHL experience, two at a time, finding historical players with era-adjusted statistics similar to theirs recently, and using their subsequent results to help establish objective expectations for today's roster. Today we'll finish up with quick looks at the remaining depth forwards: Jim Slater, Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood and Alexander Burmistrov.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 16, 2011
 
Despite lacking big-name talent and having only one 20-goal scorer (Shane Doan), the Coyotes quietly snuck into the postseason for the second consecutive season. Without star goalie Ilya Bryzgalov this year, Phoenix is in danger of sliding back into obscurity if it doesn't get strong performances from many elder stars, such as Doan, Ray Whitney and Daymond Langkow.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 15, 2011
 
Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's. Part 1 of our series covered Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, and Part 2 looked at Olli Jokinen and Lee Stempniak. This week we'll be looking at Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 15, 2011
 
Despite a red-hot start, the Dallas Stars faded away and finished last in their division (but just four points out of second). How Dallas fares in the post-Brad Richards era will be determined by how well its key players perform in his absence, and how quickly the remaining players on the roster respond to new coach Glen Gulutzan.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 14, 2011
 
The Los Angeles Kings, who are tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues for the NHL's longest Stanley Cup drought, finally shook off their historical tendency to collapse after 100-point seasons with their great 98-point effort last year. Some believe this season could be even better. Adding Mike Richards and Simon Gagne to their offensive mix could help Anze Kopitar finally play at a Hart level that is necessary for the Kings to get to the next level.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 13, 2011
 
Are we nearing the end of an era, or at least the end of a dynasty? Two years without a Stanley Cup appearance may not seem like long enough to ask such a question, but given the huge gap between their declining core of older stars and their exceptional system of prospects, even this brief absence could signal a change in the fortunes of the Detroit Red Wings. They clearly remain a great team with an enviable team model…but can they still be considered among the very best? And for how much longer? The answer lies more in the close examination of three key players than in the supporting cast surrounding them, a task particularly well-suited to objective statistical analysis.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 13, 2011
 
A fantastic record in one-goal games helped Anaheim secure its fifth postseason appearance since the lockout despite being absolutely dominated at even strength all year. Excellent performances by Ryan Getzlaf, Lubomir Visnovsky, Bobby Ryan, Jonas Hiller, the ageless Teemu Selanne and Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry covered up Anaheim's troubling lack of secondary talent.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 12, 2011
 
An OZQoC Chart, pronounced “Oz-Coke” is a visual representation of the situations in which a team's players are used. By combining the following two statistics, a player's role can be determined at a glance, providing the valuable context in which his other statistics can be studied. Quite frankly, it is a necessary first step before any other statistic is even mentioned, which is why it will be the first part of our weekly Black Box statistical summaries this season.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 12, 2011
 
Over the past couple of weeks we've looked at Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Bryan Little, Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler, Eric Fehr and Chris Thorburn. This week, we'll take a wide paint brush to the other defensemen of primary consequence, Ron Hainsey, the unsigned Zach Bogosian, Johnny Oduya, Mark Stuart and Randy Jones.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 12, 2011
 
The San Jose Sharks enjoyed their fifth straight 100-point season, their fourth straight season atop the Pacific Division and their second straight season in the Western Conference finals. But again they came up short of their ultimate goal -- the Stanley Cup. So, they made a big impact this offseason in two separate deals with the Minnesota Wild, giving up Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley but adding Brent Burns and Martin Havlat to their already elite collection of talent, including Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 9, 2011
 
The Nashville Predators had a great season, finishing second in the tough Central division with 99 points and advancing out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Unfortunately they just don't have the funds to keep their key players, let alone attract the ones required to follow up on last year's success. This offseason the Predators bled players like Steve Sullivan, Marcel Goc, Joel Ward, Cody Franson, Matthew Lombardi, J.P. Dumont and Shane O'Brien. Nashville's fate is in the hands of star goalie Pekka Rinne and top defensive pairing Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 8, 2011
 
Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's. Part 1 of our series covered Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. This week we'll be looking at Olli Jokinen and Daymond Langkow. Err … make that Lee Stempniak.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 8, 2011
 
Tired of missing the postseason -- as they have for all but one of their 10 seasons -- the Blue Jackets signed the puck-moving defenseman and Rick Nash-linemate they've always needed in James Wisniewski as well as getting Jeff Carter. If the new acquisitions click and Steve Mason returns to rookie form, the Blue Jackets could be a surprise playoff team.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 7, 2011
 
The St. Louis Blues began the 2010-11 season in first place, but before long they were devastated by injuries and found themselves once again on the outside looking in. They finished the season on a strong note, thanks to a big offensive upgrade from acquiring Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk from the Colorado Avalanche, and they picked up some needed veteran depth in the offseason, adding Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner. It's time for the Blues to finally realize their potential and make a long-overdue return appearance to the NHL playoffs.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 6, 2011
 
Every Monday throughout this season we'll be providing a summary of how the Flames are doing using advanced statistical analysis. In a single page we'll supplement your subjective observations and the traditional box score statistics (“box cars”) with the raw numbers, and some interpretive analysis.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 6, 2011
 
Over the past couple of weeks we've looked at Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Bryan Little, Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler. This week, we'll look at newly-acquired Eric Fehr and Chris Thorburn.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 2, 2011
 
The Chicago Blackhawks ran into some bad luck coming off their Stanley Cup-winning season, losing many close games in 2010-11. That trend continued in the postseason, as they lost in seven games to the powerhouse that was the Vancouver Canucks in the first round despite outscoring them. This offseason the Blackhawks dealt Brian Campbell to Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon -- the one who gave Campbell his outrageous contract in Chicago in the first place -- to free up cap space and keep players like Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp. The Blackhawks were then forced to retool their depth lines with even less cap space than last year, which leaves Chicago's fate even more dependent on the play of its big stars than last year. Fortunately for the Hawks, one of their biggest stars still seems to be on the rise.
 
By Robert Vollman and Corey Pronman, ESPN Insider
September 2, 2011
 
The Detroit Red Wings are a great but aging team, losing veterans Chris Osgood, Brian Rafalski, Kris Draper and possibly Mike Modano to retirement this year. They are led by their remaining veteran talent such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Detroit has one of the league's best minor league systems of prospects, and great opportunities will soon become available for young players, given the age of many players on Red Wings' roster.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 1, 2011
 
Robert Vollman's official debut with FlamesNation kicks off with the first of a multi-part series to search NHL's long history to find players with similar stats to today's Flames, and using what happened to them to set reasonable and objective expectations for every player.
 
Robert Vollman 
August 28, 2011
 
Over the past couple of weeks we've looked at Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Bryan Little. We've also looked at how difficult projections can be, but how reasonably the Snepsts System stacks up over-all. This week, we'll look at Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler.
 
Robert Vollman 
August 21, 2011
 
Over the past couple of weeks we've looked at Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. This week, before we proceed with Bryan Little and Evander Kane, let's take a step back to see how useful this exercise really is.
 
Robert Vollman 
August 14, 2011
 
Last week we looked at Andrew Ladd and Nik Antropov, searching NHL's long history for players with recent era-adjusted statistics to theirs, and using what happened next for those players as a fun way to set expectations for their two big offensive stars. This week we'll be looking at their assistant captains, offensive-minded blue-liners Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom.
 
Robert Vollman 
August 7, 2011
 
Every Monday we'll be using the Snepsts System to search the NHL's history for players with comparable era-adjusted statistics to today's Jets, and featuring the analysis here at Arctic Ice Hockey. This week, Andrew Ladd and Nik Antropov.
 
Robert Vollman 
July 19, 2011
 
In today's NHL is harder and harder to reserve too many spots on your roster for tough guys and enforcers. Few teams would dare to play a game without someone that can protect their stars, but it comes at quite a price. For every thug on your roster playing a handful of carefully-selected minutes, you need to have other players prepared to play longer and tougher minutes, other players capable of killing off his penalties, not to mention a more talented youngster willing to wait down in the AHL for another spot to open up. That's why few teams dress more than one enforcer (if any) in the NHL playoffs, and it's also why Columbus may soon need to choose how many of them to have - and which ones.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
July 10, 2011
 
Relief goaltending has always fascinated me, or at least the lack thereof. Unless things go extremely badly for them, starting goalies never get a single break, not even after an extended and exhausting penalty kill or after getting run down by power forwards. Two years ago we discovered that goalies are relieved in only 7% of NHL games, and in general only after stopping fewer than 80% of the shots while allowing three or four goals. That unfortunately leaves us with an awfully small sample size.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
July 7, 2011
 
It's been a busy summer for many teams. The Philadelphia Flyers underwent a major overhaul, shipping off Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to make room for Ilya Bryzgalov and Jaromir Jagr. The Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks traded stars -- Martin Havlat for Dany Heatley -- and the New York Rangers won the Brad Richards sweepstakes. These teams all have one more thing in common: None of them made the biggest overall impact this summer.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
July 2, 2011
 
They say you overpay when signing free agents July 1st, but is it true? To answer that, we're going to use Goals Versus Salary (GVS) to objectively analyze this year's signings, evaluating them as a group, and taking a quick look at some of the best and worst deals.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
July 1, 2011
 
Jaromir Jagr, arguably the most accomplished European-trained player in history, is set to make an NHL comeback with the Philadelphia Flyers next season after a three-year absence. But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Czech superstar, who turns 40 in February, hasn't been occupying a rocking chair during this break from North America, instead continuing to play at a high level for Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League.
 
Robert Vollman 
June 22, 2011
 
A player’s OZQoC ("Oz-Coke") is a statistical representation of their role. The term OZQoC is composed of the percentage of shifts they start in the offensive zone (OZ) and a Relative Corsi-based approximation of the Quality of their Competition (QoC). Knowing in what situations a player is sent on the ice, and against whom, tells us a great deal about their assignments, and therefore what our expectations of them should be.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
June 21, 2011
 
With the Stanley Cup heading back to Boston, it's time for every NHL team to evaluate its roster and see how it can retool for next season. The analysts of Hockey Prospectus provide some help, identifying the biggest shortcoming on every NHL roster using their GVT valuation metric (explained here) and offering a unique suggestion on how to fix it for 2011-12. The series continues today with fixes for the five teams in the Central Division, where the Blackhawks need to find some pivotal role players on the cheap.
 
Robert Vollman 
June 20, 2011
 
This is when OZQoC Graphs were unveiled, a development that immediately took off like few others. An OZQoc Graph is a graphical representation of a player's role. On the x-axis is their Offensive Zone Starts in reverse direction, and on the y-axis is their Relative Corsi-based Quality of Competition. Each point label features an abbreviation of the player's name, and their Relative Corsi.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
June 1, 2011
 
While nothing is definite in hockey, the Vancouver Canucks have a huge advantage over the Boston Bruins in this year's Stanley Cup final. There are five key reasons why the Canucks should win, which we'll cover for the benefit of those who haven't been watching closely enough to already know this.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 28, 2011
 
Minnesota's Josh Harding entered this season third in relief appearances over the past two seasons, stopping 96.5% of shots and allowing just 0.86 goals per 60 minutes, which are both far, far better than anyone who played in relief even half as many times. Whenever Niklas Backstrom faltered, the Wild were fortunate enough to have someone on the bench who could apparently enter a game cold and put up a brick wall. Unfortunately, Harding suffered a seriously knee injury in the preseason, leaving this year's "Relief Goalie of the Year" race wide open.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 19, 2011
 
There are many different types of forwards, most of which we've covered in previously analyses, like shutdown players, top-six scorers, energy players and the big hitters. But what about those players who Do It All? Who are today's NHL stars that generate offense, but are also called upon when protecting a one-goal lead, who work the power play and the penalty kill, who throw hits, block shots and are even used in the shootout? Using recent historical models like Mike Modano, Tony Amonte and Rod Brind'Amour, we've developed a brand-new method of revealing them, the Do-It-All index.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 13, 2011
 
It's the battle of the so-called choke artists! Already dogged for years with the reputation of underachieving in the postseason, Vancouver and San Jose both managed to quickly take 3-0 series leads—first round vs. Chicago for the Canucks, second round vs. the Red Wings for the Sharks—only to come within an unlucky bounce of blowing it. At least one of these teams will have the opportunity to finally shed their skin, but who will it be?
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
May 3, 2011
 
After one round of postseason action, one of the big stories is the impact this year's crop of rookies is having. Washington's Michal Neuvirth was sensational in shutting down the New York Rangers; Logan Couture upstaged San Jose's big names in their win over the Los Angeles Kings; and the big goals have been scored by the likes of Montreal's P.K. Subban, Boston's Brad Marchand and even Nashville's latest acquisition, Matt Halischuk. How do they stack up against recent history's greatest postseason rookie performances?
 
Robert Vollman 
April 21, 2011
 
Today I'm going to share the results of a fairly simple exercise, but one that I've been meaning to complete for quite some time. I put together a list of the league's 20 best defensive forwards, looked for common traits, and then looked for others that shared those traits
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 20, 2011
 
Three years ago, we borrowed the Quality Start concept from baseball in an attempt to replace Wins as a way of measuring goaltenders. After all, Wins are a goofy way to rate goalies, as it puts very average goalies like Chris Osgood up for Hall of Fame consideration just because they played for powerhouse teams. To us, it's more impressive if a goalie consistently plays well enough for their teams to win, regardless of whether or not they get enough scoring in support.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
April 13, 2011
 
"History is therefore not telling us that depth is a bad thing, but rather that it is far less important than how good the team is overall, regardless of where its goals come from." Robert Vollman explores this year's Chicago-Vancouver post-season match-up to determine who has the depth edge this time.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 12, 2011
 
The Vancouver Canucks made some shrewd offseason moves to address all the concerns that were raised by their second-round exit in 2010, but will it be enough to avoid being eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks for the third straight season?
 
Robert Vollman 
April 8, 2011
 
In October we used the Snepsts System to search the NHL’s vast historical database to find players with era-adjusted statistics comparable to today’s Flames, and used their average to project their performance this season. Let’s look back and compare that with their actual results (well, minus their final game).
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
April 6, 2011
 
In this edition of Prospectus Roundtable, we asked the authors of Hockey Prospectus which 5th-8th playoff seed has the best chance of lifting the Stanley Cup. As you might expect, the defending champion Blackhawks "won" in a landslide, but a couple of other teams also got some love.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
April 5, 2011
 
This post, the final instalment of the LOES for the 2010-11 NHL season, is a grand opportunity to sew things up with a little troubleshooting. You see, statisticians are so frequently dealing with the various challenges of data collection, exploring new ideas for metrics, and defending their approaches that they don't often address the nagging thorn-in-the-side that is recording bias (Gabe has, though....multiple times). Yet the fact that one arena counts shots or blocked shots or takeaways very stingily and another like they're going out of style signifies a difficult challenge for analysis. This week, as a sort of New Year's Resolution, our LOES is going to propose some ideas for improving data recording, with the hopes that we can make advances in these areas in the future.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
April 5, 2011
 
The Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars all stand to miss the playoffs by fewer than five points. That means a single bad break in just one four-point game could be the only reason each ends up on the outside looking in next week. Looking at the 58 teams that have been squeezed out of the postseason in the past 25 years by a similar margin, are there any common, avoidable traits they share? And what ultimately happens to these teams in the future?
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
March 29, 2011
 
Let's say you just heard of an NHL player for the first time and wanted to know how good he was. What statistics would you look at first? Up to the last 10 years or so, an overwhelming majority of us would say "Goals", "Points", maybe "Plus Minus." My grandpa would say "Fights." In the case of goaltenders, you might have said "Wins", "Goals Against Average", and "Shutouts". In more recent years, a wealth of newer metrics have become available to bring complexity to this issue, including Corsi (which actually had been around for quite awhile), GVT, Quality of Competition & Teammates, Zone Starts, Player Contributions, and so on. This week, the LOES lets you know which statistics they look to if they want to make a "quick-and-dirty" assessment of an NHL player...because believe it or not, every once in a while they don't mind just looking at a couple of numbers, too.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 24, 2011
 
If a few pucks bounced differently, Anaheim and Dallas would be far out of the playoff picture, and it would actually be St. Louis desperately chasing Calgary for the last spot. In the East, a couple of breaks could have meant that the Rangers would already be sitting comfortably with a home-ice seed while Tampa Bay fought with Buffalo and Carolina for the final spots instead.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
March 22, 2011
 
This week's question: How much performance data do you need on an NHL player before you feel that their talent can be assessed accurately? Does it need to be strictly NHL experience?
 
Robert Vollman 
March 16, 2011
 
In his recent relaunch of the Shot Quality Contest, Gabe asked the following questions (among others): Are there players or teams with the ability to drive or suppress on-ice shooting percentage? What are their characteristics? Looking at this from the player level, I searched the last four seasons of data on Behind the Net, and looked at the even-strength on-ice save percentage of every player who played at least 20 games, to try to find someone who was consistently higher than average. Who did I find? George Parros!
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 16, 2011
 
Recently, we took a fun look at how the legendary Wayne Gretzky could have played a few more seasons, based on his leading his team in scoring even in his final few seasons. Surprisingly, there are a handful of players whose final season scoring exceeded the Great One's, including several fellow Hall of Famers. This week, we'll take a fun look at them.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
March 15, 2011
 
You know the guys I'm talking about: Adam Foote, Greg Zanon, Colin White...your quintessential "defensive defensemen" are the players that don't jump out to the casual fan, and for good reason. You'll rarely see them in the box score, and they rarely attain any type of celebrity (although Jeff Beukeboom was on a pretty great SportsCenter commercial, and we all know that Craig Ludwig transcends definition). Yet this week I wanted to give them a chance for redemption at the hands of the LOES, because for as much as we notice the highlight-reel goals and end to end rushes, we also tend to ignore the battered shinpads and technical savvy that undeniably means something to the outcome of a game.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 10, 2011
 
I used to evaluate a defenseman's defensive abilities by how few shots or goals were directed against his net while he was on the ice, relative to his teammates. It's become quite obvious over time how unreliable this approach is, because it ignores the quality of competition.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
March 8, 2011
 
Those who have been around the game enough have heard the term "good penalty" and, nine times out of ten, have likely thought about a defender valiantly diving to disrupt a forward who is two strides from a breakaway. Beyond that, perhaps the idea is a bit abstract, so let's make things a bit easier: think of what you might call a "dumb" or "stupid" penalty first. Then, take out all the penalties that involved action of little direct consequence to a scoring opportunity. Chances are, you are left with a pretty small number.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 4, 2011
 
Prior to the start of the 2005-06 season, the Atlanta Thrashers found themselves in the unfortunate but common position of needing to trade away a troubled superstar. Fortunately, they found a trading partner with a roughly equivalent asset that also needed to be moved, and soon Dany Heatley was shipped to the Ottawa Senators for Marian Hossa, with veteran defenseman Greg de Vries thrown in to make up the difference. Five years later, can we determine who walked away with the winner?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 3, 2011
 
Three of the top four teams in the league in points are also three of the top four teams in PDO, and four of the five teams with the worst PDO can all currently be found in the league's basement. There's obviously something that can be learned from PDO, so what is it?
 
Robert Vollman 
March 1, 2011
 
While discussing Dustin Byfuglien’s contract recently, a question from fat_daddyo came up about how to "measure GVT (and by extension marginal wins) against salary/cap hit and see if a particular player is playing up to their contract." The answer? GVS.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
March 1, 2011
 
With the emergence of the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers, it is almost inevitable that the question turns to whether the East has finally caught up to the West. Considering the heated nature of the East-West debate, it seemed only natural to put it in the hands of our LOES. The question for this week: Has the Eastern Conference finally caught up to the Western Conference in terms of talent?
 
By Robert Vollman and Timo Seppa, ESPN Insider
February 24, 2011
 
Feb. 28 marks the NHL's trade deadline, and every team in the league -- both playoff-bound and those likely for the draft lottery -- has needs to address. To prepare for the final flurry of transactions, we're going team-by-team to see which players can help fill some holes on contenders or provide some foundational stability for teams building for next season and beyond.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
February 22, 2011
 
#As we roll into the time of the season when teams are either packing it in, dealing for the future, or looking to add some key players for the playoffs, it's hard to miss teams using their draft picks as trade chips for semi-tangible assets (read: NHL players). Draft picks in themselves are of confusing value; in the NHL, even the first round is littered with players carrying a large amount of risk. Many times, trades involving picks are evaluated based on the success of the player that is eventually picked (see Tyler Seguin). This is probably not the best way to look at it; anything below the first pick is a combination of scouting and condition, when at any point in time an opposing team might decide to nab a quality prospect you wanted (see Patrik Stefan) or allow a highly-rated player to slide like a greased pig (see Cam Fowler). The task for the LOES this week is to try to give us an idea of the value of the pick without the hindsight. It's proven to be a bit of an arduous task, if nothing else because I can't seem to construct the dang question.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
February 19, 2011
 
In the Calgary Flames portion of our Heritage Classic preview, Rob Vollman examines how Rene Bourque, Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Tanguay have been faring in 2010-11 in relation to historically comparable players.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
February 17, 2011
 
What can be learned from the NHL's vast history that can help reduce the chances of lopsided deals? Using GVT we can compare players of all types, and across all different eras, helping us find the five most lopsided deals of the post-expansion era. Find out in this record-setting ESPN Insider exclusive.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
February 15, 2011
 
Size certainly is the question today, when we acknowledge that the game is no longer the war of attrition that it was in the mid- to late-1990s and guys like Martin St. Louis and Brian Gionta challenge what we think is possible for smaller players in a physical league. James Mirtle had an interesting article earlier this year on the larger size of NHL goaltenders compared to previous seasons, and this seems as good of a time as any to see what the LOES had to say about the advantages or disadvantages of larger players.
 
Robert Vollman 
February 15, 2011
 
As recompense for recently re-visiting the worst trades in Calgary Flames history, here are the best trades in Flames history. They’re ranked based on the value of the asset at the time it was acquired, using their combined career GVT from that point forward, regardless if the players were subsequently moved elsewhere.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
February 11, 2011
 
The Nashville Predators are currently sitting fifth in the Western Conference, 10th overall, riding a hot Pekka Rinne to allow the fourth-fewest goals in the league. By filling a few minor holes they could finally have all the tools required to win a playoff series for the first time in their 12-year franchise history. Despite all of this, we are putting them on the losing end of their recent trade with the Ottawa Senators where they acquired an obvious asset in Mike Fisher for a couple of draft picks. Why?
 
Robert Vollman 
February 11, 2011
 
t’s been over 22 years since the fateful day when, in some people’s interpretations, a broke Peter Pocklington sold the sport itself to the Americans by dealing/selling the greatest hockey player who ever lived to the Los Angeles Kings. Peter Puck had been shopping Wayne Gretzky around for months prior to their 1988 Stanley Cup victory, to teams like Los Angeles, Detroit, Vancouver, Winnipeg and the Rangers.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
February 10, 2011
 
Every season the injury bug bites a handful of franchises far too frequently, usually ruining any chance they may have had to be competitive. This season one of its favorite targets has been the New York Rangers. Somehow the resilient team has leveraged its well-stocked farm system and carefully chosen collection of role players not only to stay afloat, but to thrive. Using GVT we can quantify the exact toll injuries have taken on the Broadway Blueshirts, figure out exactly how they've managed to excel and see if we can expect it to continue.
 
Robert Vollman 
February 8, 2011
 
Despite how badly things turned out for Sutter and the organization last season, it was far from the worst experience the Flames have had since relocating from Atlanta. Based on our GVT (Goals Versus Threshold) evaluations of four distinct trades, Phaneuf would have to exceed all expectations to even crack the top three.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
February 8, 2011
 
The post was very interesting to me because it was an honest attempt to look at NHL awards differently. I figured that to have the LOES review the post and respond to it would be a fun activity, and maybe generate some further ideas on how to alter existing awards. Our LOES's responses to awards were interesting, alright. This week's question: Based on 'red army line's' post, should NHL awards be given for "talent," "performance," or a combination of the two?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 31, 2011
 
What if GM Glen Sather had convinced Gretzky to stay on? What kind of impact would Gretzky have had, and for how much longer? Using historical data from other elite forwards who played on through their grey-bearded seasons, we can project what could have been.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 29, 2011
 
The first ever NHL All-Star Draft took place this past Friday, where team captains Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal drafted from amongst the players chosen for this year's All-Star Game. If upon reviewing the results you thought that Lidstrom secured a huge edge for his team, then according to GVT you'd be right.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 28, 2011
 
Robert Vollman examines one of the NHL's blockbuster trades of all-time, which sent the legendary Phil Esposito to Broadway and Jean Ratelle and Brad Park to Beantown. It's not often in any sport that a trade includes three mid- to late-career Hall of Famers.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 25, 2011
 
Which Hall of Famer was better, Guy Lafleur or Marcel Dionne? Would the Canadiens of the 1970's and 1980's have won as many Stanley Cups with Dionne? Or maybe more?
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
January 25, 2011
 
Sometimes, it's the game that first hooked you as a little kid; other times it's that amazing matchup made all the more spectacular because you were there. Maybe it was your first time in Madison Square Garden/the Montreal Forum/the Staples Center, or if you're really lucky the first time you watched the Stanley Cup Finals in-person. It could happen because something a player did robbed you of the ability to speak, even for just a second. It could even happen with your ass plunked on the couch, yelling at the screen and scaring the neighbors. Either way, we all have that game we saw that was our favorite, the greatest to us, the one that sticks with us the same way we might remember our first crush. Believe it or not, our LOES has not only watched a hockey game, but has also seen enough games to choose a few favorites.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 20, 2011
 
Phoenix and New York swapped high-priced underachievers lately, as the Rangers dealt veteran Czech blueliner Michal Rozsival and his $5.0 million cap hit for Wojtek Wolski and his $3.8. Before you declare this trade a low-risk victory for the Rangers, Rozsival's performance deserves a closer look.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 19, 2011
 
A goalie can't win a game for you all by themselves, because they can't score goals. Even Ron Hextall could only score on an empty net, which requires having a lead in the first place. The best that goalies can do is give their team a chance to win, and not necessarily with a shutout, but simply with a quality start that affords their team a reasonable opportunity to secure the two points.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
January 18, 2011
 
Talk about a potentially taxing topic...if you were to think about the greatest teams in NHL history, you would likely think about the amazing offense of the Oilers dynasty, or the astonishing combinations of offense and defense in the Canadiens dynasties of the 1950s and 1970s, as well as the Islanders of the early 1980s and the Red Wings of the late 1990s and early 2000s. This kind of recognition identifies "offense" as goals, "defense" as preventing goals, ultimately expressed in winning in the regular and playoff seasons. Posing a question to the LOES like I'm about to do, concerning whether the offensive element is more or less (or equally) important than the defensive element, will not necessarily result in those definitions being taken for granted, nor should it. Instead, it requires that we look a little deeper at what makes both offense and defense, and whether those things might even be separable. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't...
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 17, 2011
 
The trade deadline is still over a month away, but that hasn't stopped a few teams from getting a head start. The New York Rangers were blessed with enough blueline depth to ship overpriced veteran Michal Rozsival to the Phoenix Coyotes for enigmatic but talented winger Wojtek Wolski. Meanwhile, the basement-dwelling New Jersey Devils dealt veteran asset Jamie Langenbrunner back to the legitimate contenders in Dallas, who shipped Fabian Brunnstrom to another basement dweller, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
January 11, 2011
 
Admittedly, I have a soft spot for the "defensive forward." Though the definition of what a defensive forward is is somewhat arbitrary, there is still a sense that she/he is important, an integral part of any team, and a person that is often quickly identified by fans, coaches, and teammates alike when a team is thinking of who is deserving of their "unsung hero" awards. Though I won't toss in my two cents on what the defensive forward is, I will say that the people who have spent a lot of time appreciating defensive forwards are some of the same people who know the value of a takeaway, a faceoff won, or the ability to reduce shots against when the opposition's best players are on the ice.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
January 4, 2011
 
Which players have been the biggest surprises and disappointments of the 2010-11 NHL season so far? To answer that question, we'll compare each player's actual contributions to their preseason projections we calculated using the VUKOTA system. In order to compare all types of contributions, whether they're defensive, offensive or in the shootout, we'll use GVT, which allows us to compare everyone from stay-at-home defensemen to power forwards.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
January 4, 2011
 
The "goon" is an interesting role on teams that have them; essentially, they are given about 5 minutes or less per game to either make a few big hits, intimidate the opposing team just by being on the ice, or to engage the opposing team's goon. Presumably, there are extraneous benefits to teams that have a goon, such as entertainment for fans, though the jury is still out on whether they truly draw more fans.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 31, 2010
 
What an amazing year 2010 was for statistical hockey analysis! We had a book—almost two—and more sites devoted to the hobby than ever before. The inaugural Golden Elbow Awards are our way of celebrating the remarkable achievements of our diverse community. In Part One, we took a look back at the best analysis of a skater, goalie, team, and league, the best analysis of goaltending in general, and a fun look at the best historical analysis. This week, in Part Two, we saved the very best for last.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 30, 2010
 
Yesterday, we used the Snepsts system to take a closer look at Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and to place their current seasons in a historical context. Today, we'll complete our preparations for the Winter Classic by looking at their opponents, Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green of the Washington Capitals.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 29, 2010
 
Recently, we've used the Snepsts system to look at some of the league's top snipers, like Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Alexander Semin, Phil Kessel, Steven Stamkos and Eric Staal. Since it's a such a fun way to peer into the NHL's vast vault of history and gain insight into what to expect from today's players, today and tomorrow we'll prepare for the Winter Classic by finding comparables for the stars of the Penguins and Capitals.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 24, 2010
 
2010 was a fantastic year for statistical hockey analysts. Just a few short years ago, I could count on a single hand the number of sites containing even the most basic objective examinations of the sport, and now in 2010 we have dozens of sites, many of which have multiple writers dedicated exclusively to this field, producing more content per month than we would previously have expected in an entire year. We also broke into mainstream headlines on multiple occasions, and saw the first book since 2001’s Hockey Compendium with significant puckmetric content (and coming within inches of one with even more).
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 23, 2010
 
We have used the recently-coined Snepsts system to find historical comparables for leading snipers Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Steven Stamkos. By request, we're looking at Andrew Brunette, Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin this week.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
December 21, 2010
 
While it is fun to explore what a Howie Morenz or Joe Malone would do in the 1980s NHL, or Wayne Gretzky in the 1920s, most statisticians would agree that it is difficult to compare performances from either of those periods because the NHL has changed significantly from 1920 to 1989. Within that wealth of changes are stretches of major change that either ushered in or ushered out new approaches to the game and/or different statistical performances. This is probably the quickest definition we could have of "eras" in the NHL, but where the debate lies is when these shifts occurred. There is a tendency to divide time up in decades, with each ten-year span having distinct characteristics, but would the NHL's historical eras break down in this way?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 16, 2010
 
Despite his Vezina award in 2003-04, when he tied Dwayne Roloson for the second-highest single season save percentage of all time, his hefty contract and deterioration since then has no doubt cooled interest in Kiprusoff. At age 34, he carries an annual cap hit of over $5.8 million for the next three seasons. Given the recent revelation that you can get substantial results for a lot less, what chance do the Flames have of convincing a team that acquiring Kiprusoff is worthwhile?
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
December 14, 2010
 
Goaltenders hold a curious place in our conception of hockey talent; they stand alone because it comes with the position, and in the process they carry a certain amount of blame for goals-allowed and none of the credit for goals-for. Once again, it comes with the position. For such a solitary existence, the goaltender is still greatly reliant on the performance of his or her team, so to a degree the stats community has been careful about praising goaltenders for accomplishments in such categories as goals-against average (GAA) or wins.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 13, 2010
 
For objective hockey analysts, we sure talk about luck a lot. A recent study by Gabriel Desjardins, whose approach has been backed up by others like Tyler Dellow, discovered that 38% of winning percentage is luck. If so, is there an objective way to determine who has been on the more fortunate end of the spectrum?
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
December 7, 2010
 
After spending some time thinking about "underrated" players, it's time to get to the ones we need little time to recognize as the best. This week's question: If you had to choose one all-time NHL player apiece for a "lifetime" Hart, Norris, Vezina, Selke, and/or Masterton Trophy, who would you choose? If need be, please explain.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 6, 2010
 
Last month, we used the recently-coined Snepsts system to find historical comparables for leading snipers Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa—and the projections have proven eerily accurate in two of the three cases. This week, our target players are the leading snipers for three teams in the high octane Southeast Division: Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes, Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
November 30, 2010
 
"Underrated" is a term common in all of sports, typically meant to refer to a player that has not garnered sufficient media or monetary attention (as perceived by the person who uses it). In some sports, it can refer to an entire position on the field (the offensive line in American football, the sweeper/defenders in football), and in some a "type" of player (the "sixth man" or first bench player in basketball, the "defensive forward" in hockey). Recent hockey stats analysis has made great strides in recognizing players that are important to their team's winning percentage without receiving the kinds of accolades usually reserved for goal scorers, goaltenders, big hitters, and fighters.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 29, 2010
 
In the fledgling field of statistical hockey analysis, there are those who know how to correctly apply and extend existing methods to answer the game’s most difficult questions, and there are those whose understanding of both the sport and statistics allow them to create new ones. Tom Awad, creator of GVT, VUKOTA and Delta SOT, is one of the latter, so it was with understandable delight that I first read his ambitious attempt to objectively describe the properties of “Good Players”.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
November 23, 2010
 
Every team has one or two players that GMs, coaches, and fans alike refer to as a "franchise" player, aka the player who will (ideally) be the first to carry the Cup and get his/her picture on the DVD commemorative. The current trend seems to be smacking said player with a fat contract, spanning an absurd number of years, and hoping the player doesn't fold under the ensuing, recurring, and eternal scrutiny. Injury isn't even a "safe" way out of this phenomenon.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 18, 2010
 
The title says it all - is Minnesota's Martin Havlat really as bad on the power play as we're led to believe, or is he better than we think? The truth might be found in the underlying numbers.
 
Robert Vollman, League of Extraordinary Statisticians 
November 16, 2010
 
The hockey stats community has been rapidly growing over the last decade, representing a wave of thought (partially sabermetrics-inspired, partially descendant from Corsi, Neilson, and others) spreading primarily from Canada. The internet and standardized game-tracking measures have bolstered this development, and now the topic of hockey stats analysis refers to a widespread body of experts and articles.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 12, 2010
 
The shootout is just a lottery, Toronto is the league's luckiest team, New Jersey has the highest shot quality, and the league's most valuable goalie for the third year running is Tomas Vokoun - those are just a few of the fascinating insights explained in the 7th edition of Alan Ryder's Player Contributions annual.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 8, 2010
 
Knocking off a Stanley Cup favorite and the defending Stanley Cup champions on their way to a hard-fought loss in the Eastern Conference Finals, followed by a blazing 7-3-1 record to start the season - does that sound like the NHL's worst team? According to the results of our projection system published in the 2010-11 Hockey Prospectus annual, yes.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 3, 2010
 
It may seem like a fool's errand to even attempt to predict this year's scoring totals for players like Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Marian Hossa, and maybe it is, but we've got a secret weapon. We're going to use an approach that searches the NHL's long history for players with career arcs similar to these guys - their "comparables" - and use their future results to help predict those of our target players.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 29, 2010
 
Is Chris Chelios the greatest American-born hockey player of all-time, what current player has a chance to pass him soon and who are some of the other players who belong in the conversation?
 
Robert Vollman 
October 15, 2010
 
The Calgary Flames have retired two players’ numbers, Lanny McDonald and Mike Vernon. Given that standard, who else should have their numbers retired?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 13, 2010
 
The New York Rangers will fly up the standings from 21st to 8th, according to the predictions we published in Hockey Prospectus 2010-11. But does our assertion that the New York Rangers are the league's most improved team really stand up to objective analysis? Let's pop open the hood and see.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
October 7, 2010
 
With the 2010-11 NHL season already upon us, it's time for the Puck Prospectus team to make their picks for division winners, Stanley Cup finalists and award winners for the year. Listed below are the cumulative standings, Stanley Cup finalists and award winners as well as the individual votes made by each Puck Prospectus writer.
 
Robert Vollman 
October 2, 2010
 
Prior to the 2010-11 the Snepsts and VUKOTA projection systems were used to search NHL's history for players with stats similar to today's Flames. Part three featured Jay Bouwmeester, Ian White and Mark Giordano.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 30, 2010
 
Who will be the breakout stars of 2010-11? By searching a historical database for players of similar ages and normalized statistics, and using the insights revealed by the VUKOTA projection system, we've identified 10 players with breakout potential.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 29, 2010
 
Prior to the 2010-11 the Snepsts and VUKOTA projection systems were used to search NHL's history for players with stats similar to today's Flames. Part two featured Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Daymond Langkow.
 
Robert Vollman 
September 28, 2010
 
Prior to the 2010-11 the Snepsts and VUKOTA projection systems were used to search NHL's history for players with stats similar to today's Flames. Part one featured Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay and Rene Bourque.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 17, 2010
 
A new coaching staff and a new system -- but unfortunately the same results. Despite high hopes, the Wild ultimately struggled through a slow start and another disappointing season. Martin Havlat proved to be an inadequate replacement for Marian Gaborik, and their goals against spiked from 200 to 246. The Wild shook things up in response, dealing away Eric Belanger, Kim Johnsson and Benoit Pouliot for Guillaume Latendresse, Chuck Kobasew and Cam Barker and signing free agent Matt Cullen. Though these changes may seem relatively minor, there are definitely a few players whose fortunes could dramatically change in 2010-11.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 16, 2010
 
Last year, virtually every Flame welcomed new coach Brent Sutter with underachievement. Even blue-chippers like Jay Bouwmeester and Jarome Iginla struggled through the season, eventually prompting the coach's older brother, GM Darryl, to make some blockbuster trades in an ultimately failed attempt to kick-start their offense and make the playoffs. Rather than making wholesale changes this summer, the Flames decided to bring back old stars like Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen, hoping that the veteran squad can pull off at least one more great season.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 15, 2010
 
The Oilers may have been the worst team since the lockout, but this wasn't entirely expected; they lost their only NHL-caliber goalie and their only legitimate top-six forward last year. Even healthy, no one would have expected Pat Quinn to perform miracles with such a young and defensively-weak team. Tom Renney's in charge now, and the defense looks better. The picture in Edmonton does too -- but there will be a lot of shifts from last year.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 14, 2010
 
Everything went incredibly well for Joe Sacco in his first season as an NHL coach. Craig Anderson was brilliant in net -- and virtually everyone in this enviable collection of young talent exceeded expectations. Some players, like Matt Duchene, are clearly the real deal, while others may have set the bar a little too high last season. Which of these young stars has yet to reach his full potential, and whose performance was a trick of the light?
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 13, 2010
 
In 2009-10, the Canucks got career seasons from Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Christian Ehrhoff -- yet still didn't reach the Stanley Cup finals. GM Mike Gillis quickly identified what few opportunities the Canucks had to improve: He upgraded their blue line, completely retooled their bottom six and picked up Manny Malhotra to shore up their penalty killing. The question still remains, though: Is that enough to finally get this squad over the hump?
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 10, 2010
 
The Nashville Predators enjoyed their third 100-point season; it was the fifth time in six years they had reached the postseason, but again, they didn't get out of the first round. Barry Trotz is the second-longest-serving coach in the NHL after Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, but with struggling special teams, an aging roster and a chronic inability to reach the next level, you do have to wonder if fresh blood is coming to Music City soon.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 9, 2010
 
The Blue Jackets, coming off their first postseason appearance, slid back to the basement last season and registered their fewest wins since the lockout. Their special teams were nothing special. They struggled at even strength and endured a disappointing season from goalie Steve Mason, and ultimately the story was the failure of vaunted coach Ken Hitchcock to tap the potential of young stars while core players remain in their prime. The new regime is a likely setting for some sudden and dramatic swings in the fortunes of several key players.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 8, 2010
 
Thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks' winning the Stanley Cup, the Blues now enjoy the longest active Cup slump. (They're tied with the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs.) Coming off their first postseason appearance since the lockout, they just barely missed the party in 2009-10 despite a late rally with coach Davis Payne. They have a good penalty kill and a wealth of young talent, so that very well may have been the last time they miss the show for a long time.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 7, 2010
 
The Chicago Blackhawks ended their Stanley Cup slump with a collection of talent assembled through the draft, including a tremendous collection of value role players. Unfortunately, the new salary cap era has forced them to surrender players like Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, John Madden, Colin Fraser, Ben Eager, Cam Barker and Brent Sopel to reward clubs that have done terrible jobs building a team, like the Atlanta Thrashers. On the plus side, those they could afford to keep are left with a tremendous opportunity to rack up scoring by playing alongside top talents like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, and all the open ice they create.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
September 6, 2010
 
Until last season, the Detroit Red Wings were the league's great powerhouse -- they hadn't even finished lower than third since 1991. They were envied for building one of the league's best teams season after season despite poor draft positions; the key was to keep the team together and stock it with a depth of reliable veterans and enough promising youngsters to weather a rash of injuries. This offseason has been no different, as they recruited distinguished and dependable veteran Mike Modano, and raided the European leagues once again for Ilari Filppula and Jiri Hudler. Even with these additions, their aging roster constantly affords opportunities for the right youngsters.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
August 30, 2010
 
Gone are the days where a team could simply buy themselves a championship. It used to be that teams in lucrative markets had a huge advantage, but now that advantage is in the hands of the front office staff most adept at finding value players. Whether you love it or hate it, the salary cap era is here, and a player's cap hit can be just as important as goals and assists.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
August 16, 2010
 
According to our projections, last year's MVP and Vancouver Canucks star Henrik Sedin won't score 100 points this season. What does VUKOTA see that we don't?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
August 2, 2010
 
Robert Vollman takes advantage of the off-season to take a fun look at player's names, including which names are the most common, and the most successful. Note: this piece was unfortunately heavily edited, and even lifted largely without credit by John Kreiser at NHL.com
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
July 13, 2010
 
Last year a new hockey fan's questions led to an analysis on the role relief goaltenders play, where we discovered that Minnesota's Josh Harding had the unlikely distinction of the league's best relief goalie. Anything can happen in such small sample sizes, but given that Harding didn't allow a single goal in his relief appearances this season, it may be time to acknowledge him as the league's best reliever.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 18, 2010
 
The Chicago Blackhawks exposed one of Vancouver's few shortcomings in the playoffs -- and its lack of shutdown depth on the blue line will only get worse if the Canucks part ways with unrestricted free agent Willie Mitchell. The Canucks threw the second-fewest hits and yet took the sixth-most minor penalties this past season, and they would benefit most from signing one of the many board-rattling but disciplined free-agent defensemen.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 18, 2010
 
Colorado had a great 2009-10 season, but it might have been a little lucky because it was outshot by four attempts per game. The Avalanche were second-to-last in the NHL in shots per game, and only one defenseman contributed more than 100 (Kyle Quincey). This year's Avs definitely need to sign a blueliner who can find the back of the net.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 18, 2010
 
Last year, we recommended the Oilers shore up defensively by signing someone like Edmontonian Blair Betts. Unfortunately, they focused elsewhere and wound up finishing fifth-to-last in penalty killing, fourth-to-last in shots against and dead last in both goals against and defensive GVT. No one is expecting the Oilers to win the Cup, but they need to find someone who can improve their defensive respectability while their young stars develop.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 18, 2010
 
The Minnesota Wild struggled at both ends of the ice last season -- but most egregiously, they finished 22nd in the league in goals per game, 23rd on the power play and dead last in shots per game. Most disappointing of all was how Martin Havlat fell flat, with his even-strength scoring dropping from 3.3 to 2.1 points per 60 minutes.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 18, 2010
 
To say that the Calgary Flames underachieved offensively last season would be quite an understatement. They ranked 24th in shots, 26th in power-play goals and 29th in overall scoring. Furthermore, the Flames lacked the grit they once had, finishing 28th in hits.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
June 8, 2010
 
Interestingly, many of the league's most improved players were on non-playoff teams like Carolina, St. Louis and Dallas, and teams that just squeaked in to the postseason, such as Colorado and Montreal. Even Edmonton showed up in the top 15, proving that even the darkest clouds have silver linings.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
May 29, 2010
 
The Stanley Cup finals were once again launched with a keystone analysis by Robert Vollman covering the most important factor each year. This year he takes a look at the netminding in Chicago and Philadelphia and whether you really need marquee goalies to win Lord Stanley's trophy.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 17, 2010
 
What save percentage constituted a Quality Start this past season, who led the league in Quality Start Percentage, why Jaroslav Halak is one of the most improved netminders this year, how did Vesa Toskala perform even worse in 2009-10 than in the previous season, why Carey Price and Tim Thomas should feel upset about the offenses of the Canadiens and Bruins, and why Antti Niemi and Pekka Rinne should be thankful for the way the Blackhawks and Predators offenses played with them in net this season.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 13, 2010
 
While I have no doubt that anyone with even a passing knowledge of these two teams is in for a real treat, by popping the hood and improving our understanding of the fundamental make-up of these two teams we could further increase the excitement level of the action we're about to witness.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
May 10, 2010
 
Every season players and coaches are nominated for their outstanding achievements in different aspects of the game of hockey. Some will be recognized for their offensive skills, others for their defensive contributions, and others for their superb coaching ability. On Wednesday, June 23rd, at the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, we will find out the winners for this year's awards.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
May 4, 2010
 
Stars and goalies get the most attention as the playoffs wear on, but what about the contributions of the third-line guys? Robert Vollman studies their output to see what we can learn about the remaining eight teams.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
April 13, 2010
 
Robert Vollman analyzed 30 years of first-round playoff data -- that's a nice sample size, eh? -- and found some trends for predicting upsets. In the Western Conference in 2010, favourites should advance, but LA could topple the Canucks.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 13, 2010
 
For the third time in four years Pittsburgh and Ottawa will square off in the opening round of the NHL playoffs in what will almost unquestionably be a high-scoring, seven-game duel between two eerily similar teams. Will the winner of this series advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time?
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
April 13, 2010
 
Robert Vollman analyzed 30 years of NHL playoff data and applied his knowledge to the 2010 Eastern Conference first round. Can the Habs beat the Caps? Probably not. But don't sleep on Boston.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
April 1, 2010
 
Almost every year in the NHL we see non-elite playoff teams making surprising runs when the second season begins. Three years ago it was the fourth-seeded Ottawa Senators, two years ago it was both the sixth-seeded Philadelphia Flyers and the fifth-seeded Dallas Stars, and last year it was the sixth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes who somehow managed to defeat the Boston Bruins in a classic seven game, second round series. With a little over one week left to play in the NHL regular season, it's again time for everyone to witness a surprising playoff run by a dark horse team that few believed in for the first eighty-two games. Which of the teams currently situated in the bottom half of their conference's playoff picture are the most likely to make a run for the Stanley Cup?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 31, 2010
 
Last week we looked at players who have bounced back from one or two disappointing seasons and are back to their previous level of excellence. This week we'll look at those who have slid back to previously disappointing levels of play after one or two seasons of great performance.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 22, 2010
 
Bad years - we all have them. After one or two disappointing seasons it can be hard enough for anyone to keep their ice-time, let alone bounce back to their previous level of performance. Let's take our helmets off to the players who managed to regain their edge this year.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 11, 2010
 
The great Wayne Gretzky leads all NHL players in all-time goal-scoring with 894 and Alexander Ovechkin, at just age 24, already has 263 goals (as of March 9th, 2010). Is there any chance he'll catch the Great One?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 8, 2010
 
have put together an all-star team of players that have played major roles in their teams' success, and yet without much fanfare and media coverage. Given the long list of players from which to choose, it was very difficult to select just one player per position. However, I feel confident that the next Craig Andersons can be found below.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
March 5, 2010
 
During Wednesday's trade deadline, there were plenty of teams seeking help for a potential postseason push, and plenty of teams pulled the trigger. But did they actually improve their chances? Let's see who helped themselves on deadline day as we evaluate some of the more notable trades from Wednesday.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 4, 2010
 
A common criticism of statistical hockey analysis is the perception that there are no ways to measure a player's defensive contributions as reliably as a player's offensive contributions. In today's article I would like to blow that myth out of the water by presenting ten ways you can use statistics to evaluate a player's defensive contributions in ways that rival offensive statistics of comparable complexity.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
February 19, 2010
 
After the Winter Olympics end, NHL teams will have just three days to tweak their rosters ahead of the March 3 trade deadline. Insider has linked ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek with the metric-heads over at Hockey Prospectus to evaluate every team's roster and the surrounding whispers from NHL Rumor Central. This is how your team could improve for a run at the playoffs, the Stanley Cup ... or for next season.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
February 12, 2010
 
Should Team Russia and Team Canada meet in the Olympic Gold medal game this year, it could rank among the best international matchups in modern hockey history. For every nation hockey talent will naturally ebb and flow as new superstars come along and old ones retire, but at the moment both countries seem to have hit one of those sweet spots that come along once every 15 years or so. Both teams are stacked with a staggering array of elite talent, and yet the two teams contrast each other in a way closely linked to each country's national hockey identities. I honestly can't wait to see these two square off in the Gold Medal game, even though there's a strong possibility in a single game elimination tournament that an upset will deny us a potentially historic showdown between the game's two greatest hockey dynasties.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
February 9, 2010
 
It's been ten years since the Czech Republic dominated international hockey, winning gold in the 1998 Winter Olympics, followed by three straight victories in the world championships. Though they no longer enjoy the services of Dominik Hasek, the legendary goalie who made their success possible, they still won Bronze in 2006 and remain a credible medal threat in Vancouver.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
February 2, 2010
 
Mired in a mind-boggling slump, Calgary has been a hotbed of trade activity. GM Darryl Sutter has shuffled the deck by dealing Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Ian White and Jamal Mayers, and then promptly dealt forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust to the New York Rangers in exchange for Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik. Details of the first trade were discussed largely from Toronto's perspective earlier, today we'll statistically examine these trades from the perspective of the Calgary Flames.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
February 1, 2010
 
The Toronto Maple Leafs closed out January with two blockbuster trades. They traded forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and defenseman Ian White to the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenseman Dion Phaneuf, forward Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie. GM Brian Burke also moved veteran forward Jason Blake and goalie Vesa Toskala to the Anaheim Ducks for goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
January 26, 2010
 
With no All-Star Game this season, Puck Prospectus offers its take on what the rosters should look like.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 20, 2010
 
Who were the best free agent signings of 2009-10, who were the worst, and which general manager had the best offseason in retrospect?
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
January 13, 2010
 
We're more than halfway through the season and tiers are beginning to form in each conference. We have the elite teams, the contenders, the playoff bubble teams, the pretenders, the bad and the really bad. The majority of teams have an idea of whether they'll be competing deep into the NHL playoffs, but every now and then there's a team that catches everyone by surprise in the second half of the season. Of the teams currently on the outside of the playoff picture, which team is most likely to experience a winning streak and take the other teams in the league by storm?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 8, 2010
 
Who are the best penalty-killers in the league and are several coaches misusing their top penalty-killing players? We answer that by looking at who is doing the best job preventing shots and goals among those who are their team's primary penalty killers.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
January 5, 2010
 
For this week's player profiles we'll look at three explosive European wingers in Chicago's Marian Hossa, Minnesota's Martin Havlat and Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals. These three are among the most talented offensive but injury-prone wingers in the world today, all of whom bounced back from disappointing 2007-08 seasons. They are enjoying different degrees of success so far this season in the NHL, but will all share similar expectations when they represent their respective nations in the upcoming Vancouver Olympics.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 24, 2009
 
Last week we introduced a way to identify and offensively compare top-6 forwards using even-strength scoring per 60 minutes, took a look at the top forwards so far this season, and examined how well rookies have filled this type of role. This week, in part 2, we're going to explain why certain players are having surprisingly good or bad seasons so far, and then see which teams have the greatest number of forwards scoring at the top-6 level, and what it all means.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
December 23, 2009
 
While there are many spectators who are excited about the shootout, there are also many who are critical of the event and view it as nothing more than a vehicle for the promotion of further parody in a sport which already offers eight playoff seeds per conference. Should the shootout be reformed, removed, kept as is, or should other changes be made to the game that would not alter the shootout?
 
Robert Vollman and Timo Seppa, Hockey Prospectus 
December 17, 2009
 
Every year, coaches make good decisions and bad decisions. We've seen goalies start for longer than should have been expected, players incorrectly and correctly used in special teams situations, and we've seen skaters who have received too much or too little time on the ice. Sometimes these mistakes comeback to hurt a team, while at other times they have very little impact on a team's record. Taking into account all of the decisions that have been made by coaches throughout the National Hockey League, who is currently the best coach and who is currently the worst coach?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 10, 2009
 
In Part 1 this week we're going to reveal a simple statistic that can be helpful in identifying top-6 forwards and how successfully they're generating offense. Using this measurement, we'll look at this season's best top-6 forwards, and see how well rookies can play on the top lines. I'll wrap up this week's session with a short story about how this study was inspired by one of Jamie Lundmark's curious fans.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
December 4, 2009
 
What should the Toronto Maple Leafs do to compete in the future? Stay the course? Rebuild? A mixture? Focus long-term on the salary cap? Accummulate draft picks? Improve certain aspects of the team? The Hockey Prospectus staff share their thoughts on the matter.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
December 2, 2009
 
To find today's stay-at-home defensemen, I subtracted each player's offensive GVT from their defensive GVT. This isn't a list of the greatest defensive defensemen, but rather the defensemen whose defensive abilities are greatest relative to their offensive contributions. Greg Zanon tops this list of some of the toughest and most respected shut-down defensemen in the league.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 25, 2009
 
For this week's Player Profiles, we have chosen a collection of awesome young talents including the NHL's leading scorer Anze Kopitar, Chicago's brilliant defensive star Brent Seabrook and the New York Islanders promising young winger Kyle Okposo.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 20, 2009
 
quarter of the way into the 2009-10 season the Colorado Avalanche have taken everyone by surprise with their fast start, while the Minnesota Wild have disappointed fans with a slow start to what should have been a very promising season. Let's take a careful look at how each of these teams are performing to determine which trends are likely to continue.
 
By Robert Vollman and Andrew Rothstein, ESPN Insider
November 17, 2009
 
Did you know that since the lockout, 80 percent of teams in playoff position after 20 games ended up securing postseason bids? As the NHL's teams close in on the 20-game mark, Hockey Prospectus revisits its preseason projections to evaluate some of the Western Conference's most intriguing teams. By comparing the early returns to their projections (measured in goals versus threshold (GVT), a proprietary metric comprising the sum of the game's components -- offense, defense, goaltending, shootouts), we can see whether teams are likely to sustain their success or rebound from rough patches.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
November 13, 2009
 
From Bobby Orr to Paul Coffey, from Red Kelly to Denis Potvin, the NHL has had its share of dominant defenseman. Most defenseman are good at defending, whether it be blocking shots or making hits, and some excel on offense as well. We know what a great defenseman can do to help a goalie, his fellow teammates and the overall team. However, with so many top notch defensemen in the league in 2009-10, it might be difficult to select the best overall defenseman. We know Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Chris Pronger, Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Dan Boyle, Ryan Suter, Alex Goligoski, Brent Seabrook and Matt Carle are all in the mix for this year's Norris Trophy, but only one of them can be the best in the game as of today.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 13, 2009
 
Fans are drawn towards statistical hockey analysis with goaltending more so than with skaters, because it seems easier to separate a goalie's contributions from the rest of the team. It seems quite natural to give the goalie the credit for making a save, but is it always appropriate? Last week we showed how Alan Ryder's Player Contributions statistic can help us evaluate skaters. This week we'll use the same statistic to show how we can separate the truly great goalies from the good goalies who are simply playing behind great defenses.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
November 9, 2009
 
You can't just buy yourself a championship in the new NHL. Even if you somehow get your hands on the league's best players through the draft and shrewd trades, you still have to find a way to pay them all and fit under the salary cap. The key to building a successful team is to identify which players offer the best value for the dollar and manage your roster accordingly.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
November 6, 2009
 
There are three common themes among hockey statistical analysts. In the beginning, we focus our attention on fixing the plus/minus statistic. After adjusting plus/minus for an assortment of variables, we try to devise an effective defensive measurement. Finally, we attempt to summarize all of a player's contributions into a single statistic. Thanks to Alan Ryder and his Player Contributions rating, in addition to Tom Awad and GVT, I personally never bothered with that third phase.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
November 4, 2009
 
Every season brings new faces to the ice that are looking to make an impact on their NHL club right away. Some rookies take off and help their teams contend for playoff spots, while other rookies disappoint. We are still in the early part of the season, but at least ten first year players have made significant impacts so far. Everyone knew about John Tavares and Victor Hedman going into the season, but did we know what kind of impact rookies such as Michael Del Zotto, Tyler Myers, Ryan O'Reilly, James van Riemsdyk and Jamie Benn would have? Taking into account all of the first year players through yesterday, who has become the favorite to win the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 30, 2009
 
The American Hockey League, which dates back to the late 1930s, is North America's primary professional hockey league, after the NHL. This is where NHL teams send their young players to develop, and where veteran players extend their careers and work towards earning another chance. Many NHL Hall of Famers played in the AHL, some of them for only a season or two, and others for extended periods, like Bun Cook and "the China Wall" Johnny Bower. It stands to reason that a good understanding of how to translate statistics from the AHL to the NHL can provide valuable insights into today's hot young stars.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
October 28, 2009
 
Every year, there are divisions that are more difficult than others and less difficult than others. In some seasons, two or three dominant teams can help make a division much more difficult, as was the case in the 2007-08 Pacific Division with the Sharks, Ducks and Stars, while in other years there may be a balance of slightly above average teams throughout a division, such as in the 2005-06 Northwest Division. Though it may be early in the 2009-10 season, the contending and non-playoff team picture is already beginning to take shape, so we can begin to get a clearer picture of which division is the most difficult.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 26, 2009
 
There are lots of ways to statistically measure the contributions of skaters and goalies, but what about the coaches? A good coach should consistently improve his team. He should be able to make a bad team competitive, a competitive team good, and a good team into a champion. The best coaches should be able to do it faster and more consistently than the others.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
October 21, 2009
 
Every preseason, NHL fans make endless predictions on how the standings will look come the following April. Sometimes we're right with the majority of our predictions, other times we're wrong, but most of the time, we fail to predict the few teams that breakout and collapse. When the season starts, these teams catch us off guard and, very often, we don't know what to make of them. Last season, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks surprised us with their strong play from the beginning of the season, while the Ottawa Senators disappointed us with their all-around mediocrity. This season, there are already a few teams that are significantly better than expected and several teams that are a lot worse than predicted. Of the breakout teams, which one is likely this year's Cinderella story and, of the teams that have fallen apart, which one is unlikely to rebound?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 16, 2009
 
Victor Hedman is off to a fantastic start in Tampa Bay, but is it a continuation of the pace he set last season in the Swedish Elite League, or is it completely unexpected?
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
October 15, 2009
 
The Hockey Prospectus crew looks at the impact of injuries to Andrei Markov, Johan Franzen and Daniel Sedin, and how it might impact the 2009-10 season.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
October 12, 2009
 
Robert Vollman tackles the age-old question of roster age and what it means for Stanley Cup success.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
October 9, 2009
 
How good is John Tavares likely to be in his rookie year and can he make the New York Islanders competitive immediately? Robert Vollman takes a thorough look at the impact NHL rookies have had.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
October 1, 2009
 
With the NHL season ready to begin, the Puck Prospectus staff is ready to roll out their picks for the 2009-10 division champions, the Stanley Cup Finals matchup, the Stanley Cup champions, and the award winners.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 24, 2009
 
Take the Sedin twins, add a talented pool of veteran forwards and defensemen and throw in one of the league's best goaltenders, and what do you have? A possible Stanley Cup contender.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
September 21, 2009
 
Some projections seem strange at first glance, which forces us to take a deeper look and to challenge our beliefs. For example, the VUKOTA system projects a spike in goal scoring against teams in the Atlantic Division this season, like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers. Why?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 20, 2009
 
Minnesota is an all-around balanced team with good special teams and excellent goaltending. They should be able to fight their way back into the playoffs, and with some contributions from some key players, they could even find themselves in the mix for the division lead.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 18, 2009
 
The Calgary Flames have a deep but aging group of forwards who are among the better units in the league when performing at their best. Historically they have been led by Jarome Iginla, but Rene Bourque could be poised for a breakthrough season.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 10, 2009
 
The Oilers have a young team with strong potential and a fantastic new coaching staff, but for this season are simply too weak up front and defensively to compete. We expect them to fall short of the playoffs, but thanks to Hemsky and their front four defensemen, it will only be by a handful of points.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
September 5, 2009
 
2009-10 will be a long season for Colorado fans. Their team is projected to finish 2nd to last in goals scored, to allow more goals than the league average, and to end the season only a few points out of last place overall.
 
Robert Vollman and Andrew Rothstein, Hockey Prospectus 
September 1, 2009
 
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are two names we hear and see all of the time, whether it be in the news, on the television, or on the radio. We know they're talented individuals, both former first round picks and both very important players to their respective teams. They are among the best players in the NHL, but is either the best player in the game? Looking at the past couple of years, the strengths and weaknesses of these two standout individuals, VUKOTA and the Similarity Score Index, we can get a better idea of where both of these Eastern Conference skaters stand.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
August 24, 2009
 
The goaltender is generally the most important player on the team. Even the best players don't play more than half the game, but the goalie is between the pipes almost every minute, and of almost every game. While hockey is a team sport, ultimately the primary responsibility in keeping the puck out of the net, which is half the job of winning a game, falls on the goalie. In recent seasons we've seen how a great goalie can take a mediocre team all the way to the Stanley Cup, whereas a great team can really struggle with the wrong man in net.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
August 18, 2009
 
Hockey fans around the world are excited about the 2010 Olympics because it gives us an opportunity to see the greatest players in the world compete in a single tournament. Since the teams are based on national borders, fans can get even more emotional about their favorites than usual, making it harder to see clearly which areas one team has the advantage over another in. With a little bit of analysis we can supplement our opinions with numbers and get a clearer picture of which of these super-teams is most likely to win the Gold.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
August 10, 2009
 
Just as Baseball Prospectus once rolled out MORP, Money Over Replacement Player to compliment VORP, Value Over Replacement Player, Hockey Prospectus uses GVS, Goals Versus Salary, to compliment GVT, Goals Versus Threshold, and to properly evaluate a players' worth in financial terms. So, who are the ten best and ten worst players for value in the NHL?
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 6, 2009
 
Fueled by an enviable collection of talented young players yet to reach their prime, the Blackhawks have risen over the past three years from basement dwellers to Stanley Cup contenders. During the offseason they replaced Martin Havlat with Marian Hossa and Nikolai Khabibulin with last year's backup, Cristobal Huet. Will they take another step forward or will they disappoint this year?
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 5, 2009
 
A late surge was enough for the Blues to make a surprise appearance in the postseason for the first time since the lockout. Other than signing goalie Ty Conklin to back up Chris Mason, the Blues have not made any significant roster changes. With limited player movement, full, injury-free seasons from Paul Kariya and Andy McDonald and continued improvement from the Blues' core of young players are the keys to proving that last year's playoff appearance wasn't a one-time fluke.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
August 4, 2009
 
Given that the Red Wings' amazing 112-point season in 2008-09 was their worst since the lockout, it makes sense to make few moves. The departure of Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson means a net loss of 35 GVT, 26 of which is offensive value. The Red Wings haven't made any notable trades or free-agent signings, so where do they hope to get the secondary scoring that left them a goal away from hoisting the Stanley Cup again?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
June 25, 2009
 
There is no greater use in studying the past than for predicting the future. Despite the small sample size and the bias caused by playing the same teams repeatedly, we have learned that playoff performances can help us predict both breakthroughs and disappointments in the following regular season. Which players over-produced in the 2009 NHL playoffs and are candidates for great 2009-10 seasons? Likewise, which players failed to meet expectations and should be scratched off GM's shopping lists this offseason?
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 22, 2009
 
The Edmonton Oilers penalty killing was 77.5 percent, ranked 27th in the league. According to GVT calculations, that cost them more than 16 goals this season, only Toronto's penalty killing proved more costly. The Fix: Sign F Blair Betts (UFA, Rangers)
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 22, 2009
 
The Canucks have a lot of free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, including virtually all of their scoring (Mats Sundin, twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin) and all but four of their defensemen. Their scorers were the third worst in the league on the shootout, scoring on only 25 percent of attempts, worse than any team outside the state of Florida. They also took far too many penalties, recording more than any NHL team last season except Philadelphia and Anaheim. The Fix: Sign F Ales Kotalik (UFA, Oilers)
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
June 22, 2009
 
Hockey Prospectus' first ever article, which was re-posted June 22, 2009. This introductory piece helped explain what Hockey Prospectus was all about, and introduced player projections based on similar historical players.
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 22, 2009
 
Even if Minnesota comes to terms with potential free agent Marian Gaborik, it will be light on scoring. The Wild's offense had a GVT of -25.7 at even strength this past season, better than only the Islanders' and the Kings' offenses. Other than Mikko Koivu and Owen Nolan, the Wild had no forwards with a GVT higher than the mid-3s. It doesn't matter how well you play in your end of the ice if you create so few scoring threats on the other end. The fix: Sign F Ruslan Fedotenko (unrestricted free agent, Penguins)
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 22, 2009
 
Some fans were quick to blame Miikka Kiprusoff for the dramatic rise in goals against this past season, but he saw 29.3 shots per game, more than 10 percent more than his Vezina-winning season in 2005-06. The truth is that the Flames were very poor defensively, with a GVT of minus-11.4, dead last among playoff teams. Their top forwards like Mike Cammalleri, Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen, Daymond Langkow and Todd Bertuzzi combined for just a 3.2 defensive GVT. The Flames need more players like Craig Conroy, who was 5.8 all by himself. The Fix: Sign F Chad LaRose (unrestricted free agent, Hurricanes)
 
By Robert Vollman and E.J. Hradek, ESPN Insider
June 22, 2009
 
Of all the money spent on salary, the Colorado Avalanche spent the lowest percentage in the league on goaltending, and it showed. Since stopping 92.6 percent of shots in a remarkable 2003-04 rookie season, Andrew Raycroft has failed to stop even 90 percent. In that same timeframe, Peter Budaj's best is the 90.5 percent he stopped 2006-07. Together, they formed the third worst goaltending tandem in the NHL last season, with a -18.8 GVT. Perhaps they should have asked Patrick Roy back as goalie instead of coach. The Fix: Sign G Craig Anderson (UFA, Panthers)
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
June 11, 2009
 
In Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins have two of the best forwards in the game today. Crosby is the youngest player to ever win the Art Ross trophy, bagging 102 points in his sophomore season while still a teenager, also becoming the 7thplayer in NHL history to win the Art Ross, Hart and Lester B. Pearson award in the same season. His brief absence to injury the following season gave 2nd-line center Evgeni Malkin his first chance to truly shine, and Geno made the most of it, finishing 2nd in the race for the Hart Memorial trophy.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
June 10, 2009
 
The Hockey Prospectus gang answers questions from readers on a wide range of topics, many of which tied into their recent articles.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
June 9, 2009
 
The Hockey Prospectus crew talks about some of the biggest surprises in the Stanley Cup Finals match-up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
June 4, 2009
 
Officiating in the NHL is not an exact science. Not only are the officials unable to see everything, but there are certain places and times when they are either more or less reluctant to make a call. Certain players never lose their cool, and know what they can get away with, and pick their spots accordingly. Others have tempers quick to flare, and are sent to the penalty box every time they so much as sneeze on someone. Knowing when and how far to push the boundaries, that's what discipline is all about.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
May 29, 2009
 
Marian Hossa's defection has helped Detroit compensate for a defensive decline. Robert Vollman looks at all the changes that have taken place since the last time these two teams met in the Stanley Cup finals, and quantifies their probable impact.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
May 29, 2009
 
On the eve of the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Finals, the Hockey Prospectus crew are all asked to describe their favourite moment in Stanley Cup Finals history.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 28, 2009
 
Goals and assists are the most tangible forms of offensive contribution, but there are others. What about the player screening the goalie, the player throwing the big hit that causes the offensive zone turnover, and other forms of equally important offensive contributions that don't show up in the score sheet? On average, forwards will get either a goal or an assist for roughly 72% of the even-strength goals that are scored while they're on the ice. Some players contribute a far greater percentage, and some players contribute far less. What insight can we gain by identifying and studying such players?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 20, 2009
 
Recently we've been looking at ways to measure a player's defensive contributions, and specifically trying to find a single measurement that encompasses all of the various things players such as Ryan Jones, Scott Walker and Andrew Murray do to keep the puck from going into the net. They may win faceoffs, throw hits, rush the shooter, or block shots, but however they do it, the end result is always the same: they keep the puck from going into the net.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 15, 2009
 
The seasoned defending Stanley Cup champions take on the young upstart Chicago Blackhawks in what's sure to be a titanic offensive struggle. What will it take to win the battle between two of the Original Six teams?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 14, 2009
 
A comprehensive defensive statistic is the Holy Grail of hockey statistical analysts. Who among us hasn't wanted to balance the scale of endless offensive statistics with the occasional metric that measures the equally important defensive contributions? Defensive statistics are essential to comparing the value and contributions of great defensive players to the great offensive players.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
May 13, 2009
 
Tim Gleason, Alex Burrows, Todd Marchant, Kris Letang, Jussi Jokinen, Andrew Ladd and Dave Steckel. What do they all have in common? For starters, each is a second-, third- or checking-line player for his respective team. They all play defensive supporting roles alongside established superstars such as Eric Staal, Daniel Sedin, Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Alexander Ovechkin. Most importantly, and unlike their All-Star teammates, they've all been overtime heroes so far in the 2008-09 playoffs. Is this just a statistical aberration, or does a team's overtime fate rest on the shoulders of the second-liners?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
May 7, 2009
 
Stanley Cup finalists have been known to ride the backs of hot goaltenders. In some cases a hot goalie helps make a great team exceptional, like Chris Osgood and Marc-Andre Fleury last season, and sometimes a hot goaltender can drag a mediocre team to the finals all by himself, like Dwayne Roloson in 2006 or Miikka Kiprusoff in 2004. Either way, great goaltending seems to be a key ingredient in the recipe of a Stanley Cup champion. If this is true, which netminder can we expect to see hoisting the cup in June?
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
May 7, 2009
 
History demonstrates that shutdown players, or SDPs, are key ingredients in the recipe of a Stanley Cup champion. Where would last year's champions, the Detroit Red Wings, have been without top defensive players such as Kris Draper, Dallas Drake and Daniel Cleary shutting down high-scoring opponents such as Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Marian Hossa?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 30, 2009
 
How many times have you seen a team fight their way to the Stanley Cup finals on the backs of an unbeatable goalie? Roberto Luongo could be this year's Patrick Roy. However, instead of facing the inexperienced Cinderella Blues, this time he'll have to get by Joel Quenneville's equally young, but substantially faster, deeper and tougher Chicago Blackhawks.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 29, 2009
 
This season Johan Franzen had a breakthrough season, scoring 59 points in 71 games, a huge increase in the 38 points he scored in 2007-08. Having scored 18 points in 16 games for the Red Wings in last season's Stanley Cup championship season, should we have seen that coming? The season before, Ryan Getzlaf brought home 82 points in 77 games, an even more dramatic increase from the 58 points he scored in the previous season. Given his 17 points in 21 games to lead the Anaheim Ducks in scoring during their Stanley Cup championships season, should we have seen that breakthrough too? If we truly can use NHL postseason performances to predict how a player will perform the following season, who will next year's big stars be?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 23, 2009
 
Which players perform well in the playoffs, and which players struggle? By examining the playoff performances of all players in the post-lockout NHL and comparing them to each player's regular season performance, we can gain valuable insight into certain players and hopefully the game itself. Armed with appropriate statistics, we can use past performance to learn more about what to expect in the future, both in the regular season and in the playoffs.
 
Robert Vollman and Hockey Prospectus 
April 18, 2009
 
Well, it's the middle of April and the NHL postseason has officially begun. Regular season win-loss records are meaningless, with the exception of an extra home game, and everyone starts out with a clean slate. Not everything has gone the way the statistics had predicted, but this is not out of the ordinary for such a small sample size of games. There have been some amazing moments, Marty Havlat's overtime goal against the Flames in the first minute of play, and some suprising moments, the Rangers returning to Madison Square Garden after taking the first two games against Washington. As the playoffs continue, there will be more twists and turns than we could ever imagine. For now, the HockeyProspectus team have put together their thoughts on the first games of each series.
 
By Robert Vollman, ESPN Insider
April 17, 2009
 
After watching Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Sergei Gonchar, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals these past couple of years, we must conclude that in the new NHL, puck-moving defensemen are a key ingredient in the over-all recipe of a Stanley Cup champion. Is this true, or does it fail to stand up to objective analysis? If it does, how important is this ingredient?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 16, 2009
 
Riddled by injuries and dominated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the regular season, what will it take for the coldest playoff team in the Calgary Flames to win? Let's find out.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 15, 2009
 
Two teams effectively split the season series and finished tied in points. Sounds like a coin toss, doesn't it? Only by digging deeper can we find out which team clearly has the edge.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 15, 2009
 
The Carolina Hurricanes are riding into the playoffs on the back of their hottest streak of the season. By contrast, the Calgary Flames have slid from a commanding double-digit lead for the division lead to a spot above only those teams clinching in the final weekend of the season. Does this bode well for the Hurricanes and badly for the Flames? Have the Hurricanes peaked too soon and the Flames are due? Does it even matter?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 9, 2009
 
Today we're going to take a look at three players who have been featured in Puck Prospectus recently: Olli Jokinen of the Calgary Flames, Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. All three are centers at the tail end of their prime's (roughly age 30), all three are having particularly distinct seasons, and all three are key components for their respective teams in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs. For each of these star players, we'll search the NHL's 90-year history to find other players who had similar back-to-back seasons and use that insight to gain some perspective on each of them.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
April 2, 2009
 
Unlike in baseball, the same goalie can start every night, and without getting tired. Even if he's off toa rough start, he will stay in the game, and it's extremely rare for goalies to be switched back and forth. What happens when a relief goalie comes in?
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 25, 2009
 
Quality Starts were first introduced in March, 2009 in this piece, which used them to examine the league's most overvalued and undervalued netminders.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 18, 2009
 
In order to gain insight into a particular player, we look for players with similar statistics throughout the NHL's 90 year history. The more data we have, the more valuable those insights are likely to be. Ironically, the less information you have about a player, the more you'll want that insight.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 11, 2009
 
Who were your favorite players growing up? Probably, the players whose careers you followed most devotedly from team-to-team, whose statistics you can still recite and whose hockey trading cards you still have tucked away in a shoebox somewhere.
 
Robert Vollman, Hockey Prospectus 
March 3, 2009
 
In the 1988 and 1989 NHL Entry Draft, 11 teams selected 21 Russian League players. 5 of those were selected by the Quebec Nordiques, 2 more than the three next teams. Did these four players and the Russian goalie plucked from CSKA Moscow hold the key to turning their franchise around?
 
Iain Fyffe and Robert Vollman 
2001 SIHR Journal, Vol V, No. 1

Plus-minus has been a much-maligned statistic since the NHL began to record it officially in 1967. Such status is not deserved. There are certainly problems with the statistic as it is currently formulated, such as the effects of teammates and the short-handed bonus and power-play penalty. But plus-minus cannot be taken literally; it must be interpreted, more so than other common statistics. It can be a very informative number when considered in an appropriate form, in the appropriate context and over an appropriate time frame.