We wanted to take you further into our thought process and methodology for how we determine our predictions for the upcoming season. Assuredly, this is more of an art than a science. However, we are gaining confidence that our efforts in this area are being fine tuned from years past; we have much more data at our disposal to analyze and extrapolate to players with whom we have very little, if any, information. Maybe, if my staff could get good at PowerBI and R, we might be able to run the gamut of possibilities in future works. That would be cool.
However, even without employing those fancy tools, we still think the value of what we do here is supplying information of a type that barely exists in a analyzable format for the NHL, much less at any other level of hockey. Say what you want about our methodology, but we are absolutely certain we are breaking new ground here; its only a matter of time until the entire league particularly, and hockey generally, adopts our philosophy (or one similar to it) with respect to the credo of mistake minimization. Some GMs of NHL clubs are (obviously, to us) doing it already. They tend to be the most successful. How long can other clubs continue to ignore or de-emphasize what we (uniquely) are saying here?
Having said that, we wanted to expand that theme within the context of what we mentioned yesterday; that is, the concept of stabilizing a sinking ship. What became evident to us as we were compiling our data for the upcoming season is that teams toward the bottom of the league relative to the Advanced Bracton score were quick to try addition by subtraction as a manner by which to purge themselves of below-replacement players. In the case of VAN and BUF, these two clubs may be the most improved by virtue of their roster moves and additions in the offseason. Assuredly Casey Mittelstadt and Elias Pettersson could improve any team. However, by coupling addition of players of this caliber with subtracting serial mistake maximizers (who shall remain nameless), teams like VAN and BUF, while still sub-par teams, will at least no longer be an easy two points.
We have come to this conclusion based on an admittedly imprecise prospective prediction process. Without boring you, what we have done to tabulate our data is to take last years’ numbers, adjust teams for any offseason moves of players for whom we have data, wait for the final cuts to come in, and then apply factors for median data for comparable players according to draft round, country of origin, age, position etc. based on historical information using a known cohort. For example, if a team is going to use their 19 year old first round pick on their second line, we have a formula for that based on past data for comparable players. This is how we fill in teams like Arizona (with 5 new players for which we have no information) and how we determined that TOR will not win the Stanley Cup and that the Sharks will not be anywhere near as good as many think they will be (see last night’s game with ANA as an example of what may be to come).
Another facet of this is our editorial ability to adjust the outlying statistics which, in the aggregate, comprise the Advanced Bracton Score. We have told you about our use of net penalty margin. We think it is an incredibly powerful element comprising our scale. For example, we believe that if a team puts TOR on the power play this year, this is a VERY bad strategy (again, look at last night for confirmation of this). In their game against Montreal, even though the Leafs were dominated in time of possession (Perry) and got out shot 36-26 (Corsi/Fenwick), they could still prevail in the game. Why? Because when John Tavares, draws two penalties and Kadri draws another, that is the difference in a one goal game. Why? Because if TOR played the whole game 5×4, we project they would score 11 goals per 60 minutes, versus under three 5×5. That’s a big deal……and a positive net penalty margin of two or three in most instances has TOR winning instead of losing as a result.
We also adjust upward or downward other (what we think are) outrageously outlying statistics…..for example, even though we love Jake Debrusk, do we really think he can have a +18 net penalty margin again this year? Will Sean Coutourier or Taylor Hall or William Karlsson have repeat performances of their 2017-18 campaigns? In the case of Coutourier, his regression to the mean, or sustainability, individually, is the difference between PHI making and missing the playoffs. So there’s that.
Even though teams like VAN and BUF do not have one player that will be the difference between the post season and golf, they are undoubtedly trying to right their respective ships. They are doing so by putting a team on the ice will, statistically speaking, not beat itself. By shedding below-replacement players, adding some young studs and neutral NHL-ready replacements, the embarrassment quotient in at least both of those cities has likely dropped considerably.
Detroit, however, is another matter. In a subsequent piece, we will delve into the abomination that will likely be befalling Hockeytown, especially on D. Oy vey! Johan Franzen is rolling over in his grave, and he isn’t even dead yet. Stay tuned.