Did The Devils Become A Better Team?
My heart says no, but my head says… well, let’s find out:
I wanted to write this piece 2 months ago before the season ever started. I sat down, fingers clacking away on my laptop, and began writing. The creative process was running on all cylinders until I went to get some data for the Devils 2017-18 roster and realized… 5 key players expected to contribute to the Devils this year had no data on them. Making assumptions on how guys like Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher, Mirco Mueller, and Michael McLeod would measure up statistically would be a frivolous act of data journalism on my part. So, here I am 12 games later (15% of the way through the season) to commit a marginally less egregious act: using small sample sizes to make bold claims! Let’s begin:
Much like I used a cluster analysis to analyze the defense in this post I did the same for forwards. There are two charts: one categorizing Player Type based on how many points he scored (P60) and goals against he conceded (GA60), and the other depicting the Scoring Type using goals per hour and assists per hour. Take a look, play with the filters, and notice that NJ players are circles whereas all other skaters are plus signs:
After trading Adam Larsson to Edmonton for Taylor Hall and losing David Schlemko to San Jose in Free Agency, many fans knew the Devils' defense would struggle. Struggle is precisely what they did.
Let's put our GM hat on for a second. It's our job to evaluate the performance of the personnel on our roster and determine who is the best asset in our repertoire. It's much easier for a traditional business manager to measure Return on Investment (ROI), but of course we operate in the non-traditional realm of sports. Valuing our assets is difficult because we cannot just consider the hard numbers like wins, points, age, salary, etc. but we must also be privy to the impalpable benefit a player may bring to the team. Yes, we are talking about the classic "Intangibles" argument. Since we are simply unable to quantify these intangible qualities, I have considered only the quantifiable metrics and left the qualitative speculation for someone much closer to the organization. However, I raise this concept to remind you that indeed, numbers are not everything (coming from a self-proclaimed analyst).
To see the running list of GameScores as they are updated weekly, navigate to the PlayerCards page.
When I first released my rendition of GameScore, I did so based on subjective relative weightings of importance. Essentially, I broke the quantifiable measures of stats into three tiers based on their perceived effect on an individual game's outcome. The highest weighted measures were scoring stats, the next highest were stats that measured scoring chances, and the lowest weighting was given to measures of events that created scoring chances. I have since recalculated my weights based on more quantifiable, and therefore more sound rationality.
To find GameScore stats, navigate to the Playercards page.
Introducing: GameScore, a “catch-all” statistic that gives a relative idea of how a player performed on any given night in one convenient metric.
Today, February 18, 2017, Mike Cammalleri is listed as a healthy scratch for the Devils’ matchup against the 5th place Islanders. Based his reputation as a scorer, this move may raise some eyebrows initially. However, Coach John Hynes is completely justified in sitting Cammy out a game. Here’s why:
Why Should He Go?