-Nichols reviews Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract (I’ve referenced him a few times, like his look at how AHL scoring translates at the next level and his rather unfortunate prediction that Dustin Penner was the best free agent signing of this past season, etc). Vollman boldly predicts that the Sens are the odds on favourite to win the President’s Trophy, whose rationale Nichols sums up:
Take the previous season’s standings and regress all the luck-based factors towards the norm (which means move them towards league average), like injuries, close-game and post-regulation records, and the percentages (save, shooting, special teams).
Which Nichols points out:
Working in Ottawa’s favor last season was the fact that the team managed to hold its own despite the absence of many of its best players to prolonged periods of time. Injuries derailed the seasons of Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Jared Cowen, but thanks to the depth of the organization and some exceptionally ridiculous goaltending, the Sens persevered and clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive season.
Nichols raises the salient point in regards to all this with:
I do however have to wonder how weighted the various goaltender save percentages were. One thing that I assumed would have had a greater bearing on Ottawa’s forecast (in a negative fashion) would have been the regression of their ridiculously inflated goaltender’s shorthanded save percentage rates.
Indeed. The second factor is Corsi related, which Vollman believes Ottawa’s additions outweigh their loses, but Nichols again sums it up succinctly:
The caveat to all of these projections is that they’re completely luck dependent.
So in essence Vollman has flipped Ottawa’s bad luck on its head to arrive at his bold projection. There’s no parade for winning the President’s Trophy, but if there was I wouldn’t be making plans for it purely based on Vollman’s analysis.
-Travis Yost takes a look at the Corsi data of the NHL’s top TOI forwards per team versus their team’s overall performance, focusing on the biggest differences (Ottawa’s numbers are almost identical, so he doesn’t go into them).
-Mark Parisi thinks a team can have too much talent, a conclusion he comes too via:
An abundance of talent isn’t a magical recipe for a Stanley Cup.
He bases this on the fact that talented teams don’t always win the Cup, which in itself is arguable (what non-talented teams have won?) but regardless isn’t much of an argument given that only one of thirty teams wins every year. If one accepts the statement and follows the logic than teams should be petrified if their system gets too flush with talent–too much! You have to wonder how Olympic rosters work. This isn’t to pick on Mark, who I don’t think put much thought into the statement (this is all in the context of trading Colin Greening–who is a cheap utility forward–for Ales Hemsky–a broken-down player on a bad contract), which I’ve heard elsewhere. Very simply a team can’t have too much talent, but what it can have is talented players who cause problems because they aren’t getting the ice time they think they deserve (Dany Heatley is an obvious example), or players who can’t be effective without high TOI totals that they aren’t getting on their current team. All in all, an abundance of talent is not inherently a problem.
-Mike Glotov writes a lengthy piece on the Sens in Russian and thanks to Google we unilingual fans can all take a look at it. He suggests the Sens are a year ahead of their planned rebuild and wonders if that’s going to turn out well or not–ultimately concluding that it should (although he proposes trading Milan Michalek). Glotov speculates on the lineup for the upcoming season and proposes:
There’s no sign of Jim O’Brien or Matt Kassian here and those absences make lot’s of sense. As for the actual combinations, it seems like the right division of top-six and bottom-six players.
-Sean Leahy echoes Frank Provenzano (writing behind ESPN’s paywall) who says salary arbitration is essentially dead:
The most likely possibility [for the future of arbitration], in my opinion, is more of what we are seeing right now. Fourth-line forwards, bottom-pair defensemen and players trying to solidify a breakthrough year of regular NHL roster time will probably continue to be the ones using the cement of salary arbitration to shore up their shaky NHL performance foundations. Settlements will continue to be the dominant norm, since the legal costs of $40,000-$50,000 associated with bringing a case to hearing simply aren’t worth it when fighting over $200,000 dollars instead of $2 million.
-Larry Brooks believes the NHL does not have a problem with PEDs, just pain killers and sleeping pills (the former are heavy in evidence via Derek Boogaard). Certainly enforcers were using steroids in the 80s and 90s, but lacking other evidence it’s hard to argue with Brooks assertion.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)