Senators News: July 24th

-The Sens avoided arbitration with Kaspars Daugavins and signed him to a one-year, one-way deal (635k).  Tim Murray said:

Both sides got a number they thought was fair. We don’t have to go through the process of criticizing a player that you want in your organization and he doesn’t have to hear that or not understand the process completely. It’s good to get it done at a number that we liked and they obviously liked the one-way contract. Let’s hope he comes into camp ready to go. He has to come in like last year when he got called up. He has to be a responsible player. He has to play hard and he has to be effective on the penalty kill. If those things happen, maybe his role can grow from that situation. I think the coaches respect his game and aren’t afraid to put him on the ice certainly. Hopefully, he can grow his game from being a defensive player and a penalty killer to showing some of the skill that he has shown at every league except the NHL.

With the crowded forward group Bruce Garrioch echoes my speculation that Bobby Butler will be moved (bought out in Garrioch’s case, as Ottawa has a 48-hour window to do so).  James see’s the signing as an indication that the organisation doesn’t want the team to be full of rookies and agrees with my prediction back in May that only Jakob Silfverberg is likely to suit up with any regularity.

-We can finally say goodbye to all those absurd Rick Nash to Ottawa rumours as he was traded to the Rangers yesterday.  Howson is getting ripped for the deal, but he was never going to “win” the trade and I think he acquired more tangible assets (Anisimov, Dubinsky, Erixon, and a first-rounder) than Ottawa did in the Dany Heatley trade.  Senschirp wastes his time explaining his version of the process and why he kept bringing up the possibility of an Ottawa move, which seems pretty pointless.  Nash was never going to come to Ottawa, so whatever management did was completely irrelevant.  I’ll give Senschirp credit for admitting no one really knows what Ottawa offered–all the individuals named in the speculation seem to have come from Ottawa Sun reporters.

-Hockey stats geeks have much to comb through in The Legion of Blog‘s analysis of a Mike Gillis radio appearance.  Gillis was talking about hockey analytics and had a lot to say:

It’s different for different positions. For forwards it’s a combination of shots on net, quality of shots on net, location of shots on net versus time on ice. You know, there’s a number of stats that go into it, but one of the reasons that Moneyball was intriguing to me, was that—I taught about it at law school and talked about it a lot—was what happens when a team is forced to look at something differently. And forced to go against the grain and forced to change the rules to their benefit so they can be competitive. And the biggest thing that I got from Moneyball was not statistical analysis but it was that ability to think differently when you’re not forced to, when you want to. And when you want to create a different culture and a different environment. And the fact that they were successful that leads me to believe that you can be successful doing it without being forced to do it.
We do use advanced analytics to some measure. It’s more difficult in hockey than in baseball because baseball is a defined event. You’ve got 100 different things that go into player success. Who they play for, match ups they constantly play against. Their age. Injury history. So you’ve got lots of things that are determinant factors in hockey that can’t be properly analyzed just through analytics.In baseball you can. What we’ve done is look at things and try to design success, particularly for younger players, based on where they’re starting. And who they’re playing with and what situations they’re playing with and the number of minutes they play. And I’ve become convinced that you can really begin to enhance a young player’s ability by putting them in situations where they’re going to be able to succeed almost all the time and the only way you can do that is if you have the luxury of having a good team. If you don’t have, if you’re in a rebuilding stage or something that might not have the luxury to design those ice times the way you’d want, but here we’re fortunate, we have a good team, we can do what we want.
Well oddly enough we have looked at [passing efficiency] in soccer. And we put that in a very different context, we’ve looked at it relative to fatigue and conditioning and how you’re percentage of passing success is relative to your conditioning and the time in the game when you do it and how many minutes you’ve played. There are studies that we’ve looked at that indicate that passing percentage in soccer goes dramatically down depending on the time in the game or depending on the conditioning of the player. That’s through practice, that’s through defined, you know, not in the spontaneity of the game and so there are things from other sports that we’ve been trying to utilize as much as we can. The problem in our sport is that when you combine hitting and you combine puck battles, that takes it away from every other sport. We’re trying to define fatigue levels in those circumstances and as you know, a player usually gets hit twice when he gets hit once. He gets hit by the player and then hits the boards. How you can attribute that to success and how you attribute that to fatigue levels is instrumental in finding out when a player in the third period makes a mistake. And something happens and I think that as we’ve found, in a dynamic, competitive contact sport that fatigue levels are really a lot of the determining factor in success or failure.
You need defencemen who can handle big minutes because they’re constantly in today’s NHL being challenged, hit, challenged speed-wise in their own zone and then they have to make really good passes, outlet passes, and that’s what differentiates those great defencemen from the ones that are really good.

The blog points out that Gillis has experimented with boosting the stats of young players through offensive zone deployment. The Canucks have an unprecedented zone-start discrepancy.  It also talks about Pythagorean Expectation, a win-loss estimator based on goals for and against (which I’d never heard of), which Vancouver dominates in third periods.  It’s worth reading in full, although like the Corsi system it’s worth keeping in mind (as the blogger points out) that hockey analytics is in its infancy.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)