Todd Cordell

USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS

Category Archives: NCAA Hockey

By The Numbers: Evaluating Prospects With Advanced Stats

Follow @toddcordell

Intro

Analytics in hockey have been growing rapidly over the last few years but there’s still a long way to go – particularly in junior hockey and with prospects.

While there are some good websites (notably CHLStats.com) out there that provide more insight into what really is going on in the prospect world, there is essentially nothing available when it comes to underlying numbers on a game-by-game basis at the CHL and NCAA levels.

When I’m not scouting in a rink I often find myself watching junior hockey on TV whenever the opportunity presents itself. Since I’d watch a lot of games, anyway, I decided to start tracking numbers for prospects in the games televised.

Unfortunately it’s a very time consuming process so I only tracked a handful of players per game.

I didn’t start doing this until midway through the season so I missed the opportunity to track a good chunk of games, however, I tracked a fair amount in the latter half of the season and throughout the CHL playoffs.

What Can This Tell Us?

While there isn’t enough data available to make any dramatic conclusions, this can help give us an idea of how Player Y was utilized by his team, Player Y’s ability to drive play up ice and why Player Y produced as much/as little as they did.

For example, it’s tougher for a player with a lot of defensive zone starts to produce offense than a player who regularly starts in the offensive zone. If Player Y is being spoon fed defensive zone starts his ability to put up points is being hindered.

In terms of zone entries if a player gained the line with possession 20 out of 25 times it’s probably a reasonable bet to assume he’s normally good through the neutral zone.

Notes & Numbers

A couple notes before presenting the data:

– These numbers include all even-strength play (i.e. 5 v 5, 4 v 4, etc.).

– I sorted by league to make all the data easier to navigate.

– I didn’t combine international hockey to a player’s numbers in North America due to different levels of competition, larger ice surfaces, etc.

– Memorial Cup numbers have been added to a player’s league numbers since the level of competition is very similar. That means Leon Draisaitl’s numbers, for example, include what he did against WHL teams as well as what he did at the Memorial Cup against OHL/QMJHL teams.

– SAF and SAA are shot attempts for and against. OZS, NZS, and DZS are offensive, neutral and defensive zone starts. CE are controlled entries and EA are entry attempts.

Without further ado here are the zone start, zone entry and shot attempt numbers from the 2014-15 season for many of the top prospects in North America.

OHL

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 7.54.00 PM

WHL

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 7.57.03 PM

QMJHL

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 6.57.53 PM

NCAA

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 3.58.14 PM

World Hockey Championships

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 4.00.52 PM

Under 18’s

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 3.59.56 PM

**

If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!

Advertisements

By The Numbers: BU vs Providence – April 11, 2015

Follow @toddcordell

BU took on Providence College in the NCAA Championship game, so I took the opportunity to get one last look at Jack Eichel and co. before the summer.

I kept my eye on a pair of draft eligible forwards – Jack Eichel and A.J. Greer – for BU, while I tracked a couple drafted forwards on Providence in Mark Jankowski (Calgary) and Brian Pinho (Washington).

Zone Starts

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 12.38.49 PM

BU carried play for much of the first two periods so that likely factored in, but even when it was all Providence in the 3rd both Jankowski and Pinho saw a very limited amount of zone starts in the offensive zone. As NHL prospects that are both capable of playing 200-foot games, it was clear that Providence trusted them and relied heavily on them for defensive minutes. They did take some shifts together, but despite similar zone starts the majority of the time they played on different lines.

Jack Eichel is the best player in college hockey, but he wasn’t given a ton of offensive zone starts. One reason for that is likely his ability to dominate the neutral zone and drive play up ice, which you’ll see below.

A.J. Greer’s line was BU’s best offensive line in his game and he’s one of the younger players on the team, so he saw plenty of offensive zone starts as a result.

Zone Entries

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 12.44.51 PM

Given the amount of shifts Jankowski and Pinho started outside of the offensive zone it was surprising they only combined for one entry attempt. Providence plays a structured defensive pro-style system and they dump and chase a lot, so that’s probably a big reason why.

Eichel once again dominated through the neutral zone. He’s a dynamic skater, strong on the puck, and is an excellent puck handler so whether Providence attacked him at the line or not he was carrying it in.

Greer is your proto-typical power forward – he likes to dump it in, forecheck, cycle, etc. – so it wasn’t surprising he only had one entry. Most times when he gained center he’d just dump it in.

Shot Attempts

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 12.49.05 PM

Given the amount of defensive zone starts Jankowski and Pinho had, their numbers are impressive. Pinho’s vary a little bit more because he had a couple shifts where Providence was able to sustain offensive zone time and generated multi-shot attempt shifts.

Eichel played relatively heavy defensive minutes, and was up against a very structured team loaded with players in their early-to-mid 20’s so his numbers weren’t as dominant as usual. Still, he was excellent through the neutral zone, picked up an assist, and came out almost even in possession so it was still a solid effort.

Greer’s line was clicking on all cylinders and he was given a good chunk of offensive zone starts – he didn’t really start in the defensive zone until Providence was carrying play late and he had to in order to get on the ice – so his numbers weren’t entirely surprising. It was an impressive showing, though.

**

If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!

By The Numbers: Boston University vs Yale – March 27, 2015

Follow @toddcordell

Jack Eichel’s BU Terriers took on Yale in a very important game on Friday, where the winner would earn themselves a spot in the Northeast Regional Final.

I decided to track the game and, as you’d expect, Eichel was one of the four players I decided to watch. The other three: Boston Bruins defense prospect Matt Grzelyck (BU), draft eligible forward A.J. Greer (BU), and Blackhawks forward prospect John Hayden (Yale).

Final score: 3-2 BU in overtime.

Zone Starts

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 11.28.06 AM

John Hayden is one of Yale’s best forwards, but they take pride in having a well-rounded team where everyone is expected to contribute at both ends, so he didn’t get a heavy dose of either offensive or defensive zone starts.

I’m convinced Matt Grzelyck never left the ice. He played huge minutes and it didn’t really matter what the situation was. He started off with more defensive zone starts early, but as BU started to take over in the latter half of the game his offensive zone starts went up.

Jack Eichel is probably the best player in college hockey, so naturally he was given more offensive zone starts to work with. Still, BU wasn’t hesitant in giving him defensive zone starts if they wanted him on the ice. It wasn’t hard to see why.

A.J. Greer is a draft eligible freshman who is starting to play a bigger role for the team, but it’s clear they wanted him playing some sheltered minutes in a game of such importance.

Zone Entries

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 11.32.11 AM

Hayden wasn’t great through the neutral zone, but he did OK. He had a couple controlled entries that led to shots/chances, but also had a couple broken up when he was met at the line.

Grzelyck is a defenseman, so naturally his zone entry attempts were limited. He did have one nice rush, but otherwise there was nothing notable.

Eichel was once again dominant through the neutral zone. He has a very fluid stride and reaches top speed in a hurry, which forces the defense to back off more often than not.

Greer had a couple entry attempts, but the number was limited due to starting in the offensive zone so frequently.

Shot Attempts

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 11.40.56 AM

Given Hayden started 10 of 14 shifts outside of the offensive zone, his possession numbers weren’t all that bad, especially when you factor in BU controlled play for most of the game.

Grzelyck was almost a 60% possession player despite starting an almost identical amount of shifts in all three zones. Impressive.

Based on his usage you’d expect Eichel to be positive in possession, but not to this extent. He was creating chances almost every shift in the offensive zone, and whenever he started outside of the OZ he showed the ability to dominate the neutral zone, and drive play up ice.

Greer was spoon fed offensive zone starts, and it showed in the numbers. Still, he did what he was supposed to do.

**

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 11.50.21 AM

I’ve now tracked two BU games – the other being the Beanpot Final against Northeastern – so I combined the numbers to provide a bigger sample size.

**

If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!

By The Numbers: Northeastern vs BU – Feb 23 2015

Follow @toddcordell

Northeastern and Boston University squared off in the Beanpot final Monday night and Ducks prospect – and Hobey Baker nominee – Kevin Roy as well as future star Jack Eichel were among those featured in the contest, so I decided to track the game.

As usual, I only tracked four players because it can be hard to follow if the number gets too big. On top of Roy, I tracked the numbers for Bruins defense prospect Matt Grzelcyk, as well as draft eligible forwards Jack Eichel and A.J. Greer.

Zone Starts

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 1.39.32 PM

Kevin Roy is clearly Northeastern’s best offensive player, and has averaged well over a point per game in each of the last three seasons, so it should come as no surprise that he was spoon fed offensive zone starts. Roy actually started six or seven of his first eight shifts in the offensive zone, but BU started to take over as the game went on so Northeastern resorted to giving him more NZ and DZ starts to ensure they could get their star player on the ice.

Grzelcyk started almost 10 shifts outside of the offensive zone before he was finally given an OZ start. He’s BU’s best defenseman, but because of his high-end skating and puck-moving abilities he had to do the heavy lifting. As Boston took over  the game – particularly in the 2nd period – he started seeing more shifts in the offensive zone.

Eichel started three of his first four in the defensive zone, but it was clear BU wanted him in situations where he could attack and put his high-end offensive abilities to use. We saw that more and more as the game went on.

As for Greer, he didn’t play a lot – especially in the 3rd period – and most of his shifts started in live play.

Zone Entries

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 1.59.46 PM

Roy didn’t start a ton of shifts outside the offensive zone, but he had no trouble getting back in there when that was the case. He’s a very skilled player and is very quick, which forced BU’s defense to back off and respect his speed. That shows in the results.

It really is sad that this is Jack Eichel’s draft year, because most years he’d be the clear cut No. 1, and he showed why in this game. He was absolutely dominant through the neutral zone, and couldn’t really be stopped. His skating ability is elite, which forced the D to back off, and when they didn’t he just blew right by them or powered through any checking attempt, anyways. That was one of the best neutral zone performances I’ve seen.

Greer didn’t play much so he was a non factor, and Grzelcyk is a defenseman so naturally his attempts were minimal or, in this case, non-existent.

Shot Attempts

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 2.07.59 PM

Roy had a nice chunk of offensive zone starts + was very good through the neutral zone and his possession numbers reflected that.

Grzelcyk is a stud and because of his skating/puck skills he was effective regardless of how he was used. If he started in the OZ, it generally led to a couple shot attempts. If he started in the NZ or DZ, he usually drove play up ice. This while regularly squaring off against Northeastern’s top two lines.

Eichel was absolutely dominant, which is very impressive considering he’s playing against a lot of guys who are several years older. The scary part about these numbers is he had some shifts in the 3rd defending the lead where he and his linemates were presumably instructed to dump pucks in, and they threw it in the corners/cycled down low without trying to generate any offense. There were several occasions shot attempts could have been taken but were passed up to throw it in a corner and change.

Lastly, we have Greer. To me he was slow with the puck, and looked overwhelmed regardless of who he was on the ice against. He spent a lot of his time chasing play in his own zone.

**

If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!

%d bloggers like this: