Todd Cordell

USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS

Tag Archives: Alex DeBrincat

By The Numbers: Evaluating Prospects With Advanced Stats

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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

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WHL

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QMJHL

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NCAA

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World Hockey Championships

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Under 18’s

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

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By The Numbers: Oshawa Generals vs Erie Otters – May 15, 2015

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The Oshawa Generals hosted the Erie Otters in Game 5 of the OHL Final looking to advance to the Memorial Cup with a win, and they did just that.

After allowing the game’s 1st goal, Oshawa scored six of the next seven en route to a 6-2 win over the Otters.

Oshawa doesn’t have any high profile draft eligible forwards (they’re easier to track on TV) so I tracked Islanders prospect Michael Dal Colle for the Generals, as well as Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome and 2016 draft eligible Alex DeBrincat off the Otters.

Zone Starts

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The Generals are a big, powerful team and they don’t have a lot of guys that can drive play up ice and dominate through the neutral zone. Michael Dal Colle is one of the guys they have that can do that, which probably factored into why he started so many shifts outside of the offensive zone despite being the team’s leading scorer (in goals and points).

Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Connor McDavid are Erie’s three best offensive talents. This was an elimination game and Erie trailed for the final 39 minutes. They carried play for much of that time so naturally these three were spoon fed offensive zone starts.

Zone Entries

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Dal Colle didn’t have as many entry attempts as you’d expect someone with so many zone starts outside of the offensive zone, but he was perfect in his four attempts.

Oshawa is a very big, strong team and DeBrincat is an undersized player who is barely 17 years old. Oshawa’s game plan seemed to be to stand him up at the line and separate him from the puck. They did that well.

Strome failed to gain the line in two of his first three attempts. He then rallied off nine consecutive successful zone entries. He put forth by far the best neutral zone performance I’ve seen from him.

McDavid was once again dominant through the neutral zone. He plays the game at such a high pace that basically forces defenders to back off.

Shot Attempts

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Dal Colle struggled in possession in this game, but when you take into account score effects – Oshawa was defending a lead the final 39 minutes – and that he started 19 of 22 shifts outside the offensive zone it’s hard to expect much more.

DeBrincat wasn’t great through the neutral zone and he was spoon fed offensive zone starts, but his numbers were still impressive in this game. When he was on the ice much of the action was in Oshawa’s end.

Strome was excellent in this game. He created chances almost every shift and was exceptional through the neutral zone.

McDavid had a pretty good game for someone who was ‘shut down’. It didn’t reflect on the scoresheet – he had just one point and was on for a few goals against – but when he was on the ice Erie had a much larger portion of the shot attempts and scoring chances. McDavid was also dominant through the neutral zone. He didn’t get the result he wanted, but he was very good in what was his final game in the OHL.

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

By The Numbers: Erie Otters vs London Knights – April 14, 2015

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Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters were in London to take on the Mitch Marner-less Knights in hopes of completing the sweep, and advancing to the Western Conference final.

With Marner out of the lineup, the lone Knight I tracked was Max Domi (Coyotes) while I kept my eye on a pair of draft eligibles centers in McDavid and Dylan Strome for Erie, as well as 2016 draft eligible winger Alex DeBrincat.

Final score: 4-2 Erie.

Zone Starts

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Alex DeBrincat played primarily on a line with Dylan Strome so their numbers were very similar. That said, when Erie was defending the lead Strome had a couple defensive zone starts without DeBrincat by his side, which explains the difference.

Connor McDavid and Max Domi went head-to-head the entire game – there were only a couple shifts they weren’t matched against each other – which is why their numbers are almost the exact opposite. McDavid had more offensive zone starts early, but when London was pressing late to tie it Domi was able to get some offensive zone starts in.

Zone Entries

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DeBrincat didn’t have a ton of entry attempts because a) Strome took some of them and; b) he didn’t start many shifts outside of the offensive zone, but he certainly showed the ability to gain the line with possession. He’s a very quick, shifty player so London’s defenders regularly backed off to ensure he didn’t blow by them.

Strome wasn’t dynamite through the neutral zone, but he also showed the ability to safely carry the puck into the offensive zone. His lone failure was when he was trying to accept a pass in stride and he was poke checked in the process.

A lot of McDavid’s shifts started on the fly so he had more entry attempts than Strome and DeBrincat despite similar zone start numbers. The offense runs through McDavid when he’s on the ice – as it should – and because of his high-end speed and pace London’s gaps were loose, and this was the result.

It wasn’t hard to see why Dale Hunter was confident matching Domi up against McDavid regardless of where his shifts started. Domi plays with such great pace, and is a dynamic skater, which makes him very effective carrying the puck up ice. He put forth a dominant neutral zone effort and made it look easy at times.

Shot Attempts

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DeBrincat started 70% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and played on a line with Dylan Strome, while avoiding London’s best defense pairing/forward line on a regular basis so it was less than surprising to see him post these numbers. Still, it was a good performance from him — he did what he was supposed to do.

I was really impressive with Strome’s game. He took a couple extra shifts away from DeBrincat in defensive situations, and still dominated in possession while tallying a goal, an assist, and getting sucker punched.

For a big name like McDavid you’d expect better numbers, but 50% is hardly a disappointing effort when you factor in a) he was playing against London’s best forward line in Domi, Christian Dvorak (Coyotes) and Matt Rupert, as well as London’s top defense pairing. I think a big part of the reason he didn’t come out higher in possession was that almost every time London gained possession of the puck Domi was safely carry it into the offensive zone, which led to a barrage of shot attempts.

Domi put forth an impressive performance in what will go down as his final junior game. Playing primarily against McDavid’s line he came out above 50% in possession, dominated through the neutral zone, and scored one of London’s two goals.

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

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