Todd Cordell

USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS

Tag Archives: Jesse Puljujarvi

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!

By The Numbers: USA vs Finland – April 26, 2015

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USA entered the gold medal game against Finland looking to win for the 6th time in seven years.

The U.S. have a much deeper, talented roster so I tracked three of their players while I followed just one Finnish player.

For the Americans I kept my eyes on a pair of 2015 draft eligible forwards in Colin White and Jeremy Bracco, as well as 2016 draft eligible Auston Matthews. On Finland I tracked numbers for 2016 eligible forward Jesse Puljujarvi.

Score: 2-1 USA (OT)

Zone Starts

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Colin White and Jeremy Bracco formed 2/3 of a line that USA seemed adamant about getting on the ice in offensive situations. Finland was outplayed from start to finish, and they iced the puck extremely frequently, so that skewed the offensive zone start numbers a little bit.

Auston Matthews was utilized as USA’s two-way stud, but since USA carried play at such a decisive rate he still had a ton of offensive zone starts. He’s probably the best player at the tournament, though, so that’s certainly not a bad thing.

As was the case against Canada, Jesse Puljujarvi started more shifts in his own zone than the offensive zone. He’s very good at driving play up ice, which could be a factor.

Zone Entries

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As a team USA put on an absolute clinic through the neutral zone. Part of it was because it was a back and forth game so there were odd man rushes for easy carry-ins. Part of it is the two teams played 13 minutes of 4 vs 4 in overtime. The biggest factor, I think, was their team speed. All of these guys are good skaters – in some cases great – so Finland was forced to back off and respect their speed numerous times. In Bracco’s case, one thing he did was come through the neutral zone with speed and slow right down at the line, giving him some time and space to make a play after an easy entry.

Puljujarvi put forth a good neutral zone effort. A couple of his entries were blocked at the line, but there were times he wouldn’t allow himself to be stopped.

Shot Attempts

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Considering Bracco’s efficiency carrying the puck safely into the offensive zone and the amount of OZ starts he had I was actually surprised his possession numbers weren’t higher. Still, it was a very good game from Bracco, who made a beautiful play while assisting on Colin White’s OT winner.

Matthews was a stud from start to finish. He made several great individual efforts to create chances for himself, and he showed good playmaking ability as well. He was also a beast through the neutral zone. This was as dominant of a game as you’ll see.

White played on a line with Bracco so their numbers were almost identical. White made plays at both ends of the ice and – to a lesser extent than Bracco – was also very good through the neutral zone. White’s strong U18 tournament likely has him rising up a lot of draft boards.

Finland was outshot 62-20 in 73 minutes of play, so to come out anywhere close to 50% is impressive. Puljujarvi did just that despite starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. He’s going to be really good.

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

By The Numbers: Canada vs Finland – April 21, 2015

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After winning their first three games against Latvia, Switzerland and Czech Republic, Canada faced their toughest test, as they took on an undefeated Finland team in their group stage finale.

For the Finns I kept my eye on underage forward Jesse Puljujarvi (a projected top-5 pick in 2016) while I tracked draft eligibles Mathew Barzal, Jansen Harkins and Graham Knott for Team Canada.

Score: 3-2 Canada.

Zone Starts

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Jansen Harkins is one of the better two-way forwards on Team Canada, and the coaching staff really trusts him, so naturally he was used in a more defensive role.

Graham Knott started the game in the bottom-6, but after Anthony Beauvillier went down with an injury Knott took his spot on the top line alongside Mathew Barzal and Mitch Stephens. His zone starts are similar to Barzal’s as a result.

Jesse Puljujarvi is one of the younger players in the tournament, and was still trusted in a defensive role. He was clearly capable of taking on the tougher assignments, though, as you’ll see below.

Zone Entries

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Barzal was dominant through the neutral zone. He’s an excellent puck handler as well as a very good skater, and was regularly able to gain Finland’s line with ease.

Puljujarvi was also quite good through the neutral zone. Given his ability to drive play up ice it makes sense that he wasn’t spoon fed offensive zone starts. Gaining the line with possession is an underrated trait that impacts hockey games a lot more than you’d think.

Shot Attempts

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Harkins came out a negative in possession, but overall posted pretty good numbers considering he only had one offensive zone start at even-strength.

Graham Knott started 70% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and barely came out even in possession. Part of it is that he played a handful of shifts against Puljujarvi, but I think one reason for it is that he continually dumped the puck in, and Finland grabbed it and went the other way more often than not.

Barzal played a very good game. He was given plenty of offensive zone starts, but he made the most of it generating the majority of the shot attempts at even-strength. He also tallied a couple points on the man advantage, including this snipe.

Puljujarvi was excellent in this game. He drove possession at a good clip, was effective carrying the puck through the neutral zone, and he recorded an assist against an elite team while playing as an underager.

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

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