Todd Cordell

USING NUMBERS TO LOOK AT THE NHL'S FUTURE STARS

Tag Archives: Matt Grzelcyk

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: Northeastern vs BU – Feb 23 2015

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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