The Salary Project: Introduction, Atkinson, Calvert & Dubinsky

Posted by The Coach on July 24, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Contracts, Stats / 1 Comment

Ahhhhh the doldrums of the offseason. With one major exception, everything in CBJ-Land is settled for the coming year. Even considering Ryan Johansen‘s lack of a contract, we still have a very good idea of what the Blue Jackets roster will look like for the coming year. The exact lines and defense pairings are still up in the air, but we can deal with that closer to when we actually get to see them. Right now there is one thing (almost) going on in the NHL: arbitration hearings. I say almost, as hearings basically NEVER happen anymore, with all the scheduled hearings getting canceled so far after the players and teams have come to agreements. However, I know a thing or two about arbitration in the NHL, having penned this article at the Score, this MUCH longer in-depth paper, as well as first hand experience working on NHL arbitration cases. I figured I’d take the arbitration approach to the current Blue Jackets roster. By looking at what players around the league would be comparable to the current CBJ roster based on their current seasons, we can see if their salaries (and by salaries I mean cap hits) are commensurate with what they contributed last season.

So how did I do this? Well I used a 15% filter (with exceptions noted) for goals and assists, a 25% filter for time on ice, a plus/minus two years in age filter, and of course a positional filter (although all forwards are lumped together). Those sets were used for every player, with a 25% filter for special teams play for players that warranted it. This was done over the last two seasons to find a group of five to ten players who best matched the CBJ player in question. Players on entry-level deals weren’t considered, as their contracts are not merit based (at least not NHL merit). I then looked over the resulting list and figured out where the CBJ player fit. That gives us a nice little range for what each player should be paid based on their market value (from last season), how they compare to players of similar ilk, and what kind of contract to expect for each player moving forward. For today’s post I’ll be taking a look at Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, and Brandon Dubinsky. Why didn’t I start with Ryan Johansen? Well the outrage from some mainstream media folks over the Dubinsky project is what initially led me to this idea, I wanted to do them by lines (more or less), and I can only do so much in one post (these are VERY research intensive). Don’t worry, Johansen will be in part two. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

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The Coach’s Offseason Thoughts (So Far)

Posted by The Coach on June 30, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Roster Talk / 1 Comment

I had the majority of a post put together for an offseason game plan post featuring all the moves I wanted to see the Jackets make. I’d figured out reasonable cap hits for the guys I wanted to be signed, figured out a nice trade or two that made sense, and wrote a nice long paragraph about how no one in their right mind would deal anything of value for RJ Umberger. Then it all got blown to hell. It came out that Jason Spezza had Columbus on his no trade list (I had him as a trade target), Nikita Nikitin was dealt to the Oilers, and Umberger was somehow traded for Scott Hartnell. In my opinion, those moves took care of a lot of what the Jackets needed to do this offseason. So instead of a post detailing everything I wanted to see, I figured I’d hit everything that has happened so far, and what I want to see happen the rest of the offseason. Continue reading…

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A Look at the 2013-14 CBJ WOWY Numbers

Posted by The Coach on June 17, 2014
Stats / 2 Comments

WOWY. Also known as With Or Without You. It’s not just a U2 love song, in fact it’s a pretty useful tool for looking at how players perform with certain teammates, what players are driving their lines, which ones are dragging their lines down, and which combinations seem to work at bringing the best out of each other. The basic data came from Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, and boy do they have a lot of data. Within those pages you can find WOWY details for pretty much every player over the last few seasons, combined seasons, when the score is close, and much more. For this post, I used 5v5 data from the 2013-14 season only (to keep the sample size as large as possible). So I took all that information, and made a nice big fancy chart. It shows the Corsi percentage that each player is better (or worse) with each player. So the corresponding space in the chart of Johansen With (along the top of the chart) and Foligno (on the left side of the chart) shows the difference between Ryan Johansen‘s Corsi For % with Nick Foligno, and Johansen’s Corsi For % away from Foligno. Got it? Good. Let’s take a look at the chart, then go over a few things that need to be considered. After that is the good stuff: the players who come out best (and worst) in this analysis, the best combinations of players, and various ideal/terrible/etc. lineups.

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Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski, and the Roles of Defensemen

Posted by The Coach on May 28, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets / 4 Comments

Jack Johnson. James Wisniewski. Two divisive players playing the same position. A quick Google search will bring up loads of examples of people saying how bad Jack Johnson is. A quick search of Twitter post-playoff elimination would have found numerous examples of people saying how bad James Wisniewski is. What all that super analysis tends to forget is the role of a defenseman. Which isn’t always easy to judge. It’s much easier to watch a forward play, look at his stats, and decide with reasonable accuracy how good (or bad) he is. For defensemen, it is MUCH more difficult. That stats aren’t quite as telling. Some of the most important aspects of playing defense have no stats, are barely perceptible to most viewers, and are significantly influenced by the role the defenseman plays on his team. Put a guy in his own end, against the best players, and make him the primary puckhandler on his pairing, and you’ll see a lot of goals against, a lot of turnovers, and not a lot of points. Put a guy in the offensive zone, against lesser competition, playing with scorers, and make him one of the focal points of the offense, and you’ll see less turnovers, lots of points and goals, and less goals against. Switch up either of those roles on the fly,  and you’re likely to see the results switch up. There are only six defensemen on a team, so unless they are just rolled over willy nilly, you can’t compare teammates (well unless they are partners). You need to look at how those defensemen compare to other defensemen playing similar roles. So that’s what I did for Johnson and Wisniewski to try and find out if they are good, average, terrible, or deserving of buyouts.
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The Second Annual tUB Awards: King Clancy Memorial Trophy

Posted by The Coach on May 23, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, tUB Awards / No Comments

Here it is folks, the day you’ve all been waiting for. I bet every single one of you has been waiting on pins and needles to find out who wins the Clancy. It is awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. Generally, this one goes to players who do extremely awesome philanthropy. As we aren’t exactly privy to that information (for the most part) it took on a little different flavor. And your winner is….. Continue reading…

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Memorial Cup Thoughts

Posted by The Coach on May 22, 2014
Prospects / 1 Comment

I had the great fortune of attending the first four games of this year Memorial Cup in London, Ontario. This tournament pitted the host London Knights against the WHL Champion Edmonton Oil Kings, OHL Champion Guelph Storm, and QMJHL Champ Val D’Oor Foreurs. Unfortunately the Portland Winterhawks (and Jackets prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand) lost to Edmonton in game seven of the WHL finals, so the CBJ prospect contingent consisted of 2013 1st round pick Kerby Rychel (19th overall) of the Storm, and 2012 4th round pick Josh Anderson (95th overall) of the host Knights. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the performance/future of the two Jackets prospects and a few other noteworthy players.
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2013 tUB Awards: The Vezina Trophy

Posted by The Coach on May 15, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, tUB Awards / No Comments

BOBROVSKY! Continue reading…

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: The James Norris Memorial Trophy

Posted by The Coach on May 13, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, tUB Awards / 1 Comment

I figured the James Norris Memorial Trophy, given to the best defenseman, would be an interesting vote. Considering that the bloom is off the rose for both Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski; reigning winner 2013 tUB Norris winner Fedor Tyutin had a slightly down year; and the emergence of youngster Ryan Murray, this vote could have gone any number of ways. Instead, we had a runaway winner, with unanimous across the board first place votes. That was surprising enough in itself, but then we also had a dead even tie for the runner up spot. Without further ado, the winner of the Norris is…..

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

Posted by The Coach on May 08, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, tUB Awards / No Comments

The Lady Byng. Every player’s least favorite award. The official description reads as such: “Outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” In general, this award tends to go to the good player with the least number of penalty minutes. Or, as many think of it, the good player who is also the biggest pansy. I object to that description, as there are a number of Jacket players who fit the bill this year, while also playing very hard shift in, and shift out, taking abuse, going to the corners, and playing a tough game in general. However, what sets those players apart from the Dubinsky’s is their ability to do so without putting the Jackets shorthanded very often, constantly being good sports, and playing like gentlemen. We actually had a tie this year, with most first place votes used to break it. Last year’s winner was Cam Atkinson. Can he repeat? Let’s find out… Continue reading…

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RJ Umberger, Playing Through Pain, and “Looking Yourself in the Mirror”

Posted by The Coach on May 07, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets / No Comments

So RJ Umberger was pretty banged up by the end of the season. Over at Blue Jackets Xtra yesterday were the complete transcripts of post-season interviews from a few players, including RJ. Turns out Umberger had been dealing with a broken finger, separated shoulder and herniated disc. Ouch. I’ve dealt with (and played through) two of those injuries in the past and it is not particularly fun. First things first: RJ Umberger. So turns out his healthy scratch was more of a “healthy” scratch. Not sure how that is allowed by the league, but whatever. It makes evaluating RJ’s season difficult, as he spent nearly half of it dealing with injuries significant enough to impact his playing ability. Similar to evaluating Nathan Horton, another player who played through pain and looked the worse for it on the ice. While RJ’s play may have been down late in the year, there is value to what he brought to the team. Continue reading…

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