Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Losing Ericsson: A Numerical Look at What it Means Pt. 1

The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Wings did little to alter their roster aside from sending Mike Commodore to Tampa for a conditional 7th rounder. Love it or hate it, the Wings big deadline addition was Kyle Quincey. This couldn't have come at a better time, as Jonathan Ericsson will be sidelined for at least a month with a broken wrist.

We need to look no further than Ericsson's nickname (Shitbox) in some sectors of the Wings blogosphere to see how many bloggers feel about him. Call me crazy, but I'm not so ready to take a crap on his abilities. How can we tell what kind of player Ericsson is? Is he more a player worthy of his $3.25 million salary or his rectangularly fecal nickname?

Numbers? Numbers!

We'll start with 5 on 5 numbers. Everything below is per 60 minutes of even strength play.

Ericsson is averaging 14.40 minutes, which puts him last among defensemen who have played at least 50 games for the Wings. Ian White leads the team with 18.51 minutes, followed closely by Lidstrom at 17.49. There is then a drop off to the mid-16 minute range. Ericsson is clearly the third pair guy here, though he has played in 62 games so far this season. While he's the least used of the regular d-men, he's also shown enough skill to keep himself in the regular rotation and out of the press box.

Before looking at scoring, it makes sense to look at what kind of competition Ericsson is playing against. Relative Corsi Quality of Competition is the weighted relative Corsi number of a player's opponents. Essentially, the higher the positive number the more shots a player's opponents generate, while the lower a negative number the more shot's a player's opponents give up. Ericssion's Relative Corsi Quality of Competition is -0.792. Compared to the Relative Corsi QoC that Lidstrom faces (1.651) Ericsson should be lighting it up, because the guys he's playing against certainly aren't.

To shed some light on what type of impact Ericsson has on his team, we'll look at Relative Corsi rating. Relative Corsi indicates the number of shot attempts one can expect a certain player to generate when he is on the ice relative to the shot attempts his team generates when he is off the ice. Ericsson checks in at a 0.0. He creates no more shot attempts when he is on the ice compared to the number the Wings create when he is off the ice, per 60 minutes of even strength play.

Let's take a step back for a minute and look at Ericsson without comparing him to the rest of the team. His individual on-ice Corsi is +9.0, a respectable number. This ranks third on the team, behind only Lidstrom and White's 14.06 and 11.79, respectively. Ericsson is generating shot attempts when he's on the ice. The issue at hand is that he isn't generating any more shot attempts than the Wings can muster when he's not on the ice.

There's both good news and bad news when it comes to penalties. The good news is that Ericsson is drawing the most penalties of any defenseman at 0.6 per 60 minutes. The bad news is that he's also taking the second most penalties of any defenseman at 1.4. per. While not yet an area of concern, Ericsson could really generate some value if he cut down on taking unnecessary penalties.

As far as scoring goes, Ericsson just isn't a goal scorer. However, that doesn't mean that he can't be a point producer. He's averaging 0.07 goals, 0.27 1st assists, 0.27 2nd assists, and 0.60 points per 60. His on-ice goal differential is +1.01, while the Wings off-ice goal differential is +0.90. While he doesn't pack a huge scoring punch, he is producing at a higher clip than the Wings do when he's off the ice.

There's nothing to discuss as far as the powerplay is concerned because Ericsson really hasn't played enough on the PP to garner any useful info. This may actually be having a big impact on his stats. See this article from Behind the Net (which happens to be the site that all of the above stats are from) on how much of a difference power play time can make on stats.

Tomorrow: Penalty Kill numbers and final analysis


  1. While I agree that Ericsson stat wise hasn't been the worst, he doesn't seem to pass the eye test. To me, it seems like he gives the puck away alot but doesn't get burned too much.

    I looked at his giveaways and calculated his giveaways per game along with the other dmen on the Wings:

    Stuart 0.274
    Kindl 0.319
    Kronwall 0.333
    Lidstrom 0.355
    White 0.492
    Ericsson 0.587

    And his takeaways are lower then Kindl's despite playing 26 more games(again per game):

    Lidstrom 0.403
    Kornwall 0.317
    Stuart 0.306
    White 0.305
    Kindl 0.298
    Ericsson 0.143

  2. I think you bring up a great point. Giveaways and takeaways are a stat that I like very much, and I'm going to take those into account in future posts.

    Looking at the stats above and the ones you present, it looks like you're dead on in saying that Ericsson is a guy who coughs up the puck too often but doesn't really get burned. We'll see whether his penalty kill stats help make his case.