Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Shana-hold On

This morning, the topic of discussion on NHL Home Ice radio naturally turned to Hall of Fame nominees. The hosts said there were two shoo-ins; Joe Sakic and Brendan Shanahan. They then debated the merits of Adam Oates, Pavel Bure, and Mats Sundin. 

Four out of five of the aforementioned players will be a part of the Hall's 2012 class, with the only player left out being one of the shoo-ins. A lot of Red Wings fans are upset, and deservedly so. Need to alleviate some frustration? Watch this:

Sniper, comedian, and league disciplinarian. Brendan Shanahan: renaissance man.

In blog related matters, I apologize for not having any draft coverage this year. It coincided with moving, and I was too busy packing and unpacking to get anything pulled together. Luckily, there are a lot of other great Wings blogs that did a phenomenal job of covering it all. I'll be posting lengthy "Welcome to Detroit" posts for all of the Wings' free agent signings, so be sure to check back on Sunday.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sign on the Dotted Line: A Brief Look at the Red Wings' Free Agent Targets

I wanted to create a resource where a relatively brief summary of each of Detroit's free agent targets was housed on one page. Hopefully this is helpful for those interested in a little more in-depth info about the talent pool available. I'll be updating this frequently leading up to July 1st, so check back for more.


Zach Parise: See my post here.

Alexander Semin: Most things I've heard have been less than favorable, but there's definitely something intriguing about him. If you're looking for something more qualitative, it's the chemistry he had playing with Pavel Datsyuk at Worlds. If you're looking for something more quantitative, it comes from Basically, a HARO+, HARD+, or HART+ rating above 1 means the player exceeded expectations, and a rating below 1 means they underperformed given their circumstances (ice time, linemates, and defensive ability of opposition). Semin's even strength HARO+ (offense) is 1.289, his HARD+ (defense) is 0.996, and his HART+ (total) is 1.143. According to, he had the third highest Corsi rating of Capitals forwards (5.21), which means he gets shots to the net more frequently than he allows them. This fits nicely with the Wings possession system. The biggest issue with him? His contract. He'll have to take at least a slight paycut from the $6.7 million he made last year.


Ryan Suter: The last part of my post needs to be updated, but the stats are all there and worth checking out.

Dennis Wideman: His even strength numbers aren't great (HARO+ 0.972, HARD+ 0.951, HART+ 0.961). Played over 150 minutes more than any other Washington d-man on the powerplay and had a good HARD+ (1.123). Logged 158 minutes of penalty kill time and had a better HARD+ (0.855) than teammates Karl Alzner (215 minutes, 0.623 HARD+) and John Carlson (200 minutes, 0.627 HARD+). Played in all situations, but was a secondary option on the penalty kill and played against easier competition (Relative Corsi Quality of Competition of -1.039). I'd take his 11 goals, 35 assists, and 46 points in a heartbeat if the price was right, regardless of whether Suter signs with Detroit. He's a right handed shot as well, which the Wings could use.

Jason Garrison: A big body (6'2", 218 lbs), he's a defensive defenseman that could fill the void left by Brad Stuart. Great even strength HARD+ (1.233) against strong competition (second highest Relative Corsi QoC of 1.015). Played second most PK minutes among Panthers defenders against the toughest competition (Relative Corsi QoC of 2.937). At 27 years old and with only 3 full season under his belt, he's just starting to come into his prime. Due a huge raise from the $700,000 he made last year. I'd love to see him wearing the Winged Wheel next season.

Matt Carle: He has good possession numbers, evidenced by positive on-ice Corsi at even strength, on the powerplay, and on the penalty kill. Achieved these against mediocre competition across those same situations. Didn't play a lot on special teams. At even strength, his numbers are mediocre (HARO+ 1.079, HARD+ 0.928, HART+ 1.004). Made $3.8 million this past season, scored 4 goals, and added 34 assists. I think that the Red Wings' money could be better spent elsewhere, and that signing Carle means that all of Detroit's negotiating with each of the above players fell through.

Coming soon: more forwards, goaltenders

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

15 Years Later: What Could Have Been, and What Really Matters

The scene inside Joe Louis Arena's Olympia Club was an emotional one. Employees were dressed in red #16 sweaters, a reminder of the number that will soon hang from the rafters with other Red Wings legends. Vladimir Konstantinov is retiring from the game of hockey after one final Stanley Cup championship, his fourth, at the age of 41. The last of the Russian Five is gone, and one of Detroit's most dominant eras may be coming to a close. He leaves the game having cemented his legacy as one half of the greatest defense pairing of all time, the man who traded the majority of the last decade's Norris Trophies with defense partner Nicklas Lidstrom like they were starting a D-to-D breakout.

It's hard to imagine, and yet it's not much of a stretch. Konstantinov was just hitting his stride during the 1996-97 season, and in many ways was overshadowing teammate, living legend, and future Hockey Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom. "If you asked 100 people back then to name our best defenseman, it would be about even," Red Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN The Magazine in 2008. "But a few more might have said Konstantinov."

Konstantinov was coming off a season in which he was a Norris trophy finalist and finished runner-up to Brian Leetch. His combination of skill and grit was a perfect fit for a city well known for embracing blue collar players.

"Sometimes, we sit around and reflect internally," Holland told the Free Press in 2007. "Where would we be if we'd had a healthy Konstantinov?"


On the evening of June 13, 1997, a white limousine carrying three members of the Detroit Red Wings organization streaked through the dusk and collided with a tree at 50 miles per hour. The driver, Richard Gnida, was driving with a suspended license and had previously been twice convicted of driving under the influence. He claims to have blacked out during the incident. Gnida never heard the passengers banging on the partition to try and get his attention.

Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov both sustained closed head injuries. Defenseman Slava Fetisov walked away with relatively minor injuries and rejoined the Red Wings the following season.

Mnatsakanov is mentioned less frequently than Konstantinov, but his story is just as tragic. He shares many similarities with Konstantinov. Both had defected from Russia, and both were living their dream; to be in the National Hockey League. The two had just ascended to the pinnacle of their profession when, six days later, their lives changed forever.

The limousine accident is the tarnish on the silver chalice for Detroit. It's impossible to think about the 1997 championship without thinking about the accident. The two are inextricably linked.

Who knows what could have happened if the accident never occurred? Does Konstantinov go on to reach the sustained level of brilliance so many think he could? Does Mnatsakanov become a

Could-haves and should-haves are intriguing thoughts, but dangerous as well. One thing, however, is certain. The Red Wings repeated as Stanley Cup champions in 1998, driven by tragedy, motivated by the loss of a teammate and a member of the organization.

Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov's impact extends beyond the hockey world. They reminded the world at large of the fragility of life, that no matter how high a pedestal you're put on you can always be taken back down. Most importantly, the two men showed us the power of collective belief in overcoming daunting circumstances. Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov both sustained life-threatening injuries. Today, Konstantinov is able to use his walker and Mnatsakanov his wheelchair to attend games at Joe Louis Arena. They will forever symbolize not just what it means to be a Detroit Red Wing, but what it means to be a courageous human being.

The patch that adorned Detroit's jerseys throughout the 1997-98 season summed it up in two languages and one word: believe.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Free Agent Forecasting: Zach Parise (Revised 6/8/12)

Looks good in red, no?

When Mike Babcock laments the lack of forward depth, you know it's time to make some changes. When he offers to fly around the country to recruit free agents, you know that Detroit is in dire straits. Most believe that New Jersey winger Zach Parise will be near the top of the Red Wings' list of targets when July 1st rolls around, giving Detroit the additional offensive punch they lacked during the playoffs. Is Parise worth wooing, and what might it take to land him?

Let's assume that Valterri Filppula isn't moved during the offseason. That means that Detroit's top six forwards could look something like this on opening night of the 2012-13 season:


It may be a bit of a stretch to put Nyquist on the top line, but the chemistry he had with Pavel Datsyuk is hard to deny, and it seems silly to bury him in the bottom six with the type of playmaking ability that he possesses. This leaves one spot to be filled, and Parise could be slotted in quite nicely there. The first line has a Hart trophy caliber player in the middle, and the second line has three potential all stars. Not a bad top six.

Though he may still be playing hockey with a team that's not the Detroit Red Wings, let's take a look at what Parise could bring to the organization.

Statistical Breakdown

Basic Stats

  • Parise played in all 82 games this season, scoring 31 goals and adding 38 assists for a total of 69 points. Seven of his goals came on the powerplay, and three were short handed tallies. Average time on ice was 21:29 (16:05 even strength, 3:26 powerplay, 1:57 shorthanded). 
  • Took 293 shots. Blocked 39 shots. 35 givesaways were offset by 65 takeaways. 
  • He was a -5 on the year. Weird stat of the day: 16 of his 32 penalty minutes came from tripping calls. 
Advanced Stats
  • Parise's even strength Relative Corsi Quality of Competition is 0.731. Essentially, the higher the number the better the competition faced. For context, we'll look at some of the top players (by reputation) in the league. Datsyuk (1.169) and Claude Giroux (0.805) faced tougher competition, while offensive dynamos like Steven Stamkos (0.248) and Evgeni Malkin (0.279) racked up their numbers against relatively weaker opponents. An interesting case is current teammate Ilya Kovalchuk (0.533). Though Kovalchuk had 15 more points than Parise, it was Parise who was drawing the tougher defensive assignments. The closest Red Wing is Jiri Hudler (0.789), the very player that Parise could be replacing.
  • On-ice Corsi rating isn't as kind to Parise, and this is true for all of his Devils teammates. Corsi measures the shot differential (goals+saves+blocked shots+missed shots) per 60 minutes of even strength ice time. Parise (3.22) pales in comparison to guys like Datsyuk (19.08), Malkin (17.69), Toews (17.17), and even Joe Pavelski (12.32), but then again the highest Corsi on New Jersey belongs to Alexei Ponikarovsky (7.84). This is likely more indicative of the system utilized by New Jersey instead of a flaw in every single player on the Devils' roster. 
  • Parise averages 0.99 goals, 0.71 first assists, and 0.47 second assists for 2.18 points every 60 minutes of 5v5 time he's on ice. To compare, Giroux (1.02, 1.02, 0.70 for 2.73), Datsyuk (0.82, 1.00, 0.65 for 2.47), and Malkin (1.88, 1.42, 0.36 for 3.66) all average more, but only Malkin is averaging significantly more points. For fun, let's look at the Wings' last big free agent signing, Marian Hossa. His averages (0.92, 0.92. 0.72 for 2.56) are similar to top tier players like Giroux and Datsyuk, and if Parise raised his second assist average he'd be in the same category.
  • Offensive zone start percentage isn't the be-all end-all of advanced statistical analysis, but is useful in determining how a coach views a player. If a guy's offensive zone start % is low (30-40%) then he's likely being used as a defensive specialist, while a player whose offensive zone start % is 60% or above may be viewed as a defensive liability. Parise's number (54.2%) is nothing earth-shattering. He's not being shielded from having to defend, and he's not being put on the ice solely to check. This is about what you'd expect from a good two way forward like Henrik Zetterberg (54.5%) or Datsyuk (55.5%).
  • Two statistics that I find interesting are +/- On-Ice/60 and +/- Off-Ice/60. The first looks at the average goals for per 60 minutes of even strength ice time and subtracts average goals against per 60 minutes of even strength ice time from it. The latter does the same for the team when a player is off the ice. Parise's +/-On/60 is -0.14, and his +/-Off/60 is -0.18. New Jersey allows 0.14 more goals than they score for every 60 minutes of even strength time Parise plays, while they allow 0.18 more goals than they score when he's off the ice. In other words, Parise's team is negligibly better when he's on the ice compared to when he's riding the bench. While this isn't the ringing endorsement of impact that a high +/- On/60 can provide, it isn't singularly damning either. 
  • Let's look at +/-On/60 and +/-Off/60 for Parise's powerplay numbers. His +/-On/60 is 4.75, and his +/-Off/60 is 2.68. The New Jersey offense is receiving a significant boost when Parise is on the ice with the man advantage. Keep in mind that Parise averages almost 4 minutes per game on the PP, so this is a statistic worth noting.
  • Parise also plays on the penalty kill, averaging almost 2 full minutes per game. His +/-/60 numbers, however, are brutal. A +/-On/60 of -2.64 and +/-Off/60 of -0.91 is alarming enough that I dug a little deeper. Though it looks like the Devils are much worse off with Parise on the penalty kill than if they kept him on the bench, he's actually playing the second most time of any NJ forward (1.94 minutes per 60 played; Dainius Zubrus plays 1.95). He's scored three of the six shorthanded goals he was on ice for, but was also on ice for 13 goals against. I think the ice time entrusted to Parise speaks more to his skill than the +/- stats do.
  • Hockey Analysis has a unique way to look at the offensive, defensive, and total production of players. Here's the abbreviated explanation from their website (the rest of the article can be found here):
Given a large enough sample size of ice time with and against players I believe that we should have a reliable rating system in which any HARO, HARD, or HART greater than 1 indicates the player is a better than average player and anything under 1 indicates the player is a below average player. 
  • Parise's even strength HARO+ (1.083), HARD+ (0.914), and HART+ (0.998) are all respectable and fairly close to the benchmark of 1. For comparison, we'll again look at Datsyuk (1.240, 1.404, 1.322), Zetterberg (1.366, 0.897, 1.131), Malkin (1.542, 0.898, 1.220), and Giroux (1.376, 0.920, 1.148). While all of those players have higher offensive ratings, it appears that Parise is a better even strength defender than Zetterberg and Malkin and about as good as Giroux.
  • Parise's powerplay HARO+ (1.159), HARD+ (0.601), and HART+ (0.880) are similar to Zettberg's (1.024, 0.681, 0.853). Datsyuk (1.327, 2.965, 2.146), Malkin (1.345, 0.632, 0.988), and Giroux (1.302, 0.636, 0.930) aren't favorable comparisons in this instance.
  • The penalty kill is where Parise shines. His HARO+ (2.406), HARD+ (0.913), and HART+ (1.660) are all much higher than Zetterberg (0.756, 0.677, 0.717), Datsyuk (0.000, 1.065, 0.533), Malkin (not used on PK), and Giroux's (0.720, 0.771, 0.745).
  • Perhaps the biggest strength of is the ability to look at HARO+, HARD+, and HART+ over multiple seasons. Five seasons of data (2007/08-2011/12) tells us that Parise is truly a two way star. Keeping in mind that anything over 1 is an above average player, Parise's even strength HARO+ (0.976), HARD+ (1.129), and HART+ (1.052) are impressive.
  • Five year powerplay HARO+ of 1.223, HARD+ of 0.894, and HART+ of 1.058 is great.
  • Five year peanlty kill HARO+ of 2.929, HARD+ of 1.412, and HART+ of 2.170 is especially noteworthy.


Parise signed a one year, $6 million dollar deal in the summer of 2011 that helped avoid arbitration, but also allows him to test the waters of free agency once he has played out the season. He had a successful, if slightly subpar, regular season in 2011-12 (according to comparisons against five year averages of HARO+, HARD+, and HART+). Despite this, I don't expect Parise's paycheck to get any smaller.

I wouldn't be surprised if he signs a deal for around $6.5 million per season. The cap hit could be structured to be somewhat similar to Henrik Zetterberg's at slightly over $6 million per season. At this salary and cap hit, I'd sign Parise.

I don't see him as a part of the upper echelon of players in the league, and the comparisons above make this fairly obvious. At the same time, and all else being equal, he would have been the only 30 goal scorer on the Wings this season. He's a very talented player, someone I'd put in the same neighborhood as Zetterberg. It seems fair that they would then be paid accordingly; similar deals for a similar skillset.

The only disturbing thing that I saw when going through the numbers was that nothing really stood out on the advanced statistics side of things when comparing him to New Jersey's other forwards. While Parise almost had a 70 point year, he wasn't clearly and distinguishably the best player on his team in any one category. If the bidding for him gets out of hand, I'd let him sign elsewhere. At $7 million a season I think his contract turns into a burden despite his talent, especially keeping in mind that Datsyuk only makes $6.7 million per season and was better in most advanced statistical categories.

Estimated Contract: $7-7.2 million/yr
Estimated Value: $6 million/yr

Can Detroit Sign Him?

In short, yes.

A quick disclaimer: I'd rather have Nick Lidstrom on this roster than any other player in the league. Period. It's been said over and over again, but there's no way you can replace him. Life goes on and, despite the stomach-knotting absence of the seven time Norris winner's name from the roster, there is still a roster with glaring deficiencies to fill.

I changed my earlier projection for Parise's salary and adjusted it to be closer to Pavel Datsyuk's. As time goes on, it's becoming more and more evident that this year's free agent crop is 1a) Parise 1b) Suter 234442) everyone else. A weak crop goes hand in hand with bloated salaries, and that's what the Wings will be encountering if they're looking to add help via free agency. 

The good news? Detroit is well equipped to take on a boatload of salary and still have room to work with. If the Wings were to sign Suter and Parise to deals with a $7 million cap hit, they would still have almost $7 million in cap space. And that's assuming that Helm and Abdelkader get small raises, and Quincey signs an Ericsson-like contract. There's no need to worry about cap space in Detroit. There's enough to sign both of the most desirable free agent targets, and hang onto Detroit's home grown talent. Salary won't be the culprit if Parise chooses not to sign with Detroit.

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Stats via and Salary cap info via

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Perfect Human by the numbers: Nicklas Lidstrom statistics and facts

There have been a wealth of personal stories published in the wake of Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement, and deservedly so. Some that stand out in my mind are Michael Petrella's story published at The Production Line, Helene St. James' account published in the Detroit Free Press, and George Malik's post (along with a bunch of other great stories from around the internet) from The Malik Report. I wrote about my feelings on the retiring legend here. It's clear that a great deal of what makes Nick so special is the impact he's had on people in and around the organization over the last 21 years.

There is, however, more to the story than, well, stories. Statistics help paint an additional portion of the picture, and below you'll find plenty of them. Enjoy.

1,564 career regular season games played
264 career regular season goals
878 career regular season assists
1,142 career regular season points
Plus 450 career +/- regular season
514 career penalty minutes
132 career powerplay goals
10 career shorthanded goals
35 career game-winning goals
3,875 career shots
6.8% career shooting percentage
27,790 regular season minutes played (NHL started recording this in 1998-99 season)
26:54 average regular season TOI (since 98-99)

263 career playoff games played
54 career playoff goals
129 career playoff assists
183 career playoff points
Plus 61 career playoff +/-
76 career playoff penalty minutes
30 career playoff powerplay goals
3 career shorthanded playoff goals
11 career playoff game winning goals
656 career playoff shots
8.2% career playoff shooting percentage
4,475 playoff minutes played (since 98-99 season)
28:09 average playoff TOI (since 98-99)
31:10 average playoff TOI in 2001-02, a season in which Detroit played 23 playoff games and won the Stanley Cup, while Lidstrom won the Conn Smythe

1,827 total (reg season+playoffs) games played
318 total goals
1,007 total assists
1,325 total points
Plus 511 total +/-
162 total powerplay goals
13 total shorthanded goals
46 total game winning goals
4,531 total shots
32,265 total minutes played since 1998-99 season

20 seasons played
20 playoff appearances
6 Stanley Cup Finals appearances
4x Stanley Cup champion (97,98,02,08)
7x Norris Trophy winner (01,02,03,06,07,08,11)
11x Norris Trophy nominee (98,99,00,01,02,03,06,07,08,09,11)
0 Norris Trophy wins in first ten seasons
7 Norris Trophy wins in last ten seasons
6x Lady Byng nominee
1x Conn Smythe winner

1st European born player to win Norris Trophy
1st European born player to win Conn Smythe
1st European born player to captain a Stanley Cup champion
1st Red Wings to win multiple Norris Trophies
10x first team All Star
2x second team All Star
2x All Star team captain (2000,2011)
4x Olympian
2006 Olympic Gold medal
1 Olympic Gold medal winning goal (2006)

2nd all-time games played as a Red Wing
9th in all-time Detroit franchise goals
3rd in all-time Detroit franchise assists
4th in all-time Detroit franchise points
1st in all-time Detroit franchise +/-…by +174
2nd in all-time Detroit franchise powerplay goals
7th in all-time Detroit franchise shorthanded goals
8th in all-time Detroit franchise game-winning goals
4th in all-time Detroit franchise game-tying goals
6th in all-time Detroit franchise overtime goals
2nd in all-time Detroit franchise shots

11 all-time Detroit franchise leader categories in which Lidstrom is in top 10 (12 are recorded on their website)
1 category in which Lidstrom is not a top-ten franchise leader (penalty minutes)

Advanced stats uses an innovative point shares system to evaluate approximately how many of a team’s point total from the season can be directly attributed to a certain player. Explanation of the system here:

98.1 offensive point shares
113.6 defensive point shares
211.8 total point shares
37th all-time offensive point shares
3rd all-time defensive point shares
4th all-time total point shares

0.17 regular season goals/game
0.56 regular season assists/game
0.73 regular season points/game

Hockey Reference’s methodology for adjusting goals and assists is here:
Essentially, they’re attempting to see how goals and assists change if all past regular seasons were played under the conditions of the most recent regular season.

286 adjusted regular season goals
918 adjusted regular season assists
1,204 adjusted regular season points

20 seasons
1 uniform
1 city
1 number soon to be retired

Thanks, Nick.

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