One of the statistical evaluations I like to utilize to get a general sense of a player's value is GVT (goals versus threshold). A measurement developed by Tom Awad of Hockey Prospectus, it is similar to WAR (wins above replacement) in baseball. It's defined as:
Goals Versus Threshold. Developed by Tom Awad of Hockey Prospectus, GVT measures a player's worth in comparison to a typical fringe NHL player. GVT has two major advantages over most metrics: it's measured in goals, which are easily equated to wins, and it is capable of comparing players across multiple positions and multiple eras. GVT is the summation of OGVT, GGVT, DGVT, and SGVT.
GVT, like any other statistical evaluation, has flaws. Some examples include valuing goaltending too high or not valuing defensive defensemen enough. Injuries hurt players too, but we must remember that not getting injured is a value in and of itself. Faults aside, one of the reasons I like GVT is that in viewing the players at the top of the list, the best players are there, as it should be.
The full listing of all GVT 2011-12 NHL player rankings can be found via the Hockey Prospectus website here.
There is also another measurement, which takes GVT and relates it to player salary called GVS (Goals Versus Salary) which gives us a measurement of salary management. GVS basically tries to find out if a player 'earned' his salary. I have seen it best defined by Timo Seppa of Hockey Prospectus in an article a few weeks ago:
Goals Versus Salary (GVS) is a measure of how many goals a player has been worth compared to the cap hit. Players with a positive GVS are more than "worth the money" and players with a negative GVS are overpaid, while a zero GVS indicates that similar assets would have been readily available at the same price.
Rob Vollman of Hockey Prospectus fame applied GVS scores to the entire NHL via a spreadsheet here. The main difference in what you will see below is that Rob used cap hit and I used actual salary. Of course, my list is also different as it focuses on the Devils. After the jump I will look at GVT/GVS rates for 2011-12 and how things look in 2012-13.
The first list below is the 2011-12 Devils listed by highest GVT to lowest GVT. Note that I did not include Devils who were traded during the year or those who played less than 10 games. I also used the full season totals for players the Devils traded for or who they claimed on waivers. The first column has the overall NHL ranking of each Devil.
I also used actual salaries instead of cap hits. A few years ago when the Devils were spending up to the cap I would have used cap hits but now that they are more frugal and have rumored cash flow concerns, I think that it is best to look at actual salary.
Last season the most valuable Devils were Adam Henrique, Petr Sykora, Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias and Mark Fayne. Henrique and Fayne played plenty of tough minutes and did so with cost effective ELCs. Sykora was a camp tryout who signed on the cheap and was a huge value. Kovalchuk and Elias, two of the highest paid players on the club were also very valuable.
(Note that Henrique's salary could either be $525,000 or $854,166. $525,000 is his base salary while the rest he would have earned via bonuses. I will assume that he hit those bonuses last year.)
The Devils who provided the least value were Martin Brodeur, Travis Zajac and Henrik Tallinder. Brodeur's resurgence in the second half of the year couldn't raise his value enough to compensate for a very poor first half. Zajac was out for most of the year because of his Achilles injury, and Tallinder was out for a good portion of the year and is more defensively focused, hurting his evaluation by GVT/GVS measures.
Now we come to 2012-13. The roster as currently constructed has players on cheap ELCs that should still provide good value like Henrique, Jacob Josefson and Adam Larsson. Other players like Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta are playing on six figure deals that can become valuable pretty quickly as long as they show they are more effective then replacement level players. Below is the GVS rates of players based on their 2011-12 performance and their 2012-13 salaries.
One player who will have a tough time supporting his salary is Ilya Kovalchuk. With his contract rising to $11,000,000 in 2012-13 Kovalchuk will need to nearly double his output from last year to have a positive GVS (his cap hit at $6.67MM is much easier to outperform). Considering Kovalchuk already had the 10th best GVT (4th best forward) it's going to be hard for him to get to the level where he actually ‘earns' that $11MM.
The GVS method isn't something to base any strong player evaluations on. Rather it reinforces what we know: Players on ELC or veterans playing for six figures provide a lot of value, stars have a tough time outperforming contracts that they received via unrestricted free agency and that defensive defensemen who play tough minutes aren't always valued as highly as they should be.