New Jersey Devils Forwards: Zone Exit and Passing Season Review

Jim McIsaac

This is a look at the zone exit and passing statistics for the New Jersey Devils forwards during the entire 2013-2014 season. Read on for the details.

Season-to-Date Passing and Zone Exit Stats for Devils Forwards

This is a look at the zone exit and passing stats for the Devils Forwards for the 2013-2014 season. You’ll see several new columns compared to the single-game recaps.

All Corsi figures were pulled from ExtraSkater. Time On Ice figures were pulled from NHL.com. Let’s get to it.

Terms You May See:

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Dainius Zubrus: Big Z was one of the better forwards at exiting the zone with possession, finishing the year at 58.2 PE%, good for 3rd among forwards with at least 300 exit attempts. He lowered his turnovers in the last twenty-three games slightly to finish averaging one turnover every two-and-a-half games or so. He attempted the 2nd highest number of exits (six behind Jaromir Jagr) so he was quite active in the defensive zone.

Zubrus finished 943/1193 with a 79% completion rate. This will surprise no one, but his overall production dipped throughout the season as both his SAG/Pass% (15.8%) and SG/Pass% (6.8%) were below the positional average on the team. Zubrus tended to be overshadowed by Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr for much of the season as his CC% was only 37.7%, six points below the positional average. Clearly, this proves that Zubrus was a passenger and least-contributing member of the Devils top line during the first thirty of forty games of the season.

Zubrus did have a higher S/SAG% than the positional average, so at least when he would generate attempts, they’d be of a higher quality than most forwards. Despite all of this, Zubrus still finished with a 54.1% CF rate and was among the Devils best possession players. His days of playing in the top-six should be over, but he could be a solid player on a third line.

Zubrus attempted a pass every 1:01 of Even Strength ice time, generated a shot attempt every 6:30, and generated a shot every 15:17. You’ll see he generates both shot attempts and shots more frequently than the positional average.

Territorially, Zubrus received some of the more difficult zone starts than most forwards (50.8%), but still found a way to attempt 60.4% of his passes in the offensive zone and 16.8% of his passes in the neutral zone. He does help move play forward without the benefit of generous zone starts.

Travis Zajac: Mr. Gets-the-Tough-Assignments responded well with a 53.6 PE% and modest turnover ratio (once every other game). Zajac developed into a possession machine alongside Jagr and Zubrus for the first half of the season and didn’t slow down when Pete DeBoer played whack-a-mole with their LW spot.

Zajac finished the season as one of the more accurate passers among forwards, completing 1071/1302 for an 82.3% completion rate. He attempted the second-most passes behind Jagr. Zajac finished above the positional average for nearly all of his stats as nearly a fifth (19.4%) of his passes resulted in shot attempts and 8.7% of his passes resulted in shots.

Zajac contributed to 42.9% of the Corsi events while on the ice, 23.3% via his passing. Zajac had one of the best CF% on the team: 58.5%. In my opinion, Zajac has more than earned the first year of the new contract he signed in early 2013, and if he keeps producing at this rate, will be one of the best two-way centers in the Eastern Conference for a long time. If he were to score a few more goals, put up a few more points, he could enter that Patrice Bergeron realm.

Zajac attempted a pass every 0:58, generated a shot attempt every 5:00, and generated a shot every 10:55. He was behind only Patrik Elias and Jagr in both pass frequency and SAG frequency.

Territorially, Zajac faced middle-of-the-road zone starts at 53.3%. He had a mere 24% of his passes occur in the defensive zone as he was a possession-machine at driving play forward and limiting the opposition’s chances.

Mike Sislo: Sislo returned to the lineup due to injuries after the Olympic Break. He played in fourteen games total and attempted forty-four exit attempts during those games. He finished with the highest PE% on the team at 70.5% and one turnover out of those forty-four attempts. Now, we’ve seen small sample sizes with players before (Jon Merrill) in this phase of the game and know Sislo could easily regress if he played more, but it’s a promising start. I think if you want to your fourth line players to be responsible and safe with the puck, then Sislo should definitely get a chance to earn a spot on the Devils’ fourth line next season.

Looking at his passing statistics, Sislo finished well above-average in terms of accuracy, completing 101/121 passes for a completion rate of 83.5%. Sislo wasn’t the most efficient in terms of generating quality attempts—only 5% of his passes resulted in shots—but he did have a solid CC% of 42.3%. Sislo contributed most directly to the team’s Corsi totals via his own shot attempts, as these accounted for 27.9% of his Corsi Contribution Rate. The other 14.4% was from his passing. It’s positive to see him willing to shoot so often.

What is very telling about his performance is that Sislo attempted a pass every 0:57, tied with Ryane Clowe and behind only Jagr, Elias, and Tuomo Ruutu. So, when Sislo was on the ice, he literally had the puck more than most other forwards, an encouraging stat. He generated a shot attempt every 7:45 and a shot every 19:23.

Territorially, Sislo received fairly generous zone starts at 55.6%, (but still below the positional average) and had the highest percentage of passes in the offensive zone (67.8%) among forwards. Considering how frequently he had the puck on his stick and where he was when he passed it, Sislo seems to fit well into the Devils possession game. Finishing with the highest Corsi rate on the team (60.5%) isn’t bad either.

Now, Sislo did play only fourteen games, but he played a damn good fourteen games for a (mostly) fourth liner.

Jaromir Jagr: Jagr finished with a 62.8 PE%, which was the highest among forwards with at least three hundred exit attempts, and ahead of everyone except Mike Sislo. He turns the puck over once every three games or so. Come back, Jagr. Come back.

Jagr wasn’t the most accurate passer by any stretch, but when you’re attempting 400 more passes than the next highest total by a forward (Zajac), you’re bound to miss a few. Jagr finished 1283/1710 for a 74.6% completion rate. Now, I won’t sit here and say Jagr wasn’t the Devils best forward this season, because he certainly was, but could he have been more efficient?.

Much of Jagr’s game nowadays, and why he fits so well with Zajac, is the cycle and forechecking game. To do this, it requires constant cycling and passing to teammates in the corner until something opens up. Because of this, only 16.3% of Jagr’s passes resulted in shot attempts, and only 7.1% of his passes resulted in shots, both below the positional average. So, he was effective at that type of game, but is there something that could be done to improve the system’s efficiency?

Jagr directly contributed to a team-high 52.1% of Corsi events. It was nearly an even split as his own shot attempts accounted for 27.1% and his passing accounted for 25%. Jagr finished with a 59.2% CF rate as play tended to occur at the opposition’s end of the ice when he was on it.

Jagr attempted a pass a team-leading every 0:46, generated a shot attempt every 4:43, and generated a shot every 9:46. Put another way, it would have taken thirteen Cam Janssens to generate a shot attempt as often as Jagr did. And Janssen is still looking to generate that first shot of the season, something Jagr did almost twice a game at Even Strength.

Territorially, Jagr saw a high number of favorable zone starts (58.6%) and with good reason. He was their best player and played in every game. Around 80% of his passes occurred elsewhere than the defensive zone. Bring him back. Put him with Zajac. Find a permanent solution on their LW spot and let Devils fans enjoy another season of Jagr.

Patrik Elias: Elias’ PE% dropped a few points over his final twenty-one games and finished at 48.1%. His turnovers in the last quarter of the season were quite high as his per-game average rose from .41/game to .74/game—that’s a huge jump. Has Elias hit a wall? Was he just banged up this season and never really healthy? Elias will always be Elias, but let’s hope he can stay upright a bit more next season.

Elias finished the season completing 798/1062 passes. He was slightly more accurate (75.1%) than Jagr, but both were a few points below the positional average. I think, and next season will provide an answer to this when I start tracking passes in the scoring chance area, the reason for this are the high-risk, high-reward passes both of them attempt. Elias was significantly more efficient than more forwards as 54.5% of his SAG figures resulted in a SG.

Elias directly contributed to 50.7% of the Corsi events while he was on the ice, with the greater share coming from his passing ability (28.3%). Elias finished the season with a solid 54.6% CF rate; all the more impressive considering he was in and out of the lineup as were his regular line mates. Elias seemed to get going only a few times this season until something else interrupted his production. Despite this, he consistently helped drive play forward no matter who played with him: Adam Henrique and Stephen Gionta as centers; or Damien Brunner and Steve Bernier as wingers.

Elias attempted a pass every 0:49, generated a shot attempt every 4:39, and generated a shot every 9:02, the latter two figures the most frequent on the team. Simply put, when Elias was on the ice, the Devils generated shot attempts and shots more frequently than when any other player was out there.

Territorially, Elias received similar zone starts to Jagr, but attempted 7% more of his passes in the defensive zone. Perhaps this is because Elias is viewed as more of a two-way forward and given more defensive situations to work from? Either way, despite an off-season by Elias in the points and health departments, he is still one of the Devils most important players. With a little luck staying healthy to both he and whoever plays on his line (Henrique and Brunner?) next season, Elias can still be a point-per-game player.

Adam Henrique: Henrique settled in right around that 50% mark and finished just under it at 49.5 PE%. He turned the puck over once every other game. He wasn’t great or poor in this phase of the game; he just simply was okay.

Henrique ended the year completing 829 passes on 1022 attempts for an 81.1% completion rate. Henrique finished with 10.3% of his passes resulting in shots on goal, the second-highest total on the team behind Steve Bernier. An emerging talent in the Devils offense, Henrique effectively distributed the puck and generated offense. He contributed to 44.4% of the Corsi events while on the ice, 25.1% of which were from his passing ability. Henrique trailed only Elias’ 28.3% as the most consistent shot-generator on the team.

Henrique attempted a pass every 1:02, generated a shot attempt every 5:02, and generated a shot every 10:28. His numbers were very close to Zajac’s in all three categories, so the team’s two best centers are both consistent in their on-ice frequency of these events. Henrique’s 10:28 between SG events was fourth on the team behind only Elias, Jagr, and Ryane Clowe.

Territorially, Henrique received below average zone stats for the team’s forwards and attempted 28.5% of his passes in the defensive zone. Possibly owing to his lower CF%, Henrique wasn’t the best possession player on a strong possession team, but he was very effective at times. Mixing up his line mates throughout the season played a part into that undoubtedly.

Henrique finished the season with a 52.9% CF rate, which was actually below average for the Devils forwards. Surely we’d like to see that number increase next season, but with Henrique and Zajac as the Devils top two centers, and both locked up for multiple seasons at reasonable cap hits, I’m excited looking to the future.

Ryane Clowe: Clowe led the team in terms of attempts per game. He finished the year with a 58.5 PE%, which is very good, but also led the team in turnovers per game. Granted, he’s handling it more often than the rest of the forwards, so turnovers were more common. Clowe did reduce his turnovers in the sixteen games he played after the Olympic Break, so it was becoming less of a concern. What is of more concern is Clowe’s head.

In his forty-three games, Clowe attempted 626 passes, completing 509 of them. He finished with an 81.3% completion rate, a few points about the positional average. Clowe looked at times an effective playmaker and was a clear upgrade over David Clarkson in terms of ability. 9.2% of his passes resulted in a shot on goal, one of the higher totals among forwards. It’s this measure of efficiency that I’m most interested in.

Clowe directly contributed to 41.1% of his team’s Corsi events, 23% via his passing and 18.2% via his own shot attempts. He finished the season with a 51.8% CF rate.

Clowe attempted a pass every 0:57, generated a shot attempt every 5:12, and generated a shot every 10:09. Those were very good marks among the Devils forwards, further evidence of Clowe’s all-around ability as a clear upgrade over David Clarkson. If not for his five concussions in the last year, this could have been a solid signing.

Territorially, Clowe received some of the toughest zone starts and one-third of his passes were attempted from the defensive zone. Based on his success with zone exits and sheer volume, it would make sense to assume Clowe had significant defensive responsibilities and usage in his own zone. It’s too bad Devils fans won’t see much of him. I’d be extremely surprised if Clowe doesn’t retire in the next year or so, or if the Devils don’t buyout his contract in the next offseason, should his concussions continue to occur. He has to think about his long-term health at this point, doesn’t he?

Tuomo Ruutu: Ruutu was a pleasant surprise with regards to his zone exits, finishing with a 64.5 PE% and committing a turnover every other game. He was a bit above average in terms of his attempts per game, and this rose significantly after Clowe went out, so the Devils not only acquired a player that is "tough to play against," but also one that is smart and efficient with the puck and transitioning from defense to offense. Loktionov was strong in this phase of the game as well, so it’s good to see there wasn’t any drop off.

Ruutu ended up playing in nineteen games with the Devils and went 239/303 in them, finishing with a completion percentage of 78.9%. He finished right on the average in terms of SAG/Pass% and SG/Pass%, but was above average in terms of his S/SAG%, so Ruutu is a prime candidate to pass more and attempt to generate more opportunities for his teammates.

Ruutu contributed to 39.4% of the Corsi events while on the ice, 16.9% from his own shot attempts and 22.5% from his passing. He posted an exceptional 58.2% CF rate in those nineteen games, suggesting he can play right alongside Zajac and Jagr and not be a liability.

Ruutu attempted a pass every 0:54, generated a shot attempt every 5:17, and generated a shot every 11:00. The last stat is the key stat, in that it took Ruutu 3:27 fewer minutes on the ice to generate a shot compared to Loktionov. Looking at these stats, it’s clear to see that Ruutu is a more complete player than Loktionov and was worth the trade. Signed for two more seasons, Ruutu may be a solid and effective possession player for the Devils.

Territorially, Ruutu had more difficult zone starts than the average for the Devils forwards (53.2%). Ruutu trailed only Jagr and Reid Boucher in neutral zone pass percentage, suggesting Ruutu was effective at linking play between defense and offense. His strong zone exit stats and high rate of S/SAG% conversion beyond the offensive zone back this up.

Michael Ryder: Ryder, surprisingly, finished with 489 exit attempts and the same PE% as Henrique: 49.5%. I would have thought he finished much lower considering his reputation as a scorer and not much else. He turned the puck over slightly less than once every other game.

Ryder completed 636 passes on 842 attempts, finishing with a 75.5% completion rate. Ryder settled in right around the positional average for each of the efficiency stats, which makes sense considering he’s probably an average player at best. Ryder’s asset to the team is as a shooter and he contributed to 43.1% of the team’s Corsi events at Even Strength this season. 25.8% of these events were his own shot attempts, whereas the other 17.3% were via his passing. Ryder has had strong passing games, but has been merely average over the course of the season.

Ryder attempts a pass every 1:18, which is below average for the forwards. He generates a shot attempt every 7:19, and generates a shot every 15:21 of Even Strength play. Here you start to see some separation from the top-six forwards in terms of how frequently they have the puck and generate offense. Ryder did finish with a 53.3% CF rate, which shows he’s still on the right side of things most of the time.

Territorially, Ryder sees more difficult zone starts than most of the other forwards, which doesn’t make sense considering his impact decreases significantly the further away from the opposing goal he is. This could be an example of misusing a player and how it impacts a team. If Deboer puts a player who is below-average in how frequently he has the puck on his stick and not great at exiting with possession, shouldn’t you give that player more offensive zone starts? Just my two cents.

Andrei Loktionov: The Devils sole casualty at the Trade Deadline, Loktionov departed as one of their leaders in PE%. In fact, in the four games after the Olympic Break, Loktionov increased his PE% slightly. I’m sure it’s on to Russia after he’s been traded twice in two seasons.

I won’t go into too much detail on Loktionov since he only played in a handful of games after the Olympic Break, but I’ll say that his replacement in Tuomo Ruutu has been just as effective if not better. Were he still on the team, however, Loktionov would be the most accurate passer. He finished his time with the Devils with one of the best CF rates at 57.3%, and 8.5% of his passes resulted in a shot for a teammate, just above average for the position.

Loktionov received the most generous zone starts on the team (64.5%) and attempted a pass every 1:03, generated a shot attempt every 5:05, and generated a shot every 14:27. He was right there with the top guys on the team in terms of how frequently he generated a Corsi event, but was several minutes behind in generating an actual shot on goal. Good luck to him wherever he goes.

Steve Bernier: Bernier finished with one of the lower PE% rates at 43.6%, a bit lower than before the Olympic Break. He looks much better once he gets into offensive zone rather than defending and trying to transition from defense to offense.

Bernier completed 534 passes on 676 attempts, good enough for a 79% completion rate. Bernier is one of the more intriguing forwards on the team, both for good and bad reasons. Looking solely at his passing statistics, one has to come away impressed. Nearly a quarter of Bernier’s passes (24.1%) resulted in a shot attempt for a teammate, and 12.1% of his passes resulted in a shot. Those are the best marks on the team. Think about that for a moment. Why is Bernier so effective at generating offense via his passing?

Bernier had an above-average Corsi Contribution Percentage as he contributed to 45.1% of the Corsi events while he was on the ice. He had a decent split between his own shot attempts (21.5%) and those generated via his passing (23.6%). Bernier finished the year with a 53% CF rate.

Considering how efficient Bernier was with the puck, it’s even more impressive at how frequently he generated this offense. Bernier attempted a pass every 1:19, which, honestly, is not good. It’s ahead of only Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta, Mattias Tedenby, and Janssen. What is amazing is what he’s doing with those passes as Bernier generates a shot attempt every 5:29 and a shot every 11:47. It takes Bernier only 0:29 more of ice time to generate a shot attempt than it does Travis Zajac. Bernier is more efficient at generating shot attempts than Zubrus by an entire minute of ice time, and generates shots 3:30 faster than Zubrus.

Territorially, Bernier sees some of the lowest zone starts on the team (50%), but still manages to get forward to attempt 75.7% of his passes in the neutral and offensive zones. With the entire fourth line in UFA status this offseason, I think if one is going to return, it has to be Bernier simply due to the fact he creates chances for his line mates at a much more frequent clip than either Carter or Gionta.

Damien Brunner: Brunner played in nineteen games since the Olympic Break and improved his PE% enough to finish at 52.4%. Never one to get too involved in his own end (averaged fewer than four attempts per game); he nonetheless was effective when exiting the zone.

Brunner completed 431 passes on 564 attempts, for a 76.4% completion rate. Billed as one of the most exciting players to join the Devils in recent reasons due to the speed he could bring to the lineup, Brunner had a mildly successful first season in Jersey. He didn’t generate as much offense as most of the other forwards, but was effective at converting shot attempts into shots for teammates (48.8%).

Brunner contributed to 40.8% of the team’s Corsi events while on the ice, 28.4% of those were his own shot attempts, the highest percentage among forwards. Brunner seemed to shine at times with Elias and Henrique, but never seemed to do much else throughout the season. If he stays with him next season, let’s hope he’s bit more consistent.

Brunner attempted a pass every 1:13, generated a shot attempt every 9:39, and generated a shot every 16:30. His numbers are slightly worse than Michael Ryder, someone else who if they aren’t shooting a lot may not be doing much else, but we know from this data that Brunner is better at exiting the zone, so he does add something else to the team. I also feel that Brunner is a more dynamic player than Ryder and if I only could choose one, it’d be Brunner.

Territorially, Brunner had some of the more favorable zone starts among forwards at 58.8%. He still attempted 30.7% of his passes in the defensive zone, which is not good at all for such favorable starting position. He had a good CF rate at 53.3%, so he wasn’t being beaten in the Corsi game too often. He had one of the higher neutral zone pass percentages (18.8%) as well, so perhaps Brunner was just that active in all three zones rather than a byproduct of being pinned back.

Jacob Josefson: Josefson played in nine games since the Olympic Break, totaling twenty-seven on the year. He finished with 106 exit attempts, 56.6% of them maintaining possession. Josefson also finished with one of the lowest turnover rates on the team. I’d be happy with Josefson and Sislo starting on the fourth line in training camp next season. They’d be much better defensively than Carter, Gionta, and Bernier.

Josefson is now the most accurate passer on the team after Loktionov’s trade to Carolina. He completed 191 of 225 passes for an 84.9% completion percentage. Josefson skated for most of the year on the fourth line with Janssen and Tim Sestito, but started to actually get ice time with real hockey players after the Olympic Break. It wasn’t enough to lift his numbers to the positional average, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens with him.

Josefson attempted a pass every 1:03, generated a shot attempt every 7:42, and generated a shot every 28:20. Those aren’t great numbers, but not terrible in some ways. Josefson generates shot attempts a little less frequently than Ryder, but a few minutes more frequently than Brunner. His ESM/SG rate is terrible, however, so that must be improved upon, though having actual hockey players as line mates would be a massive upgrade.

Territorially, Josefson received generous zone starts, but still attempted 30.2% of his passes in the defensive zone. Again, I feel Josefson’s season was an "incomplete" based on who he was skating with and also his in-and-out-of-the lineup all season. Josefson went from the bench to skating left wing on the Devils’ top line for the Stadium Series game. In all honesty, that just seems silly. Unfortunately, Josefson should have been playing in Albany rather than sit in the press box in New Jersey. I think a year of his development was interrupted to say the least. With his RFA status looming, one wonders if Josefson’s fate is tied to whether or not the CBGB line returns.

Reid Boucher: Boucher finished with a 44.4 PE%, not good for a forward. He also turned the puck over the most of any Devils forward with 0.8/game.

Boucher completed 160 passes on 215 attempts for a 74.4% completion percentage. Being above only Tim Sestito and Stephen Gionta in terms of accuracy is not a good standard to have. Boucher did have highest S/SAG% at 56.3%, so in his debut with the Devils, he was somewhat efficient with his passing.

Boucher contributed to 41.2% of the Corsi events while on the ice, including 25.1% of them from his own shot attempts. He also posted a very good 57% CF rate. Though, his zone starts (62.7%) with the most generous behind only Loktionov, so I’m sure that influenced his Corsi rate.

Boucher attempted a pass every 1:06, generated a shot attempt every 7:01, and generated a shot every 22:03. His production in by these metrics fit in with other bottom-six forwards like Josefson, Sislo, Ryder, and Zubrus.

Boucher had a good run with the Devils in the twenty-three games he played. We’ll see if he can crack the lineup on a more permanent basis next season.

Stephen Gionta: Gionta finished ahead of only Mattias Tedenby, Joe Whitney (one exit attempt), Tim Sestito, and Cam Janssen in terms of PE%, with his 40.7%. He turned the puck over more than anyone not named Ryane Clowe or Reid Boucher. Let’s hope it’s the last we’ve seen of Gionta with the big club.

Gionta is the team’s least accurate passer with the exception of Tim Sestito. He completed only 74% of his 442 passes this season, which ended up being 327. Gionta is also one of the worst forwards in terms of S/SAG% at 35%. Gionta was also several points below the positional average in contribution to Corsi at 37.8%, 26% of which were his own shot attempts.

Gionta attempted a pass every 1:34, the worst rate on the team ahead of only Sestito and Janssen, generated a shot attempt every 12:54 (actually worse than Sestito), and generated a shot every 34:33.

Territorially, Deboer, for some reason, gave him the hardest zone starts at 41.1%. Gionta, to his limited credit, still managed to attempt 47% of his passes in the offensive zone, but he was one of only three forwards to finish under a 50% CF rate (Tedenby and Joe Whitney). How many stats do you need to know that Gionta is the worst forward on the team? He’s only better than a goon and a career AHLer, which is what Gionta is. If he’s on this team next season, it’ll be because the Devils didn’t hire a Director of Analytics in time.

Ryan Carter: Carter had stretches this season where he looked very good. He also had stretches where he looked like a fourth liner. He finished with a PE% of 43.5%, which isn’t great for a forward. He has moments where he looks the best of the three on the CBGB line at times, but is still isn’t anyone the team would miss.

Carter completed a decent amount of his 432 passes this season, 348 to be precise, or 80.6%. That’s nearly 2% above the positional average, so good on Carter to do that. 18.3% of Carter’s passes result in a shot attempt, another mark that’s above the positional average. While on the ice, Carter contributes to 42.5% of the team’s Corsi events, 24.8% his own shooting efforts, and 17.7% via his passing. In fact, when you look at his numbers alongside Gionta and Bernier’s, it’s clear Gionta does not belong.

Carter attempted a pass every 1:28, generated a shot attempt every 8:03, and generated a shot every 18:49. Not bad numbers for a fourth liner, but he’s not nearly as efficient as Bernier. Territorially, Carter was given the second-most difficult zone starts behind only Gionta. Carter survived a bit better in terms of where his passes were made on the ice, and he finished with a better CF%: 51.3%. That’s exceptional for a fourth-line player.

I can’t imagine the Devils missing out on anything Carter brings to the table, but I wouldn’t be completely shocked were he in New Jersey next season, and I could live it, but he wouldn’t be my first, second, or third choice on the fourth line.

Mattias Tedenby: Tedenby hasn’t played since 2013 and I can’t imagine him suiting up for the Devils ever again.

Cam Janssen and Tim Sestito: Yea, they’re both useless and putting them in the lineup is a really dumb thing to do. Sestito is less useless than Janssen, but that’s like saying dropping a brick on your toe hurts less than dropping two of them on your toe. It really doesn’t matter, your toe still hurts.

Musings

So, what did we learn by doing this all season? Well, we learned just how effective and important Patrik Elias is to the team. We learned that it doesn’t matter what stats we go by, Stephen Gionta and Mattias Tedenby should be gone next season. We found that Steve Bernier perhaps provides some value that we didn’t know existed prior to doing this.

Also, when the team traded away one of its best players by these metrics, Andrei Loktionov, for Tuomo Ruutu, there wasn’t much of a drop off in either phase of the game: zone exit, passing, and shot-generation. I didn’t expect this at the time, but it’s good to be able to look at the data and feel better about that trade.

By looking at a player’s zone starts and passes by zone, it provides an effective way of gauging where they spend their time on the ice.

The time statistics are some of my favorite as the whole reason behind doing this was to try and find a way to measure efficiency among players and, later on, teams. Understanding just how much each player does with every minute they are on the ice is, in my opinion, the most important stat I’ve worked with this season.

What are some of your thoughts?

Over the Summer and Beyond

I’ve mentioned that over the summer I’ll be tracking opponent’s stats and comparing them to the Devils. I’ll post my findings every ten games and see what trends develop. I’m keeping a tentative plan of trying to get ten games done each month, so my last post should be in September right before the season starts as a nice way to kick it off. Keep an eye out for those.

Also, for next season I’ve thought about different ways to add to these stats. One of these new stats I’m going to track are passes in the Scoring Chance area of the ice—the "home plate" area from the faceoff circles down to the goal. These would simply be a way of isolating passes made into this area of the ice and see who is best at setting up scoring chances.

Some other things I’ve thought about were pressure or forechecking stats. Basically, when one player presses another in each zone, what is the result? Do they force a turnover? Break up a pass? Force the opposition to skate or pass backwards? Lateral? There’s a tremendous amount of off-the-puck stats that aren’t being tracked and I feel this might be a good introduction to that. Challenging players that carry the puck into the zone and so forth: which players are best at preventing the other team from entering and exiting the zone?

Now, all of this is would be great to have, but I can’t do it alone. If anyone is interested in possibly assisting with tracking and making sense of all of this data, don’t be shy. Let me know and we’ll discuss.

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