TMLfans.ca

Maple Leafs News and Views => Main Leafs Hockey Talk => Topic started by: mr grieves on April 25, 2017, 03:41:54 AM

Title: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on April 25, 2017, 03:41:54 AM
So… given what we’ve seen this year, and before Lou does anything crazy, where do y’all think this rebuild is at?

Last summer, after the lottery, I offered (http://www.tmlfans.ca/community/index.php?topic=3349.msg261871#msg261871) what was then a wildly optimistic projection, not only because I dreamed of them signing Stamkos and using JvR to sort out the defense in the off season. For 2016-17, I imagined solid systems, good rookies, bounce-back years for unperforming vets, and average goaltending would get them to 85-90 points, then a wildcard spot next year, and finally contending the year after that.

During the season, as the rookies exceeded expectations, I pointed to (http://www.tmlfans.ca/community/index.php?topic=4104.msg289418#msg289418) some ways in which the team very closely echoed the 2007-8 Blackhawks. Our #1C looked at least as good as Toews, our 1W just as good as Kane (he then faded), our 2C as good as Sharp, and our fourth forward better than either Ladd or Byfugilen, etc. Others pointed out some pretty clear differences (neither Rielly nor Gardiner is Keith or even Seabrook, but then neither was Keith or Seabrook, as we think of them today, in 2007-8…).

But the 2016-17 Leafs blew by my optimistic prediction, even though they didn't make either of the big moves I'd hoped for (get Stamkos and another top 4 defenseman), and, even if individual contributions aren’t perfectly equivalent, they accomplished something even the Hawks didn’t manage their first season after drafting Toews and Kane. They made the playoffs. And took the best team in the league to 6 games in a pretty evenly played series.

That’s a high water mark without precedent, surely.

Not quite. Of all the teams who’ve bottomed out since the Hawks — the Islanders, the Lightning, the Oilers, the Panthers, Buffalo, Edmonton yet again — only one’s made the playoffs the season after drafting a franchise center or defenseman 1OA (give or take a spot): the 2013-14 Avalanche, who had an astonishing 45 point* improvement from 2012-13 to 2014-15 (the Leafs managed an almost(?)-franchise-record improvement of 26 points).

Now, that Colorado team was one that a lot of smart folks thought was poised to become perennial contender, though they had some serious reservations about Roy and the team’s system.

They, of course, fell apart… and hit a new low this season.

So, where do you think we are, measured against either the post-lockout contenders (Chicago, LA, Boston) or the teams who scraped the bottom of the standings and acquired top-end talent we all agree you need to build a contender (the aforementioned NYI, TBL, EDM, FLA, and BUF)?
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: herman on April 25, 2017, 08:59:04 AM
Weren't the 2013-14 Avs more a product of a fun PDO run?
(http://hockeyviz.com/fixedImg/teamWowy/1314/COL)
Their adj-Corsi has been relatively stable in this (bad) quadrant for the past 5 years, and this was the only season when their result was vastly different than expected.

Here are the Leafs:
Last Carlyle/Horachek:
(http://hockeyviz.com/fixedImg/teamWowy/1415/TOR)

First Babcock:
(http://hockeyviz.com/fixedImg/teamWowy/1516/TOR)

This season:
(http://hockeyviz.com/fixedImg/teamWowy/1617/TOR)

Look at that steady march towards progress!

For funsies:
07-08 Chicago:
(http://hockeyviz.com/fixedImg/teamWowy/0708/CHI)
Then for the next 7 seasons: 3 Cups!
(http://hockeyviz.com/fixedImg/teamWowy/0910/CHI)

Until last year/this year: resulting in playoff stumbles
(http://hockeyviz.com/fixedImg/teamWowy/1516/CHI)
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on April 26, 2017, 01:56:35 AM
The blob is moving in the right direction!

What to make of all that? I didn't really think we were close the Colorado end of the spectrum. Even the talentless team last year had better coaching/systems, and now we've got the personnel. Barring serious injuries, I don't expect any huge steps back...

I guess I'm more curious about where we are along that Colorado (or 11-12 Edmonton) to Blackhawks spectrum. I'm sure, a couple months back, I was thinking of the Hawks comparable because they became a dyntasty -- but there are, of course, plenty of other teams with a similarly aged/ pedigreed core that didn't turn into the Hawks.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: herman on April 26, 2017, 06:41:31 AM
For me personally, I haven't really gravitated towards team personnel comparisons, mostly because a) the metagame of the league is a moving target; b) the context of those players and their costs is a moving target; c) results appear to be more luuuuuuuck driven than most people are comfortable understanding this sport to be.

So it comes down to the essentials in team building and winning philosophy that I can only extend back to concepts I'm more familiar with: RPGs and card games. Luck is inherently built into those games (RNG rolls, card draw probabilities), and playing fields are generally equalized. Success depends on who/what you pick for your limited group, where you allocate limited resources, and how you deploy your strategy adjusting for current trends in play. How do you stack the odds to ever be in your favour?

The core of a championship caliber team build:
- metagame dominating or breaking: playing in a way that most other teams cannot easily account or have no answer for
- monopolizing opportunities: this translates to the concept of puck possession; and even if you grab more opportunities, can you make them count consistently?
- cost-efficiency: there's a beauty in cutting corners that doesn't hurt your win condition
- redundancy: can you survive or still win if one or more of your heavily relied upon players is rendered inactive/ineffective?

There's probably more, but it's not something I've thought of super formally. There's a push/pull to each element (that affects other elements) and every team faces those challenges.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on April 26, 2017, 12:51:10 PM
For me personally, I haven't really gravitated towards team personnel comparisons, mostly because a) the metagame of the league is a moving target; b) the context of those players and their costs is a moving target; c) results appear to be more luuuuuuuck driven than most people are comfortable understanding this sport to be.

The results, yes, but we all use different stats to control for the randomness, assess play, and determine the probability that results will go your way. In principle, I think we could look at 2 rosters and compare the more meaningful stats to see how those teams stack up.

The RPG and card game inspired rules are interesting. I think they relate, without too much work, to some ways a lot of folks have been thinking about the game and building a team lately.

The core of a championship caliber team build:

- metagame dominating or breaking: playing in a way that most other teams cannot easily account or have no answer for = play style moves somewhat from championship to championship, but the general rule has been a possession-dominating style.

- monopolizing opportunities: this translates to the concept of puck possession; = that's the meta-game, broadly sketched

- and even if you grab more opportunities, can you make them count consistently? = skill level. Scoring's somewhat random year to year, but folks look at primary point rates, shooting percentage, etc to see past the randomness to get at chance-making and chance-finishing talent

- cost-efficiency: there's a beauty in cutting corners that doesn't hurt your win condition = there are plenty of ways to think of this, but, at its most general level, it's in the premise of the comparison
-- you need a core of young, cost-controlled players that'll hit their peaks at roughly the same time (20 or under 1C, 20 or under 1W, 2C who's not on a UFA contract, etc.)


- redundancy: can you survive or still win if one or more of your heavily relied upon players is rendered inactive/ineffective? = That goes two ways: overall depth, so chances of success are good even when your best players are rendered ineffective, and having enough core pieces that one being rendered inactive isn't the end of your season (that's why I'd think of the core as including more than 1C, 1D, 1G or any of the other "essential recipes to win the Cup").   
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: herman on April 26, 2017, 01:09:29 PM
--snip--

Yeah, those game tenets definitely translate for the most part. Hockey will have additional nuances, obviously; no other team can have your exact player, for example, so merely controlling a premium player is an advantage unto itself as no other team has him.

The metagame is all about the psychology of the copy-cat league. Most will want to emulate the champs. Others want to ride ahead of the curve, or poke through the weaknesses of the championship build (which a large majority of the league will try to copy) with a specific anti-metagame strategy.

I like playing the middle ground, assessing what resources and players are currently in the fold, finding a stable general strategy that works best with them, and then tweaking the margins and outer shell to take advantage of the meta. This is because it costs quite a bit to completely revamp a build, but much less to adjust strategy.

In the Leafs' case, we have a glut of mobile, skilled wingers who appear to have oodles of passing and/or finishing capability coming up the pipeline. We play a structure that utilizes our speed to gain numerical advantages in isolation, and push for opportunities in areas of the ice where saves are harder to make. Our defense is largely mobile as well, used almost like secondary forwards to keep pressure bottled up in the offensive zone, with the trade off being less of the walling capability a traditional hockey defender would have. We have a lot of trouble against heavy possession teams when they get cycles set up, but we can usually win out against counter attack, transition teams. It sounds like the Leafs are developing their players for general completeness, rather than speciality, which makes depth redundancy a great deal easier, and merely spending more time to increase individual caliber.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on April 29, 2017, 08:24:10 PM
Thinking about herman’s elements of a championship-calibre team, I was reminded of a neat article (http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/eight-simple-rules-for-building-a-stanley-cup-contender) from last spring by Dom Luszczyszyn, "Eight Simple Rules for Building a Stanley Cup Contender." He looks at the cores of teams -- which he defines as a 1C, 1W, 2C, 4F, 1D, 2D, and G -- and uses wins above replacement (WAR) to compare teams that’ve made the final four since 2007-8.

He comes up with the following eight rules.   

1. The most important thing is a No. 1 center (gotta be elite, which is top 10% of the league, which works out to a WAR of 2+)

2. Your No. 1 center needs a wingman (also elite)

3. You definitely need an elite No. 1 D-man, but don’t stress too hard on the No. 2 guy (with caveat: “WAR is a lot harder to quantify for D-men then it is forwards so that’s important to keep in mind here as some guys tend to get underrated because their skill-set is difficult to quantify, hence 2016-17 finalists' elite defensemen being Letang, Stralman, Vlasic, and Shattenkirk”).

4. He doesn’t have to be elite, but you usually need a strong second line center (that's within .5 of the top 10%, so WAR 1.5 and higher)

5. Goaltending doesn’t matter as much as you think (not for making the semi-finals, anyhow. He says goaltending can, in the end, be important…)

6. The average contender has four elite players and at least one other very good player (so, a really great 1C and 1D won’t do it — minimally, you need another 2 elite forwards)

7. A solid core is more important than depth, but depth is more important than any one player (he notes: “combined WAR of the non-core players on each of the final four teams from the past eight seasons was 5.3. Out of the 224 core players, only seven had a higher WAR”).

8. What separates the champions from the maybe-next-years? Centers, depth and goaltending

With the exception of goaltending, that’s a pretty uncontroversial list of things you need to contend. What distinguishes it from other approaches, I think, is that it doesn’t fixate on a few pieces — 1C, 1D — and embraces core depth (herman’s “redundancy”). So, if I wanted to see where the Leafs were in the course of building a contender through the draft, I’d look to see which teams, over the past bunch of years, have tried to build in this way (Chicago, Colorado, and others), and I’d want to see how they fared — not so much in results but in having the above-listed pieces — in the season after bottoming out.

So, might use this thread to figure that out.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: CarltonTheBear on April 30, 2017, 01:05:25 PM
Now, that Colorado team was one that a lot of smart folks thought was poised to become perennial contender, though they had some serious reservations about Roy and the team’s system.

They, of course, fell apart… and hit a new low this season.

Herman pointed this out already but "smart folks" seems pretty subjective here. I know a lot of "smart folks" who also completely predicted that crash for a variety of reasons. When you combine those with the losses of Paul Stastny and Ryan O'Reilly for essentially nothing then Colorado's downfall looks extremely predictable and entirely at the hands of their own management.

It still blows my mind that Colorado had one of the best centre depths in the league and essentially said "nah, this is TOO good. Let's destroy it". They let Stastny walk because they still had MacKinnon, Duchene, and O'Reilly. They traded O'Reilly for peanuts because they didn't want to pay him and still had MacKinnon and Duchene. Then they transitioned Duchene to the wing and are left with MacKinnon and scrubs.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on April 30, 2017, 02:18:33 PM
Now, that Colorado team was one that a lot of smart folks thought was poised to become perennial contender, though they had some serious reservations about Roy and the team’s system.

They, of course, fell apart… and hit a new low this season.

Herman pointed this out already but "smart folks" seems pretty subjective here. I know a lot of "smart folks" who also completely predicted that crash for a variety of reasons. When you combine those with the losses of Paul Stastny and Ryan O'Reilly for essentially nothing then Colorado's downfall looks extremely predictable and entirely at the hands of their own management.

The "smart folks" consensus I was remembering was: Colorado is stacked at forward, might have the best center depth in the league, but whatever system they're playing would lead to disaster. I don't remember anyone anticipating the horrific mismanagement...
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: CarltonTheBear on April 30, 2017, 03:15:16 PM
... but whatever system they're playing would lead to disaster. I don't remember anyone anticipating the horrific mismanagement...


Well when a management is oblivious to those types of issues it generally says a lot about their level of incompetence.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: L K on April 30, 2017, 03:56:53 PM
... but whatever system they're playing would lead to disaster. I don't remember anyone anticipating the horrific mismanagement...


Well when a management is oblivious to those types of issues it generally says a lot about their level of incompetence.

Maybe I'm misremembering things but I'm pretty sure there was plenty of talk for how the Avs were primed for failure.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 01, 2017, 03:38:25 AM
... but whatever system they're playing would lead to disaster. I don't remember anyone anticipating the horrific mismanagement...


Well when a management is oblivious to those types of issues it generally says a lot about their level of incompetence.

That's true. We should've anticipated a group happy with the Corsi Roy's team managed would somehow screw up the talent they had.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 01, 2017, 03:44:08 AM
Following the longer post above, the next thing to do is to define what the “core” is. I’m not looking at fully formed contenders but emergent, wanna-be, might-be contenders, and this has some implications for how I define the core and thus slot players into it.

Those implications are:

First, since 1C and 1D are the most important spots and getting truly elite talent at one or both of those spots is most often done by picking at the top of the draft, I’ll only look at teams that’ve drafted one of these 1-2OA. I’m including CHI for obvious reasons. At some point, we’ll want to use stats to compare, and, since advanced stats start for the 2007-8 season, I’ll start with that season.

That gives me the following list of teams:
2007-08 CHI = Kane drafted 1OA in 2008 (Toews at #3 the previous year)
2007-08 STL = Erik Johnson
2008-09 LAK = Doughty
2009-10 NYI = Tavares
2009-10 TBL = Hedman (Stamkos drafted 1OA in 2008)
2011-12 EDM = RNH (winger Hall drafted 1st year before)
2012-13 CBJ = Ryan Murray (2nd… Yak was #1)
2013-14 COL = MacKinnon
2014-15 FLA = Ekblad (Barkov drafted at #2 previous year)
2015-16 EDM = McDavid arrives
2015-16 BUF = Eichel
2016-17 TML = Matthews

Second, we need to fill Dom’s key roster spots: 1C, 1W, 2C, 4F, 1D, 2D, and G. That’s your core. I’d like to see what candidates each of the above teams have to fill out the rest of the core after they bottomed out and got the coveted 1C or 1D. That’d let us see how the Leafs stack up against teams who’ve (in theory) gone from tanking to ascending the ranks to, if they’re lucky/smart, becoming contenders. Since most of the above teams were bad for a while before they drafted very high, they should have candidates in the system to fill our those core spots. At the outset, then, I'll eliminate STL, since that team didn’t draft very high often and was built differently (trades, etc.) than the Leafs and other comparable teams.

Third, for herman’s cost-efficiency, we’re looking for a core that’ll grow and contend together during their cost-controlled/peak years. So,  we should look for guys who fill these spots out that are within certain age ranges. For forwards, in the first year of building up, they should be mostly between 18 and 22, especially for the positions where the truly elite ought to be (1C and 1W), though we can add a couple guys in their mid/late 20s, as they’d be relatively affordable and not declining with age by the time they contend (when most of the core is 21-24). For defense, let’s say we want em young and elite (Doughty’s and Ekblad’s are ideal), but will include older guys since defensemen take longer to develop and really high picks that are immediately impact defensemen have been relatively rare. I wouldn’t include guys older than 28, because, by the time the young forwards are in their peaks, these old defensemen are getting worse.

Fourth, to Dom’s core list, I’d add a veteran forward spot, since that seems to be thing teams add to put them over the top (e.g. Hossa in Chicago, Justin Williams in LA…). I guess they could be counted as what he calls non-core depth, but I’m including these anyway, with the expectation that some of these guys are upgraded (for the ones who turn into contenders, like Chicago getting Hossa to replace Havlator whoever) and lost/not replaced for the coulda-beens (Colorado).

So, the cores I’d be looking at:
1C = 18-22yo
1W = 18-22yo
2C = 22-26yo (younger and 1C-calibre ideally)
4F = 18-22yo
VF = 25-28yo
1D = 18-26yo
2D = 20-24yo

Fifth, I won’t sweat depth. The way I’m defining the core means teams should have the cap space to assemble cheap, efficient depth, but what they assemble seems to change from year to year as teams retool to maximize their chances of winning the Cup (and here’s where herman’s meta-game most often comes in, I think). No point trying to figure that one out at this point.

Having figured out what defines a “core,” or the beginnings of the same. the next task is to determine what stats are worth looking at to compare what each team has in each position. Ideally, I can find some stats that are predictive of future success, not subject to the randomness of the game. That'll be the concern of the next post...
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 04, 2017, 06:14:06 PM
Having figured out what defines a “core,” or the beginnings of the same, the next task is to determine what stats are worth looking at to compare what each team has in each position. Most of the players being compared are young and not yet in their prime, so the goal is to have some stats that are able to tell us not only whether Matthews’ rookie season was ‘better’ in its outcome than MacKinnon’s but also are relatively reliable for projecting future success. 

These are the ones that I think are most useful…

If we want to see how promising the cores are, we will eventually need some stats to compare.

= Basic stats -- Goals, points, TOI — all seem pretty obvious.

= “monopolizing chances” — the consensus these days is that goal and points are somewhat random and possession stats are the most important for assessing overall play. So CF% and rel.CF would be nice to have. I’d also include xGF% to capture how many scoring chances are generated and given up.

= “making chances count” — We can maybe see *how* random scoring is by including SH% and P160. The shooting percentage can tell us if a player is under/over-performing or if his scoring is sustainable. The latter number weeds out folks who got lucky piling up secondary assists. 

= Contextualizing performance — some players are given responsibilities that others aren’t. To see how much a coach trusts players, would look not only to TOI but also adjustments of Corsi that account for quality of competition (CF.QoC) and offensive zone starts (OZS%), which can tell us when players are being sheltered.

= Superstats — these single-number measures of performance that Dom uses in the piece linked above and elsewhere include a bunch of stuff, including goals and assists. Dom's site and Athletic work uses Game Score (see image of Leafs roster below), but that (from what I've read) tends to overrate results/production somewhat. Goals Above Replacement (GAR) and Wins Above Replacement (WAR = GAR/6) are more sensitive to play and can be broken in measures of Special Teams play, Even Strength offense and defense (see Nylander card below). One or more of those would give a decent, overall sense of play. Also, some work (https://hockey-graphs.com/2017/03/23/a-new-look-at-aging-curves-for-nhl-skaters-part-1/) has been done on how, on average, a stat like WAR changes over time.

So… that’d be my method of comparing players who are pieces in builds toward contention. Would be happy to hear which other stats folks think are useful for assessing individual players (and which of the above are not and can be cut).

Next up is looking at the different core positions listed above and identifying what each team has in that position.

(http://i.imgur.com/yasMh7B.png)

(http://i.imgur.com/UpTV9jq.jpg)
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate on May 05, 2017, 12:18:41 PM
I gotta say, the amount of work you guys put into this site is astounding.  I didn't bother to put together this much information when I submitted the dissertation for my third PhD (the one in Theoretical Astrophysics).
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: herman on May 05, 2017, 12:54:34 PM
mr. grieves, those would be the stats I'm currently looking at to assess our own team (I don't have the bandwidth to go league-wide other than potential trade targets). The ixGF% vs iGF% differential is an interesting measure to me in finding out which players have shooting talent (I.e. Can expect to have higher than average Sh%).

I gotta say, the amount of work you guys put into this site is astounding.  I didn't bother to put together this much information when I submitted the dissertation for my third PhD (the one in Theoretical Astrophysics).

Which branch of Theoretical Astrophysics?
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate on May 05, 2017, 02:03:24 PM
mr. grieves, those would be the stats I'm currently looking at to assess our own team (I don't have the bandwidth to go league-wide other than potential trade targets). The ixGF% vs iGF% differential is an interesting measure to me in finding out which players have shooting talent (I.e. Can expect to have higher than average Sh%).

I gotta say, the amount of work you guys put into this site is astounding.  I didn't bother to put together this much information when I submitted the dissertation for my third PhD (the one in Theoretical Astrophysics).

Which branch of Theoretical Astrophysics?

The formation of Dark Matter -- within the post-Guthian Inflationary Paradigm, of course.  I felt it was an excellent complement to my second doctorate, in Hotel Management.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: herman on May 05, 2017, 02:19:38 PM

The formation of Dark Matter -- within the post-Guthian Inflationary Paradigm, of course.  I felt it was an excellent complement to my second doctorate, in Hotel Management.

WIMPs? Sounds like it covers the spread nicely with some transferable skills.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate on May 05, 2017, 02:33:21 PM

The formation of Dark Matter -- within the post-Guthian Inflationary Paradigm, of course.  I felt it was an excellent complement to my second doctorate, in Hotel Management.

WIMPs? Sounds like it covers the spread nicely with some transferable skills.

Admittedly, my first one in Elizabethan Literature has been a bit of a white elephant.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 05, 2017, 03:55:42 PM
I gotta say, the amount of work you guys put into this site is astounding.  I didn't bother to put together this much information when I submitted the dissertation for my third PhD (the one in Theoretical Astrophysics).

Well, sometimes a fellow needs little fun research assignments to give a break from the bigger one (a dissertation, as it happens).

So, next week... #1 centers!
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate on May 05, 2017, 05:14:49 PM
I gotta say, the amount of work you guys put into this site is astounding.  I didn't bother to put together this much information when I submitted the dissertation for my third PhD (the one in Theoretical Astrophysics).

Well, sometimes a fellow needs little fun research assignments to give a break from the bigger one (a dissertation, as it happens).

So, next week... #1 centers!

Ha, cheers to you MG.  And good luck on your doctorate.  Mine are all fake.............. :-[ :-X :-\ :-* :'( :P :P :P :P ::) 8)
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Significantly Insignificant on May 05, 2017, 09:22:22 PM
I gotta say, the amount of work you guys put into this site is astounding.  I didn't bother to put together this much information when I submitted the dissertation for my third PhD (the one in Theoretical Astrophysics).

Well, sometimes a fellow needs little fun research assignments to give a break from the bigger one (a dissertation, as it happens).

So, next week... #1 centers!

Ha, cheers to you MG.  And good luck on your doctorate.  Mine are all fake.............. :-[ :-X :-\ :-* :'( :P :P :P :P ::) 8)

You....lied to us?  There is no emoticon for what I am feeling right now.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 08, 2017, 10:10:10 AM
1C -- Day one: vitals & boxcar stats

All numbers are all situations.

Below's what each of the rebuilding teams I defined as "comparable" above (1C or 1D at top of draft) had at the 1C slot. Ages are in red if they call outside the 18-19yo definition, and, when players aren't rookies, their D+ year is in red.

(http://i.imgur.com/0M84KQU.png)

This is the easy one.

So far, looks like Matthews is about as good scoring 1C as has been drafted in the last decade. He at least had the best season of any.

He shoots nearly as much as Stamkos, but doesn't have that crazy SH% (which Stamkos has, of course, pretty much sustained). Matthews is also one year behind in his development (in his D+1 year Stamkos scored 23-23-46 in 79 games). Take out the guy with a year's head start, and Matthews leads the way.

Almost. McDavid's not, looked at this way, on an entirely other level. But then he was injured.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 09, 2017, 06:56:50 PM
1C — Day two: 5v5 Production

Same folks as in the previous post, but now isolating scoring at even-strength. The table is more individual at the left than at the right, which offers the on-ice scoring numbers. Gonna move right to left, more or less.

(http://i.imgur.com/skTPOME.png)

Stamkos is still very impressive, but, take out the PP, and he’s now among mere mortals (with MacDavid and Matthews at ~2 P160). Even that insane on-ice GF60 appears to be inflated by luck (over 1 goal more than expected!). Much the same seems true of Toews, so it might have to do with these centers being paired with established talent (Havlat and St. Louis).

If we privilege results stats like G60, P160, and GF60, none of Tavares, Barkov, or Eichel did much at 5v5. Adding in xGF60 we can see MacKinnon seems to have got pretty lucky, but RNH was both lucky and good. Tavares had an unlucky year, and Matthews is in similar boat, though other numbers are much stronger: the GF60 is middling, but he’s 2nd in xGF60 and leads P160.

McDavid, of course, is the most impressive of the bunch, leading the way across the board.

Or nearly so.

While Matthews doesn’t really stand out among the 1Cs for on-ice GF60, he destroys in goals scored. And his iG isn’t that far off from his ixG, which suggests he didn’t get especially lucky. He is, I think, something the league hasn’t had in a long while — an elite shooting 1C who, beyond just having a great shot, can do it on cluttered ice during regular play. I guess that's why Granato had to go back to, like, Sakic for a comparable.

Verdict? McDavid is terrifyingly good. The more seasoned 1Cs (Kopitar, Stamkos, Johansen) all look solid. Some of MacKinnon's performance looks lucky, and subsequent seasons have born that out. The only guys that I'd worry don't have the scoring ability to be plausible 1Cs are Eichel and Barkov. As for the Leafs' 1C? Matthews at 5v5 is as close as any current post-Crosby/Malkin center is likely to get to McDavid.

The xGF% measures chances generated and given up, so they’re properly discussed in the next post…

Tomorrow, 5v5 play/ defense.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 10, 2017, 08:32:42 PM
1C Day three: 5v5 Play/Defense

Same folks as in previous post, but now isolating play at evens, using advanced stats. All the stats are pretty familiar, and they’ve got their problems. Nik’s had convincing arguments against CF.QoC and zone starts, IIRC. I wonder how reliable Corsica’s numbers for scoring chances are for games nearly ten years ago, and that’d call xGF and KPO into question…

One less familiar stats were included to try to capture defensive play. KPO, or Keeping Pucks Outside, represents what proportion of Corsi against were NOT scoring chances. Some have said it can actually capture defensive ability, particularly for those stay-at-home types. According to Original Six Analytics (https://originalsixanalytics.com/tag/kpo/), 85% is about average, 83.5 is a Std Dev below, 87% is a Std Dev above, 82% is bad, 89% about as good as you can get (his distribution chart is for defensemen, but he says the pattern is the same for forwards).

Table:

(http://i.imgur.com/8Lb0jBi.png)

Thoughts:

Standing out in a good way are Kopitar, Johansen, Barkov, and McDavid.

The latter two were teenaged rookies. That McDavid was so good without the puck so early isn’t a surprise. I did not know, however, that Barkov was such a natural defensive phenom.   

So, that leaves Matthews in the company of rookies Toews, Tavares, Nugent-Hopkins, MacKinnon, and Eichel. Matthews has better xGF% and CF% than any of them. In fact, he’s the only one above 50% in both…

The first two positive standouts  — Kopitar and Johansen — were in their 3rd seasons, and I’d suspect gameplay stats improve as talented high picks develop. All that about skill guys being so good that they don’t need to learn to play without the puck until the NHL. Corsica's stats don’t go back to Kopitar’s rookie year, but they do for Johansen. His rookie numbers were in line with Tavares’s above — and Tavares’s were, by his 3rd season (11-12), nearly Kopitar’s. Toews, in 09-10, was up to a 60% CF/xGF in his third season...

Dare we hope Matthews follows Tavares’s path and turns in a Kopitar-ish two-way season at some point? Matthews’s impressive two-way performance is undercut, to some degree, by his only having to play one way for most of the season: his ZSR indicates how sheltered he was. On the other hand, he faced the same quality of opponents as Toews and Tavares, and the difference between Matthews’s CF% and theirs is about what folks say the ZSR difference would produce.

So… verdict here? He’s probably almost certainly a better 1C defensively than Stamkos, RNH, and MacKinnon but probably not as good as Barkov. About as good, defensively, as Tavares would make for a 1C I'd be happy with.

Last day at 1C tomorrow. Topic? Those single-number metrics (Game Score and GAR) and percentiles. 
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: freer on May 11, 2017, 09:14:13 PM
IMO

I think that we are only one good D man and back up goalie, from being a real threat.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 12, 2017, 08:31:58 PM
1C: Day four: Single-number performance stats

Lastly… a comparison of Goals Above Replacement (GAR) and Game Score. Both factor in actual results (goals for and against) more than the other stats considered so far, so I’m not sure if I’d trust them more than numbers that isolate gameplay (Corsi) and scoring chances (xGF/GA). On the other hand, they both factor in things that the other tables haven’t, most notably penalties drawn and taken.

The main reason I’m curious about these is because they can give a quick sense of how performances compare to the rest of the league. Game Score has cut-offs that correspond to different lines (see that Maple Leafs line-up a few post up.. and here’s the piece from The Athletic’s Dom L on the stat). GAR separates out Even Strength Offense and Defense, PP Offense, and more, and those who use the stat look at percentiles that players fall into (see that Nylander chart in the post above). 

So, the last table:

(http://i.imgur.com/1UdumLc.png)

A few things:

For Game Score, “Elite” seasons don’t often happen for rookies. And RNH and MacKinnon’s 1L seasons are pretty borderline (under .8). Before McDavid and Matthews, the best rookie season by game score was Toews’s in 07-08. — both McDavid (no surprise) and Matthews have had rookie seasons in the same ballpark as Kopitar’s and Stamkos’s second+ seasons.

Similarly, the Overall GAR scores for rookies seem pretty inflated by PP performance, and it looks hard to hit 1L-er level in even-strength play early in one’s first year. Only McDavid’s done it. But Matthews was pretty close to the 76th percentile cut off.

No GAR from before the 2008-9 season, unfortunately, so who knows what the deal with Toews is.


1C Day five: Conclusion

So… to sum up the week, on what the Leafs have got at 1C vs what other teams have had:

The method of choosing teams to compare — high pick C or D — more or less ensured that everyone here would be decent. So, there aren’t really any bad centers, and there really isn't any team here where I'd say "well, they don't have a first-line center," though most have some holes in their games or drawbacks. MacKinnon doesn’t look very good defensively, while Barkov doesn’t seem to have much scoring talent. The worst that can be said for Matthews is that he wasn’t really tested (those zone starts), but otherwise there isn’t a center here, besides McDavid, I’d take over him.

So, to go back to the 8 Simple Rules:

1. The most important thing is an elite No. 1 center

We have a center that’s well on his way to becoming that. In his rookie year, he got closer to it than Tavares, Stamkos, and Toews.

Next up, the 1W.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 16, 2017, 03:09:19 PM
1W — Day one: Boxcar stats, core ages, first impressions

Below is a table of the same teams from last week, but now comparing 1W, the second thing Dom says your Contending Core needs.

Rookie seasons have the D+year highlighted in green.

While 8 of the 11 centers considered last week were rookies, only 4 wingers — Kane, Jenner, Reinhart, and Marner — are rookies, of these only Kane and Marner were teenagers.

Also, while all the centers considered were given top-6 minutes, Jenner played behind Gaborik (31), Umberger (31), Foligno (26), Horton (28).


(http://i.imgur.com/V2NLJGO.png)


Ages and Comparable Cores

First thing to note here is that there a few outliers from the parameters I’d set earlier. So, probably need to reassess which teams are really comparable — high picks for a 1C and/or 1D probably isn’t enough.

Most glaringly, TBL poses a problem. St. Louis is indisputably the best winger on the team, but he’s in his mid-30s. The next youngest wingers on the team were Teddy Purcell and Steve Downie, neither whom played the minutes or have the pedigree to qualify as potential 1Ws. St. Louis played top-line minutes and was really productive, both in this season (2009-10) and the next, when they went to the ECF.

But his being unavoidable here is a reminder that TBL didn’t rebuild so much as it retooled: they didn’t really turnover their last core (jettisoning St. Louis, LeCavalier, Malone, etc) to get bad in order to get good (Stamkos and Hedman) and their present core is largely drawn from successful later picks who took a few extra years to make it to the NHL. As a result, those players don’t appear in this comparison. And, with respect to what this comparison wants to assess, TBL has greater age distribution among core pieces than is ideal, which probably has contributed to their salary cap troubles.

LAK’s Dustin Brown is a bit older than the 1W we’ve been targeting. That too has problem led to some of LAK’s recent troubles — big contract for older and declining Brown hasn’t helped them stay contending — but they did manage a window where they won two Cups, so I’m inclined to keep them.

The upshot is I should’ve looked at the overall roster ages to pick cores to compare to that of the 2016-17 Leafs. Below chart is ages: the team’s average and (to keep the Jagr’s and Weight’s from throwing things off) the median, difference between these and league average.

(http://i.imgur.com/7f83bGl.png)

So, I’m keeping teams with a median age over a year younger than the league average will count and dropping TBL. No point including LeCavalier and Ryan Malone in the upcoming weeks.


First Impressions

From this distance, the three 1Ws that stand out are Kane, Hall, and Landeskog. Marner slots in one tier down. But it remains to be seen whether Marner’s apparent mediocrity — or mere ‘goodness’ — has to do with inflated PP scoring for those top 3.

So, tomorrow… 5v5 production.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: herman on May 16, 2017, 04:27:37 PM
Nylander?
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 16, 2017, 07:11:07 PM
Nylander?

4th forward?

1C - Matthews
1W - Marner
2C - Kadri
4F - Nylander
1D - Rielly
2D - Gardiner

Hopefully he's not traded before I get there (July?)
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: herman on May 16, 2017, 07:46:50 PM
1C - Matthews
1W - Marner
2C - Kadri
4F - Nylander
1D - Rielly
2D - Gardiner

Hopefully he's not traded before I get there (July?)

Okay. I don't want to interrupt your flow necessarily, I was just thinking the 1W would be someone that does a lot of the scoring himself (I know that's kind of different when your 1C is a shooting centre). Dom's examples were Tarasenko, Pavelski, Kucherov, Hornqvist.

And if we were to turn this into a Nylander vs Marner discussion, well, I'd say Nylander has more offensive tools to work with than Marner. As much as I love Marner, Nylander can beat you with a circles-out wrister, a catch-and-release snap shot, a potent slap shot, an up-tight roof job a la JvR, a wait-out deke, and the wheels and hands to actually use it all, on top of pinpoint passing. Marner has more hustle, slightly more creative distribution, but needs a lot of time and space for his distance shots to actually find the back of the net (Kadri/Rielly level).

I'd also swap Gardiner and Rielly on the list.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Highlander on May 18, 2017, 03:09:03 PM
Think the Leafs new motto should be:  Speed Kills
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on May 28, 2017, 12:00:56 AM
1C - Matthews
1W - Marner
2C - Kadri
4F - Nylander
1D - Rielly
2D - Gardiner

Hopefully he's not traded before I get there (July?)

Okay. I don't want to interrupt your flow necessarily, I was just thinking the 1W would be someone that does a lot of the scoring himself (I know that's kind of different when your 1C is a shooting centre). Dom's examples were Tarasenko, Pavelski, Kucherov, Hornqvist.

Oh, life disrupted my flow. But I'm getting it back below.

I had Marner as the 1W mostly because there's little doubt he's staying there, unlike Nylander who is seen as a center. As his position was up in the air, I figured he'd fit 4F. But, since Babcock's said Nylander's staying put, will swap him in.

And, yes, it's a bit tricky when the 1C is the shooter and the wing is playmaker. But -- spoiler alert -- this ends with a chart like Dom's -- WAR for all -- so there's an interchangeability in the roles particular forwards play built in.

 
I'd also swap Gardiner and Rielly on the list.

Agreed. After the last 20 games and playoff, I think he's the Leaf's 1D.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: disco on May 29, 2017, 01:51:33 PM
Fun fact: Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are both YOUNGER than Jeremy Bracco.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: disco on October 06, 2017, 04:42:03 PM
I was thinking about teams around the league who have drafted high 3+ years but failed to turn it into a successful franchise. As in bottom-feeder/laughingstock/30th overall. Colorado and Edmonton Pt. One came to mind. They seemed to just wait around for something to happen year after year until their forwards developed poorly and the team maxed out.

What I like about the Leafs is that they blended some of their old guard with the high-drafted superstars and made a shrewd moves like Andersen, Euro-D and now Marleau. I believe teams Arizona and Buffalo have had enough of a high-draft talent infusion to do this as well, but the jury's still out on whether they will turn into contenders.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Nik the Trik on October 06, 2017, 04:45:56 PM
I was thinking about teams around the league who have drafted high 3+ years but failed to turn it into a successful franchise. As in bottom-feeder/laughingstock/30th overall. Colorado and Edmonton Pt. One came to mind. They seemed to just wait around for something to happen year after year until their forwards developed poorly and the team maxed out.

Comparatively, they also were just unlucky in terms of when they bottomed out. Nail Yakupov was a bad pick but it was an awful draft. It's not like their turnaround is the result of being smarter, just luckier. The same is probably true in the case of the Leafs(who still have yet to become serious contenders).
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: mr grieves on October 08, 2017, 02:19:44 AM
I was thinking about teams around the league who have drafted high 3+ years but failed to turn it into a successful franchise. As in bottom-feeder/laughingstock/30th overall. Colorado and Edmonton Pt. One came to mind. They seemed to just wait around for something to happen year after year until their forwards developed poorly and the team maxed out.
Comparatively, they also were just unlucky in terms of when they bottomed out. Nail Yakupov was a bad pick but it was an awful draft. It's not like their turnaround is the result of being smarter, just luckier. The same is probably true in the case of the Leafs(who still have yet to become serious contenders).

In addition to getting lucky when they bottomed out (that's mostly Matthews) and having a few old the "old guard" (JvR and Bozak, I guess) around to insulate rookies, I'd give some credit to the previous regimes and their scouting staffs for hitting on those top ten, but not quite top 5, picks they were piling up for since the last lockout. Kadri, Rielly, and Nylander have turned out to be very useful players.
 
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: disco on November 07, 2017, 03:46:26 PM
For all the hand-wringing that goes on around here I'm looking around the league and thinking what it would be like to be a fan-base in some of these cities with teams that after YEARS of drafting high should at least be competitive/fun to watch/.500 club by now. Two in the basement have superstar franchise centers in Buffalo and Edmonton. Arizona has drafted high defensemen and forwards and Colorado had really good window of draft-picks. If this 9-7 club gets this much bitching after really 2-3 years tanking pain imagine what's going on with the fans in THESE markets...
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Nik the Trik on November 07, 2017, 03:51:18 PM

"Hey, at least we're not Arizona" said a fan of the richest team in the league with a straight face.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: disco on November 07, 2017, 03:54:44 PM
A little perspective and thankfulness just really isn't in some peoples DNA ;)
That's the crux of the post. Anyways...
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Nik the Trik on November 07, 2017, 03:59:17 PM

Set the bar low enough and you can just step over it, I guess.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: disco on November 07, 2017, 04:05:04 PM
Seem to be triggering this guy pretty good here... can't even see what he's saying (been on my ignore list for a while). What do you guys think? We're ahead of these teams? Better run? Should we have some perspective? What say TMLfans...
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Nik the Trik on November 07, 2017, 04:06:40 PM

"Perspective" in this case being short hand for being amazed at the prospect of a team somehow being better run than the Buffalo Sabres.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: Andy on November 07, 2017, 04:10:30 PM
Seem to be triggering this guy pretty good here... can't even see what he's saying (been on my ignore list for a while). What do you guys think? We're ahead of these teams? Better run? Should we have some perspective? What say TMLfans...

I pretty much agree with this:


Set the bar low enough and you can just step over it, I guess.

"Perspective" in this case being short hand for being amazed at the prospect of a team somehow being better run than the Buffalo Sabres.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: cabber24 on November 07, 2017, 04:47:14 PM
For all the hand-wringing that goes on around here I'm looking around the league and thinking what it would be like to be a fan-base in some of these cities with teams that after YEARS of drafting high should at least be competitive/fun to watch/.500 club by now. Two in the basement have superstar franchise centers in Buffalo and Edmonton. Arizona has drafted high defensemen and forwards and Colorado had really good window of draft-picks. If this 9-7 club gets this much bitching after really 2-3 years tanking pain imagine what's going on with the fans in THESE markets...
2-3 years of tanking pain! Holy crap we've been in the shitter a whole lot longer than that! 1967 was 50 years ago! I don't feel bad for any other hockey fans after what we've been through.
Title: Re: So... how goes your rebuild?
Post by: herman on November 16, 2017, 04:12:06 PM
This is about a month old now, but it's a really good conversation about rebuilds from the perspective of someone who went through both versions: Teardown and On the Fly.

https://theathletic.com/131271/2017/10/18/the-full-60-episode-3-frank-provenzano-on-the-rebuilding-process/