[Wild About Numbers]: Wild Players & The Norris Trophy

Bruce Bennett

How do the Wild's top defencemen match-up with this year's Norris candidates?

Yesterday it was announced that the 3 nominees for the 2014 Norris Trophy were Duncan Keith, Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber. There were a few Wild fans who were surprised that Ryan Suter wasn't nominated but I think the majority of fans and writers realised that he didn't have a Norris-quality season. Still, just for fun, I'm going to compare the Wild's top defencemen (Suter, Spurgeon and Scandella) to the Norris nominees (Keith, Chara and Weber) and some of the other most talked about candidates (Giordano, Karlsson, Niskanen, Subban, Pietrangelo, Hedman, Doughty, Vlasic, McDonagh) to see how they match up statistically.


Time On Ice

GP

TOI/G

EV TOI/G

PP TOI/G

SH TOI/G

Suter

82

29:24

23:17

3:45

2:21

Karlsson

82

27:04

21:28

4:05

1:30

Weber

79

26:54

21:10

3:07

2:36

Subban

82

24:36

19:17

4:39

0:40

Doughty

78

25:42

19:13

3:53

2:35

McDonagh

77

24:49

19:13

2:52

2:43

Pietrangelo

81

25:21

19:12

2:48

3:20

Giordano

64

25:14

19:08

3:26

2:38

Keith

79

24:38

19:05

3:10

2:23

Chara

77

24:39

19:02

2:26

3:10

Spurgeon

67

22:38

18:30

2:06

2:01

Vlasic

81

20:42

17:49

0:42

2:11

Hedman

75

22:26

17:47

2:29

2:09

Niskanen

81

21:17

17:35

2:59

0:42

Scandella

76

18:48

16:37

0:15

1:55

  • I don't think heavy time on ice necessarily means a defenceman is playing well, but it's interesting to see who had the heaviest workload all the same.
  • You can see that Suter, Weber and Karlsson were real workhorses for their teams in all situations.
  • Mark Giordano's case takes a hit due to the fact that he missed 18 games this year.
  • As a 2nd pairing defenceman, Marco Scandella unsurprisingly has the lowest TOI of this bunch but, interestingly, his EV TOI/G isn't that far behind the likes of Niskanen, Vlasic and Hedman.


5v5 Possession

-This chart shows Quality Of Teammates (Y-Axis), Offensive Zone Start% (X-Axis), postive or negative Corsi (Blue or Red bubble) and the amount (bubble size):

Norris_qot_medium

  • The bottom left of this chart represents the toughest minutes while the top right represents the most sheltered.
  • Drew Doughty and Duncan Keith are both benefiting from favourable zone starts and quality of teammates and, as a result, have put up excellent possession numbers.
  • Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon have had very comparable usage here but very different results.
  • P.K. Subban is often thought of as a pure offensive defenceman but his usage here shows that he plays a tough role and produces good results.
  • Mark Giordano is the most impressive here, posting an excellent Corsi with tough zone starts and bad teammates.
  • It's worth noting that Marco Scandella had one of the toughest deployments of any defenceman all season in terms of zone starts and still put up pretty good possession numbers.


-This time the Y-Axis represents Quality Of Competition and the bubble colour shows Corsi Relative to teammates instead of just raw Corsi +/-:

Norris_qoc_medium

  • The "tough minutes" part of this chart is the top left, while the bottom right is the "sheltered minutes" part.
  • Remember, this is showing Corsi Rel instead of just Corsi +/- so you get an idea of the effect each player is having on their team. I feel that any Norris-worthy defenceman should be causing a positive effect on their team's possession numbers every time they are on the ice unless they are getting incredibly difficult deployment.
  • Weber, Suter and McDonagh are all negative Corsi relative to their respective teams which isn't really what you want from your top defencemen. In Weber's defence, his deployment is very tough in all aspects.
  • Suter and Spurgeon faced some of the toughest competition of this group but with reasonably favourable zone starts.
  • The case for Giordano grows stronger here while the case for Doughty and Chara is somewhat weakened because they face below average competition.
  • Though their QoC is fairly low, Subban and Niskanen have put up great numbers relative to their teammates.
  • Marco Scandella has a positive Corsi Rel in very tough minutes. His usage in terms of QoC, QoT and Zone Starts is comparable to, Norris nominee, Shea Weber but Scandella's possession numbers are better.


Scoring

Even Strength

Player

Team

S/60

CF/60

G/60

A1/60

P/60

1

Duncan Keith

Blackhawks

5.7

12

0.12

0.57

1.53

2

Victor Hedman

Lightning

6.1

12.5

0.37

0.78

1.52

3

Matt Niskanen

Penguins

4.8

10.2

0.3

0.13

1.29

4

Erik Karlsson

Senators

6.8

15.2

0.49

0.38

1.28

5

Mark Giordano

Flames

6.2

14

0.35

0.4

1.21

6

Alex Pietrangelo

Blues

4.7

12.4

0.24

0.51

1.18

7

P.K. Subban

Canadiens

3.8

8

0.23

0.39

1.05

8

Shea Weber

Predators

4.7

9.9

0.33

0.22

0.99

9

Ryan McDonagh

Rangers

5.4

9.5

0.29

0.21

0.96

10

Jared Spurgeon

Wild

3.4

8.5

0.15

0.45

0.94

11

Zdeno Chara

Bruins

5.2

11.1

0.29

0.38

0.88

12

Marco Scandella

Wild

3.8

8.9

0.14

0.24

0.82

13

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Sharks

5.2

12.8

0.17

0.34

0.8

14

Ryan Suter

Wild

3.3

7.3

0.1

0.13

0.71

15

Drew Doughty

Kings

4.4

11.4

0.16

0.41

0.7

  • Keith, Hedman and Karlsson really capitalised on their favourable usage this season and scored at a very good rate at even strength.
  • Matt Niskanen had an amazing year offensively but his shot generation wasn't that good and his On Ice Sh% of 10.1% suggests that this year is strictly an outlier. Still, it doesn't weaken his case this season.
  • Suter and Niskanen are way behind the rest in terms of primary assists.
  • Karlsson and Hedman were the most efficient goal scorers.
  • Zdeno Chara and Drew Doughty have fairly disappointing production given their usage. Mark Giordano's production is extremely impressive. P.K. Subban had pretty low production by his standards.
  • All 3 Wild defencemen are in the bottom 5 here which isn't surprising given the team's lack of offence as a whole.


Powerplay

Player

Team

S/60

CF/60

G/60

A1/60

P/60

1

Shea Weber

Predators

13

28.2

2.99

1

6.48

2

Erik Karlsson

Senators

9.5

24.2

0.91

1.82

5.64

3

Mark Giordano

Flames

13.9

29.2

1.7

1.42

5.39

4

Duncan Keith

Blackhawks

11.4

27.8

0.73

1.45

5.08

5

Zdeno Chara

Bruins

11.6

21

3.22

0.64

4.84

6

Victor Hedman

Lightning

9.5

18.7

0.99

1.32

4.6

7

Alex Pietrangelo

Blues

9.6

23.1

0.53

2.12

4.51

8

Matt Niskanen

Penguins

12.7

27.4

0.75

1.74

3.74

9

P.K. Subban

Canadiens

16

37.7

0.64

1.12

3.35

10

Ryan Suter

Wild

8.2

20

0.59

1.37

3.33

11

Ryan McDonagh

Rangers

10.7

20.6

0.55

0.83

3.03

12

Drew Doughty

Kings

12.2

22

1.2

1

3

13

Jared Spurgeon

Wild

8.9

16.4

0.84

1.68

2.95

14

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Sharks

8.3

19.7

0

1.04

1.04

15

Marco Scandella

Wild

0

17.5

0

0

0

  • This is where Shea Weber really shines. His powerplay production has been excellent.
  • Mark Giordano excels in yet another area.
  • It's surprising to see Suter and Subban so low here given their reputations as powerplay specialists.


Conclusions

Assessing The Wild's Defencemen

  • I've doneton of analysis of the Wild's defencemen this season so it should be old news by now, but Spurgeon and Suter have had almost identical deployment and Spurgeon has done better in terms of puck possession and scoring. He's had a pretty fantastic season.
  • Marco Scandella has been quietly solid all year and has received a lot of praise from fans for his resurgent play. The numbers show that he has had tough deployment but his results are good.

How Do They Compare To The Other Candidates?

  • None of the Wild defencemen had the kind of season that would put them in the running for the Norris but it's somewhat encouraging that they aren't a million miles away. Spurgeon, in particular, is closer to the other players I analysed above (probably the best defencemen in the league) than one might expect.
  • Amazingly, Marco Scandella, as I noted above, had similar usage and better possession numbers than Shea Weber, though Weber had better production. Scandella's numbers are pretty great but the knock against him is his low TOI.


Who Should Be The Norris Nominees?

  • Based on the numbers in this article, it's tough to pick 3 outright winners. Usage, possession numbers and production all have to be taken into account.
  • I think my 3 nominees would be Giordano, Keith and Subban. It's a tough choice, with Pietrangelo, Niskanen and Karlsson all having very good cases too.
  • Shea Weber really shouldn't have been nominated, unless you place a lot of weight on powerplay production.
  • Chara had a good season but, for me, not Norris-quality.

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Follow me on Twitter for more hockey talk.

Thanks to Extra Skater, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Abstract and SomeKindOfNinja for all the data.

For a quick advanced stats 101, read this. For more in-depth stuff, read this.

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