clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

My Ninoner and Me: An Irrational Love of Nino Niederreiter

New, comments
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

So, As pretty much everyone knows, I have a massive crush on Nino Niederreiter- and I'm not the only one. We have been constantly urging for Nino to be #Freed, and bemoaning his use. Are we justified? Let's take a look.

First of all, let's look at his usage; has Nino been getting minutes that warrant a need to be #Freed? Or has Nino been #Freed and no one has noticed?

On the following Player Usage Chart from Some Kind of Ninja, the X-Axis is Zone Start % and Y-axis is Quality of Competition (as determined by Corsi). If a player is blue, it means their CF%Rel is positive, and red is negative- with the size of the bubble representing HOW positive or negative. This is at 5v5, with a minimum of 30 games played.

As can be seen from the chart, Nino has had tougher zone starts than everyone except Ryan Carter, Kyle Brodziak, and Justin Fontaine (who has an identical ZS% of 42.1). The only three players with sub-50 Zone Starts and positive CF%Rels are Nino, Charlie Coyle, and Fontaine. In short: Nino has been a positive influence on possession stats while being in the defensive zone a lot.

Here are who Nino has played the most time with (discounting defenseman and goalies). Bear in mind, Nino has played 756:11:00 this season. (these are from Hockey Analysis at 5v5, adjusted for Zone Starts)

Charlie Coyle

423:10:00

Erik Haula

170:43:00

Thomas Vanek

133:28:00

Kyle Broadziak

122:12:00

Mikko Koivu

114:19:00

Notice anything weird? Oh, you do? That's not an empty space between Coyle and Erik Haula; it's full of Ryan Suter, Darcy Kuemper, Jonas Brodin, Devan Dubnyk, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, and Niklas Backstrom. You read that right: Nino has played more with Backstrom, Dubnyk, and Kuemper than with any forward not named Chuck. So, it's safe to say that he's been bounced around a lot.

So: Nino is getting defensive minutes against moderate opponents, but is almost never playing with the same linemates from one minute to the next. Suffice to say: Nino hasn't exactly been put in a position to succeed.

How is Nino playing with this linemates? Let's take a look - also from Hockey Analysis

Player

CF%

Together

Nino

Apart

Teammate

Apart

COYLE, CHARLIE

56.5

48.3

47

HAULA, ERIK

51.6

53.4

49.2

FONTAINE, JUSTIN

59.3

51.4

52

VANEK, THOMAS

50

53.6

47.8

BRODZIAK, KYLE

42.8

55.1

46.7

KOIVU, MIKKO

53.1

53

54.5

Interesting enough: Nino and Coyle are both significantly better at driving possession together than apart; it may or may not be a coincidence that they have shared the most time together. Justin Fontaine and Nino share a similar synergy; they are better together than apart. In fact, Nino has improved every linemate with whom he has played more than 100 minutes save Koivu.

Put another way: Nino is better at driving possession than all of his linemates except the Kaptain. That's pretty good. Of course, there are some pretty significant names missing off of this list. Jason Pominville, one of the best possession forwards on the team, has only played with Nino for 81:56 at 5v5. Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter have shared the ice for a pathetic 9:05 at 5v5 through the course of the season.

Of course, in that small amount of time, both Nino and Pommer are better apart (53.7% and 54.7% respectively) than they are together (46.8%). With Parise, however, Nino and Zach are both better together than apart.

BUT, possession is just the first part of the story. Let's take a look at Nino's production compared to the other forwards on the team. According to War on Ice (at 5v5, adjusted for score effects), not particularly great. Here are all the forwards who have played more than 30 games.

Name

P60

CF%

PDO

Zach Parise

2.2

53.9

100.8

Jason Zucker

2.1

55.2

96.3

Justin Fontaine

2.1

55

101.4

Jason Pominville

2

55

99.6

Ryan Carter

1.8

49.2

101.1

Mikael Granlund

1.7

53.6

101.4

Thomas Vanek

1.7

49.3

97.8

Kyle Broadziak

1.7

46.6

98.9

Nino Niederreiter

1.6

54.3

98.2

Charlie Coyle

1.6

53.1

99.6

Mikko Koivu

1.5

55.5

98.5

Erik Haula

1

51.5

96.4

Nino is towards the bottom in terms of scoring rates, topping only Koivu, Coyle, and Haula. Even the much-maligned Vanek is producing more quickly (though not much). This could be attributed to a number of things; personally, the fact that Nino has spent less than 200 minutes with any other forward.

Caveats and Cautions

Evaluating Nino- especially this season- is tough, because he has been bounced around so much. Lack of consistent line mates and being buried in the defensive zone by Yeo have created a situation where, despite some pretty terrible situations, Nino is performing well. He drives possession with pretty much whichever linemates he has, which is great; it means he is suppression shots when in the d-zone while helping generate them in the o-zone.

Nino's scoring isn't particularly fast, but that's not surprising considering his zone starts; it's hard to score when you never see the offensive zone. It would be interesting to see what he could do with significant offensive zone starts, and a line that didn't change every few minutes.

In the meantime, Nino's ability to tilt the ice (if only slightly) away from the Wild's net combined with his positive influence on almost everyone he plays with that my (and your) #Ninoner is absolutely justified.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A huge thanks goes out to Some Kind of NinjaHockey Analysis, and War on Ice for the stats and chart.