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[Wild About Numbers]: 3-In-1 Special Edition

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I've got a lot of thoughts and only one column per week, so I'm just gonna combine 3 topics into one article.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

#1- Pominville & Koivu Should Not Be The Scapegoats For This Season

I dunno if you've noticed but Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu have been major targets for criticism this season (or every season in the case of the latter) from numerous voices in the Wild blogosphere/Twitter community. There is a feeling that this lost season rests on the shoulders of the veterans, particularly the aforementioned two.

Let's start with Pominvillle. The main criticisms of him are that he turns the puck over all the time and he whiffs on a lot of shot attempts. Because of this there have been calls for him to be demoted or even traded.

Pominville is a 32 year old offence-first player doing exactly what he should be doing: getting a boat-load of offensive zone starts, leading the team in points, being 2nd on the team in Points/60 at 5v5 (behind Zucker), being 34th in the league in the same stat (ahead of Stamkos, Perry, Kane etc.) and taking lots of shots on the powerplay (leads the team).


-Look at his career numbers:

Season

Team

GP

G/60

P/60

Sh%

2005/06

BUF

54

0.6

1.2

6.2

2006/07

BUF

78

1.9

3

19.6

2007/08

BUF

81

1.3

2.7

14

2008/09

BUF

82

0.6

2.2

6.4

2009/10

BUF

81

0.8

2

7.6

2010/11

BUF

73

0.9

2.1

9.3

2011/12

BUF

82

1.1

2.3

11.2

2012/13

BUF/MIN

47

0.8

2

11.7

2013/14

MIN

82

1.1

2

14.4

2014/15

MIN

42

0.7

2.2

7.9

He's actually experiencing his best year since 2011/12 in terms of P/60, and this is while shooting way below his career norms. For a player who should be declining, that is an excellent return.

Overall, the net effect from putting Pominville on the ice is a positive one. This team has some problems, he is far from the main one.

So what about his defensive play? According to War-On-Ice.com, he's been on the ice for the 4th lowest rate of scoring chance shots against at 5v5. Now it's worth noting that according to OwnThePuck.com he has the 2nd worst Usage Adj. Corsi Against/60 on the team, though he somewhat negates that with the 2nd highest Corsi For rate. It seems that the Wild give up a fairly large amount of shot attempts with him on the ice, but not from dangerous areas.

Overall, the net effect on putting Pominville on the ice is a positive one. This team has some problems, he is far from the main one.


What about Koivu?

Well his personal production has been disappointing this year. His 1.5 P/60 at 5v5 is his lowest since 2011/12. This is a worthy point of criticism. What's interesting though is that he's been out-producing Coyle, Granlund and Haula all year so he remains the best of the Wild's centres, which is a low bar.

As always with Koivu, what's more important than his points is his ability to stop the other team from scoring. He's got the 2nd lowest rate of on ice scoring  chances against on the team at 5v5 despite usually facing off against the other team's best players, he's got the 2nd best Usage Adjusted Corsi on the team and the 2nd best Goals For% relative. What does this mean? It means that the Wild are dominating possession/shot attempts with him on the ice and he's having a major positive impact on goals differential when he's on the ice. Those are things conducive to winning hockey games.

Also, he leads the team in powerplay shots so let's stop with the HE DOESN'T SHOOT narrative.

Whatever you think about Koivu's point totals or his contract, this year he has been a positive force for the Wild and is very far from a problem. Anyone who wants him traded needs to remember that he's an older, oft-injured player and isn't going to bring back a centre who could replace his positive impact. As we correctly predicted around here last Summer, Granlund and Haula weren't able to outperform him this year and to move him now would cripple this team down the middle.


This appears to be a failed season for the Wild but that doesn't mean that all the individuals who played prominents roles are at fault. Hockey is a team game and the Wild's main areas of weakness have been: their goaltending, their goaltending, their goaltending some more and also their awful self-inflicted defensive depth. That isn't on Jason Pominville or Mikko Koivu.

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Are There Any Goalies Out There Who The Wild Should Trade For?

The Wild very very badly need a goalie, not only to save this season, but also to ensure they don't get screwed by it in future years. I've compiled some data on possible options and I will add feedback afterwards:

2011-2015: 2000+ Mins Played At 5v5

Name

TOI

Sv%

AdSv%

Thomas Greiss*

2513.4

93.44

93.32

Jhonas Enroth*

4203.5

92.55

92.59

Craig Anderson

7343.9

92.82

92.57

Frederik Andersen

2826.9

92.61

92.43

Devan Dubnyk*

5946

92.01

92.25

James Reimer

5017.5

91.91

91.91

Robin Lehner

3017.8

92.00

91.81

Michal Neuvirth*

3574.1

91.86

91.74

Ben Scrivens

4620.4

91.85

91.72

Ilya Bryzgalov*

5886.4

91.82

91.7

Cam Ward

6576.9

91.72

91.62

Niklas Backstrom

5532.1

91.66

91.28

Viktor Fasth*

2303.5

91.13

90.91

Darcy Kuemper

2559.4

91.82

90.89

  • For this table, I've ranked some goalies who are rentals (denoted by *) and others who could be available by Shot Quality Adjusted Sv%. This goes some way to removing the team effect from Sv%.
  • As you can see, the Wild's goalies have been right down in the basement.
  • Cam Ward has been mentioned as a possible replacement, but he hasn't been much better and carries a 6 million dollar cap hit.
  • Viktor Fasth is still milking a reputation built in his first 9 NHL games and shouldn't even be considered.
  • Thomas Greiss has put up amazing numbers as a back-up on the Sharks, Coyotes and Penguins. Would he be worth taking a flier on? He could hardly be worse than Kuemper/Backstrom and he would likely be cheap.
  • Jhonas Enroth would likely be pricey from the rebuilding Sabres and I'd want to know that he will re-sign because he'd be a good long term starter for the Wild.
  • Devan Dubnyk is criminally underrated and has been a good goalie for quite some time (last season notwithstanding). Once again, he's a rental and would likely be cheap from a team who are out of the playoff picture.
  • Even with John Gibson in the pipeline, it's hard to see the Ducks parting with Anderson.
  • It's also hard to know what the Senators will do with the Anderson/Lehner situation.
  • I like Reimer and would be happy to see the Wild trade for him, but the Leafs might want to hold onto him for the playoffs in case Berner gets hurt.


My favourite options are Greiss and Dubnyk. I think they'd be cheap and would at least give the team a chance to win. If it doesn't work out and the Wild still miss the playoffs, they probably didn't give up much to get either goalie and they also had a chance to audition someone for next year's starter job.


As I mentioned before, Enroth would be nice, but I'd want them to have some assurance that he'll sign long-term.

Would the Penguins say "no" to Matt Cooke (maybe with Niklas Backstrom w/ 50% salary retained thrown in?) for their back-up goalie? Would the Coyotes turn down getting some value for their back-up who will surely move on in the Summer? Chuck Fletcher should find out.

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Justin Fontaine: Under-The-Radar Beast?

Justin Fontaine is an odd player. Too small to fit a typical bottom-6 role, but not offensive enough to be a top-6 mainstay. It's easy to forget he's even here sometimes. He burst onto the scene last year with a goalscoring streak off the back of a 20.0 Sh%. This year the goals have predictably dried up and he has been in and out of the lineup as Mike Yeo seems to just not be a fan of his.

So these numbers are pretty surprising:

fonz

So not only has Justin Fontaine been absolutely crushing it in terms of Corsi/possession, he's also seeing the rewards for it in his impact on goals differential. It's actually interesting to see that the Wild's 3 best Corsi guys are their 3 best GF% guys too.

His P/60 at 5v5 is 6th on the team, ahead of Thomas Vanek, Charlie Coyle, Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter so when Fontaine is on the ice at 5v5, really really good things are happening which begs the question, why hasn't he been getting praised this year?

By the eye test he's looked good. I use the word "scrappy" to describe him a lot. He isn't physical, but he gets around the offensive zone and is a nuisance behind the net. He's also good at disrupting play in the neutral zone. But he hasn't looked good to the extent these numbers suggest.


His excellent Usage Adj. Corsi appears to be mostly driven by shot suppression rather than generation, which is interesting given that he's known more for his offensive play. You can debate the validity of these stats all day long, but when they're this good I think it's cause for taking a closer look.

He's definitely a worthy case for further in-depth analysis to see what he's doing to put up such fantastic results while flying under-the-radar.

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Anyway, that's all from me for today. Leave a comment with your views on all this stuff and share the article around on Facebook/Twitter/whatever.


Thanks to War-On-Ice.com, Stats.HockeyAnalysis and OwnThePuck.net for all the data.