July 09 2012 12:39PM
For some time I have yet to figure out why Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski don't see too much time together. I've posited the question before, and the common belief seems to be that you can't have two people carry the puck through the neutral zone. It represents the talents of both players, and that's that.
But I've grown a little skeptical of that theory. Grabovski is a play-driving centreman with scoring upside that Kessel, a speedy, talented winger with limited defensive qualities, needs to succeed. In 306 total minutes with Grabovski in three seasons, the Leafs have convincingly outshot their opponents, batting at a 55.9% possession rate. [Hockey Analysis]
Furthermore, if you check the "goals" link in the same link above, you'd find that Kessel and Grabovski are a +6 together, while Kessel is -18 without. I hesitate to use +/-, but the question I'd ask is "if Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel are incompatible player types, why do they score so many goals when they're together on the ice?"
July 09 2012 10:43AM
Brian Burke seen here ruining the Toronto Maple Leafs, apparently.
For the second consecutive year Brian Burke spent July 1st away from the office. And for the second consecutive year he did not sign any terrible contracts for players who did not deserve them. I think the two are related.
July 09 2012 06:03AM
One of our NHL Numbers writers, Rob Pettapiece, made an excellent point last week. In the early days of baseball, before player production was boiled down to digestible statistics, it wasn't like managers were overlooking basic attributes a successful player has. The ability to get on base and to hit for power had always been sought after in baseball, even before Bill James. It was only after the release of Moneyball that fans started to see how wrong some teams were doing it.
It's the same thing in hockey. If you ask the average hockey fan or executive, they'll tell you (if they're giving you a straight answer) that the most important trait in a player is his ability to gain the zone and to create scoring chances. Perhaps they wouldn't phrase it in that way, but that is unequivocally the most important thing teams look for in their most important players. A lot of that is clouded. Some teams overvalue certain roles and, unfortunately, some players' ability to do simple things like gain the zone and create scoring chances.
The numbers - the "advanced" numbers we used - are just another way of expressing observation. In a way, it's proving something we already know.
July 08 2012 10:59AM
With summer weather finally arriving on the ol' dusty plains here in Alberta, a lot of folks thoughts are probably turning to backyard barbecues and water parks and picnics and pin wheels and county fairs and whatever else folks associate with summer vacation.
Not us here at the Nation though. Our hearts and minds stay rooted at the rink - or, as it were, in spreadsheets, internet squabbles over player contracts and twitter flame wars.
This week, Lowetide snubbed the the inviting sun and instead talked contracts, drafts and free agency with a gaggle of guests including Jason Strudwick, Andrey Osadchenko and Jonathan Willis.
This is Nation Radio.
July 08 2012 08:10AM
Leo Komarov has been in Toronto the last couple of weeks for Maple Leafs prospect camp. Our own Andrey Osadchenko was able to catch up with him and discussed a little with Leo about his playing style ( more on that can be read here ), the rumours that Komarov is planning to return to the KHL, and last season's Gagarin Cup Finals.
It seems it was only yesterday when you hoisted the Gagarin Cup wearing Dynamo Moscow jersey. You are now a Maple Leaf. Why did you decide to go overseas?
I wanted to come here even last year. We agreed with [Dynamo’s coach] Oleg Znarok that I would spend another year in Moscow. And we won the Cup. My contract with Dynamo is good for another year but they let me go.