Keith Aulie, first call-up vs. second call-up



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In a post earlier this summer, I posted adjusted Fenwick numbers for Toronto Maple Leafs this past season. Scroll to the comment section and there were requests to look at split-season statistics for a few players, which will be a feature I will be running throughout August on TLN.

First off, adjusted Fenwick is an experimental advanced statistic that looks to balance out a player’s unblocked shot differential by accounting for the number of defensive and offensive zone starts. A player’s Fenwick number is a variation of Corsi, and is an in-depth plus-minus number that accounts for every goal, saved shot and missed shot while a player was on the ice.

Secondly, the chart in this post, with use of numbers from Vic Ferrari’s, chronicle Maple Leaf defenseman Keith Aulie’s adjusted Fenwick numbers through his first call-up and his second call-up. He was very pleasing on the eyes on that pairing with Dion Phaneuf and, in a few games, actually looked like the better defenseman in the trade that sent the Leafs both Phaneuf and Aulie for a bag of pucks with Matt Stajan hidden inside.

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As an added note, I’ve improved my adjustment formula used in the previous post. The ‘For’ and ‘Against’ numbers are correct, but the total number doubled the value of the a zonestart. I have since corrected the calculation, and all charts here on out will look nice and clean and correct.

So, a look at Keith Aulie’s numbers.

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  GF GA SF SA MF MA ZS FenF FenA Adj Fen
Total 24 23 257 363 120 166 52 10.81 13.02 -3.00
Callup 1 2 7 52 90 32 40 5 7.42 11.17 -4.00
Callup 2 22 16 205 273 88 126 47 12.26 13.81 -2.56

[LEGEND: GF – On-ice goals for GA – On-ice goals against SF – On-ice saved shots for SA – On-ice saved shots against MF – On-ice missed shots for MA – On-ice missed shots against ZS – Defensive zone starts minus offensive zone starts FenF – Adjusted Fenwick events, for, per game FenA – Adjusted Fenwick events, against, per game Adj Fen – Adjusted Fenwick number, per game]

*Aulie’s first call-up lasted 12 games. The second lasted 28*

As you can see, Aulie played better in the second call-up, by quite a considerable margin. It wasn’t, however, his defensive game that improved, but his offensive game, and it likely helps playing next to Dion Phaneuf instead of Brett Lebda, who he played with a bunch in his first call-up. He saw tougher competition the second go round as well, just by eye-balling the head-to-head charts, although I have no way of quantifying the discrepancy as of now.

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Looking at the chart alone, the surface stats are much better. He was a minus-5 in the first call-up, but was a plus-6 in the second, despite more use in defensive situations. They gave up more shots than they created, however, and thus the final result is in the negatives, but obviously they continued to improve towards the tail end of the season. I’ve mapped out his performance in the final weeks. This is the five-game weighted average for his Fenwick number for the last six games:

As you can see, he steadily improved, before the Leafs ran into a bit of a meltdown in Game 82. He only brought it up into positive range once, but for a young defenseman, getting better from game-to-game is key in earning the trust of fans and coaches.

Keith Aulie is still but a pee-wee in NHL defenseman years. He’s only 22 and his best years lie ahead, but the progression between his first and second call-up is quite evident in both traditional and advanced methods of player evaluation. Will he mature into a positive Fenwick player next year? Perhaps. The average 22-year old defenseman was minus-0.19 rating and the average 23-year old defenseman was a .65 rating in the NHL last season.

Obviously, the success of Aulie’s plus-minus rating (and ultimately, Toronto’s success) will hinge on what sort of season James Reimer puts up in goal, but the performance numbers should trend a little bit higher the upcoming winter.

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  • The '67 Sound

    The improvement in Fenwick events was mostly driven by increased FenF. I have seen very little evidence that defencemen are capable of driving offensive possession. They are mostly valuable at limiting negative possession. As he was playing with better opposition, he was probably also playing with better players who were increasing offensive zone possession.

    I will give you that the only marginal increase in possession against is a good sign.

    Otherwise I suspect that impressions of Aulie’s improvement are much more driven by the fact the PDO during his first call up was .9038 and 1.0293 in his second call up.

  • Otherwise I suspect that impressions of Aulie’s improvement are much more driven by the fact the PDO during his first call up was .9038 and 1.0293 in his second call up.

    Good catch! That’s definitely one reason the goals for/against numbers look better.

    I think that partnering with Phaneuf over the useless Lebda helped the Fenwick numbers.

    He’s a kid that is still developing so hopefully when he inevitably struggles the mob don’t start lighting torches.