Bad penalty kill? Not to worry, we won’t have to see it as much

The plan today was to write a forecasting piece on James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier, and what people expect going into next season. To join in, simply reply to this tweet. It’s part forecast, part experiment. I want to get the impression of how much hockey fans value something like regression to the mean.

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But then the Maple Leafs signed Daniel Winnik and screwed up my whole day. Thanks, Kyle.

Not to worry though. I noted in Jeffler’s piece commenting on the signing that he brought up Winnik’s penalty differential, which was very positive at 17 drawn, 10 taken last season. While people comment on Winnik’s penalty killing ability, what may be as valuable is that Winnik is a player with a strong penalty drawing ability.

Toronto has been recent-historically awful in penalty killing, save that miraculous 2013 season. A year ago, the team was 24th in goals allowed per 60 minutes of time at 4-on-5. It didn’t help matters that Toronto took 16 more penalties than they had powerplay opportunities. While 16 doesn’t seem like that high of a number, assuming a powerplay success rate of 20%, the Leafs conceded about three extra goals based on penalties taken alone, which cost them a point in the standings.

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Now, I think a lot has been made about how Toronto’s taking a different focus in the bottom of the order this year. There’s no speciality third line centre. There’s no long-term contract given to some lunk of a former 20-goal scorer with heart n grit. There is simply a ragamuffin group of castoffs from the bottom of the free agency pile, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. While Vancouver chased David Booth out of town as fast as they could, Booth is a much more valuable hockey player than Colt Knorr or even Carter Ashton and should fit in marvellously on a third or fourth line.

Here’s the other thing: check out the forwards that have left the Leafs this past year, and their penalty differentials, via ExtraSkater:

Forwards OUT Drawn Taken Net
Raymond 16 10 6
Kulemin 13 12 1
McClement 11 16 -5
D’Amigo 7 0 7
Bolland 1 12 -11
TOTAL 48 50 -2

While the Leafs got rid of a couple of penalty-drawing machines like Mason Raymond and Jerry D’Amigo, the losses of Dave Bolland and Jay McClement should help out the team. (I like McClement as a player, but Randy Carlyle didn’t seem to. Randy Carlyle’s deployment of McClement probably cost Jay about a million bucks. If you happen to be McClement’s agent and reading this, I will gladly testify if you choose to file suit against Carlyle)

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Who is coming in? WELL!! Here are their numbers for penalties drawn and taken in the most recent season:

Forwards IN Drawn Taken Net
Booth 16 9 7
Frattin 13 4 9
Santorelli 9 3 6
Winnik 17 10 7
TOTAL 55 26 29

Okay, let’s get even more excited. I didn’t even count Knorr (12 drawn, 22 taken, -10) or Frazer McLaren (12 drawn, 16 taken, -4) in the OUT pile, even though any reasonable coaching staff would drastically cut their minutes by about 100%. Better still, while I didn’t count Petri Kontiola or Leo Komarov in the “IN” pile because Komarov didn’t even have a 2013-14 NHL season, Komarov had a +6 differential in the shortened 2013 campaign, tied for second among forwards (tied with Tyler Bozak) on the team.

The reason why we haven’t undersold the newbies on the Leafs is that these are all good things! Turning a -16 penalty differential into a +16 penalty differential is basically worth a free win. Yay team! Yay sports!

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Stats via ExtraSkater

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  • CashGameND

    nice article. type of thing I wouldnt even think to look into, nice to know. I really hope orr/mcclaren will be out this year. That would be a massive change in penalties taken/given, and when our PP is rolling other teams are in big trouble. PLUS the less time we’re on the PK, the more ice time our top players can get out on the ice, and less miss matching/wearing out the dmen.

  • CashGameND

    It just appears to me that with the new additions to management both Carlyle and Nonis have been put on notice that the”same old” is not good enough and I think you will see a different style of coaching this year. Hopefully that will help the players in spending less time in their own zone.

  • CashGameND

    I think this is the Leafs’ most significant acquisition this summer. I think Winnik is the guy that will replace Bolland on Carlyle’s third checking line and McClement on PK. I hope he remains healthy because, again, like last year, we don’t seem to have a guy that can step in and take over his duties.

  • CashGameND

    You would have to think that with the depth we have this year that Carlyle wouldn’t even think of putting Orr or Mclaren on the starting roster.

    Do you think that there’s a chance he still might? Keep in mind this is Randy we’re talking about.

    I like Orr, but there’s no room for him anymore and he barely even fought last year. If he’s not fighting every game, why is he there ?

  • CashGameND

    D’amigo was a better player then any of these scrubs and plugs including frattin and especially for the PK. The leafs lost another trade and are just wasting assets all over

  • CashGameND

    “While people comment on Winnik’s penalty killing ability, what may be as valuable is that Winnik is a player with a strong penalty drawing ability.”

    Why do you say silly things like this…

    Nothing could be more subjective, I’d hardly refer to that as a “skill” and to say it’s on par with penalty killing…