40 Leafs Fancy Stats Facts

Since the Leafs hired away Extra Skater’s Darryl Metcalf,
there have been plenty of new advanced stats websites popping up to help meet
our every Corsi need.  War On Ice is one
such site, providing much of the same unique information that Extra Skater once
did.  Where War On Ice has Extra Skater
and just about everyone else beat though, is that they actually provide fancy
stats dating as far back as the 2002-2003 season.

This may not mean a lot to some of you, but if you’ve been
following fancy stats for a while now you probably know that the farthest back
most advanced stats sites have gone is 2007-2008.  Heck, even Extra Skater only dated as far
back as 2011-2012. 

What’s so awesome about this extra data range that War On
Ice gives us is that for really the first time ever we can compare some of the
names of a previous era with those of today.

What I set out to do with this new data and information is
simple: take a look at the Leafs fancy stats record book and provide every cool
fact that I could find.  Without further
ado, let’s get rolling:

Note #1: Aside from facts #35 and #36, stats are only relative to other Leafs, not the rest of the league.

Note #2: For
single-season records the TOI minimum was set to 300 minutes played, and for
multiple seasons the TOI minimum was set to 1200 minutes played.

1. Let’s start off with one of the Leafs all-time
greats, Mats Sundin.  Interestingly
enough, Sundin’s puck possession numbers actually aren’t great.  In the six seasons we have access to,
Sundin’s best Corsi % was 53.07.  Meanwhile,
the same season he had those numbers (07-08), Sundin boasted his best Corsi Rel
of just 1.67.

2. Those numbers aren’t bad, but all in all it’s a
pretty underwhelming list.  Like I said,
his best Corsi Rel % in the six seasons of Sundin that we can see is 1.67.  Not bad, but not amazing either.  The thing is, he had a negative Corsi Rel in
three of these six seasons, boasting a pretty poor -5.24CF% as his lowest mark
in 02-03.

3. That season, Sundin’s Corsi % was 45.10.  The year after that his Corsi % was 50.06,
but his Corsi Rel was -2.41.  Sundin’s
Corsi % was back below 50 after the lockout, but he didn’t have a negative Rel
as a Leaf past the 2004 season.  His
third negative Corsi Rel season came in his year with the Canucks.

4. Now, I’m really not trying to bash Sundin here.  The guy was a hero.  And, as the underlying numbers also show, he
played some tough minutes.  Between the 02-03
and the 05-06 season, Sundin never had an Offensive Zone Start % higher than
48.38.  And to go along with that, Sundin
actually has the two highest TOI Competition % numbers in the 11+ Leafs seasons
we can see.  Third and fourth on that
list is Dion Phaneuf in his last two seasons.

5. Unsurprisingly, Phaneuf also holds the record
for highest Corsi Competition % in a single Leafs season since the 02-03
campaign.  He also shows up 6th
on the list.  In fact, each of the top 6
hardest Corsi Competition %s come from either the 12-13 or the 13-14 season.

6. 10th on that list is Paul Healey, a
name that a lot of people might forget. 
Healey only played 65 combined games as a Leaf spread over two years,
but he’s interesting because he actually shows up among the highest in a few
single-season Leafs categories. 

7. Healey ranks first in Team Goal % Rel (21.06)
and T-1st in Team Goal % with Chad Kilger (70.00).  However, as you might expect, he also comes
in with the 2nd highest PDO (106.95).  Each of these came in the 02-03 season.

8. There’s another Leaf that shows up top 3 in each
of these categories as well: Nazem Kadri. 
Kadri ranks 3rd in both Team Goal % Rel (17.85) and Team Goal
% (64.52).  Where Kadri really shines in
the Leafs fancy stats record book is his PDO in the lockout-shortened
season.  While Healey came in 2nd
with a 106.95, Kadri takes the cake by a mile with a PDO of 108.17.  That really puts into perspective just how
high Kadri’s on-ice shooting/save % numbers were that year.

9. While we’re on the subject of recent Leaf
trends, I’ve got a crazy stat for you.  I
mentioned already how each of the 6 highest Corsi Competition % numbers came in
the last two seasons.  Well, get this: 17
of the 18 lowest Offensive Zone Start %s came from the last two seasons as well.  That really shines a light on how crazy awful
the Leafs have been under Carlyle from an advanced stats perspective.

10. By the way, the lone wolf that wasn’t (well,
mostly) a Carlyle product in the 18 lowest Offensive Zone Start %s?  David Steckel, 7th lowest at
37.48% in 11-12.

11. Former Leafs head coach Ron Wilson was a big
David Steckel fan, relying heavily on his faceoff ability in defensive
situations as well as on the powerplay. 
When I was doing my research for this piece, it was really evident when
you were looking at players from either a Randy Carlyle team or a Ron Wilson
team.

12. Where Carlyle’s teams frequently rank at the top
of some of the unwanted categories, Ron Wilson’s teams are equally dominant in
the good stuff.  For example, just 4 of
the top 20 highest Corsi %s in the last 11 seasons by the Leafs were not from Ron Wilson.

13. As you might expect, the top 4 in Leafs Corsi
Rel %, in order, goes: Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Clarke MacArthur,
Mikhail Grabovski.  Something I didn’t
know though is that Alexei Ponikarovsky ranked pretty darn high in some of
these categories too.

14. Ponikarovsky shows up 3 times in the top 11
Corsi Rel %s.  Where he really takes the
cake though is plain old Corsi %: he’s got 3 of the 4 highest Corsi % seasons.

15. The list of most of the highest Corsi %s isn’t
very surprising.  You see guys like
Ponikarovsky, Grabovski, Ian White, Lee Stempniak, and Tomas Kaberle.  The weirdest name by far on this list is Mike
Komisarek, who shows up 6th overall with a 55.11% Corsi in his
injury-shortened 09-10 season.

16. The tops of these lists are so flooded with
recent players as the Leafs have been at two ends of the advanced stats extreme
under both Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle. 
One much older name that shows up near the top of these categories is
Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk, who sits 11th in Leafs single-season
Corsi % at 54.76.

17. It’s really interesting to see the fancy stats
numbers of some of the Leafs of old, as until recently we could only see as far
back as the 07-08 season.  For this
reason I decided to look at the cumulative Leaf careers between the seasons
02-03 and 06-07 (the seasons we previously didn’t have access to).  Here’s some of what I found.

18. Some notable Leafs with a low Fenwick include:
Eric Lindros (42.73%), Jason Allison (46.45%), Tie Domi (46.70%), Alexander
Mogilny (47.05%), and Darcy Tucker (47.74%).

19. Some other Leafs below the 50% mark in Fenwick:
Michael Peca, Bryan McCabe, and Shayne Corson.

20. Of these Leafs, the ones with a cumulative
Offensive Zone Start % below 50 include: Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, Darcy
Tucker, and Shayne Corson.  So those guys
at least were playing tougher minutes.

21. Another interesting name that shows up in this
data range as having an Offensive Zone Start % below 50?  Alex Steen.

22. Steen played 156 games as a Leaf in the 05-06
and 06-07 seasons, with an Offensive Zone Start % of 49.34.  He was just 23 by the end of his second
season as a Leaf, the youngest player for the Leafs at this time that had an
Offensive Zone Start % below 50 by 3
years
.  So, you can start to see
using advanced stats that there was always something there with Alex Steen.  The next youngest player that fits these
criteria by the way was Ric Jackman, who was 26 at the time of his final game
as a Leaf.

23. The Leafs with a Fenwick above 50% between the
02-03 and 06-07 seasons includes most of the guys you’d expect: Mats Sundin,
Gary Roberts, Owen Nolan, Jeff O’Neill, Alex Steen, Nik Antropov, Joe
Nieuwendyk.  The list goes on.  The Leaf with the highest Fenwick over this
time?  Ian White, 55.95%.

24. So what happens when we expand the cumulative
range all the way from 02-03 to present day? 
Unsurprisingly, you get a lot of Leafs that played under Paul Maurice,
Ron Wilson, or both.  The top 10 Fenwicks,
in order: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ian White, Jason Blake, Kyle Wellwood, Nik
Antropov, Nik Hagman, Jeff O’Neill, Carlo Coliacovo, Matt Stajan, and Mikael
Renberg.

25. By the way, if you’re surprised at the lack of
Mikhail Grabovski on that list, he comes in 11th (but 3rd
in Fenwick Rel).

26. Three current Leafs come top ten in Leafs
Fenwick Rel %: Nazem Kadri (4th), Jake Gardiner (8th),
and Cody Franson (9th).

27. As you’d expect, 10 of the 11 worst Fenwicks
over each of the last 11 seasons are Randy Carlyle-era.  The lone wolf is Wade Belak’s 45.82%.

28. The worst 2 Leaf Fenwicks over this time belong
to Jay McClement and Colton Orr, who amazingly also rank 1-2 in lowest Relative
Fenwick.  Jeff Finger, Wade Belak, and
Chad Kilger round out the top (or bottom) 5.

29. Probably the most surprising name among the low
Relative Fenwicks for the Leafs is Bryan McCabe (-1.65).  McCabe was a scapegoat of sorts during his
time in Toronto, but in retrospect most have come to admit he was actually
pretty good.  Maybe the reality lies
somewhere in the middle.

30. Some more cumulative numbers: Colton Orr and
Wade Belak also rank 1-2 with the easiest TOI Competition %s.  So not only were they bad possession players
but they were really sheltered too.  In
fact, Orr also ranks 1st in easiest Corsi Competition %.  I guess the moral of the story is that Colton
Orr is just plain bad.

31. Six Leafs rank top 10 in both toughest TOI Competition % and Corsi Competition %: Dion
Phaneuf, James van Riemsdyk, Carl Gunnarsson, Nikolai Kulemin, Mikael Renberg,
and Owen Nolan.

32. Of those 6, 4 also rank top 10 in lowest
Offensive Zone Start %.  Surprise,
surprise, they are the 4 Randy Carlyle-era Leafs from that list (Phaneuf, van
Riemsdyk, Gunnarsson, and Kulemin).

33. By the way, those three current Leafs that come
top ten in Fenwick Rel % (Kadri, Gardiner, and Franson) are even more
impressive when you consider each do no better than have the 12th
lowest Offensive Zone Start % of any Leaf over the last 11 seasons (especially
impressive is Franson who comes 4th-lowest).

34. Going back to another stat where I talked about
how Jay McClement and Colton Orr are essentially the Leafs two worst possession
players of the fancy stats era, Jay McClement takes the cake of any Leaf by a
country mile in low Offensive Zone Start %s with a 28.35%.  That is the lowest by a whopping 15.05% (Joey
Crabb comes 2nd-lowest at 43.40%).

35. I wanted to focus solely on the Leafs for this
piece, but McClement’s offensive zone starts are so low that I wanted to see
where he compares with the rest of the league over 11 seasons.  McClement only ranks 13th-lowest
with a 36.45 Offensive Zone Start % when you include his other seasons in the
league (which gives you an idea of just how much he was buried in Toronto), but
what I found especially interesting was who came lowest in the league over this
stretch: former Leaf Dave Andreychuk.

36. Granted, Andreychuk only accumulates two seasons
in this sample, but over 187 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 02-03 and
03-04, his Offensive Zone Start % was a crazy low 27.38.  That’s the lowest by 5.45%.  What’s maybe more impressive is he still tallied
73 points over this span.

37. Speaking of faceoffs, let’s go back to a
single-season, Leafs-only sample.  Guess
who ranks both 1st and 2nd in total faceoffs won for a
season?  No, it’s not Tyler Bozak, whose
name shows up 3 times in the top 9. 
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s our old friend Mats Sundin.  By the way, each of Sundin’s 5 seasons as a
Leaf in our data range come top 12 in total faceoffs won.

38. Another category Sundin ranks really well in,
and this should come as no surprise, is Points Per 60.  Sundin ranks 2nd in cumulative
Points Per 60 with 2.89.  Phil Kessel
comes in 3rd at 2.71.  First
place?  Alexander Mogilny, 2.94 Points
Per 60 over 100 games as a Leaf.

39. Oh yeah, 4th on that list is none
other than Kyle Wellwood with a 2.64.  Wellwood
and Sundin also rank among the tops in cumulative Team Goal % Rel (Wellwood comes
1st with a 12.45 over 188 games as a Leaf, Sundin in 2nd with
a 12.22 over 364 games as a Leaf).  In
fact, Wellwood and Sundin are pretty much alone at the top of this
category.  3rd-place Gary
Roberts was a full 2.08% lower than Sundin, with a 10.14 over 86 games.

40. Speaking of domination in Team Goal % Rel, what
better way to end this article than with a random Korbinian Holzer stat?  Going back to single-season records, Korbinian
Holzer’s -33.49 Team Goal % Rel in the lockout-shortened season is a full 8.65%
lower than Ric Jackman’s -24.84 in 02/03, and a full 15.90% worse than 4th-place
Mike Brown in 11/12.  Yeah, that’s pretty
bad.

  • BubbaLou

    The neat thing about Corsi and Fenwick is that if you have insomia you can start reading these stats and poof you are in dreamsville actually dreaming the leafs are in the playoffs.

    On a serious vain I would love the author to tell us how Jake Gardiner had another of his powerful possession games but was the worst leaf on the ice in their defeat to Boston. Please answer for me if the gee whiz stat geeks have a stat of say I’m hearing a bruising forward coming my way, so I’ll move out of the way and lose the puck, which Gardiner is a master of. Do you have a stat of caught out of position near your goal or screening your goalie a la Captain Dion Phaneuf.

    Or how about skaing from your goal line all the way to the opposition’s blue line and coughing up the puck and thus creating a 2 on 1.

    Or how about a stat which we could call the Kessel stat, you know you lose the puck and you slowly trail the guy who took the puck from you and you give him a love tap with your stick on his skate and watch a Krejci pull away and put the puck in on a rebound. How about pages and pages of that type of stat. Come on get with the real stats that leaf fans want to see.

    • BubbaLou

      How about stats like “number of times Tyler Bozak was nowhere to be seen and forced someone to try to cover his man as well as their own”? That seems like a fun stat.

      • Wes

        Exactly my friend. It is the most important stats that these gee whiz kids will never be able to analyse, namely, heart, passion and leadership. I’m sure if you had two players you were considering in a certain round of a draft. The Corsi and Fenwick fanatics would obviously choose the guy who had better stats in these areas. Now just suppose the other guy who didn’t fair so well on some of the stats but was the team captain of his junior team. I would be drafting Gallagher or Lucic who were both Vancouver Giant captains right under the nose of the Vancouver Canucks.

        But heh if it is what gives the gee whiz stat geeks their jollies, who am I to deny them their pleasure. JUST DON’T SCREW UP MY TEAM ANY WORSE THAN IT IS.

  • jimithy

    Statistically, these statistics prove beyond a doubt, that reality is not their strong point. Reality is not black and white, or blue and white if we consider the Leafs. The amount of time it takes a Leaf player to glide into the opposing teams’ zone with no idea of what to do, divided by the time the same player pushes off with his/her left skate while looking to the right before being creamed into the boards, equals the number of times Kessel will circle the perimeter before heading to the bench for a rest. Look it up. But, all of that analysis does not explain nor does it offer any clue to the final score of the game. Only that feeling in your gut can do that. And that feeling is always correct. The Leafs suck.

  • CMpuck

    Thank you for the analysis. I think one of the things lost in the advanced stats is how to properly utilize them in a conversation. Using them along with the eye test provides us the most rounded analysis of a player’s abilities versus the roles they are being utilized in.

    The eye test can tell us the extraordinary things individuals are capable of in an instant. The advanced stats allow us to “look under the hood” of the game in regards to how players are being utilized in roles and competition.

    I think the most shocking thing to come out of this is how historically buried McClement was and that Mats Sundin was a really darn good hockey player. A few years, he had negative possession, but also played against difficult competition.

    Advanced stats aren’t around to prove who the best player is. That’s a subjective argument, hence why the debate continues on. Advanced stats are around to provide you a more rounded idea of how a professional is being used and if that role is proper for them or not. No singular stat will ever encompass watching Kessel’s shot against the Islanders that violated space and time. Sure, maybe in the future, the combination of release speed and speed of shot may give a number, but that’s why we watch.

    Thanks again!

  • Chillin24seven

    I don’t pay any attention to Ron Wilson’s Corsi stats. Corsi is only shot attempts and not quality of shots. Under Wilson they took a lot of low percentage shots because “Alex Ovechkin shoots from anywhere so my whole team should do that.” Nevermind he has one of the best shots/releases in the game and that’s why it works for him. I like fancy stats but at the same time believe that you should be trying to score with every shot you take. No point in ‘softening’ up the other team throw haymakers.

    The other thing that bothers me about the fancy stat thing is this idea that dumping and chasing is bad. I know the stats are going to say controlled entry is better and I agree but don’t force it. Take what is given don’t force something and have turnovers at the offensive blueline at least make them come 200ft and get through 5 guys.

  • CMpuck

    Something I don’t get (the person getting mad at this post, I get you’re smarter than me) is that JVR-Bozak-Kessel score goals off the rush doesn’t that entail that the possession and/or shot attempts get sacrificed in favor of better quality scoring chances?

    It reads to me that ‘good hockey’ from the AS crowd how long you can cycle. Now Sundin bad in hindsight? Shouldn’t Poni-Sundin-Antropov being the advanced stats crowd’s wet dream when they mucked around in the corners for minutes on end, they just didn’t score all that often, again Poni five shots/terrible scoring chances, putting it on net for the sake of putting it on net help his corsi? Is Poni > Kessel. AS seems to fetishize certain talents and dismiss others.

  • CMpuck

    I watched an old oiler and flames game on sports net tonight. Messier, Gilmour, Roberts, etc and they all just work hard and would go through a wall to win. Can Corsi do that? Not bashing anyone here but that old hockey, hooking, holding, fighting and all was fun to watch. Great speed skaters now but some heart is gone.

  • CMpuck

    Advanced stats are great but they cant help when you have no clue how to build a team. Thats the one thing MLSE doesnt have a clue about, individual pieces win you nothing, anybody who watches Edmonton can tell you that.

    our offense is built according to the NBA NY KNICKS model…. throw money at whatever high priced free agent you can and hope it sticks, forget about whether its a cohesive piece that will be conducive to a team concept, just throw them in a bowl and pray

    We have Kessel who has no idea how to spell backcheck let alone do it. but as long as he gets his 35 Goals he’s happy… Kadri sees That and he says as long as I get mine who cares if i improve. Poor Bozak. he works so hard but he’s an overacheiver, who is in over his head as a 1st line center and should be on the 3rd line, where he’d be above average. Hell the Islanders actually may have 4 better centers than our best in Tavares, Nelson, Strome, and Neilsen. why doesnt MLSE Tank for McDavid or Eichel?

    At least we’d have hope of eventually having a real center sometime this decade. our Defense is a mishmash of promising talents behind a guy who plays hard but isnt worth his contract and isnt the type to mentor Rielly or Gardiner so we go nowhere, yet as long as MLSE sells out its All good

    like I say Im all for advanced Stats. but until someone at the top has a brain and a clue they wont help. maybe if we add pictures they might follow along at least

  • CMpuck

    This is proof that Grabovski is the best leaf centre ever. Grabovski never got much of a chance with Carlyle.

    And your data shows clearly that Sundin is really not that great. Grabovski managed to put up respectable numbers with a toaster challenged coach. Just imagine if Sundin played for Carlyle and he might even make Bozak look decent.

    The poor leafs without Grabovski – I think I’m going to take my marbles in a big bad huff and start cheering for a franchise like the islanders.

  • CMpuck

    Really disheartened by the number of people who are scared off by all the “math”… if you can wrap your head around Save%, Shooting% or even GAA then you can certainly understand stats like Corsi and Fenwick if you spend about 5 minutes figuring it out. If you passed grade 8 math you should be OK.

    I also see a desire for stats that measure lazy plays, screening your own goalie, coasting to the bench etc. You can measure those things all you want. Possession stats measure those things by proxy. Bad, lazy players will inevitably give up more shot attempts than are generated while they are on the ice. Pretty simple.

    Using these “fancy stats” (which really are not very fancy) is no more “hocus pocus” than trying to ascribe a losing streak to a lack of “leadership” or “compete level”.

    • BubbaLou

      Pretty much this. It’s not actually that “fancy” to suggest a team that gets outshot all 60 at the NHL level will have a harder time winning games. Especially at the NHL level, where most (if not all) shots have danger in them and the game (and coaches) demand a level of quality in the shots.

      Yeah a team that cycles, but only manages to blast lots of poor shots gets their Corsi padded… but their shooting% gets nuked, by extension PDO gets a hit because it uses SH%, there are no goals so no one gets points – P/60 drops, and there’s literally nothing stopping anyone from making the case that “they just wailed away all evening with bad shots – look at how many they took!” and have that stick to the conclusion.

      On the ‘inability’ to measure heart, passion, compete, leadership. Hard to conclude player x does or doesn’t if you’ve never met them, aren’t in the locker room all season. Maybe he’s playing injured that night and watching hockey for the first time that week you say “Look at that slug on the ice, he has no heart for hockey”. Not only would you walk away with a wrong conclusion, but what a shame because his ‘passion’ ignored the team doctors as he toughs it out though an injury to ‘compete’! You might even want to trade him after seeing one game, and that’s ridiculous.

      My stance on intangibles is that it should make you a better hockey player to have them. If we’re in agreement there, it should therefore show up on the scoreboard, or on a stat sheet, otherwise it’s not impactful enough to matter (or we really are just making it up). Do you have the Motor Mouth of the Gods on the bench – should help penalties drawn vs taken. Do you bring it every night – you should see consistency with your role over time. Are you good in the clutch – 3rd period stats, CorsiClose (Corsi when the score is tied or +1/-1 goal), maybe more game winning goals than anyone else on the team? Do you have heart and grit and toughness – hits, steals, low turnovers, long shift time, are you playing injured, maybe you cycle better and so your zone time and Corsi looks good.

      Nothing about this is magical, but there’s a desire by some to treat it like it is because it’s more familiar to talk about things that can’t be quantified. It is however, probably a bad idea to run a hockey club without some department of nerds keeping track of this stuff for you.