So, Tom Awad of Puck Prospectus was nice enough to give me his GVT data again, this time without me even having to ask!
Now, the data is over a week old - as of 27 December - but the day after he gave me the data, he ran with his own story that Travis linked to and we discussed here. Because of this, my delay in putting up this story was twofold: 1) I didn't want to overwhelm the board with more broad stats; and 2) I wanted to take a different approach this time since just giving the numbers was already done.
With that, I decided I would take the numbers and compare them to last year's and Puck Prospectus' VUKOTA projections.
Follow after the jump to see.Here is a nice, neat table:
|James van Riemsdyk*||3.9||0.11|
For those of you who wish to look at the full table which includes games played and a breakdown of each GVT value (offensive, defensive, and shootout), click here.
I'll try to ignore the things that Tom already said in his post, but forgive me if some of them overlap.
The slump that the Flyers were in (remember that?) reflects a great deal on these numbers since they were calculated after only their fifth win in 19 games. But Tom already covered that.
The Flyers supposed leaders - Mike Richards and Jeff Carter - had ridiculously good years last year. We already knew this, just like we knew Simon Gagne also had a great year. When you look at it on a per game basis, you see that all three were far above everybody except Brian Boucher (who's numbers come from San Jose). Even Danny Briere was a distant fourth among skaters. So when all three were projected to fall back to earth this year, it seemed completely reasonable. Richards has fallen slightly, down to what Briere did last year - which is still pretty good. Carter, on the other hand, is performing at less than half of his rate last season, while Gagne is at one third of his rate from last year. Any question of why this team isn't scoring should obviously begin with Carter (14 goals) and Gagne (5), but this is about more than just those guys.
The Flyers secondary players are also having a decline from last year, mainly Scott Hartnell - falling from 0.14 per game to merely 0.08 - and Danny Briere - cutting his number in half from 0.18 to 0.09. The fact that I just named 5 of the Flyers top-6 forwards with a decline in production (four of which are severe) should not be a surprise, just as an outsider seeing these numbers could predict the poor play of the Flyers of late.
The good news comes from the other forwards, Claude Giroux in particular. He's already matched his total of last year in five fewer games, and he's right on his per game projection. Should he stay healthy, he'll be only forward who was projected to finish the year at 1.0 or higher to actually beat his projection. Sad, but it shows that while Giroux hasn't been scoring as much, he's still a very valuable player.
Alternatively, Dan Carcillo is having quite a turnaround. Last year, he finished a -4.3 and projected to be slightly above replacement level. Well, he's 5.5 points ahead of where he was last year and is earning a full point per game more. He's on pace to finish with a 3.0 GVT, a marked improvement from his projected 0.8. The same is true of Blair Betts who sees himself rating 10 times better than last year and much better than his projection. A solid 0.06 per game sees him just behind Scott Hartnell and Simon Gagne (both at 0.08), even if those two are under performing.
Tom touched on James van Riemsdyk - and it's true that he has been largely invisible for over a month - but the fact that everyone was calling for him to get sent down because he's just not ready for the NHL yet needs to be put into context. Throughout the year, JVR has been this team's fourth best forward, just behind Jeff Carter and far ahead of Hartnell, Briere, and Gagne. Looking at it per game, the fact that he's so close to Jeff Carter should make a lot of his critics at least take a pause. While it's true that JVR has been struggling, looking at the wide image shows that he's not struggling any worse than Jeff Carter - it could even be argued that Carter is struggling more than van Riemsdyk. This doesn't mean he's as good as Carter or that he's going to maintain (let alone improve) his level of play, but rather if you are criticizing JVR, you have to at least recognize that he exceeded your expectations and focus on Carter who has been a severe disappointment.
Lastly, the remaining players are a mixed bag. David Laliberte rode his hot streak to a respectable 0.5; Darroll Powe has markedly improved to the level of just above replacement; Arron Asham is not off to a good start - GVT sees him as ineffective as Riley Cote - but we like him around here, so he's forgiven; Andreas Nodl and Mika Pyorala are having worse years than people expected, but not by much. Neither were expected to be anything special, but it's still disappointing; and Ian Laperriere's numbers are rather bad, but I already looked at him.
Pretty easy to see that most players were under-performing through that date, but hopefully they've gotten out of that slump.
When the Flyers traded for Chris Pronger, they did it for many reasons, but the biggest reason was that he's just really good at hockey and he makes his teammates better. Looking at these numbers, he's almost at his 08-09 total already while nearly doubling his per game output. The fact that he's outperforming a 50% projected improvement is just that much more impressive.
An example of Pronger impressing is the much talked about improvement of Matt Carle. Carle was good last year - enough so that he was projected to double his GVT per game this year - but no one could have expected him to quadruple his per game rate this year. While that can't all be attributed to Pronger, you have to think a large portion of it is. Still, the fact that both are playing so far above their projected outputs speaks to how they help each others games.
The second pairing of Timonen and Coburn has been written about by many people, but TImonen has largely held his own. This is something that has always been said about TImonen - you know he's going to give a great effort that goes largely unnoticed. Coburn however, has somehow managed to double his per game output. When I looked at him the other day, I concluded that he's having a worse year than last season by a rather wide margin. Yet GVT sees him as twice as effective per game this year. Hopefully I can get an answer to this from Tom.
Speaking of Tom, in his story he had some rather harsh words for those players that filled in on the third defensive pairing. But if you look at the numbers, only Ryan Parent finds himself in the negative. As I said in the comments to that link, a fair assessment is that the trio of Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Oskars Bartulis, and Danny Syvret have largely been mediocre. They make some mistakes, they don't generate much offense (although Syvret now has two goals in three games), yet they aren't a glaring problem for the team. I'd posit that the three of them are good-to-great 7th defenseman, but at least one of them is this team's 6th. Is that a problem? No. Can it be improved? Sure, but there's nothing wrong with having a replacement level player as your 6th defenseman. Ryan Parent, however, needs to pick up his game. Obviously, he's hurt now and can't, but he's had a rather disappointing season for someone who was expected to take that next step this year.
Ask anybody in Philly about the Flyers goalie situation, and you'll likely hear groans. But if you asked them during the month of December, most would probably groan and then admit that Brian Boucher wasn't the reason this team was losing. Yet the team went through three goalies and the best one according to GVT is Michael Leighton. He's three times better than he was projected to be while Brian Boucher and Ray Emery are both in the negative.
Personally, I don't read much into these rankings for many reasons:
- Michael Leighton just simply isn't this good. He's a marginal backup who had something to prove after being waived again. He got hot against bad teams, so a more accurate reflection of how good Leighton is would be his 08-09 GVT: -3. Enjoy it while it lasts.
- Ray Emery played hurt and got rocked. Everyone saw the splits right before he had surgery, and he was consistently ranked in Tom's top 10 NHL players before he got hurt. Despite his horrible strech while hurt, he's still only a -0.3 on the year. If he's healthy, Emery should be more than capable in the Flyers net.
- Whether Brian Boucher is opening the door when Emery is healthy is another question. He's currently dead last on the team in total GVT and GVT per game, yet anyone who watched the games in December would be hard pressed to find bad goals that were let in by Boucher. I chalk this number up to the team not playing for Boucher, so I largely ignore this number too.
These numbers came just as the team was getting out of their slump, so that's the first thing to note. Secondly, when the entire team is slumping, it's hard to criticize just one person.
I am honestly interested in looking at next month's numbers if the Flyers are able to take this little stretch and turn it into something bigger. That should give a better picture of what this team can do.