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From the Press Box: Statistically Speaking

 

Advanced hockey analytics, statistics, metrics.

We’ve heard these terms a lot lately, but what do they really mean? I definitely am not an expert. In fact—like many of you, I assume—I really couldn’t care less, well most of the time.

Corsi. SAT, what? I am involved in one of the most in-depth and complicated hockey pools I know about. We have 12 guys running teams in our pool. The pool has existed since 1993, I joined in 2000 and the founding member is still involved. We have a main team, a farm team, add drop nights, call up-send down nights, trade deadline, and so on. All told, over half of the NHL players are in our pool. It’s deep.

So are advanced stats.

This issue’s cover story dives into the potential advanced stats have and how far down the hockey world food chain they could travel. Is it an NHL fad? I know the NHL just launched their version of a public place online to see their data. But I wonder if that is a short term fix to keep their main traffic source on the site, or if they really committed to making it a part of the engagement between the fans and the teams and league. The jury is still out.

Mathew Barzal—our 2012 Minor Hockey Player of the Year in B.C. and International Scouting Service’s number 10 ranked player for the 2015 NHL Draft—may be part of the first wave of players that will spend his whole career from Midget to retirement under the scrutiny of advanced analytics.

On one hand, it all seems just too much, but although I don’t entirely get it, the geek in me digs its complexity and the possibility that if you buy in you could make an advanced “gamble” and beat out one of your competitors.

Just think about how the scouting resources that go into looking at which 13- or 14-year-old will be the next 17- or 18- or 33-year-old superstar. It boils down to the business. The smartest teams, scouts and GMs at every level will latch on to any advantage they can gain sooner than the naysayers. I personally think that seeking out any way to predict which players will become the best as age ticks along is not a bad thing, it’s a really cool thing.

Only time will really tell if advanced analytics really can deliver. One thing for sure though is that the more data that becomes available, the more I will be paying attention. My pool team, the Princeton Posse, just finished out of the playoffs for the first time in years (12 team pool, top 7 make it, I finished 10th… sadly as defending champion). With that in mind, I need all the help I can get and I will look to get it.

Mostly I hope I win our lottery and get McDavid, but who knows, the advanced stats may say Eichel or Hanifin or Strome or Provorov or someone else will be the right pick to make.

Advanced stats.

Who knew?

Tags: Memorial Cup

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