Friday, August 31, 2012

My thoughts on this whole Eberle signing business

          Jordan Eberle signed a 6 year, $36M contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers yesterday and the reaction among fans has been mixed. Eberle is as much of a folk-hero as a 22 year old hockey player in Edmonton can be in 2012 with some of the most famous goals in World Junior Hockey Championship history (, a successful rookie season (, and a sophomore effort that placed him tied for 15th in NHL scoring . 

          These are rare heights for an Edmonton Oiler (since Mark Messier was traded in 1991, who have we had: Doug Weight and Ales Hemsky?) but many writers have shown that Eberle’s 2011/2012 season needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt. While Eberle is clearly a bonafide offensive producer at the NHL level, his goal totals last season came riding the wave of an absolutely monstrous shooting percentage (as shown by Mudcrutch here, here and here). Tyler’s look at shooting percentages (and most notably, shooting percentage regression) has led him to the conclusion that Jordan Eberle can be counted on for just 55-60 pts for the duration of his contract.

          Tyler generally produces excellent work and I can’t help but agree with him when he says “I’d be a lot more surprised if he broke 70 points without a significant improvement in his Corsi or shot numbers.” It is clear that we can’t expect Eberle to score once for every five of his shots for the next 7 years. Jonathan Willis has chimed in as well of course and his conclusion after writing this is that 13.6% is likely a more reasonable target. To follow through on this suggestion, Willis has predicted we can expect Eberle to be a 26 goal player. Not bad, but is this worth $6M per season?

          The one thing I want to do is attempt to quantify the natural improvement of a younger player. I’m not talking about intangible or fluffy “he is young so 34G this year means 40 forever” sort of stuff – all I want to see is someone taking a thorough run at predicting how many more shots Eberle might be able to generate year over year. After all, he is just 22 years old and I think it’s safe to say he hasn’t topped out in terms of driving possession as an NHL player. Coming right up: my (limited) attempt to address exactly this point.

What did I do? I took a look at the 25 forwards born between 1987 and 1989 who:
  1. Played 3 or more seasons in the NHL
  2. Scored at 0.5 pts/game or better
  3. Took shots
 (click to enlarge)

One note: I considered a player’s “1st” season to be one in which he played at least half the games. If a player got hurt in year 2 or 3 (Max Pacioretty, for example) I left him on my list.
All I did was count games played and shots taken, then look to see if players were shooting more year over year. Have a look at the data below. Players are sorted in terms of points per game.

Some observations:
  1. The majority of players on this list generated more shots each season. To be specific, 20/25 improved their shooting rates between seasons 1 and 2 while 17/25 improved their shooting rates between seasons 2 and 3. Great.
  2. In seasons 1, 2, and 3, the players on this list took an average of 1.98, 2.33, and 2.46 shots per game. Over an 82 game season, this would result in a 28.7 shot improvement in a player’s 2nd season and a 10.7 shot improvement in his 3rd season. That’s not a whole lot, is it? For a 13.6% shooter, that’s just 4 goals from season 1 to 2 and less than 2 goals from season 2 to 3.
  3. Jordan Eberle took more shots than average when compared to the rest of these players as a rookie and about the same number of shots as average in his sophomore season. What about season 3?
    • If he takes this group’s average of 2.46 shots per game over 82 games, he’ll take 202 shots. If he shoots at 13.6%, that’s about 27 goals
    • If he increases his shot totals by exactly the same amount from season 2 to 3 as he did from season 1 to 2, that’s only 2.33 shots per game. Over 82 games, that’s 191 shots and shooting at 13.6% that’s almost exactly 26 goals.
  4. Sam Gagner actually shows wonderfully in terms of shot generation (1.71, 2.05, and 2.50 shots per game each season). Did the wave of good luck in his rookie season damn him in terms of fan expectations or what? Will that be Eberle in 3 years?

          I’ll get into the (many) limitations of what I’ve done in a second but I should say that I’m honestly disappointed by what I’ve found. When Tyler and others have harped on about shooting percentage regression, I’ve always been of the mind that increases in shot-taking would make up for some or most of it – IE sure, Eberle would probably hit a few more posts but he’d be shooting so much more that 35G would probably still be a reasonable prediction. Now, I’m obviously quite a bit less convinced. Is $6M per season good value for a 30G / 30A player? I suppose that’s the next question.

Obviously, my quick take has some limitations so I’ll point out the ones I can think of:
  1. It does not take context into account. I have not sorted for PP/EV goals, icetime, or quality of teammates/competition. Some of these guys may have had changes in role which affected their shot generation.
  2. 25 players is not a huge list.
  3. It does not look at improvement or decline over a player’s career. This is the big one: if shot generation improves every year from 22-28, Eberle’s deal looks better and better. If it plateaus early on, then $6M/year for a 30G/30A is kind of a “what you see is what you get” sort of contract. In terms of % cap hit, I’m sure this is a different case but I bet there are a lot of fans who think Eberle’s contract is great for Edmonton that were more than happy to see Smyth go to Long Island way back when.
So: thoughts? What else did I miss? Has anyone else been curious about this same question? How do I get a better answer? (etc.) Anyhow, have a great weekend everybody. It’s beer time here in Winnipeg.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

At some point I need to build a front end for this site, to make it more accessible.

I write this because I'm looking for volunteers. It's not easy to get data from there, as you know. You have to be a hardcore fan to even bother trying to learn the URLs. Despite that there is a lot of traffic and it's growing, hockey math is taking off. And though I may regret thinking it ... maybe we should make it easier on folks.

If you have the requisite skills, or would like to volunteer a 'How To' or FAQ page ... this would be the place to do it. Just chime in below.

That said, I'm happy to leave it as it is.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Scoring Chance App

If you plan on recording scoring chances this season, you can use this app to help you do it.

I have tested it on one pre-season match (game number 10095, EDM at VAN) and it looks to be working. If there are any problems, please let me know in the comments here. I'll check in every now and again and will try to address any problems as soon as I can.

Huge props to all the folks who've been logging scoring chances. It's great stuff, and has done more to further Internet hockey conversation than anything else out there.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Good Television

For well over a decade I've relied on Internet hockey fans to tell me what TV shows and films are worth watching. I know there isn't a causal link between good hockey talk and a sharp eye for quality drama, but it's worked so far. From Arrested Development, Cranivale and Curb Your Enthusiam through to The Wire, Breaking Bad and Community ... you cats have rarely let me down.

So an open question to anyone who still stops by this abandoned blog ... what's worth watching?

Breaking Bad has me hooked, though I'd advise against watching more than one episode a week if you buy DVDs. The protagonists are just too frustrating. Parks and Recreation may well be the most underrated comedy ever produced, and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia continues to push boundaries for the sake of it. No show is more likely to make you laugh until you cry.

On the film front, I'm ten years behind with the zombie film craze, but they're awesome. The Resident Evil series was hammered by critics, I don't know why, they are all great. 28 Days is the benchmark, though. And there are a raft of terrific independent films out there as well, reminiscent of the character driven movies of the 70s.

Any road, what is good?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I will likely be interviewing... of these two men in the near future. Which is cool.

Unfortunately for the Oiler fan in me, it won't be the guy with the "C" on his jersey. Which is, of course, less cool.

What would you ask Theo Fleury?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


What's everyone watching on TV lately?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 Game by Game Shots and Faceoff Data

The scripts have been updated for this season. The data is for even strength (EV) play only, both 5v5 and 4v4, but only when both goalies are on the ice.

By way of example, Florida vs Edmonton from the other night:

Eeps! The Oilers were a bit fortunate to get the win in that one.

Friday, October 08, 2010 Head to Head Ice Time and Shift Charts

They have been updated for this season.

Once again, if there are problems with either app please let me know in the comments section of this post.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Scoring Chance App

A couple of years ago I wrote a small scoring chance app for Dennis King. This was done to make life easier for him. Last year several people used this app to record the scoring chances in hundreds of NHL hockey games. It has been updated to record this season's games, and can be found here.

The team needs to be selected from a drop down menu. This generates a form where the user inputs the five digit NHL game number as well as all of the individual scoring chances, and the time they occurred.

The output is the set of tables that Dennis uses in his posts. Like this one.

Occasionally this script fails due to inconsistent formatting of the data sheets. If anyone experiences such difficulties with this app, please leave a comment in this thread. I'll check in here from time to time throughout the season and attempt to fix any problems if and when they occur.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Indefinite Hiatus

Hey everyone,

I'm not sure if you've noticed but it's been a long time since I posted anything of legitimate quality here or in other places in our wonderful little Oilogosphere. Sure there's been a drunk rant or two and I'd be happy to tell you the amusing story behind how Milla and I came to fall so madly in love for 5 minutes and then never talk to each other again (and the restraining order that followed it?) but the truth is this: ever since I accepted a particular amazing-but-life-eating job in May, I have been a lot less engaged in the community you fine folks have created.

Reading my favourite Oiler blogs is still a valuable part of my downtime so I will still appreciate the fine work so many of you create. Thank you for doing what you do, and I wish nothing but the finest of beer and the leggiest of women upon you all. Unless you are a woman, in which case I wish those same things upon you but also a photographer.