• Backstrom, 05-06 Oilers and the Hart

    by Tyler Dellow • May 16, 2010 • Uncategorized • 41 Comments

    There was a fine debate in the comments a few posts back about where Backstrom’s salary ends up. I said:

    I would expect that Backstrom comes in at somewhere between $7.5MM and $8.25MM annually on a five year deal.

    Rajeev said:

    If the Caps were willing to do that, the contract would have been signed and announced long ago. That contract is simply not happening.

    Since the time the parties started negotiating (sometime in the fall is our best guess), Backstrom’s play, the effects of OV notwithstanding (which I think everyone on the planet realizes that his numbers are inflated playing with OV), has certainly upped the ante from the 6M x 6yrs the Caps probably initially optimistically penciled him in at before the season, but I imagine they’re still thinking just south of 7M on a 5-7 year deal, and closer to 6.5 on a long term deal (10-13 years) that is heavily front loaded and provides good present value financial return to Backy and a nice cap hit for the team.

    Rajeev’s position sounds so damned reasonable but I just cannot believe that Backstrom comes in at under $7MM annually. Here’s the scoring leaders amongst players who’ve played their first three years in the post-lockout era, sorted by points/game:

    fuckyoupayme

    Backstrom also has some clear separation between his third season and Patrick Kane’s third season in terms of points/game. A situation in which he ends up below $7MM annually would require (1) Caps management to be aware that the Eastern Conference is sort of like Peewee House to the Western Conference’s Peewee Rep, (2) Caps management to have learned from the Nylander fiasco, (3) Backstrom to be unusually perceptive with respect to why he scores like he scores and (4) Backstrom being willing to take less than fair market value (which, as mentioned in previous posts), I think is probably inflated in this case.

    It looks like we get our answer at 10:30 a.m. on Monday when the Caps make an announcement that is expected to be about a new deal for Backstrom. Feel free to chime in in the comments – will Rajeev’s belief in the best of human nature and the capacity of Caps management to accurately value Backstrom carry the day or is my cynical view that Backstrom will want to get paid and that management groups are terrible at accurately assessing player value right?

    * * *

    BRIdub writes:

    I wonder how [the Caps-Habs] series compares to the Oilers’ upset of the wings in ‘06. As I recall they were outshot horribly, in game 3 if I’m not mistaken Det. had 60 shots or something and again, all the talk was about how Roli ’stole’ the series and the Oilers brilliance in keeping the shots to the outside and scoring chances down and how Datsyuk was a playoff choke artist. It basically strikes me as an identical situation. Of course Detroit went on to win the cup later with a new coach and new old goalie.

    I have most of that series indelibly burned into my brain – I was talking to an ex-girlfriend the other night, who I blame for the Oilers’ ultimate loss in the finals because she came to my place to watch G6 against Detroit and left after the second and then left before overtime in G5 of the finals. We somehow got to discussing those playoffs and I pointed out that, in retrospect, I probably should have demanded that she leave the bar before the third period of G7. She was stunned that I remembered this.

    In any event, I like the comparison. Gabe threw up a post the other day on first round playoff Corsi percentages by score. I went and checked for the Oilers-Wings series. When Edmonton was trailing by 1, they had 45.9% of the Corsi events. When tied, they had 39.7% of the Corsi events. When the Oilers were up by 1, they had 32.3% of the Corsi events.

    I’ve never been entirely sure of the extent to which MacT implemented some brilliant strategy to force shots from the outside though. The average EDM ES shot on goal in that series was taken from 34.5 feet from the net; the average Wings shot from 36.5 feet from the net. That doesn’t seem like a particularly huge difference to me over the course of a short series. The media seemed stunned to see the Oilers trap at the time, which didn’t make any sense to me as they’d done it before. The Wings outshot everyone that year, taking 56.3% of the shots taken in their games. They probably didn’t spend nearly as much time trailing (with the concomitant effect on shooting) during the regular season as they did during the regular season. For what it’s worth, Detroit took 55.8% of the ES shots taken in the regular season games between Edmonton and Detroit in 2005-06. The plan of giving Detroit an overwhelming advantage in ES shots didn’t just appear when the playoffs started.

    It also bears mentioning, I think, that I think Detroit was a heck of a lot better than Washington and Edmonton a lot better than Montreal. The ass-kicking in terms of shots might be similar but any comparison of the 2010 Habs to the 2006 Oilers needs to account for that.

    * * *

    Given the opportunity for At the risk of piling on, the Canucks elimination from the playoffs provides an opportunity for comment on Henrik Sedin’s season that I thought I’d take. The NHL announced during the first round that Sedin had been nominated for the Hart Trophy. He’s also been nominated for the Ted Lindsay award. In both cases, he’s up against Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

    There’s a line of thought that Sedin should receive some extra credit for playing in the Western Conference instead of AAA in the East. While I buy into this, it seems to me that there’s a more fundamental issue with his candidacy – namely, the extent to which it was fuelled by luck and the value that Henrik’s second assists add.

    Hart1 Here are the ES numbers for the nominees this year. Henrik basically won the Art Ross Trophy on the back of his ES scoring – he finished 11 ES points up on Crosby and 10 up on Ovechkin. He finished three points ahead of each of them in the scoring race. His candidacy in the Hart voting is, I would suspect, largely based on having won the Art Ross.

    As you can see from the table though, the on-ice shooting percentage for Henrik was significantly higher than it was for Ovechkin or Crosby. If you bring them all to Ovechkin’s on-ice shooting percentage, Henrik’s ES scoring falls dramatically. There are a couple of schools of thought here – what happened, happened and whether those goals were lucky or not doesn’t matter. I’m of the other school of thought – if you’re giving an award to “the player adjudged to be most valuable to his team”, well it seems to me that you’re sort of obliged to try and figure the extent to which luck factored in. If two players produce the same results but, in the case of Player “A”, it was 80% skill, 20% luck and in the case of player B, it was 60% skill and 40% luck…well, Player “A” seems like the more valuable player to me.

    I don’t have a vote, but if I did, it’d be for Crosby. He played with lesser players than the other two, played tougher minutes and the only reason he didn’t have the points is because his on-ice shooting percentage was lower. He seems to be the obvious choice to me.

    About Tyler Dellow

    41 Responses to Backstrom, 05-06 Oilers and the Hart

    1. May 16, 2010 at

      I picked Sedin, but not with any great confidence. The fact he had 21 more points than any player in his conference said something to me.

      Miller was another strong candidate I thought.

    2. May 16, 2010 at

      Rajeev’s belief in the best of human nature

      Hah! Me or my beliefs have never been described like that, but I’ll take it in the context of this negotiation. I’m pretty interested to see what happens obviously. I don’t think the Nylander situation has any relevance to the current situation – signing a UFA to add to a terrible team where the GM and coach don’t really know what they have yet and are just trying to sniff at the playoffs is a pretty different situation to resigning an RFA where you’re trying to go from President to Stanley Cup and you know exactly what you have at basically every position in the organization. (And I don’t think the Nylander situation was really much of a “fiasco.”) But I’ll agree that the other 3 factors are certainly relevant and I think the appropriate parties understand them all. Also, how could getting to score goals like this, in a playoff game no less, not count for at least a couple 100k a year:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_IP2IdICtU

    3. imkinger
      May 16, 2010 at

      Tyler:

      A few days ago there was a popular post on HF about how Vancouver should follow the Montreal ‘model’ of recruiting players with Stanley Cup experience (the signing of Gionta, Gomez, Gill). Basically one of the reasons for the team’s failure was that they didn’t have enough guys that had played in the ‘big game’ (Samuelsson being the only player with SCF experience). Next thing I know I see this headline up on TSN:

      “GILLIS: CANUCKS NEED PLAYERS WITH PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE”

      With this great quote inside:

      “Gillis says what the Canucks need now is some veteran experience for the playoffs. He also wants to see some of the younger players in the Canuck organization begin pushing the veterans for jobs.”

      I think he’s taking the piss out of the Vancouver fanbase, you?

    4. May 16, 2010 at

      I think Gillis should be looking for better players. How many Blackhawks have extensive playoff experience? Hossa. Madden. Campbell. Sopel. Ladd, maybe?

    5. R O
      May 16, 2010 at

      The fact he had 21 more points than any player in his conference said something to me.

      What did it say to you?

    6. R O
      May 16, 2010 at

      Miller was another strong candidate I thought.

      Wins, right Mirtle?

      Or perhaps his insane PKSV% which contributed to a bunch of his overall SV% – goalie is a team’s best penalty killer! Never mind that he couldn’t possibly own the credit for most of that PKSV%.

    7. R O
      May 16, 2010 at

      CBC mentioned $5-6 Million which is lower than what you rightly point out is the market value for players with his offensive numbers.

      And yet it is probably still too much money to spend on him, given your WOWY-Ovechkin analysis that pretty much nailed him as another Ovechkin-leacher.

    8. Tyler Dellow
      May 16, 2010 at

      Hey R O – I’ve aggressively gone after people who refuse to understand stuff, but lay off Mirtle here. He’s one of the good guys, in my view – he’s open to different ways of looking at the game.

      It’s going to be extremely interesting to see what Backstrom gets. I don’t think anyone really knows right now. I cannot imagine how it’d be less than $7MM. If it is, he should fire his agent like Ovechkin did because he could have done such a deal himself.

    9. R O
      May 16, 2010 at

      Also MC:

      Agree on Crosby for Hart, it’s an easy decision.

      Regarding H. Sedin, I think if the discussion is based in points, it’s instructive to look at brother Daniel. He had an even higher EVPts/60 than Henrik, and more tilted towards goals and first assists. And better PPPts/60 too.

      So basically the reason Henrik is being considered and Daniel not even mentioned is the latter’s broken foot. Presumably at this point reasonable people would stop and consider how much of the broken foot either Daniel or Henrik can take credit or blame for (reasonable answer: very little) at which point the Sedin boosters should be chanting for Daniel and Henrik to split the Hart.

      Of course when one takes a view of the game that is more than just points, both Sedins just get blown away from the race.

    10. Tyler Dellow
      May 16, 2010 at

      Well I think it’s worth pointing out that at-bats matter. A player who bats 1.000 with 10 home runs in 10 AB would be the most valuable player in MLB if he had the AB. He doesn’t, Daniel doesn’t…there it is.

    11. May 16, 2010 at

      Don’t worry about it Tyler – I’m used to it from that guy. Everyone’s a moron who doesn’t quote PKSV% figures off the top of their head.

      The thing with the Hart: There’s not one right answer there. There’s no candidate this season well beyond the others – even Tyler’s adjusted figures put Sedin right close to Crosby and Ovechkin, and he presumably put up those numbers against tougher, Western Conference opponents.

      What did it say to you?

      That he had a great season.

    12. R O
      May 16, 2010 at

      Don’t worry about it Tyler – I’m used to it from that guy. Everyone’s a moron who doesn’t quote PKSV% figures off the top of their head.

      They are pretty readily calculable from places like http://www.behindthenet.ca.

      he presumably put up those numbers against tougher, Western Conference opponents.

      This, in fact, did not happen. The Sedins played easy icetime this season.

    13. May 16, 2010 at

      MIIIIIRRRRTTTTLLLLEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      @ R_O – I don’t have any numbers in front of me to demonstrate starting zones or matchups or anything, but anecdotally I will say, while the Sedins may have played a good amount of “easy” icetime with regard to quality of competition, I am of the opinion that “easy” Western competition > “easy” Eastern competition. That’s based largely on stylistic differences between the conferences, I think – It’s damned embarassing how no one in the East seems to want to play a defensive game or knock someone on their ass for crashing the net. Maybe there’s no difference between the sixth D-man on a given Western vs Eastern team, but the style that player is instructed to play is likely different.

      Also, didn’t MC or Gabe or someone just recently do a piece on how the Eastern Conference rolls their lines less, using their stars more (of course, given that they don’t play defense!) and their 4th liners less? If you really wanna get indepth into who faced what competition, that’s something to be considered too – Of course Crosby played better competition, because there was fewer opportunities to face lesser competition!

      I will give Crosby credit for growing as a player from what he started out as – he’s done a lot to get better as a Center (like winning faceoffs!), improving on defense so that he can be used in all situations, etc. – But he still plays in an inferior conference, where all numbers are inflated. Sure, part of Henrik’s season was luck in terms of the percentages, but given that he largely outperformed Crosby/Ovechkin at ES (where real hockey is played), and did so playing in a more difficult conference, I think that says a lot.

    14. May 16, 2010 at

      Sedin’s Hart nomination is eerily like Malkin’s last year, now that I’ve looked at how much bounces and circumstances had to do with him winning the scoring race in 08-09.

      Sedin’s PDO is 104. He started nearly 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone. And Kelser took on the tough assignments this year. He’s a very good player still, no doubt, but everything broke right for him this season. If he wins it, he owes Kesler more than a few beers.

    15. May 17, 2010 at

      Never mind that he couldn’t possibly own the credit for most of that PKSV%.

      Wait, what? Is there a line of thought that really suggests the goalie, relative to other skaters, isn’t the single most determinative factor in PKSV%? Or SV% in any particular game state? Do you really think that it wasn’t Miller who was driving the PKSV%, but that it was Tyler Myers? Or the Ruff PK system?

    16. May 17, 2010 at

      Or perhaps his insane PKSV% which contributed to a bunch of his overall SV% – goalie is a team’s best penalty killer! Never mind that he couldn’t possibly own the credit for most of that PKSV%.

      I’m anxious to know, R O, what is your theory that the goalie isn’t responsible for his own PKSv%? Maybe he had an insane % cuz he played insanely well. He sure did in almost all the games I saw him play.

    17. May 17, 2010 at

      Rajeev: There’s no time stamp, but your post wasn’t there about two minutes ago when I started to write mine. We’re on the same page here. No doubt we are both about to be put in our place.

    18. R O
      May 17, 2010 at

      At 4-on-5, Miller allowed 23 goals on 284 shots for a PKSV% of 0.919.

      According to Bruce, Miller has the absolutely unique ability to stop pucks at 4-on-5 at a rate higher than most goaltenders stop pucks in total.

      That’s plausible I guess. The Hockey Gods are a lie. You guys should bet your houses on that.

      (Addendum: MC did a post on Miller this season already, it’s all laid out there in great detail. http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=3335#more-3335)

    19. Tyler Dellow
      May 17, 2010 at

      James –

      I have to mark Sedin down for all of the second assists as well. He isn’t in the ballpark without them. I don’t know that him being so far ahead of everyone else in the conference is necessarily a good indicator though.

      Everyone re: Miller – here’s the difficulty I have with his candidacy. As R O pointed out, his PKSV% is a bit nuts. I’m teetering on renouncing the basis of my post though – I still don’t like Sedin for MVP but I’m not sure the S% argument nails it.

    20. May 17, 2010 at

      According to Bruce, Miller has the absolutely unique ability to stop pucks at 4-on-5 at a rate higher than most goaltenders stop pucks in total.

      You’re might good at putting words into other people’s mouths, R O. I especially like the way you consistently misrepresent the other person’s position to make him look like an idiot, and then heap on some extra abuse based on your distorted take on the other person’s opinion. Is it possible to have an intelligent conversation with you without all that shit?

      Nowhere did I say Miller’s PK Sv% was sustainable, nor did I say he should get his next contract based on it, which is what Tyler’s (excellent) post that you referenced was about. However, if you are giving awards based on what a guy did THIS year, what Miller did THIS year was stop the puck at an insane rate on the PK. He stopped it a pretty impressive rate at EV too (.928). Buddy had a real good year.

      What I did say, was to ask a question which you didn’t answer.

      Generally a player’s best season isn’t sustainable, or he would do the same thing every year. Thus you get the rise of a Malkin last year, one or both Sedins this year, Halak these playoffs, etc. It’s not just limited to goalies.

      Now maybe I’m reading you wrong, and heaven knows I wouldn’t want to put words in your mouth, but if you believe that EV Sv% is a repeatable skill and PK Sv% is all luck, maybe you should be betting your own house on that. The latest research I’ve been reading is that PK Sv% is more volatile – go figure, with 20% of the sample size – but that overall Sv% may be a better indicator than just isolating EV Sv% which has been all the rage for the last, what is it, few months?

      Judge the guy on his overall performance? Now there’s a concept.

    21. R O
      May 17, 2010 at

      Bruce said: Maybe he had an insane % cuz he played insanely well

      Sounds like somebody thinks that Miller owns his PKSV%. Meaning that it was due to his own God given ability, rather than Hockey-God given fortune.

      Generally a player’s best season isn’t sustainable

      Generally we don’t try to evaluate players based on their best season. Or their worst season. Or their best games, or worst games, or their big games.

      The picture is big, here.

      if you believe that EV Sv% is a repeatable skill and PK Sv% is all luck

      EVSV% is more repeatable. Generally speaking SV% is a volatile thing to begin with, which is why nobody feels comfortable betting on goalies.

      but that overall Sv% may be a better indicator than just isolating EV Sv%

      That’s totally incorrect for the obvious fact that some goalies face proportionally more (or less) shots on the PK than others.

      Unless you’re going to argue that the goalie has a hand in how many penalties his team draws, and what the proportion of PK to EV shots he faces.

      However, if you are giving awards based on what a guy did THIS year, what Miller did THIS year

      From NHL.com: the Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team

      This is the crux, Bruce. It’s the player, not the results. These are not one and the same in hockey, there are several confounding factors.

      I’m not about to give Miller a trophy for being MVP (where P stands for player) based on a performance that I think luck had a bigger say in than the player himself.

    22. Passive Voice
      May 17, 2010 at

      @imkinger:

      I was mildly surprised and pleased to see that the general response to that HF thread was something along the lines of “Uh…Halak.”

    23. R O
      May 17, 2010 at

      I’ll leave you with this, Bruce.

      I don’t think players change their games very often, and when they do it’s either very slowly by choice, or involuntarily due to external factors – e.g. injury, or recovery from injury.

      It’s the same outside of sport, really.

      At a certain point players are what they are and these variations in how their results turn out – it’s just the clattering of dice. They’re still the same on the ice.

    24. Passive Voice
      May 17, 2010 at

      @R O

      I’m eager to put words in Bruce’s mouth because I enjoy his scathing wrath, so I’ll quickly say: I suspect that when he talks about overall Sv%, he doesn’t mean the one listed on NHL.com, but rather one that controls for the disparate numbers of PK shots goalies face.

    25. May 17, 2010 at

      Sounds like somebody thinks that Miller owns his PKSV%. Meaning that it was due to his own God given ability, rather than Hockey-God given fortune.

      I think he had a hot year, which probably falls somewhere in the middle. Bottom line was, he made the saves. If your argument is that .919 isn’t sustainable, well guess what, he sustained it for the entire 2009-10 season.

      Generally we don’t try to evaluate players based on their best season.

      If we’re talking about awards like MVP, Norris, Vezina, All-Star Team, etc., we are evaluating them on the one season, not The Big Picture. Or so I understand it. Occasional “lifetime achievement” type exceptions get made in the official voting, but they’re not that common. Other stuff like the Selke, Masterton etc. are a different kettle of fish but I don’t consider them major awards in any event.

      I’m trying to find those articles I’ve come across recently which came up with the conclusion about overall vs. EV Sv%. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff and don’t always bookmark it. I’m sure I’ve read the same conclusion in a couple different places, though.

      Anyway, I wouldn’t vote for Ryan Miller for MVP myself, but I do think he had a great season and a reasonable case can be made for him to be considered. Which I believe was all Mirtle was saying when you jumped all over his case for not reducing his stats suffieciently.

    26. May 17, 2010 at

      I’m trying to find those articles I’ve come across recently which came up with the conclusion about overall vs. EV Sv%

      I think you’re thinking of Tom Awad’s recent work at Puck Prospectus:

      http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=558

    27. overpass
      May 17, 2010 at

      The latest research I’ve been reading is that PK Sv% is more volatile – go figure, with 20% of the sample size – but that overall Sv% may be a better indicator than just isolating EV Sv%

      This piece by Tom Awad may be what you were thinking of, Bruce.

    28. May 17, 2010 at

      The top four that were generally considered this year were Miller, Crosby, Ovechkin and Sedin… pretty safe to say those are the right top four, or no?

      I’m pretty sure we’ll see Sedin win, but it could be close.

    29. May 17, 2010 at

      Backstrom: 10 years, 67M. Dang I’m prescient. Very happy with this deal.

    30. Tyler Dellow
      May 17, 2010 at

      Amazing deal for the Caps. I tip my cap to you.

    31. May 17, 2010 at

      Have you ever been to Sweden or know much about their culture or society? It’s pretty strongly socially democratic with a healthy social welfare system. There are various “millionaire” taxes and a much saner distribution of wealth. It’s a wealthy country but one without an overabundance of super wealthy individuals. I don’t think it’s in the culture to haggle over every last penny, especially for those at the top end of the wealth spectrum. I think there’s a disproportionate number of Swedish NHL’ers who signed for less money than they probably could have. Franzen, Sedins, Alfie (penultimate contract especially), Axelsson, Norstrom, Pahlsson are some examples, there are probably more back under the old CBA and there was a less rational salary gradient across the league. I think there’s a cultural reason why you don’t see Swedes represented by the Gandler/Winter types.

    32. May 17, 2010 at

      … more back under the old CBA when there was a less rational salary gradient…

    33. JeffJ
      May 17, 2010 at

      I wonder if the cap being flat two years in a row had anything to do with this.

    34. May 17, 2010 at

      Yep, I think it did. It’s one of the reasons I cited when I first defended my prediction.

      Also, the contract is back-loaded not front-loaded. Swedish financial modesty. I wonder if there’s an NMC in the UFA years. McPhee said he wouldn’t give one again after Nylander, but I imagine there has to be some form of one.

    35. dawgbone
      May 17, 2010 at

      I totally missed this, but I don’t think it’s wise to knock H. Sedin for his abundance of secondary assists.

      Both Sedin’s are guys who are excellent at the cycle and at getting to lose pucks and causing turnovers in the offensive end.

      Without pouring over video tape, it’s hard to tell how many of these secondary assists were based on Henrik doing one of these things to keep the play alive in the good zone. If it was a lot of them, I think he’s full value for those secondary assists.

    36. May 17, 2010 at

      @KentW: Yup, that’s the one, thanks.

    37. May 17, 2010 at

      I’m eager to put words in Bruce’s mouth because I enjoy his scathing wrath

      Ha! You should change your handle to Passive Aggressive Voice.

    38. spOILer
      May 17, 2010 at

      Nice call Rajeev, and the cultural theory is interesting and perhaps plays some role (although it’s always dangerous to extrapolate from the general to the specific), but I have to think deflationary pressures (flat cap) were the main influences on Backstrom’s contract.

      It seems more players than before–once the core of an SCF contending team is established–are afraid of hamstringing the team with cap problems if the contract endangers their contender status. No matter the culture. Maybe the Swedes are easier sells on this basis, I dunno.

    39. David Staples
      May 17, 2010 at

      @Rajeev Very interesting comment about Swedish players not out for the big money. Has the ring of truth to it. . .

    40. DSF
      May 17, 2010 at

      The Backstrom contract is clearly a win-win.

      It recognizes a flat cap in the first couple of years and both McPhee and Backstrom’s agent have gambled, wisely, that the cap will start creeping up again in a year or two.

      Smart business.

    41. KHtaD
      May 30, 2010 at

      If that theory about Swedes is generally true, then they represent better value in their RFA years than other hockey nationalities and teams ought to draft accordingly.

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