• Lies, damned lies, statistics and bright line rules

    by Tyler Dellow • February 1, 2012 • Hockey • 41 Comments

    I’m gonna move past the CHL F drafting issue, I promise. Last post on this topic before I move on to the D (and I’ve got a pretty cool one lined up about lines in the sand, I think).

    From Lowetide’s comments:

    Woodguy: The age thing imo (and the subject of my research), hinges on not only physical maturity, but mental maturity, and much less on games played.

    That’s why I’m more inclined to give late birthdays a slide.

    Bruce McCurdy: You and I are on the same page w.r.t. that last comment, WG.

    “While Pitlick, Hamilton and Martindale are all struggling to score in their 19->20 year-old seasons, let’s just say this Oiler fan is prepared to give them a little more latitude than I would a rookie pro two years out from his draft day.”

    As many of you will be aware, the rules of the draft are such that that, for example, the 2012 draft will include players born September 16, 1994 to September 15, 1995. The argument that Bruce and Woodguy (and other, less credible types) are making are that it’s a bit unfair to treat Pitlick, Hamilton and Martindale as true 20 year olds because they’re amongst the youngest 20 year olds in the league. Gladwell wrote something once about Canadian hockey that everyone seems to mix into this too.

    What do you think? Will the data support any of this? Of the population of 66 CHL F who were drafted between 1993 and 2004 and went on to become 200+ NHL GP guys, scoring more than 0.5PPG, 13 of them were born after September 15 and before December 31. Five of those were full-time NHLers by 20. Six of them averaged 0.75 PPG or better in the AHL at age 20, the line that emerged from the group of CHL F who went on to become 200+ NHL GP guys, scoring more than 0.5PPG as a whole. One (1) scored less than 0.75 PPG in the AHL at age twenty – Jason Pominville. One (1) wasn’t in the AHL or NHL – Ryane Clowe.

    So 11 of the 13 guys who were born between September 16 and December 31 and went on to be come 200+/0.5+ guys cleared my 0.75 PPG AHL baseline for age 20. 46/53 guys born between January 1 and September 15 have. The data does not lend the slightest bit of support to this theory that guys born post-September 15 are somehow not captured by this rule of thumb. Nice theory. Contradicted by data. If you’re a believer that Stu’s been anything more than average with CHL F, you’d better be praying that the Oilers are running such an historically unique development operation that pretty clear lines in the sand are no longer applicable.

    Also from Lowetide commenter VOR – I’m just gonna Fisk this one, as it’s sort of long.

    However, in Tyler’s response in the comment section he says he has ignored draft pedigree as a variable in his analysis because if you are scoring at .5 ppg you aren’t in the NHL on draft pedigree. Which seems to me flawed thinking.

    Clearly, draft pedigree had some effect on your opportunities to be in the NHL period and also on your chances of scoring at .5 ppg or better. The higher the draft position the sooner you get to the NHL, the better the line mates you play with, the more mistakes are tolerated and I could go on and on. (Tyler – I could send you some references on the draft pedigree effect if you are interested.)

    I’m interested in seeing the data on draft pedigree effect. I don’t really buy that it affects your opportunity to make the NHL in the long run. Ultimately, if you can play, you find a spot. In the short term, sure – but then we know that NHL teams do pretty well with guys who they stick in the NHL as teenagers or at age 20.

    Ignoring all else the best players (generally speaking) get drafted earlier in the NHL draft. Thus Stu can’t be judged against all CHL forwards picked in the draft. Only those picked at the same point in the draft.

    I think the entire process is flawed.

    Tyler starts out comparing his pool which has only a handful of 1st OV forwards from the CHL in it against Stu’s 1st OV CHL forward picks so Stu wins. The rest of Stu’s CHL forwards aren’t first rounders and can’t be judged by a data pool in which 1st rounders make up such a large sub-set. So Stu loses. Neither Stu’s wins or loses have anything to do with Stu, they are artifacts of Tyler’s choices.

    I think this is a complete misunderstanding of what I’m doing. I’m saying a) a large segment of Oilerdom is saying Stu is a wizard, b) with the picks he’s spent on CHL F he should have produced about x 200+/0.50+ players, y 200+/0.50- players and z busts and c) he looks like’s going to come out somewhere around the average for CHL F. My point is that Stu looks pretty average with CHL F, not that he’s a failure for not finding multiple RNHs. Not sure that I can make this much clearer. If Stu’s a genius, he needs to find star types outside of the first round while still hitting on his first round picks.

    Research has also shown that the birth date hypothesis as has some validity so you would have to allow for that which Tyler hasn’t. If the Oilers really have changed their approach to player development in the AHL and it is radically reducing ice time for prospects that can make it hard to tell anything from the numbers.

    See above and see yesterday’s post. We’re down to the Oilers doing something completely unheard of in the development of players between 1993 and 2007. Call me a cynic but I just don’t think these boys are that original or creative?

    Plus, how long do you have to play in the CHL to be a CHL forward. That isn’t where Pitlick was playing when Stu picked him. Shouldn’t he be being compared to players who were in college when picked? Stu had no way of knowing he was going to move to the CHL. This is comparing apples to oranges. Jumping from college to the CHL is a huge change in a number of ways and it happens so rarely it is a bit hard to know what you’d expect. Turning right around and going to the AHL the next year is even more bizarre. I think it would be hard to find any comparable never mind a meaningful data set.

    I don’t buy this. Explain to me how it’s a huge change. Moreover, explain how it’s a change that’s affecting him a year and a half later. All pro prospects have to make the jump from the CHL to the AHL. From the way VOR talks about it, you’d think they asked him to start shooting the other way and play a different position or something. I’m fine treating Pitlick as a CHLer because he’s basically gone the CHL route post-draft. IF he was putting in time in the NCAA I wouldn’t; I’d expect things to be different if he stayed in school for four years.

    At technical level, given Tyler picked a standard .5 ppg then there should probably be an ANOVA. That would at least show us that the obeserved outcomes matched the predictions of his hypothesis. There aren’t enough “test conditions” in this analysis plain and simple. Like what happens if we take all the CHL forwards chosen between 1st OV and 20th OV, 21st OV and 40th OV, etc. Tylers’ hypothesis demands that those subsets look like his overall set. Also, how about centers, left wings, right wings as subsets, is the same pattern still evident. How about players who played different positions. How about age whent hey reached the CHL? Without some sort of statistical test of the hypothesis the data is irrelevant.

    Yeah, not sure what this has to do with anything. I’m using the entire population, observing how they developed and then reporting on it. What the hell does a hypothesis have to do with anything here? I suppose you can ask a question here as to whether guys drafted after the thirtieth pick have a materially different development curve than guys drafted before that pick but once we get to this point, you’re accepting that the basic observation is correct and then looking for exceptions. Of course, as I wrote in Cult of Stu II, there’s basically nothing to this because so few guys who go on to become 200+/0.50+ guys from the CHL don’t hit at least 0.75 PPG in the AHL at age 20 – it’s all in yesterday’s post.

    I always like running down these things and enjoy putting this stuff out there for discussion – that’s how you find the holes. In all the time I’ve been writing about hockey stats type stuff though, I’ve rarely seen such a brightline rule as this: on data from guys drafted 1993-2004, if a guy has legitimate potential to be a 200+/0.50+ guy, he’s almost always going to be able to put up 0.75 PPG in the AHL at age 20.

    Unless he’s Jason Pominviille.

    About Tyler Dellow

    41 Responses to Lies, damned lies, statistics and bright line rules

    1. Mike
      February 1, 2012 at

      Tyler,

      Just wondering if you have the numbers for those forwards who 0.75+ ppg in the AHL who didn’t make it to the NHL? Put another way, you’ve shown that NHL forwards are good at scoring in the AHL, but have you shown that scoring in the AHL correlates to being a successful NHL forward?

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 2, 2012 at

        Haven’t yet but will – the data is a pig to assemble.

        • Lobanovskyi
          February 3, 2012 at

          This is not as comprehensive as it needs to be, but I made a list of the top 10 scorers in the AHL from ’99/’00 through ’10/’11. If you take Spezza, Cammalari, and Eric Staal (who played during the lockout) and Rob Brown (who played in the AHL after his NHL career finished) out of the mix, of 75 forwards who made the list at least once, only 21 played 200+ NHL games and only 8 were .5+ ppg.
          Of the 75, only 3 averaged under 0.75 ppg in the AHL, but one of those was Jason Chimera.
          Of the 8 who “made it”, Brad Boyes was a 1st-rounder, Jiri Hudler and Pavel Rosa (who only played 36 NHL games) were 2nd-rounders, Derek Armstrong and Mikael Samuelsson were mid-round picks, PA Parenteau wass a late-round pick, and Dustin Penner and David Desharnais were undrafted.

          • Mike
            February 4, 2012 at

            Wow – thanks for that, Lobanovskyi. It’s no surprise that some AHL success stories never make it in the NHL (e.g. Alex Giroux, Jason Krog) but I’m absolutely floored to hear that the graduation rate is only 21 out of 75 (or 8 out of 75 in a scoring role).

            Any thoughts as to the reason why? Do prospects who score at a 0.75ppg clip graduate mid-season and never make the top ten scorer list?

            • February 4, 2012 at

              I assume Loban’s list is not filled with guys doing that at age 20 or 21. Giroux, for instance, had his first point per game season in the AHL at 25 years old. In other words, he’s not really talking about the same population as Tyler.

            • Lobanovskyi
              February 4, 2012 at

              My opinion is that the system as it currently exists prevents dominant AHL players who aren’t expected to play scoring roles for NHL clubs from getting an opportunity to play those roles. It’s an opportunity cost problem: choosing an AHL-er means not choosing someone tha the organization has put significant resources into. The choice is not one the average self-interested insider can reasonably be expected to make. See my comments below for more on this point.

            • Lobanovskyi
              February 4, 2012 at

              yes – SR is right – I’m not talking about the same population – it’s a different discussion. Tyler knocked the 20 year-old prospect question out of the park.

    2. Bulging Twine
      February 1, 2012 at

      Your grouping by calendar year is interesting. I have always compared players to each other based on their draft cohort. The way you have done it, these guys are being graded against many players who have an extra year of experience. That to me is an issue, as we all hopefully improve with experience. I am not sure that is fair to them.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 2, 2012 at

        I disagree that I’m grading them against players with an extra year of experience. My birthday is September 16 (one day after the draft cutoff). I was eligible to start playing minor hockey the same day as a January 1 baby.

        • Bulging Twine
          February 2, 2012 at

          Okay, you have enlightened me, thank you.

    3. Dave
      February 1, 2012 at

      I think VOR makes a fair point, which is that if you’re going to be judging someone’s draft record, ideally you should be doing some sort of weighting by draft position (or maybe assigning a weight as a function of N to the Nth CHL forward taken in the draft) — this would neatly take into account that you don’t want to give much credit towards a successful first overall pick, or ding someone too much for a 9th round pick that doesn’t pan out.

      Not that I would expect this to make much difference, if the 11 picks in question are anywhere close to reasonably distributed around the draft order. However: picks after the middle of the first round would get such low weights that you would probably expect two 1st-overall picks plus nine other picks to have an expected value somewhere around 3 players of the calibre you’re discussing, maybe between 3 and 4 (I’m totally guessing here), with a huge standard deviation. So not enough information to conclude that anyone is a CHL drafting genius, but also not enough information to conclude that anyone isn’t, either! So then you’re back to your Bayesian prior on whether someone’s a CHL drafting genius. (-:

    4. Tyler Dellow
      February 1, 2012 at

      From The Cult of Stu:

      “I’m tipping another post here but, on one method of estimating probabilities of finding players drafting CHL F, the Oilers should have turned up 2.63 200 GP+/0.5+ PPG guys so far (ignoring Czerwonka, Rieder and Ewanyk) and 1.26 200 GP+/0.5- PPG guys – it looks to me like the final total of the former will be 3, with somewhere between 0-2 of the latter, depending on how Pitlick and Hamilton turn out.)”

      From this post:

      “I’m saying a) a large segment of Oilerdom is saying Stu is a wizard, b) with the picks he’s spent on CHL F he should have produced about x 200+/0.50+ players, y 200+/0.50- players and z busts and c) he looks like’s going to come out somewhere around the average for CHL F.”

      I feel as if I keep acknoweledging this, pointing out I took it into account and getting asked why I didn’t take it into account.

      • ranford4life
        February 1, 2012 at

        Do we have any proof that there is any persistent skill exhibited by any team in the draft? I mean, clearly there is skill in the aggregate, as players picked in the first round have the best chance of reaching 200+gp, but do we know if any one organization has persistently exhibited ability to draft career players with greater skill than their peers?

        I recall watching a video on the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference website where a Yale prof did a study on the NFL draft and determined that there was no statistically significant difference in selection skill among teams, and that the variance in total success could be explained by both differences in quality of risk management (minimizing cost of choosing, maximizing number of selections, etc), and pure chance.

        In this sense, being average is all we should expect, and the focus should be on better risk management. For instance, if the chances of a player hitting 200gp is the same for a player drafted at any slot beyond 120th overall, then it seems likely that uninformed teams would overvalue a 4th round pick and grossly undervalue 7th round picks. Are there more arbitrage opportunities like this that exist?

        • Doogie2K
          February 1, 2012 at

          You beat me to the question by mere seconds.

          • ranford4life
            February 1, 2012 at

            Surely someone somewhere on the interwebs must have looked at this. Ever seen any info?

            • Tyler Dellow
              February 1, 2012 at

              I’m not sure anyone has really answered it. When I finish with this, I’ll be in a position to take a stab. I’m not really sure that there is evidence that anyone’s actually significantly better though.

    5. Doogie2K
      February 1, 2012 at

      I’ll raise a question here that I mentioned late in the thread at LT’s. That is, I wonder what the distribution of performance is among NHL teams for drafting X scorers/Y grinders/Z busts based on their aggregate draft positions. Are there teams that clearly kill it/get killed at the draft table? Or is it a much tighter spread, like faceoff percentage or score-close/tied Fenwick? Assuming the best for the picks going forward (+0.37 scorers, +0.74 grinders, the rest busts), is that significantly above-average performance, or only kinda? You see what I’m getting at here?

    6. Silver
      February 1, 2012 at

      All the statistical analysis ignores the basic psychology at work here: Of course Stu looks like a genius, because we’re comparing him to the guys he’s working with. That bar is pretty Lowe…

    7. Bruce McCurdy
      February 1, 2012 at

      Nice theory. Contradicted by data.

      First of all, the snippet of my Cult of Hockey post that you quoted isn’t a “theory” at all, it merely a personal philosphy. The softest of sciences, eh. News flash: I’m prepared to be patient, a virtue one needs in long supply with pretty much All young players. The younger they are, the patienter I’m prepared to be.

      Here’s the rest of the paragraph which that snippet concluded:

      “By this sleight of calendar [the Sep 15 draft threshold date], the 30% of players with a late-year birthday are the most mature players in their draft class, yet they turn pro at a younger age. I suspect that collectively this has the double whammy of raising expectations in their draft year and the one that follows – a Ryan Martindale with an Oct/’91 birthday “should” outperform a player of similar talent born six months later – but lowering output in their rookie pro season when they’re the youngest players in the league, more likely to be sheltered/distrusted by their coach, etc. I wonder about the validity of NHLE for this subset of players.”

      OK, that’s something closer to a theory, which addresses not only the late birthdays’ relative immaturity when they turn pro, but their relative maturity when drafted. Not only are they the oldest players in their draft class, but they are oldest drafted players in the following year 1 AD (After Draft). Thus the “raised expectations” above, that these guys may well appear to be tracking ahead of their draft number (which is my own crude line in the sand w.r.t. judging draft picks after the fact). With a few such players in the mix last year, odds are that it made Stu’s record appear a little more magnificent than it was.

      But now the shoe is on the other foot, and where almost 70% of drafted players have two years to prepare/be prepared to turn pro, these dudes have only had one. To me that’s significant.

      Your exhaustive sample of 13 players aside, fact is each player-season is an individual data point, a single grain of sand that can fall to one side or the other of any line you might draw in it. Do I like Pitlick’s or Hamilton’s odds of becoming big NHL scorers? No, I don’t, especially in light of your research. Do I think they are useless prospects? No, I don’t. Two very different questions.

      Fact is late-year birthdays suffer a disadvantage their entire hockey career. This is clear in the largest sample of your own data above, showing just 13 of 66 = 30% of the calendar.

      So maybe the conclusion should be that it’s generally a bad idea to draft players from that group unless they’re in the direct-to-NHL calibre like Hall or Tavares. Sucks to be them, but let some other team play with those dice.

      By the way, the 2010 draft was a real odd sock for MacGregor, one in which he chose no fewer than six late birthdays/second-year-draft types with birthdays before 1992. In 2009 all but one drafted Oiler had 1991 birthdays, while every single player picked in 2011 is a ’93. Fluke of distribution maybe, but the fallout from 2010 is that there were a lot of pro-eligible kids coming on stream this past fall, which complicated the 50-man roster with ripple effects in OKC and Stockton.

      • Bruce McCurdy
        February 1, 2012 at

        Damn greater/less than symbols ate part of a sentence above. Please read:

        Fact is late-year birthdays suffer a disadvantage their entire hockey career. This is clear in the largest sample of your own data above, showing just 13 of 66 = [less than] 20% of those players who satisfy both of your criteria were born after Sep 15, a period that covers 107 days = [greater than] 30% of the calendar.

    8. dave
      February 1, 2012 at

      Is it just me – but these numbers seem awfully low – were talking about 66 players total over 12 years – so 5/6 a year or a big 2 and a half for each team in the league (roughly)
      ok its CHL forwards only – but surely this must just show that anything out of the top 20 picks, say, is just a total lottery – but wasnt there something in the C & B about this a year or so ago – I’m sure Derek is always quoting the low odds of draft picks in different rounds actually making it (as opposed to being 200+/50+ players) – maybe this just supports Ranford4life’s point above ?

      • February 2, 2012 at

        Yeah, I did something similar a couple of years ago, but it was less rigorous than what Tyler is doing now. The years are a bit different, but at least so far, the “good player” criteria is the same, and the results look like they’ll be similar to what I found here:

        http://www.coppernblue.com/2010/6/9/1508196/who-is-the-best-player-available

        You get the vast majority of the best players early. Out of the first round it’s pretty bleak and once you’re outside the top one hundred there’s almost nothing left.

    9. Bruce McCurdy
      February 1, 2012 at

      the 2012 draft will include players born September 16, 1994 to September 15, 1995

      Actaully that is the class of 2013. In 2012 they’ll take late ’93s & mostly ’94s. They have to be 18 the day training camp opens to be eligible.

    10. godot10
      February 1, 2012 at

      Technical quibbles:
      1) Pitlick was NOT drafted out of the CHL. He was drafted out of US College Hockey. Should he even qualify for your sample?
      2) Hamilton missed a significant portion of a junior season because of a major injury.

    11. Jonathan Willis
      February 1, 2012 at

      There’s a nice grab-bag of relevant/irrelevant objections here.

      The point Bruce and Woodguy made is, I think, relevant. I know when I got into analyzing the draft the birthday seemed to have a degree of significance on projecting players, but less than I expected. I imagine the difference it makes at 20 is significantly less than the difference it makes at 18. The data – limited though it is – seems to support this. In short, I think it’s a reasonable objection but that the sensible approach is to note it but not view it as being significant enough to adjust overall career likelihoods for Pitlick/Hamilton by very much.

      I don’t get the insistence on draft position or the college start. If a guy isn’t an AHL scorer at 20, he probably won’t ever be an NHL scorer: the data seems pretty absolute on that (at least for North American players with the quick track to pro, which is the critical difference – not adjustment for changing league – between an NCAA and CHL player). And while first round picks probably get some preferential treatment, both Pitlick and Hamilton have strong draft pedigree – these aren’t guys like Cornet or Kytnar, they’re highly valued prospects. I find it very difficult to believe Pitlick, for example, is getting buried by the coaches because he wasn’t drafted two spots earlier.

    12. Greg Saint
      February 2, 2012 at

      “Do we have any proof that there is any persistent skill exhibited by any team in the draft?”

      Translated: When it comes to drafting, there are no Magnificent Bastards.
      Corollary: Stu ain’t one.

    13. Lobanovskyi
      February 3, 2012 at

      Nice idea, great posts. For the question that you posed, I don’t think you’re going to find a clearer answer.

      Just for fun, a couple of exceptions to your bright line rule who will likely hit 200 NHL games by the end of next season: PA Parenteau (about .5 ppg in his age 20 and 21 AHL seasons) and David Desharnais (in the Coast at 21). Pominville, Parenteau, Desharnais: Anti-Q bias anyone? No takers?

      My issue is not with the rule, which explains the exisiting NHL world (or a piece of it) very well. My issue, and I’ve struggled to put my finger on exactly why these posts haven’t sat well with me for the last few days, is with the following underlying assumption: If we can predict using this rule who has a chance to be a scorer in the show on the basis of his age 20 AHL output, we can predict who can score in the show.

      I’m going to put forward the proposition that a scoring in the NHL is more or less a closed shop. To put up numbers, a player has to have the ability, but equally importantly, he has to have the opportunity. Let’s say there are 220 – 250 available scoring jobs up for grabs every year (6 scoring forwards per team + injuries and demotions). By scoring job, I mean top-2 line forward with PP time. Every team in the league has at least 7 forwards who are bona fide nhlers, in that if they were available, other teams would pick them up. Those guys have pedigree, which is better than talent if you’re the one who has to justify a player personnel decision. Pedigree is to an NHL GM what a McKinsey consultant is to a fortune 500 CEO: Employment insurance.

      Each team also has at least one (usually more) bright young thing in the pipeline waiting for his chance to shine, and carrying the weight of the reputation of the scout or manager who chose him. The most striking thing to me in the graph that you put up in your first post was the number of NHL .5+ ppg scorers who never played in the AHL. If I recall correctly, it was about 50% of your sample, which is shocking given how few players make the jump from junior directly to the show. These are the kids that get the opportunity; some make it and some don’t, but they get a shot.

      (7 established nhlers +1 prospect)*30 and we’ve already hit 240 jobs. Yes, my numbers are made up and most probably wrong (if you feel the urge to test how many scoring jobs there are, please do – I’d like to know), but the point is fairly clear: Safe personnel moves are justifiable, even if they don’t make your teasm better. NHL scouts and GMs are self-interested like the rest of us, no?

      There are soome other concepts that need to be looped in here, but it’s too late tonight, so I’ll write only one more paragraph to illustrate the untestable hypothesis that there’s a pool of NHL-calibre scoring talent playing somewhere else. Why untestable? Because no self-interested coach is willing to take a top-6 job away from a pedigreed pro and give it to a Keith Aucoin. The potential payoff is not worth the potential risk. If your team needs to make some moves to generate scoring, you stay with class-A assets. To get up and stay up as a scorer without a pedigree, a player has to be both better than the average top-6 guy and lucky. It happens (Desharnais is a nice example), but not very often.

      Keith Aucoin was called up by Washington today. He currently has 70 points in 43 games with Hershey. He’s a stud, the type of player NHL teams should be dying to plug into their linups. In his 10-year pro career, he finished in the top 10 in AHL scoring 6 times. In that time he has also played 75 NHL games scattered over seven different seasons (0.33 ppg). Think about how little sense this makes. There are other examples, but this is the most egregious. I hope I’m wrong, but look for him to play on the fourth line when he’s not a healthy scratch and get sent down in two weeks.

      • Lobanovskyi
        February 3, 2012 at

        sorry – rogue “a” in the 3rd paragraph and an extra o in “some” in the 7th

      • dawgbone
        February 3, 2012 at

        I think what Tyler is getting at is while there are a few outliers, for the most part this is a pretty good rule for knowing when to fish or cut bait.

        In the case of PA Parenteau, he was signed to the standard 3 year entry level contract, had 3 decent years in the AHL and was traded halfway through his 4th.

        I mean you could make the argument that the Oilers were foolish for letting Tim Thomas go because of how he turned out, but how long do you wait? For every Thomas that does turn it around, there are a hundred guys like JDD who simply don’t. I’d rather have a good guesstimate at 22-23 years old so that I’m not wasting NHL games on him because I’m not sure.

        Tyler isn’t saying it’s impossible for it to happen, just unlikely.

        • Lobanovskyi
          February 3, 2012 at

          No argument from me – it’s a great rule on the positive side of things, which is to say it works very well to explain the world as it exists. The examples I pointed to as exceptions are simply that: exceptions.
          My point is more structural: If it’s clear that guys who don’t light up the AHL at 20 don’t turn into NHL scorers, but we know that some AHL scorers consistently outperform their peers, is there a reason (other than a lack of ability) that they don’t turn into NHL scoreres, and is there a way to gain a competitive advantage by changing the model? I think Tylr has provided some strong evidence that Stu et al are not doing anything novel; opening up the closed scorer shop would be novel.
          One more thing to consider on player development: The kids who jump directly to the NHL from junior are not subject to any “perform by age 20″ rule. Typically, their production increases as they spend more time in the league and are given the opportunity to play scoring roles. Shouldn’t the “be better than the rest immediately” argument work the same way in the NHL as it does in the AHL if the differention between scoreres and non-scorers was purely based on talent? The fact is, lesser-hyped 20 year-olds have to wait to get their opportunities in the AHL the same way that hyped 20 year-olds have to wait to get their opportunities in the NHL.

          • Triumph
            February 4, 2012 at

            But Aucoin passes through waivers each year and has been a UFA several times. While I think plenty of players get lost at the fringes, especially players from the Q or from overseas, I’m not convinced that Keith Aucoin’s value over a replacement top 6 forward is higher than 0. There are similar guys like Andrew Ebbett and Cal O’Reilly who get shuffled between organizations and the AHL and NHL.

            My guess is – Aucoin is reasonably talented and if handed a top 6 role with PP time would generate 40-50 points, but he’d be at best a break-even player who is average on the PP. Had there been any expansion teams during Aucoin’s playing career, he might’ve gotten picked up and tried out – that certainly worked out for Andrew Brunette.

            MLB has the similar quandary of the ‘Quadruple A’ player – guys that peak late, rake in the minors, tend to be poor defensively, and would probably at best be above average offensively. If all of them were tried in MLB in the same year, some of them would stick and become regulars, and some would wash out.

            • Lobanovskyi
              February 4, 2012 at

              “But Aucoin passes through waivers each year and has been a UFA several times.”

              Triumph – this is exactly my point. Under the existing system, he has no value. But is he a better scorer than the second line C or RW on the ten lowest-scoring teams in the league? My guess is, given the same opportunity (scoring role, second-unit pp minutes), he wipes the floor with most of them. This is not me hyping up Aucoin, this is me putting forward the proposition that the best determinant for future performance of a particular skill, in this case scoring, is past performance of that skill. Yes, I know he’s not a proven scorer in the NHL, but that’s exactly the point. If he can do it everywhere else, doesn’t that make him a better bet to be a top NHL scorer than (just for example) Lee Stempniak or Pierre-Mark Bouchard?
              Is the fact that NHL GMs keep passing on a guy like Aucoin evidence of his limited worth? I am not prepared to make the assumption that management at some NHL clubs ar even remotely competent, let alone good at what they do.

            • Triumph
              February 5, 2012 at

              Aucoin had a decent shot in 2007-08 to become an NHL regular – I don’t think he flopped, but he wasn’t a rousing success either. Although behindthenet tells me his Corsi was pretty darn good.

              Do I think he’s better than either Stempniak or Bouchard? No, I don’t. I do think he’s better than, say, Brendan Morrison over the last 3 years.

            • Lobanovskyi
              February 5, 2012 at

              “Aucoin had a decent shot in 2007-08 to become an NHL regular”
              With respect, I don’t think you have any basis for this statement. My assumption is that he didn’t have that shot because guys like him don’t get that shot.
              Whether you or I think Aucoin is better than is Morrison or Bouchard is immaterial. To definitively answer the question of who is a better NHL scorer, each has to be given an equal opportunity to play a scoring role in the NHL. My point is, Aucoin has not and will not get that chance given the way things work in hockey.

            • February 5, 2012 at

              I don’t know why you’d say he didn’t get an opportunity. He was getting top nine minutes at evens and two minutes of PP time per game over almost half a season. That’s a pretty good opportunity.

      • Schitzo
        February 5, 2012 at

        I think your argument has a lot of merit, and would agree with another issue that comes up from time to time: the fact that French-Canadian players are under-represented in a bottom-6 forward role.
        If you assume that there’s 210 jobs available (bottom 6 + pressbox, times 30 teams) and a surplus of interchangible players who could fill that role, all of a sudden decisions start to get made on intangible factors. That might be relationship to the coach, it might be language barrier, it might be plain old prejudice (western Canadian farmboys good, fancy dan Quebecois bad).

        In any event, it’s easy to see why a guy like Alex Giroux would desperately want a real shot with a team like the Oilers that is, by all metrics, godawful. I can see why he was so mad when it became clear he was already typecast as an AHL depth guy.

        • Schitzo
          February 5, 2012 at

          One other thought – a poster here made the argument that stacking your AHL team with vets is not a strategy to be proud of, as it closes opportunities that would otherwise be available for your own prospects.

          I argued that the prospect should be able to claim the job by force if he’s really better than the AHL farmhand – but taking your comments into account, maybe there actually isn’t a whole lot to distinguish the two other than age and draft pedigree.

    14. CM
      February 3, 2012 at

      my take on the issue is this…if we are throwing out the first overalls and the non CHL picks we only have a handfull of picks on which to judge MBS…he needs an A+ for Ebs (his only first round pick under this criteria) and as for the second rounders there is only Hamilton who was drafted out of the CHL…hard to look good when you only have 2darts in a 4year period…with Ebs being such a good pick I can can see where the name Magnificent comes from.

    15. The Other John
      February 3, 2012 at

      Most of the angst here is, I suspect, based on fact that if Tyler is right, Oilers do not have 3or 4 top forward prospects to compete for top 6 minutes. Put simply, if Stu ain’t magnificent, the Plan many bought into may not actually work

      “more magic beans please”

    16. Mike
      February 4, 2012 at

      It strikes me that this is the type of Moneyball analysis (for lack of the creativity to use another term) that would potentially give a GM the edge over his peers.

      For example, maybe Steve Tambellini has a model that will tell him, by age 20, that a prospect is likely to bust. Other GMs aren’t using this model – they’re using the traditional fallbacks and gut feeling (draft pedigree and hype at the WJHC for example). So Tambellini is holding an asset whose perceived value is significantly higher than its actual value. If he acts quickly, he can capitalize on that information assymetry and make a trade that strongly favours the Oilers.

      That obviously doesn’t work if every team is using the same model and has the same information, but I doubt that this is the case.

      The depressing part is that Tambellini is more likely to play the role of the chump GM. “So, Steve, tell me about this Colten Teubert”. “Well, he was drafted in the first round! And played at the WJHC!”. “That’s great, Steve, but what can you tell us about his time in the AHL?” “Wait, his what now? FIRST ROUND”.

      • Doogie2K
        February 6, 2012 at

        That sounds pretty much like how the initial trade to get him actually went. Man didn’t seem to know he’d been a healthy scratch.

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