Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve introduced a couple of different metrics: SAF/100, SAA/100 and a ratio, shifts with at least 1+ SAF/shifts with at least 1+ SAA. I’m interested in using these metrics to take a look at free agent signings that didn’t pan out, to see if we can tell what went wrong.
Mike Komisarek is a good example of the type of player I’m thinking of. He signed a five year deal with the Leafs at a cap hit of $4.5MM before the 2009-10 season. He played more games in 2013 with the Toronto Marlies than he did with the Toronto Maple Leafs and was bought out of his contract this summer. Komisarek ended up signing a one year deal in Carolina worth $700K. I’m always amazed when things like this happen because it’s just catastrophic – it’s a heck of a pile of money to waste when you have to buy a guy out and it generally means you don’t think you’ve received good value up to that point.
We have two years worth of data for Komisarek in Montreal and then the data from his four years in Toronto. Let’s take a look, starting with his open play Corsi%.
Well that’s weird. Komisarek’s open play Corsi% was better in Toronto than it was in Montreal but his play in Montreal earned him a huge salary and his play in Toronto got him bought out. SAF/100 and SAA/100?
It’s hard to find much of a difference here either. He had a slightly lower SAF/100 and SAA/100 in Toronto but it washes out. What if we look at his ratio of shifts with 1+ SAF to shifts with 1+ SAA?
Huh. Again, he did better in Toronto than he did in Montreal. Bizarre.
Komisarek’s Toronto numbers are skewed a little bit by his 2009-10 season, when he played almost exclusively with Tomas Kaberle and posted an open play Corsi% of 57.2%. His SAF/100 was a fine 151.2 and his SAA/100 a fine 137.7. His ratio of shifts with at least one SAF to shifts with at least 1 SAA was a fantastic 1.22. If you knock that season out, his time in Toronto is virtually identical to his time in Montreal. You have to wonder: why was he such a bust in Toronto? What did the Leafs think that they were going to get?
The Habs shot 9.05% with Komisarek on-ice during his final two years in Montreal. They got a save percentage of 0.926. In Toronto, those numbers were 7.78% and .903. From a PDO of 1017 to 981. PDO’s a hell of a drug. And expensive too. In his final two years in Montreal, Komisarek was on the ice for 95 GF and 90 GA at 5v5; in Toronto it was an abysmal 75 GF and 102 GA. The on-ice save percentage was an absolute nightmare in his last real full season in Toronto – .883. Nobody’s going to look good with that. I suppose you could argue that Komisarek somehow got worse and made it possible for people to take high quality shots but the Leafs had a 46.0% open play Corsi% with him on the ice in 2011-12, as opposed to a 47.0% open play Corsi% in Montreal in the year leading up the Leafs signing him.
One plausible explanation for Komisarek’s time in Toronto might be that he was pretty much the same as he always was and that what Toronto paid for – PDO – is something that you can’t really buy. Frankly, that seems like a more reasonable explanation to me than “Komisarek was awesome in Montreal and then came to Toronto and was terrible.” The implications though…well, the implications are big. If that’s right, then there are probably a chunk of teams across the NHL paying players for luck and the performance of others and then muttering about the player’s character now that he’s gotten paid when the luck and hard work of others doesn’t move with him.
If I’m right about this, it seems possible that there’s a lot of misallocated money in the NHL. If Komisareks appear and disappear based on the vagaries of PDO, there’s a market inefficiency there that can be exploited by a manager and team that understand this and know what they’re on about.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org