August 15, 2014

Austin Wallace

2014-08-15

Major minor realignment, a dash of stats and a bushel of prospect rankings.

I’m just getting back on my feet from my vacation, the publishing of the awesome fantasy guide (buy it here) and getting hired for a full-time co-op job as part of my degree at UBC!

 

 

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The biggest news of the last week is the possible reconstruction of the AHL, which could see five teams moving west and the establishment of a true western conference. You can read Travis Hughes’ guess on how things will shake out here.

With the loss of Abbotsford to New York, the two westernmost AHL teams are now Texan and still closer to Florida than California. That may soon be rectified, as a true AHL western conference could take shape through the acquisition of some ECHL teams (no that doesn’t stand for East Coast Hockey League, or anything else anymore). The ECHL would offset those losses by acquiring the remaining Central Hockey League (a league that is likely to be defunct soon anyways).

 

 

My take:

 

This will mean that NHL western conference teams will get a prospect development boost. Will there be any sort of tangible value to be added to west coast prospects? I doubt it. While Abbotsford players being away from home for 80 days a year certainly hurt the development of Calgary prospects, that has already been rectified. Western NHL teams keep many pairs of eyes locked in on their prospects to the east, and while it will certainly help with call-ups and logistics to have them closer to home, it isn’t enough to make a fantasy-relevant impact. I am much more interested, from a fantasy perspective, when an NHL team acquires their AHL affiliate outright. 

The Dallas Stars did just that, and while their relationship with Texas was certainly rosy, a complete consolidation of intent and knowledge can only strengthen their pipeline.

 

 

Also, Edmonton bought the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors much earlier this year, which could be a move in anticipation of them moving to the AHL in the aforementioned reconstruction.

 

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Why Stats Matter

Wherever you are on the advanced stats debate, it is silly not not atleast glance at the stats every once in a while! for a few reasons.

 

One:

Supplementing what you already know with extra information can only increase your success in drafting and adding players. If you keep aware the limitations of what you are looking at it, stat’s can’t hurt.

 

Two:

You will be able to make a more informed decision on who is more likely to bounce back or fall silent, and it should help you buy high and sell low.

 

Three:

If you already know your stuff, you can use your own knowledge to notice players that are doing well for reasons not described by current statistcs. For example, in Baseball, a pitcher named Chris Young should be terrible by all of the sabermetrics, with a fastball in the 80’s, no good secondary pitches and who throws at a part of the zone that is generally considered a terrible idea.

People following the stats have distrusted him for years, and he has been a consistent steal in real life and fantasy. It is just starting to come to light that his effectiveness might be due to something called “effective velocity”, where his release point and pitch placement can make his pitches look much faster than they are on the radar gun.

 

Given how far away hockey is from Baseball’s statistical level, there will be players whoes success will not be explainable by any stats we can look at, and if you can identify them you might be able to get an excellent deal from stats-focused managers.

 

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A couple more points on statistics:

In a search for a Carolina prospect feature, I found this incredible endeavor. Corey Sznajder is currently manually tracking all of the zone entries and exits from all 1230 games last year, and is already uncovering some interesting data. I do something similar for the UBC Thunderbirds, and after doing even a few games a week, I can’t imagine doing 1230 games and 10’s of thousands of zone entries a game.

 

In addition to doing what I do for Dobber Prospects, I am in charge of the Top 100 Roto, which  I am hoping to revamp and base on standard deviations; I might even bring a well-known forum member on board. If you have no idea what a standard deviation is, you aren’t alone. I didn’t really understand either until I heard an excellent explanation from someone who trains engineers recently, which I have adapted to hockey fans. Please let me know in the comments if this doesn’t make sense to you!

 

A standard deviation is the measure of how spread out numbers are.

 

 

Say there are five hockey players who had 2,4,4,6,9 shots, respectively, in one game. The average number of shots for each player is then (2+4+4+6+9)/5=5. So the average player had five shots; it is ok that none of the five players actually had five shots.

So the first player had 3 fewer shots than the average, the second and third players had 1 less, etc. so the standard deviation is (3+1+1+1+4)/5=2. On average, each player’s shot total is two away from the average shot total.

That is the standard deviation. Player 5 is 2 standard deviations away from the average and player 1 is 1.5 standard deviations.

Applying it to the roto, a player one standard deviation (two shots in this case) above the average in shots should be worth about the same as a player one standard deviation away in hits (which might be three hits, we don’t know because we haven’t analyzed any data).

 

Srandard deviations are useful because they provides a nice point of reference, so that we can express other stats in terms of their goal-equivalents (assuming the data has certain properties). 

 

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In at least one way, a lack of news can be a great thing. It gives us time to take stock of the current state of each team in a deeper way than we could hope to midseason. Do you know what August means? Top Prospects lists!

 

Most major blogs do an in depth look at their prospects around this time of the year, and they are generally an excellent read so I have attempted to link to each team’s feature. In some cases, the blogs aren’t finished or are about to start, so you can use these links as a reference to check in the future. For some teams, these features simply don’t exist, so I have linked to the best I could find.

 

Here is enough prospect reading to keep you happy for a month (though I promise more ramblings will be up before then!):

  1. Anaheim Ducks: Top 10 Prospects
  2. Arizona Coyotes: There really is little out there on Coyote’s prospects. We have the best stuff here at DobberProspects, fantasy or not.
  3. Boston Bruins: This blog is starting their top 25 under 25 soon.
  4. Buffalo Sabres: An excellent resource on Buffalo prospects.
  5. Calgary Flames: A top fifteen from the Nation Network
  6. Carolina Hurricanes: A blog that may or may not put out a top 10.
  7. Chicago Blackhawks: A ranking of their top prospects, and here is another by Jonathan Willis.
  8. Colorado Avalanche: The only blog featuring prospects doesn’t actually write much about Colorado’s prospects, so here is the NHL’s top 10.
  9. Columbus Blue Jackets: A look at organizational depth from the official website.
  10. Dallas Stars: This blog has graded out their prospects from each leagues, and has some other excellent work, such as their feature
  11. Detroit Red Wings: A site dedicated to Red Wings prospects and rankings.
  12. Edmonton Oilers: This Top 25 Under 25 is as tantalizing as you would expect.
  13. Florida Panthers: No ranking, but a general prospect resource.
  14. Los Angeles Kings: Another Top 25 Under 25.
  15. Minnesota Wild: They did a ranking last year, but no word so far this year.
  16. Montreal Canadiens: Eyes On the Prize is in the middle of their Top 25 Under 25.
  17. Nashville Predators: Again, nothing to be found so here is the NHL’s top 10.
  18. New Jersey Devils: A good series on prospects, and a possibly forthcoming repeat of last year’s Top 25.
  19. New York Islanders: I wonder where their number one profile went??
  20. New York Rangers: Profiles of all 36 NHL prospects.
  21. Ottawa Senators: Top 25 Under 25 in progress.
  22. Philadelphia Flyers: Nothing new yet, but a new feature is likely.
  23. Pittsburgh Penguins: Just beginning their Top 25 Under 25.
  24. San Jose Sharks: Not much out there, but this looks at the Sharks AHL club.
  25. : Top prospects from NHL.com.
  26. Tampa Bay Lightning: Top 25 Under 25 in progress
  27. Toronto Maple Leafs: Pension Plan Puppets are just starting their Top 25 Under 25.
  28. Vancouver Canucks: Excellent series on their best 20 prospects.
  29. Washington Capitals: Look for a new set of rankings soon from the infamous blog.
  30. Winnipeg Jets: One of about 10 current Top 25 Under 25’s out there right now.

 

I highly recommend reading his article in full, but a quick thing to note is that John-Michael Liles does very well at entries and exits, and could have a bounce-back season ahead of him. He currently has zero value, but that could change to deep-league relevance if he stays healthy and carries the puck in more often.

 

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And if you are an Insider, Corey Pronman has done his annual organizational rankings with Buffalo and Tampa Bay at the top this year, two teams at very different stages at the NHL level.

 

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Here is Connor McDavid, politely asking two Czech defenders to trade him all the 2015 first round picks in their fantasy leagues. 

 

And SBNation breaking down Tatar’s even better goal.

 

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Some exciting news in my life!

My new job isn’t fantasy relevant, but I’m too excited not to share:

I will be designing video games and working with motion-sensing controllers to promote therapy for people with hemiparegia, cerebral palsy and/or stroke victims. I will be able to make an impact on people’s lives as an undergrad, which is special to me; most of my family does something like nursing or Occupational Therapy or paramedic, etc. and the fact that I could do something real as an undergrad is unbelievable. At the same time, I will be learning data mining and computer vision and gaining valuable experience. The statistical knowledge I will be