For decades, hockey has been a statistically simple sport. Players who score lots of goals and get lots of points are really good. Goalies who let in lots of goals and have low save percentages are usually not very good. Hockey isn’t baseball. It’s not a series of one-on-one matchups with isolated incidences. It’s a free-flowing game with a wide variety of variables.
Beyond the obvious black and white statistics, everything has always been up for debate. Hockey fans for years have debated Gretzky vs. Lemieux and Crosby vs. Ovechkin or Toews. Words like character, toughness and leadership get thrown around. There is banter about two-way play and clutch performances. These debates are what make being a hockey fan fun. It’s the endless comparison and argument over differing situations and variables.
For the scientific-minded fans, enough is enough. No more “ya, buts” and “in my opinions”. They want to know once and for all how to truly define a player’s worth. Baseball has its WAR (Wins Above Replacement), why can’t hockey have its all-in-one determiner?
From the perspective of the franchises, who invest millions a year into extensive scouting blankets and video analysis efforts, why not try and find a way to gain an edge. Maybe there is a formula or two out there that can more closely measure the true, overall value of a hockey player. Everyone laughed at Bill James when he dabbled in sabremetrics, producing otherworldly statistical concoctions in his annual Baseball Abstracts. Decades later, James is the undisputable golden boy of statistical analysis in baseball, revolutionizing the way everyone looks at player value.
Whether you like it or not, analytics in hockey is here and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. From Corsi to Fenwick, new ways of measuring player value beyond goals and assists are emerging and building momentum.
Since it appears these new statistics are becoming common speak and a big part of today’s game, how does this translate to junior and minor hockey? Without expensive tools and video analysis, how can we find new ways to measure worth at low-tech levels of the game?
Here is a simple, low-tech statistical approach to capturing overall value in individual hockey players, entitled, “7-Factor Analysis”:
The way 7-Factor Analysis works is totalling up the following basic statistics (5 with positive effects on the game, and 2 with negative effects) to produce an overall “7-Factor Score”.
The Positive Categories (Worth +1 for each tick on the sheet):
Shots on Net
All shot attempts that reach the net, resulting in a shot on goal (goal or a save) or post hit.
You have to shoot to score and not all goals are of the pretty variety. Teams that attempt more shots that hit the net tend to be more successful. This category is only capturing shots that get to the net and not shots that are blocked or miss the net.
Opposing team shot attempts that are negated via a blocked shot by a player.
Nothing is more frustrating than having your shot blocked. Players who block a lot of shots tend to be the players who are in good positions defensively. These types of players are worth their weight in gold.
A player who delivers a check (any type of body contact—a bump a hard hit) to an opposing player.
One of the most tiring things in hockey is receiving a check (big or small) and playing through contact. It absolutely saps the energy out of you. Over the course of a 60 minute game, this can really wear down an opposing team.
Anytime a player creates a turnover for the opposition (This could come from stripping someone of the puck, finishing a check and coming away with possession, or beating a forechecker to a dump-in and making a successful defensive zone exit via a pass or skating it out.)
The point of the game is to score more goals than the other team and you can’t do that when you don’t have the puck. Valuable defensive players are able to create a lot of turnovers.
A successful pass completed from Player A to Player B, maintaining possession.
One of the most important attributes of successful teams is puck control and puck movement. Teams that control the puck through quick, successful passes, tend to maintain possession for longer periods of time, resulting in better opportunities to score.
The Negative Categories (Worth -1 for each tick on the sheet):
Anytime a player losses possession of the puck, to the other team, after being in control, other than from a successful shot attempt (Shot made it through to the net). This includes: being stripped, a finished check resulting in loss of possession to the other team, a pass attempt that misses its intended target, and a dump-in where the other team gains possession.
Giving up possession of the puck means you can’t attack and are forced to defend.
Missed/Blocked Shot Attempts
Anytime a player attempts a shot that doesn’t result in either a shot-on-goal or post hit.
When players attempt shots at the net that are blocked or miss the net, they are risking a turnover and limiting their chance to score a goal. With possession being a major key to success, you want to ensure that your hard fought efforts to gain possession at least result in a shot on goal.
So how does it work? Easy. It is easily completed as a one or two person job. All you need is a template that lays out all the columns for the different categories for each player. During the game, you add a quick tick to the appropriate box for every relevant event. At the end of the game you tabulate all of the scores for each player by subtracting the amount of ticks in the negative boxes from the amount of ticks in the positive boxes to produce an overall “7-Factor Score”.
|Player||Shots on Net||Blocked Shots||Finished Checks||Takeaways||Completed Passes||Turnovers||Missed/
Blocked Shot Attempts