March 05, 2016

Hockey is following the lead of baseball and basketball, the forerunners in the expansion of advanced statistics in sports.

Michael Schuckers, a statistics professor at St. Lawrence University, and student Jim Curro devised Total Hockey Rating (THoR), a two-way player rating that accounts for every on-ice action event for every player. The score of the game and where players' shifts start also are accounted for, and each event is assessed a value according to the chance that it leads to a goal. THoR also uses a statistical model to determine the value of each player's contribution to the overall outcomes that occur while they are on the ice.

Some results:

- Of 1,800 players valued from 2013-16, the top 10 forwards were Jakub Voracek, Joe Pavelski, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Kane, Joe Thornton, Blake Wheeler, Tyler Toffoli, Jonathan Toews, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Ovechkin.

- Of 1,800 players valued from 2013-16, the top 10 defensemen were Tyson Barrie, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Hampus Lindholm, P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter, Matt Niskanen, Mark Giordano, Jason Demers, Ryan Ellis and Erik Johnson.

- The top 10 based on all events in 2013-14 were Chris Kunitz, Mark Giordano, Andrei Markov, Troy Brouwer, John Carlson, Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan Suter, Jaromir Jagr and Matt Niskanen.

- The top 10 at even strength in 2013-14 were almost evenly divided between forwards (Anze Kopitar, Jaromir Jagr, Jiri Hudler, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Thomas Vanek) and defensemen (Matt Niskanen, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Ryan Suter and Andrej Sekera).

Kopitar topped that list, while Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane interestingly was not in the top 250 for that season at even strength. However, he is among the top 250 players when you add his contributions on special teams.

- At even strength in 2013-14, Gustav Nyquist of the Detroit Red Wings was a favorite of THoR. THoR also liked Tampa Bay left winger Ondrej Palat as the best candidate for the 2013-14 Calder Trophy, closely followed by defenseman Hampus Lindholm of Anaheim. Palat finished second in the voting to center Nathan MacKinnon of Colorado and Lindholm was seventh.

- Among those at the bottom of the 2013-14 ratings were defensemen Alexander Edler, Robyn Regehr, Andrew Ference and Jared Cowen. By virtue of the amount of their ice time, they hurt their teams the most. Also of note was that Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who was not in the top 250, compensated for his poor even-strength play with his efforts on the power play, and that Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz received higher marks than Penguins teammate Sidney Crosby, a two-time league MVP.

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