Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Summarizing THN's Metropolitan Division Preview

If you've ever read anything I've written about hockey, I always save the Metropolitan Division for last so I can end the post with a huge rant (or just a general tangent) about the Flyers.

THN really indulged me on this one, because they ended their season previews with the Washington Capitals, meaning I had no choice but to end on the Metro. Here's the link to the THN previews, and here are the links to my summaries of the Atlantic, Central, and Pacific divisions.

Two quick housekeeping notes/things to take care of. All of these great charts come from Dom:

And another Twitter friend is hosting a semi-fantasy-hockey-thing:
Projected Metropolitan Division Standings
  1. Pittsburgh (96.1% chance of making the playoffs)
  2. Washington (87.3%)
  3. Philadelphia (69%)(nice)
  4. NY Islanders (51.8%)
  5. NY Rangers (45.1%)
  6. Columbus (32.3%)
  7. Carolina (9.1%)
  8. New Jersey (7.6%)
As rough of a year as it's going to be for Carolina and New Jersey, it's probably worse to be a Columbus fan right now. You know the Blue Jackets aren't going to make any noise this season, they're probably going to fire their coach, and they're locked into their mostly-aging, mostly-overpaid core for the rest of this decade. 

Also, uh, how about those Flyers?

Best Forwards In The Division
  1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh (1.96 GSAR/60, 3.3 GSVA)
  2. Aleksandr Ovechkin, Washington (1.88, 3.1)
  3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh (1.59, 2.6)
  4. Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh (1.64, 2.4)
  5. Jake Voracek, Philadelphia (1.48, 2.4)
  6. John Tavares, NY Islanders (1.44, 2.4)
  7. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia (1.41, 2.4)
  8. Taylor Hall, New Jersey (1.37, 2.2)
  9. Brandon Saad, Columbus (1.31, 2.0)
  10. Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia (1.28, 1.9)
  11. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington (1.21, 1.9)
  12. Nicklas Backstrom (1.17, 1.9)
  13. Rick Nash, NY Rangers (1.14, 1.7)
  14. Nick Foligno, Columbus (1.08, 1.6)
  15. Derek Stepan, NY Rangers (1.06, 1.6)
  16. TJ Oshie, Washington (1.02, 1.6)
  17. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus (1.25, 1.5)
  18. Jeff Skinner, Carolina (0.98, 1.5)
  19. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh (0.96, 1.5)
  20. Max Zuccarello, NY Rangers (0.95, 1.5)
  21. Jordan Staal, Carolina (0.93, 1.5)
The Crosby-Ovechkin-Malkin trio at the top of that list shouldn't surprise anybody, but there are a few names on that list that we might not have expected. Patric Hornqvist, for example, is probably more important to the Penguins than anyone on the famous HBK line. Oliver Bjorkstrand has just 12 NHL games under his belt, but Columbus is going to rely on him to become a piece of their future if they ever want to actually have a future. 

I also think it's interesting that Tavares, Giroux, Hall, and Saad are in the same neighborhood. Those guys will all be tasked with carrying the load for their teams (though it's definitely nice, as a Flyers fan, to have Voracek and Simmonds sandwiching that group).

Best Defensemen In The Division
  1. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh (1.18, 2.6)
  2. Justin Faulk, Carolina (0.91, 1.9)
  3. Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia (0.99, 1.8)
  4. John Carlson, Washington (0.80, 1.6)
  5. Johnny Boychuk, NY Islanders (0.82, 1.5)
  6. Nick Leddy, NY Islanders (0.69, 1.3)
The Devils, Blue Jackets, and Rangers do not have anyone who rates as a Number One Defenseman. That is.... sub-optimal. 

This measurement is very clearly coming from an offensive focus though, because those top four (Gostisbehere especially) are attack-minded defenseman. It's hard to quantify, but steady, balanced minute-eaters like Michael Del Zotto, Travis Hamonic, Ryan McDonagh, and Seth Jones are probably undervalued by Dom's metric. 

Best Goalies In The Division
  1. Corey Schneider, New Jersey (0.22, 2.7)
  2. Braden Holtby, Washington (0.19, 2.4)
  3. Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers (0.15, 1.9)
I think I was predicting there would be five goalies from the Metro that rated as "Top Ten" but maybe there aren't ten goalies in that class? Steve Mason (0.17, 1.7) is right on the heels of that group, as are Roberto Luongo (0.15, 1.6), Semyon Varlamov (0.16, 1.7), and Cam Talbot (0.16, 1.7). 

Worst Players In The Division, Starting Lineup
Winger: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Philadelphia (-0.73, -0.7)
Center: Jay McClement, Carolina (-0.93, -0.9)
Winger: David Clarkson, Columbus (-0.57, -0.5)

Defenseman: Dan Girardi, NY Rangers (-0.36, -0.6)
Defenseman: Jon Merrill, New Jersey (-0.39, -0.6)

Goalie: Cam Ward, Carolina (-0.07, -0.6)

In keeping with tradition, here is a fun fact: Ward signed a two-year extension this summer with a cap hit of $3.3 million and a No Trade Clause. 

An additional note for this section. I'm surprised at how poorly Bellemare rates, especially since he had a very good showing at the World Cup. I think most people around the Flyers expect him to prove that last season, he was dragged down by Ryan White and Chris Vandevelde. This year, he should see most of his time on the ice playing with guys with considerably more skill. 

Here are the full rankings/projections:


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