Fantasy, NHL

More Than a Feeling

December 10, 2015

If you had to guess the second-best rated player in Bottom of the Pacific over the entire season thus far, who would it be?

It’s not Jamie Benn (he’s the highest rated), nor is it his teammate Tyler Seguin, although he’s having a great year too. It’s not either of the Sedins, although they’ve both jumped up the ratings in the last couple weeks. It’s not Erik Karlsson, even though he racks up great stats in nearly every category.

Give up? It’s Patrice Bergeron. His rating of 21.32 is significantly higher than NHL point-leader Patrick Kane’s 18.27.

I’ll admit, I was absolutely floored when I saw this.

(note: if you haven’t done so yet, check out my primer on the ESPN Player Rater at the beginning of last week’s recap before going any further)

Check out this chart that shows Bergeron’s rating as well as the Highest and Lowest rated player in each category.

 GA+/-PPPSHPFOWATOISOG
Highest Rating4.754.384.144.157.515.062.523.98
Patrice Bergeron1.792.501.684.153.594.670.752.20
Lowest Rating-0.88-1.04-3.46-0.70-0.34-0.48-3.34-1.36

We can see that Bergeron is a positive player in every category, and in fact has the highest rating in PPP (tied with Patrick Kane for 1st in NHL). He’s also extremely high in FOW (3rd overall), SHP (tied for 8th overall), A (tied for 18th overall) and SOG (17th overall).

I knew Bergeron was a valuable member of Fists of Fuhry, but best on the team? Second in the whole league? Never would I have guessed.


As I dug into the Player Rater some more, I found some fun stats:

Highest Rated Player on each team

Jace: Jamie Benn, 24.36 (1st overall)
Rhys: Patrice Bergeron, 21.32 (2nd overall)
Frank: Patrick Kane, 18.27 (4th overall)
Davin: Jeff Carter, 17.77 (5th overall)
Brett: Claude Giroux, 17.08 (6th overall)
Chris: Adam Henrique, 14.71 (9th overall)

Lowest Rated Player on each team

Jace: Logan Couture, -3.65
Rhys: Jordan Eberle, -1.96
Frank: Jonathan Drouin, -1.25
Davin: Jay Bouwmeester, -0.37
Brett: Valerie Nichushkin, 0.12
Chris: Pavel Datsyuk, 1.18

(note: the common denominator here? Injury time. No chance that most of the names on this list will be rated so low at the end of the season) 

Highest Rated Non-Drafted Player

Jeff Carter, 17.77 (5th overall)

Lowest Rated Drafted Player

Logan Couture, -3.65

Number of Players Rated in the Top 25

Jace: 5
Rhys: 5
Frank: 6
Davin: 4
Brett: 1
Chris: 4

Highest Overall Rated Free Agent

Travis Zajac, 11.91 (29th overall)

Highest Rated Free Agents per Category

G: Scott Hartnell, 2.38
A: Mathieu Perreault, 2.66
+/-: Colton Parayko, 2.50
PPP: Lee Stempniak, 2.42
SHP: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, 7.51
FOW: Ryan Kesler, 3.95
ATOI: Jack Johnson, 1.92
SOG: Nazem Kadri, 2.81
W: Craig Anderson, 5.02
GAA: John Gibson, 5.93
SV%: Jhonas Enroth, 5.92


This tool is pretty awesome, but it has some flaws, especially in this relatively early part of the season. Because this rating relies on averages across the entire NHL, certain outliers can skew the results.

Let’s say you’ve decided to replace an underachieving forward on your roster. Look at this chart of the seven highest ranked free agents available right now:

 GA+/-PPPSHPFOWATOISOGPR
Travis Zajac0.900.831.261.383.593.040.770.1411.91
Frans Nielsen2.381.040.851.381.622.370.131.8811.65
Jean-Gabriel Pageau1.19-0.420.85-0.707.512.83-0.280.4611.45
Cody Eakin1.190.210.65-0.015.552.030.060.5410.22
Mika Zibanejad0.301.67-0.380.683.592.560.240.839.49
Victor Rask1.491.250.032.42-0.342.300.280.998.41
Justin Williams1.491.041.681.031.62-0.240.061.398.07

Zajac is currently injured, so you look down further to Frans Nielsen and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Their ratings are nearly identical, so in theory you could add either one of them and get similar production, right?

Not to fast. Have a look at the SHP column in this chart. SHP, more than every other category, is highly susceptible to luck, meaning sustained high performance in this category is not something that can be counted on.

Why does this matter? Let’s look at these same players after removing the SHP column.

 GA+/-PPPFOWATOISOGPR
Travis Zajac0.900.831.261.383.040.770.148.32
Frans Nielsen2.381.040.851.382.370.131.8810.03
Jean-Gabriel Pageau1.19-0.420.85-0.702.83-0.280.463.94
Cody Eakin1.190.210.65-0.012.030.060.544.67
Mika Zibanejad0.301.67-0.380.682.560.240.835.90
Victor Rask1.491.250.032.422.300.280.998.75
Justin Williams1.491.041.681.03-0.240.061.396.45

All of a sudden your replacement options look a whole lot different. Pageau isn’t an all-star anymore; his 3.94 rating is comparable to guys like Vincent Trocheck and Marcus Johansson instead of Vladimir Tarasenko and Jason Spezza. From this vantage point, it’s obvious that Nielsen is a better choice, or maybe even Victor Rask, who actually saw his PR rise.


So the lesson here: the Player Rater is a really great tool to help you make roster decisions, as long as you understand the faults. It overvalues short handed points and undervalues players that have missed significant time with injury. But use it well, and you’ll get the upper hand on your opponents.

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