Prelude to Bruins’ China Trip and Other NHL Idiocies

Late Offseason Madness 2018 Pic.jpg

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

 

First video of the new year!! We get used to the new space, talk about how the Habs try to hide their dumb moves by making them at odd hours, go deep into the Bruins upcoming trip to China, and finish off discussing how the NHL is run by a bunch of morons. Enjoy, and, as usual, like, share, and subscribe!

 

Why The Bruins Trading David Krejci Is A Dumb Idea

Krejci

Photo Credit: Maddy Meyer/Getty Images

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

Anybody else sick and tired of the great David Krejci debates? Y’know, the ones where people claim that he sucks, and is overpaid, and needs to be traded immediately? So, I decided to take a look at it. The following are a series of graphs I constructed using data from this past season, and over Krejci’s entire NHL career, to demonstrate that he is an integral part of this team.

Let’s start with a comparison of shooting percentage to the percentage of shot attempts that actually hit the net. The size of each bubble corresponds to the volume of shots by the individual player. Clearly, Brad Marchand is one of the B’s most prolific scorers. He is very deliberate in his shot selection to ensure that he has a higher than average through percentage. Believe it or not, Krejci’s through percentage is actually higher than Marchand’s (albeit with approximately 100 fewer shot attempts). He had a higher shooting percentage than both David Pastrnak AND Patrice Bergeron this year. He is still clearly an offensive weapon for the B’s.

<a href=’#’><img alt=’ ‘ src=’https://public.tableau.com/static/images/20/2017-18BruinsPointShareAnalytics/PointShareComparisonTotalTeam/1_rss.png&#8217; style=’border: none’ /></a>

 

Shooting % vs Through %

Let’s analyze point shares. A point share is the estimated contribution from each player to a team measured in the number of standings points he and his performance were worth in a given year. Obviously, the top five in this category should surprise nobody. The Marchand/Pastrnak/Bergeron line was utterly dominant. Charlie McAvoy de-aged Zdeno Chara by about 15 years. What is interesting is the next four. Danton Heinen, David Krejci, and Jake DeBrusk were all worth just under five points in the standings. Matt Grzelcyk was the third-most-valuable defenseman on the roster. This is not the time for a Matt Grzelcyk love-fest (you get plenty of those from me anyway), so let’s focus on the three forwards. Heinen played on almost every line this year, but Krejci and DeBrusk were attached at the hip. They are very clearly second-line players on this team and contribute both offensively AND defensively.

Point Share Comparison Total Team

This second point share comparison handles only the forwards to can emphasize the importance of Krejci’s contributions. The Bruins had seven forwards worth more than 4 points in the standings this year — Pastrnak, Marchand, Bergeron, DeBrusk, Heinen, Krejci, and Riley Nash. Unsurprisingly, much of Nash’s contributions came on the defensive side of the puck. You can ALSO see that, after Krejci’s three-way-tie, the contributions drop off very quickly.

Point Share Comparison Forwards

How about the difference between players who have a lot of giveaways to those with a lot of takeaways. Riley Nash might have been the safest player with the puck all season, with nearly four times as many takeaways as giveaways. One would expect players who have the puck a lot (hello Bergeron, Pastrnak, Marchand) to have high numbers in giveaways and takeaways, and offensively dynamic players such as Pastrnak and Marchand will often have more giveaways than takeaways due to how insanely risky their offensive abilities are. This is also why they are so dynamic and dangerous, so that is a necessary risk in order to be successful. I’m unsurprised by Torey Krug’s differential here — he falls into a similar category as Marchand and Pastrnak. Zdeno Chara’s differential is relatively concerning, especially given that he played the majority of the season stapled to Charlie McAvoy, who was far less turnover-prone. Danton Heinen appears to be a defensive stalwart, and Krejci is not inherently risky with the puck.

Giveaways vs Takeaways

When adjusting for how much time on the ice each player spent, you can gain a better understanding of how effective they are in the time they are given. As you can see, Krejci actually was the second-most dangerous offensive player on the team behind Marchand, generating more than 3.5 goals-for per hour of even-strength ice time. He also had a differential between goals for and against comparable to that of David Pastrnak.

Even Strength Goals For vs Goals Against per Hour

So, now that we have thoroughly proven that David Krejci was an excellent player this past year, how about we look at his entire career in Boston? The next three graphs were developed using Corsica.hockey’s linemates tool. Each pairing are players that played at least 100 minutes as David Krejci’s linemates in his career. There are some consistent names, ones you would expect. Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton played by far the most with Krejci in his career — that line was dominant in the 2011 Stanley Cup run. If it felt as if Milan Lucic was stapled to Krejci for a while, he was. Around half of the lines Krejci has spent at least 100 minutes with, Lucic has been a part of it. David Pastrnak has also been a frequent linemate of Krejci, with the two crossing paths at the end of Lucic’s Boston tenure.

I compared the percentage of expected goals for each line in the sample to the percentage of goals for they actually produced while a line. The size of each bubble corresponds to the length of time they were a line. The Krejci/Lucic/Horton line was quite good in a large sample size – not unexpected. Jarome Iginla seems to have been a better fit in that spot instead of Horton. Slightly painfully for Bruins fans is the success of the Blake Wheeler/Michael Ryder combo on Krejci’s wings — they spent the third-longest time with Krejci as a line and were arguably one of the most successful groups he has seen in his career. This past year, although there seemed to always be a rotating cast of wingers to go with Krejci and DeBrusk, the most frequent of them (prior to being traded) was Ryan Spooner. While they weren’t as prolific as many of the other lines Krejci has been a part of, they still produced at a relatively good rate. I also highlighted easily the worst line he has ever been a part of — centering Lucic and Seth Griffith. It will become quite clear just how bad this line was.

Expected vs Measured Goals Differential

PDO, or hockey’s “luck” statistic, is the sum of a player’s on-ice shooting percentage and on-ice save percentage. Over a large sample size (i.e., a full season), the average player will see his PDO regress towards 100. Corsi For percentage is the percentage of shot attempts taken while a player is on the ice by his team compared to all shot attempts made while he is on the ice. It is meant to estimate puck possession, as in order to make a shot attempt, you must first have the puck. Many of Krejci’s lines had PDOs well over 100 — given the time he spent with Lucic/Iginla, Wheeler/Ryder, and Lucic/Horton, I’d say that Krejci’s influence on those lines means that the higher-than-average PDO levels are not an outlier. He seems to consistently influence his team’s on-ice shooting percentage in a very positive manner. This is also true of the DeBrusk/Spooner pairing, which demonstrates that this is a skill he has maintained throughout much of his career. The Lucic/Griffith pairing? Yeah, told you they were not exactly good. Nearly every single-line combination Krejci spent time within this sample had a Corsi For a percentage of at least 50%, meaning they controlled more than half of the shot attempts while he was on the ice. Over his entire career. That is not a coincidence.

PDO vs Corsi-For Percentage

How good were they in relation to the rest of the team? Well, Wheeler/Ryder seemed to do a lot of the heavy lifting — if memory serves correctly, they were a line predominantly before the Bergeron/Marchand dynamic duo was discovered. Almost all of the line combinations have positive Relative Goals For percentages, meaning the team was producing more with them on the ice than off. The expected ratio is a little more telling, with the DeBrusk/Spooner combo showing some of its weaknesses here. And again, that Lucic/Griffith combo was really, really bad.

Relative Expected vs Measured Goals Differential

 

“But he’s overpaid!” you exclaim. Well, let’s analyze some comparables using CapFriendly’s contract-comparison tool. Krejci Contract Comparables

Bobby Ryan is the most-apt comparable — not a great start. Neither is Alex Semin at No. 2. But Ryan O’Reilly, Paul Stastny, and — ooh, look! Patrice freaking Bergeron! David Krejci is not overpaid. He is paid about what he is worth. So why is there this overarching narrative that he is a bum who needs to go? I think it can be attributed to a few factors. For one, he isn’t named Patrice Bergeron. That’s a difficult standard to meet. Also, he makes MORE than Bergeron (but Bergeron signed his contract before Krejci did, and Krejci did so after several years of the Horton/Lucic line combination dominating). The notion that he is injury-prone isn’t entirely accurate. Aside from the 2014-15 season, where he dealt with a major shoulder injury, he has never missed more than 10 games in any given season since becoming a full-time member of the Bruins. He has led the playoffs in scoring twice — in 2013 and during the 2011 Stanley Cup win. He is an indispensable member of the Boston Bruins. If you are going to trade him, fine. But you better be getting another David Krejci back in return if you have any desire to continue being a perennial Cup contender.

Or, you could just mindlessly hate him. It’s Boston. There really doesn’t tend to be logic behind much of the anger displayed around here.

PuckNerd Presents: Way Too Early 2018 Boston Bruins Roster Preview

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

August 2018 roster analysis pic

So, the offseason is about halfway over. And due to some serious technical issues (CURSE YOU DELL!!!! *shakes fist angrily in the air while thunder claps in the background*) there has been a severe dearth of BFR videos. So, I delve into the B’s offseason moves and project my ideal lineup for the upcoming season despite it being far too early for it to be at all realistic. Also, WHY JOHN MOORE?????

 

That is all.

 

Enjoy. Please don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe to the channel!

 

The Newest Bruin: Axel Andersson Earns ELC (Say that 5 times fast)

(Photo Credit: Angela Spagna)

**This article was updated July 2nd, 2018 with new information on Andersson’s contract specifics. All updates are italicized. 

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

Some fans (myself included) may have felt that Axel Andersson was a bit of a reach at 57th Overall this year, but the Bruins have apparently been impressed to this point. Along with all of their free agent signings today, Boston announced that they had signed the 2018 2nd Rounder to a 3-year Entry-Level Contract worth an Average Annual Value of $825,833.

Andersson spent the last two seasons playing in Sweden’s top junior league for Djurgardens’ J20 program and produced 6 goals and 25 assists for 31 points in 42 games this year. Adding some intrigue to this signing is the fact that Andersson was selected 51st Overall last week in the CHL Import Draft by the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.

Kitchener GM Mike McKenzie seemed to be relatively confident that Andersson would be suiting up for the Rangers this year. Signing Andersson to his ELC does not necessarily guarantee this, but it makes it much more likely. As he was drafted out of Sweden, the Bruins have several options for him. He can either play in the AHL this year (unlikely), go back to Sweden (more on that in a sec.), or be loaned to the Rangers, all three of which would result in his contract “sliding,” or delaying the start of the deal until the start of the next season. According to Cap Friendly, Andersson’s contract includes a European Assignment Clause for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, which allows the Bruins to assign him to his Swedish team rather than to Kitchener or Providence. 

This can happen for the next two seasons before the contract could begin. What this DOES do, however, is give the Bruins complete autonomy on where Andersson plays next season, since he is now employed by the team. Where will he play? Who knows. But, in all likelihood, he will be in a Spoked-B in due course. And he seems like a really great guy.

B’s Dip Into Hurricanes’ Depth Again, Sign Nordstrom to 2 Year Deal.

Nordstrom Jamie Kellner.jpg

Photo Credit: Jamie Kellner

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

Remember when the Bruins took a chance on some guy from Carolina 2 years ago in free agency, and he turned into a 3rd Line Center of every B’s fan’s dreams? Joakim Nordstrom may not be Riley Nash, but apparently, the Bruins are comfortable using the Hurricanes’ bottom half of the roster as their depth farm system. The Bruins signed Nordstrom, 26, to a 2-year deal, with an average annual value of $1 million. In his 282 game NHL career, he has a total of 20 goals and 29 assists for 49 total points. That’s…less than ideal. Originally a 3rd Round selection by Chicago (90th Overall) in 2010, the Swede split time between the Blackhawks and their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, for two seasons before landing in Carolina along with Kris Versteeg in a post-Stanley Cup salary dump deal. In 75 games this past year, he tallied 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points.

This fits a mold the Bruins seem to like – a player who was previously considered a good prospect, who settled into a bottom 6 role and has the potential for decent offensive output. Unfortunately, he is a negative point-share player in his career, meaning he is scored on significantly more than he is able to generate offense. He averages more takeaways than giveaways, which indicates a respectable level of defensive competence. Unfortunately, that has to be contrasted with the fact that he averages a little under 3 goals against per hour when he is on the ice. That’s a rather high number.

I have to say, that based on this, I am very much not a fan. But, he does do things like this:

Along with the signing of Chris Wagner, who has been 2nd in the league in hits over the last year only to Matt Martin, it appears that Don Sweeney, Cam Neely, or some other “Hockey Man” in the front office has decided that the reason the Bruins were eliminated by the Lightning this year was a lack of “jam” or grittiness. Out-hitting an opponent is not the way of the NHL in 2018. It seems that message may have been missed at some point.


Let’s just not do anything else like this, please.

It seems Boston could’ve very easily retained Tim Schaller and Anton Khudobin for similar prices, but chose to move on. Schaller was, I’m sure, a result of “not enough physicality” in the bottom 6. I can’t believe I have to make this argument AGAIN, but if you are relegating your bottom 6 to being physical, grinder-esque players, you are going to lose. It is not a proper maximization of a lineup to do so. And if you want those types of players, make sure they can do things OTHER than hit and be physical and tough to play against.

Recapping the Bruins’ 2018 NHL Draft

2018_Draft_Announcement_665x374-ce56a0a168

Photo Credit: NHL.com

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

The Boston Bruins came away with 5 players in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, all selected on Day 2. The reactions were… mixed, to say the least. What did I think? Read on to find out:

2nd Round, 57th Overall – D Axel Andersson, Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)

Andersson Johan Sahlen

Photo Credit: Johan Sahlen

I’m going, to be honest – with the players left on the board here, I was not a fan of this pick. The organization has a ridiculous number of defensemen in the pipeline, and there were better forwards available. Regardless, I don’t think it was a complete whiff. I will refer you to the scouting report compiled by CanucksArmy, who is one of the best names in public player analysis. Andersson appears to be several years away from making an impact but could be a lesser, right-handed version of Urho Vaakanainen.

PuckNerd’s Grade: C+

3rd Round, 77th Overall – C/W Jakub Lauko, Pirati Chomutov (Czech)

Lauko Piratichomutov.cz

Photo Credit: Piratichomutov.cz

This was an absolute steal at this point of the draft. Lauko has the speed for days. He broke into the Czech Extraliga at age 16 and has yet to look out of place. He can sometimes find himself with a bit of Michael Grabner syndrome (speed, no finish), but he is slowly working the kinks out in that respect. I think the upside is probably a less-skilled version of Jake DeBrusk, who has better wheels than the 2015 1st Rounder. Excellent value here in the 3rd Round, and a definitive upgrade over Frank Vatrano, for whom the Bruins acquired this selection. For reference, Lauko ALSO appeared in CanucksArmy’s Top 100.

PuckNerd’s Grade: A-

4th Round, 119th Overall – C Curtis Hall, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

Curtis Hall USHL

Photo Credit: USHL

Hall is never going to wow you with pure skill, but I like his hockey IQ, and he is another burner in the speed department. The Yale commit was a little quiet offensively in the USHL, and I’m not sure if he has offensive upside at the NHL level, but this is a solid bottom-six forward for a decade if he pans out.

PuckNerd’s Grade: B-

6th Round, 181st Overall – D Dustyn McFaul, Pickering Panthers (OJHL)

McFaul Pickering Panthers.jpg

Photo Credit: Pickering Panthers

Yeah, I have to be honest – I have literally never heard of Dustyn McFaul. He couldn’t crack the Kingston Frontenacs’ roster last year, so he went to a very, very bad Pickering squad and helped them slowly improve over the last two seasons. The Clarkson commit has a bit of NHL upside but is definitely a long-term project. Decent mobility and instincts, needs to improve his shot and one on one defense, but he also won’t enroll at Clarkson until at least the fall of 2019, so this is not a pick Boston fans should expect to see in the spoked-B any time soon.

PuckNerd’s Grade: C-

7th Round, 212th Overall – C Pavel Shen, Mamonty Yugry (MHL)

Pavel Shen KHL

Photo Credit: KHL

When was the last time the Bruins took an overage KHL player? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Shen was passed over last year, despite being a point per game player in the Russian junior leagues, and, despite some injuries, this past season, continued to produce at a similar pace. He’s an overager but is a mid-August birthday, so he only was eligible for last year’s draft by about a month. He is signed to a contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL for next season, so I don’t expect him to come to North America any time soon, but there is dynamic skill there. Needs a little work on his skating, but he is a decent size (6’1″, 185 lbs), has a great shot, and plays a North American style of game. This is a good sleeper pick by Don Sweeney – uncharacteristically taking a flier on a high-upside guy in the 7th Round is a great strategy. Time will tell if it works out for Boston.

PuckNerd’s Grade: A+

Some risky picks, some great ones, some less than stellar ones; probably about on par for what you would expect from a draft. What do YOU think about this class? Let me know in the comments below, and please follow me on Twitter (found above) to get more analysis moving forward!