winnipeg - wheeler and ladd

The internet has done a lot of things. Chiefly among them we now have unlimited access to puppy videos – which is, of course, amazing. Additionally, we can review, in a matter of seconds, endless amounts of sports data as far back as we’d like. This is great in that the socialization of information should make everyone smarter, however, it makes gaining an advantage in your pool all the more difficult.

If everyone has access to the same set of statistics how do you dig deeper and find new insights?

One way is to look at old data through a new lens. A great example of this is point shares. Point shares is the percentage of on ice goals that a particular player recorded a point on. For example, if Jake Gardiner was on the ice for 10 Toronto goals and had four points, his point share would be 40 percent. Simple, right?

I only came across this new age stat a year or so ago, but since then it has been one of my core data points when conducting evaluations. Although I suppose it really isn’t that “new”, since it’s just taking a long-time stat (points) and cutting it differently.

Like all stats it doesn’t tell you a whole lot in a vacuum. In order to fully utilize it from a fantasy perspective you need to look at various on ice situations. For example – power plays.

Let’s take the Winnipeg Jets and Evander Kane as a case study (You’ll notice that I talk a lot about Kane in blog posts. I recently traded for him in dynasty league and am secretly trying to boost his value through an endless stream of positive propaganda…. Muhahaha). In 2013-14 he skated around 135 minutes on the man advantage. His points share during that time for all Jets’ goals scored was 40 percent. To put that in perspective, he was eighth on the team. First place was Blake Wheeler, who amazingly had a points share of 81 percent.

Is Kane simply a bad power play guy? This stat doesn’t tell us for sure, but it raises a number of interesting questions. How is Kane being utilized on the man advantage? Is he touching the puck in opportune places? Is he a poor playmaker? Does the coach manufacture set pieces to get him shots? And the list goes on.

It seems unlikely that players such as Wheeler and Byfuglien (a point share of 77.8 percent) are twice as good at moving the puck into scoring positions as Kane. My suspicion is that the coaching staff is setting up their group to use guys like Wheeler, Little, and Byfuglien as primary puck carriers. As a result, when the puck is eventually shot on net they are either the guys shooting or one of the last two players to touch the puck. I’d love to hear from a Winnipeg fan who is reading this and was able to watch more Jets’ games than me this year (I only caught five or six) to get your opinion.

When applying this stat to other NHL teams and ultimately your fantasy squad it’s helpful to compare to past years. I did this for Winnipeg and was amazed to see that Bryan Little, who had a points share of 60 percent in 2013-14, only posted 33.3 percent in 2012-13. Did he suddenly become twice as productive on the power play? Or, more likely, is there a degree of variability inherent in these numbers.

You can imagine that the difference a 20 or 30 percent swing could have on your power play totals. Taking a player from perhaps seven or eight points in a season to 16 or 17. Relating this back to Kane, it could be what prevents him from taking the proverbial next step above 60 points in a healthy year.

Take some time to play around with these numbers over at www.extraskater.com and see what you can find. If there are anomalies for certain players it could help you predict breakouts (and paper tigers) in years to come.

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Darren Kennedy is a contributor for Mckeen’s and Dobber. You can follow him on twitter at @fantasyhockeydk 

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