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What if Wakanda had an Olympic Hockey Team? A statistical breakdown of the league's top black players

*scene begins in T’Challa’s Throne Room*

Shuri: T’Challa? What are you doing on your phone?!?!? Don’t you have, like, Black Panther stuff to do?

T’Challa: My duties can wait. I am watching the athletic showcase known as the "Winter Olympics", although I am bit offended that Wakanda was not invited to participate. This sport....hockey.....intrigues me, in particular.

Shuri: Ah yes, well Africa is not known for its winter sporting prowess. It is generally hot here you know?

T’Challa: Yes, I am aware. Still, I think we should showcase ourselves in some capacity. Apparently, this Hockey is For Everyone month, and we are part of everyone correct?

Shuri: Well, yes in theory, but look around. No one in Wakanda knows how to maneuver on the ice.

T’Challa: Good point. Maybe we can recruit some players to represent Wakanda from the National Hockey League.

Shuri: Yes, that is a great idea! I will find a list of the black players in the NHL and see if we can put together a roster to participate under the Wakandan flag.

T’Challa: There is just one thing however....We must do this in secret. The evil Lord Bettman has declared that none of his players be allowed to participate without his approval. Please provide him with a few shipments of vibranium goalie pads.

Shuri: Noted.

*hours later*

Shuri: Brother! I have put together an algorithm I.C.E. (Individual Contribution Evaluation) to help us identify the best black hockey players in the NHL!

T’challa: Ok, walk me through it.

Shuri: The algorithm attempts to look at the skill sets that contribute to widely accepted stats such as Corsi For % and Game Score.

Here’s a quick breakdown for reference (year over year repeatability is in parenthesis):

  • Shooting – Primarily regressed shooting percentage (R^2 = .13)
  • Passing – Weighted Assists + Weighted Assists per goal (R^2 = .17)
  • Skating – Rushes + Rebs + Penalties Drawn + Shots/Hits Taken Ratio (R^2 = .42)
  • Physicality – Primarily Hits + Blocks + Rushes per Shot (R^2 = .49)
  • Shot Creation – % of all on-ice shots taken (R^2 = .49)
  • Transition – Primarily Give/Take Ratio + (Def. Zone % + CF% Rel.) (R^2 = .42)
  • 2-Way Play – Primarily (Total Hits + Takeaways) + (CF% Rel. + CF Quality of Competition) (R^2 = .24)
  • R^2 with CF% Rel. = .29
  • R^2 with Game Score = .86
  • From there we can quickly isolate the skill sets of the players, and use k-means clustering to find comparable NHLers to inform of us of how best to use them on our team.

T’Challa: Too much math, Shuri. Just show me the damn players.

Anthony Duclair

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    ANTHONY.DUCLAIR

    2017-2018

    ARI/CHI

    L

    42.35

    38.01

    63.20

    30.58

    71.35

    30.92

    45.54

    Closest Comparisons: PATRICK.SHARP, J.T..COMPHER, CONOR.SHEARY

    T’Challa: Ah, the Duke. Is he of royal blood???

    Shuri: Uh....no it’s just a nickname. He is a bit small, but a skilled player who has proven capable of creating offense with his speed and hockey sense.

    Devante Smith-Pelly

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    DEVANTE.SMITH-PELLY

    2017-2018

    WSH

    R

    25.58

    54.47

    33.57

    95.96

    52.00

    88.18

    44.19

    Closest Comparisons: SCOTTIE.UPSHALL, DMITRIJ.JASKIN, MARTIN.FRK

    T’Challa: Devante Smith-Pelly? Why does that name sound familiar?

    Shuri: There was an unfortunate incident recently where some racist fans said he was better suited to be a basketball player than a hockey player.

    T’Challa: I can only imagine what would happen if that occured in Wakanda.

    Shuri: What?

    T’Challa: Nevermind.

    Evander Kane

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    EVANDER.KANE

    2017-2018

    BUF

    L

    63.23

    74.04

    96.27

    94.48

    97.53

    60.39

    33.73

    Closest Comparisons: JAMIE.BENN, ALEX.OVECHKIN, CHARLES.HUDON

    Shuri: This player Evander Kane is supremely talented but.....

    T’Challa: But what......

    Okoye: *grumbles*

    T’Challa: Understood.

    Gemel Smith

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    GEMEL.SMITH

    2017-2018

    DAL

    C

    41.28

    38.01

    27.47

    20.44

    20.60

    49.12

    4.61

    Closest Comparisons: CHRIS.DIDOMENICO, CALLE.JARNKROK, ALEX.BURMISTROV

    Shuri: Gemel is tough young player at a position of need, since there are not many black centers in the NHL.

    T’Challa: Any particular reason?

    Shuri: None that I know of, but it is something to note. In addition, he has a talented brother who may be interested in joining our cause as well.

    Joel Ward

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    JOEL.WARD

    2017-2018

    S.J

    R

    83.55

    36.43

    7.64

    23.62

    5.41

    12.82

    46.04

    Closest Comparisons: ALEX.CHIASSON, ZACK.MITCHELL, JORDAN.SZWARZ

    Shuri: Joel Ward is a late blooming warrior who is a bit older but a well respected player around the league. He uses his size to get in front of the net and can take the occasional faceoff as well. He is smart and has scored many clutch goals for his teams in his career, and I believe he will be a good mentor for the younger players.

    T’Challa: Intriguing. I think we should make him one of the captains for the team.

    Joshua Ho-Sang

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    JOSHUA.HO-SANG

    2017-2018

    NYI

    C

    28.88

    76.49

    10.70

    7.38

    8.30

    65.51

    65.39

    Closest Comparisons: BRANDON.SUTTER, TANNER.KERO, COLIN.WHITE

    T’Challa: Who is this player? His highlights are amazing.

    Shuri: Joshua is a young player still trying to find his way in the league, but on this team, his strong ability to carry the puck will serve us well. He also loves to pass. Maybe a bit too much, but I think he will do well with the other skilled players in the lineup.

    J.T. Brown

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    J.T..BROWN

    2017-2018

    T.B/ANA

    R

    5.24

    31.16

    18.40

    88.10

    19.76

    47.49

    25.66

    Closest Comparisons: MIIKKA.SALOMAKI, GARNET.HATHAWAY, JOSH.ARCHIBALD

    Shuri: J.T. is a versatile player who is able to alternate between using his speed and physicality to impact the game. He would probably not be one of our top players but he would be one of our most important.

    T’Challa: Yes, and I hear that when he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he was the only NHL player that protested in solidarity with honorary Wakandan, Colin Kaepernick. He helped finance the removal of Confederate statues, and worked in the Tampa community to improve relations with police officers. What a brave soul.

    Shuri: Correct. He is also adept at the video games, which will help with our Wakandan tech outreach initiative.

    T’Challa: Pretty sure he couldn’t beat me though.

    Shuri: *eye roll*

    Justin Bailey

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    JUSTIN.BAILEY

    2017-2018

    BUF

    R

    52.57

    13.59

    59.84

    51.33

    38.64

    9.37

    3.59

    Closest Comparisons: LEE.STEMPNIAK, BRETT.CONNOLLY, ALEX.TUCH

    Shuri: Justin Bailey is a large and talented young player, who brings size, speed and the ability to score to a team that needs equal doses of all three to competitive.

    T’Challa: Cool.

    Kyle Okposo

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    KYLE.OKPOSO

    2017-2018

    BUF

    R

    37.16

    79.02

    70.48

    54.48

    57.49

    44.18

    53.93

    Closest Comparisons: BLAKE.WHEELER, JOEL.ARMIA, NAIL.YAKUPOV

    T’Challa: This Okposo player looks very good.

    Shuri: Yes, he was recently one of the top free agents, and was in demand by many teams. He is above average in many areas and really stands out with his skating and hockey sense. I presume he will be one of our top scorers.

    Nicolas Baptiste

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    NICHOLAS.BAPTISTE

    2017-2018

    BUF

    R

    14.65

    6.16

    4.84

    12.26

    27.80

    1.71

    0.59

    Closest Comparisons: NIKITA.SCHERBAK, JORDAN.SZWARZ, KRIS.VERSTEEG

    T’challa: What do you know about Baptiste?

    Shuri: Not much, but I think his familiarity with Bailey and Okposo will serve him well on the team

    Ryan Reaves

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    RYAN.REAVES

    2017-2018

    PIT

    R

    66.28

    24.17

    5.92

    99.45

    8.03

    37.79

    16.73

    Closest Comparisons: DEREK.DORSETT, TOM.KUHNHACKL, JIMMY.HAYES

    Shuri: Ryan Reaves is known as one of the toughest players in league and is feared by other teams when he hits the ice. He struggles a bit with the puck, but we have other players to compliment his skills.

    T’Challa: He does look the part. I fear that even with my vibranium suit on, I may not recover from one of his hits.

    Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    PIERRE-EDOUARD.BELLEMARE

    2017-2018

    VGK

    L

    8.89

    40.20

    75.87

    21.42

    85.90

    68.47

    36.97

    Closest Comparisons: ANDRE.BURAKOVSKY, PAVEL.BUCHNEVICH, ANTON.SLEPYSHEV

    T’Challa: Bellemare?

    Shuri: He is playing better than ever before. I believe it is the power of the Golden Knight.

    Wayne Simmonds

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    WAYNE.SIMMONDS

    2017-2018

    PHI

    R

    62.15

    48.29

    63.50

    92.60

    42.50

    44.38

    39.53

    Closest Comparisons: T.J..OSHIE, KYLE.OKPOSO, NAIL.YAKUPOV

    T’Challa: Oooh, this guy looks good.

    Shuri: Yes, Simmonds will probably be our top scorer. He is physical, yet highly skilled and can score with ease. I think we should consider him one our captains as well.

    Shuri: While the forwards have a good mix of skill and toughness, it will be our defense that determines the day.

    T’Challa: Go on....

    Dustin Byfuglien

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    DUSTIN.BYFUGLIEN

    2017-2018

    WPG

    D

    52.63

    58.67

    85.24

    94.25

    44.34

    90.90

    19.65

    Closest Comparisons: NIKITA.ZADOROV, JARED.SPURGEON, RASMUS.RISTOLAINEN

    T’Challa: This player is amazing....so strong and yet so fast and skilled. Has been imbued with the powers of the heart shaped plant?

    Shuri: No, that would be illegal.

    Johnny Oduya

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    JOHNNY.ODUYA

    2017-2018

    OTT

    D

    88.35

    20.23

    38.04

    48.70

    25.15

    95.98

    11.63

    Closest Comparisons: DANNY.DEKEYSER, RYAN.MCDONAGH, PATRIK.NEMETH

    Shuri: Oduya is not the player he once was, but he can still play minutes with the right partner against the other team’s best forwards. He will be a critical addition to the team’s depth

    Madison Bowey

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    MADISON.BOWEY

    2017-2018

    WSH

    D

    23.79

    49.86

    14.29

    40.29

    11.31

    70.03

    37.01

    Closest Comparisons: BEN.CHIAROT, BRANDON.CARLO, BRAYDON.COBURN

    Shuri: Bowey is very skilled offensively, but still makes a few too many mistakes with the puck to be trusted by a defensive coach.

    T’Challa: Well luckily for him, the Wakandan Black Panthers do not wait for others to strike. He will be fine.

    P.K. Subban

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    P.K..SUBBAN

    2017-2018

    NSH

    D

    100.00

    47.05

    61.83

    73.87

    39.70

    99.08

    47.47

    Closest Comparisons: KEVIN.CONNAUTON, SCOTT.MAYFIELD, NICK.LEDDY

    T’Challa: Who is this player with the Golden Panther on his chest?

    Shuri: This is P.K. Subban. He is one of the top players in the league and easily the best player on the team.

    T’Challa: Yes, I can see that. There’s no way he can possibly be available to us. He must play for his home country in some leadership capacity?

    Shuri: Unfortunately, no. There is some vicious rumor going around that he is incapable playing a defensive game, and that he is selfish and cannot help a team win.

    T’Challa: Is it any of it true?

    Shuri: Absolutely not. By most advanced metrics, he is the one of the best players on the defensive side of the ice. In his first year with his new team, they almost won the Stanley Cup. There seems to be something more insidious going on...

    T’Challa: Yes, that seems to be a reoccurring theme here. I see he was even criticized for sharing his wealth with a children’s hospital?!? What kind of monster would be so kind to help sick kids with his resources. He sounds like a Wakandan through and through and carries himself with the pride and flair of one too.

    Shuri: He should be the captain, without question.

    T’Challa: Agreed. We should also ask his brother, Malcolm to serve as our starting goalie. They will be treated with the reverence they deserve in the borders of Wakanda.

    Seth Jones

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    SETH.JONES

    2017-2018

    CBJ

    D

    83.24

    88.49

    94.16

    74.51

    92.48

    44.83

    9.27

    Closest Comparisons: NOAH.HANIFIN, MIKHAIL.SERGACHEV, JUSTIN.FAULK

    T’Challa: This player seems like a stellar physical specimen.

    Shuri: Yes, his father was an NBA player. However, do not let his stature fool you. He is one of the best shooters and skaters at his position and use his size smartly and wisely. Even M’baku would be at a disadvantage against such a talented individual.

    T’Challa: I like the sound of that.

    Trevor Daley

    Player

    Season

    Team

    Position

    Shooting

    Passing

    Skating

    Size

    Shot Creation

    Transition

    2 Way Play

    TREVOR.DALEY

    2017-2018

    DET

    D

    93.01

    14.35

    52.38

    22.51

    21.03

    96.76

    70.76

    Closest Comparisons: MARC-EDOUARD.VLASIC, ANDREW.MACDONALD, JAN.RUTTA

    Shuri: Last but not least, we have Trevor Daley, who won a championship last year with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is a player known more for his offensive prowess, but he is well like by his teammates and can thrive in the right system.

    T’Challa: Impressive. I’m sure visiting the president would have been awkward for him, but I will show him how a head of state of should truly carry himself.

    Shuri: So what do you think? Some team huh?

    T’Challa: I must say I’m quite proud of this collection of talent. They will represent the African continent proudly if they choose to represent our nation. Do you think we can win?

    Shuri: It will prove difficult, as the other teams are very talented as well. But we a tough on the offensive and strong and skilled on the defense, with some decent goaltending. We are built very similar to the Vegas Golden Knights, who are the best team in their conference at the moment.

    T’Challa: Shuri, you cannot possibly think Golden Knights can beat a team of Black Panthers.

    Shuri: *eye roll*

    T’Challa: lol

This post was written by a member of the Raw Charge community and does not necessarily represent or express the views or opinions of Raw Charge staff.