The other night, Sean Tierney tweeted some interesting tidbits about the average NHL players’ scoring at each position. After seeing his tweets, I wanted to get a sense of where Tampa Bay Lightning players fall against the averages across the NHL for each position.
I've used only the number of skaters that are on NHL rosters (i.e. 31 x 4 for each of lw/rw, 31 x 6 for centres (incl. two scratches), and 31 x 7 for def).— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 14, 2018
While the methodology is not perfect, and Tierney discussed that in replies to his tweets, it’s the best that can be done with the information that is available. There are many players that play both center and wing throughout the season (like Yanni Gourde) and there are players listed as centers that play on the wing. Alex Killorn was an example of that as a player the NHL had listed as a center up until this season when they finally updated him to be a left winger.
For my own comparison, I’ll take the Lightning’s line-up to start their last game and compare it to the averages Tierney gave for each position. For each position in the line-up, we’ll see if the Lightning are average, above average, or below average. This means I won’t be including Ondrej Palat in this. For players that have missed significant amounts of the season, I am not making any adjustments. If I was projecting the player’s performance for the whole season, it would severely skew their performance as I don’t think Cirelli would have put up 58 points if he had played in all 70 games. For J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh, I will include their point totals from the New York Rangers prior to the deadline.
And with that, away we go!
Centres (as of today)— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 14, 2018
L1 - ~66 pts (Seguin)
L2 - ~47 pts (Zuccarello)
L3 - ~37 pts (Little)
L4 - ~19 pts (Schaller)
- Steven Stamkos - 82 Points - Above Average (+24%)
- Brayden Point - 57 Points - Above Average (+21%)
- Anthony Cirelli - 5 Points - Below Average (-86%)
- Cedric Paquette - 6 Points - Below Average (-68%)
LW (to date)— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 14, 2018
L1 - 47 pts (Landeskog)
L2 - 26 pts (Abdelkader)
L3 - 15 pts (Watson)
L4 - 5 pts (Leier)
- J.T. Miller - 49 Points - Average (+4%)
- Yanni Gourde - 54 Points - Above Average (+108%)
- Alex Killorn - 41 Points - Above Average (+173%)
- Chris Kunitz - 24 Points - Above Average (+380%)
RW (to date)— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 14, 2018
L1 - 49 pts (~Dadonov)
L2 - 21 pts (~Frk)
L3 - 8 pts (Weise)
L4 - 2 pts (Witkowski, I guess?)
- Nikita Kucherov - 91 Points - Above Average (+86%)
- Tyler Johnson - 48 Points - Above Average (+129%)
- Adam Erne - 3 Points - Below Average (-62%)
- Ryan Callahan - 15 Points - Above Average (+650%)
DEF (to date)— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 14, 2018
D1 - 40 pts (Rielly, Hamilton, Letang)
D2 - 26 pts (Keith, Edler)
D3 - 17 pts (Stralman)
D4 - 13 pts (Oleksiak)
D5 - 11 pts (Kulikov)
D6 - 6 pts (Davidson)
- Victor Hedman - 51 Points - Above Average (+28%)
- Mikhail Sergachev - 34 Points - Above Average (+31%)
- Ryan McDonagh - 27 Points - Above Average (+59%)
- Anton Stralman - 17 Points - Abover Average (+24%)
- Dan Girardi - 14 Points - Above Average (+27%)
- Braydon Coburn - 11 Points - Above Average (+45%)
It shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the best offenses in the NHL is Above Average almost across the board. Two of the three spots that are below average are minor leaguers that haven’t been up the whole season. Even Ondrej Palat with his 30 points would line up as an average second line left winger. Also if Gourde and Miller were flipped on the left wing depth chart both would show as Above Average on their lines. You’d also get a similar result flipping Callahan and Erne around with Callahan remaining Above Average and Erne becoming Average.
The addition of McDonagh also really changes the bottom end of the defensive units. If 3, 4, 5 on the blue line went Stralman, Girardi, Coburn (or Dotchin with the same number of points), those three slots would rate out as Average while the 6th defenseman spot would rate Above Average. Slater Koekkoek and Andrej Sustr’s points would also rank as average for a 6th defenseman.
The one number that surprised me was Chris Kunitz. He has very quietly had a solid offensive season. I guess it’s kind of snuck up on me just how much he has contributed with 24 points and sits as the Lightning’s 9th leading forward scorer while averaging just 12:05 of time on ice.
This isn’t something to take too seriously though. There are flaws in the methodology of pulling the data, but I felt it would be a fun exercise to put the numbers together.
If you like numbers and graphs, make sure to give Sean Tierney a follow on Twitter. He does a lot of awesome work and is great at presenting data in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand.