Perusing a list of GVT rankings is one thing. It can tell you that Martin St. Louis (20.4 GVT) had a season twice as good as Gaborik (10.2). How much does that difference really mean to the teams they play for?
Hockey, like all competitive sports, is about winning games. For the GVT metric to be helpful to a team in any tangible way we have to know how a player’s GVT relates to a team’s won-loss record. Fortunately, this can be done.
In baseball they’ve determined just how many runs (RAR) equal a team win. This allows us to calculate how many wins above replacement a player is worth to his team. The metric in baseball is called Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
They’ve also deduced how many games a team comprised of only “replacement” players would win in a season. My memory says it’s somewhere around 50 or so games. Theoretically you should be able to tally up the total WAR accumulated by the players on a team and add it to the win total of the “Replacement” team. That total should equal or be close to equaling the actual total team wins for that club.
I recently considered if that has already been done for hockey. Of course I knew it was possible; I just didn’t know if I could figure it out myself. So I reached out again to Tom Awad. Here’s what he had to tell me about how many goals (per the GVT stat) equal a win.
“Generally speaking, 3 goals = 1 point (or 6 goals = 1 win). You can take my word for it or just regress it.”
I took his word for it. He’s better at this than I.
In essence, if we looked at the Rangers GVT ratings we could calculate their WAR, or WAT (Wins Above Threshold). Here’s what that looks like:
- Ryan Callahan – 7.8 GVT = 1.3 WAT
- Brandon Dubinsky – 9.6 = 1.6 WAT
- Marian Gaborik – 10.2 = 1.7 WAT
- Artem Anisimov – 7.5 = 1.25 WAT
- Brad Richards – 17.5 = 2.92 WAT
- Mike Rupp – 1.4 = 0.23 WAT
- Brian Boyle – 8.0 = 1.33 WAT
- Brandon Prust – 6.3 = 1.05 WAT
- Marc Staal – 8.7 = 1.45 WAT
- Dan Girardi – 9.9 = 1.65 WAT
- Ryan McDonagh – 4.6 = 0.77 WAT
- Michael Sauer – 7.1 = 1.18 WAT
- Mats Zuccarello – 5.5 = 0.91 WAT
- Derek Stepan – 7.0 = 1.17 WAT
- Henrik Lundqvist – 29.6 = 4.93 WAT
To put that into context, in theory if we had replaced Henrik Lundqvist with a “Threshold” goaltender (maybe like Chad Johnson), the Blueshirts would have earned almost 10 fewer points, placed 11th in the conference and missed the postseason. That sounds plausible at least.