Advanced Stats: Scouring FA Market for Depth

Glen Miller

The pressure for the Rangers to add to their forward depth eased somewhat with news that Ryan Callahan’s shoulder injury was not as serious as originally feared. Instead of a full dislocation, Callahan suffered a partial subluxation and will miss between 10 – 14 days as opposed to possibly six weeks or longer. But because the Rangers were in search for more help at forward prior to Cally’s injury and tried to sign Jason Arnott as a result, it’s likely they will continue to scour the market looking for the right fit.

With Arnott officially eliminated by Glen Sather and the Rangers, other players linked recently to the club are: Daymond Langkow, Petr Sykora and Brian Rolston. One player still available as a free agent but unlikely to play this season is Dominic Moore. Moore’s wife recently passed away from liver cancer and hockey is surely the last thing on Moore’s mind at this difficult time.

Before we get into the advanced stats, my preferred method of player comparison, let’s take a look at the players through a different prism; my fans eye.

Rolston – Before a late-season resurgence in Boston (15 points in 21 games with the Bruins) it looked like Rolston was simply playing out the string in his long and mostly successful career. That small sample in Boston might convince some team out there to take a chance. Rolston will be 40 next month and has spoken of retirement.

He’s a good skater with a solid shot. Rolston’s played in all situations in his career but does seem like he could get on the wrong side of Tortorella at times. The veteran forward has never been much of a shot-blocker but is a willing hitter (86 hits last season).

Daymond Langkow – He recovered from a pretty severe injury when he was hit in the throat with a shot and posted okay numbers last year with the Coyotes (11 goals, 19 assists). He’s not big but probably fits Tortorella’s style a little better than Rolston. Langkow blocked 50 shots and threw 87 hits in 64 games.

Langkow is no pup either, 36 years old. Maybe it was ownership uncertainty but it could be telling that Phoenix declined to bring him back this year and instead chose to trade for Matthew Lombardi.

Petr Sykora – He might be the least likely of the players listed to mesh with Torts’ demanding style. Sykora did have a successful return from Europe and netted 21 goals for a Devils club that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals a year ago.

He’s really lost a step in his skating. Sykora isn’t going to block a lot of shots (16 last season) and isn’t a big hitter (19) but his skill could help out still.

If I had to choose based on what I know, or think I know, as a fan I’d say Langkow is the best fit. He is a hard-worker with some skill and still has some gas left in the tank. My guess is he would be the best fit on a Torts coached team.

Now let’s see what the advanced stats tell us about these potential options for the Rangers. For purposes of this exercise I will include Arnott’s numbers in this even though he won’t be singing with the Rangers. Since the Rangers were interested in signing him it stands to reason they did this same comparison and decided he was the better option.

Player

Rel. Corsi

Zone Start

Zone Finish

QoC

QoT

GVT

GVT/Gm

Rolston

2.8

53.5

49.9

-0.022

0.144

2.6

0.0371

Langkow

5.8

53.7

51.9

-0.031

-0.037

2.5

0.0342

Arnott

3.9

60.3

51.5

-0.067

0.088

6.4

0.0889

Sykora

7.6

49.3

49.9

0.032

0.213

9.1

0.111

Given Rolston’s lower Relative Corsi rating and exceptionally high QoT figure, it’s probably safe to eliminate him from further consideration. Of the players other than Arnott, Rolston also faced the weakest competition. His GVT/Gm was slightly higher than Langkow’s but significantly lower than Sykora and Arnott.

Sykora posted a much better GVT/Gm rate and also had the best Relative Corsi of the bunch. However that should be tempered some by virtue of his high QoT metric.

Langkow didn’t fare too well in the GVT departments but was solid in all other facets. The fact his game would probably mesh best with the Rangers system makes him the type of versatile depth acquisition that makes sense. From an advanced metrics perspective he might not be the best fit but when blending statistical with more traditional analysis Langkow should be the guy.