Advanced Stats: What is Woywitka?

Needing to address the defense position in the wake of Marc Staal’s lingering post-concussion symptoms, the Rangers added veteran blue liner Jeff Woywitka via waivers from Montreal last week. Woywitka signed a two-way deal with Montreal this summer before the Canadiens waived him. His deal counts $600,000 against the cap while on the NHL roster.

Of course Woywitka won’t be expected to replace Staal. He was signed to give Tortorella veteran depth. He will be expected to play a solid 13-15 minutes per night on the third pair and provide a better alternative than either Brendan Bell or Stu Bickel. The question is what exactly do we have in Woywitka? Was Woywitka the best option for the Rangers? Veterans like Paul Mara and Bryan McCabe remain unsigned. Is Woywitka better than those options? What can we expect from Woywitka while he is in the lineup? Let’s see if the advanced stats can give us a probable answer to those queries.

For those who watched the Rangers in Europe this past weekend, it’s abundantly clear this team needs to stay out of the penalty box. Because of that I included the Relative Penalties Taken/Drawn Per 60 along with the usual suspects of advanced stats for this comparison. We’ve already concluded defensemen are more likely to take more infractions than they will draw but the better the differential the more it will benefit the team.

Woywitka

GP

PD/PT/60

Relative Corsi

OZone %

QUALCOMP

2010-2011

63

-0.4

-3.4

54.3%

-0.078

2009-2010

36

0.1

4.1

55.3%

-0.074

2008-2009

65

-0.5

-2.0

46.2%

-0.038

Mara

GP

PD/PT/60

Relative Corsi

OZone %

QUALCOMP

2010-2011

53

-1.0

-15.6

49.2%

-0.049

2009-2010

42

-0.9

-9.6

50.2%

-0.078

2008-2009

76

-0.5

-7.6

60.2%

0.00

McCabe

GP

PD/PT/60

Relative Corsi

OZone %

QUALCOMP

2010-2011

67

-0.5

-0.9

55.1%

-0.085

2009-2010

82

-0.5

4.4

46.9%

-0.029

2008-2009

69

-0.6

3.1

49.9%

-0.057

To put it bluntly, none of these players stands out as anything more than a depth player. Still, if we look at the biggest differences, Woywitka has far better Relative Corsi ratings than Paul Mara while essentially matching the UFA defender in OZone % and QUALCOMP over the last three seasons. I also note the extreme difference in PD/PT/60 (Penalties Drawn versus Penalties Taken Per 60 Minutes of Ice Time). If we take just last year into consideration, Mara gave the opposition about one extra PP for every five games more than Woywitka based on 20 minutes per game of ice time.

Mara’s numbers also appear to be sliding which could be an indication of a decline. It looks like Woywitka is not only the better player at this point but probably came cheaper in terms of salary cap hit.

McCabe has posted superior Relative Corsi Ratings to Woywitka with comparable or slightly better Ozone % and QUALCOMP numbers. Of course McCabe isn’t getting any younger or faster on the ice and considering he is/was coming off a deal which paid him in excess of $5 million per season, he likely wasn’t going to sign for anything close to the $600.000 Woywitka will account for. Besides, we’ve sailed the McCabe ship and it was generally rough seas for Rangers fans. It seems a smarter move to go with Woywitka.

I was curious how Woywitka measured up against Steve Eminger, a player most Rangers fans were satisfied with as a 6th/7th defenseman last season. Here are Eminger’s results in the same stats included in the tables above.

Eminger

GP

PD/PT/60

Relative Corsi

OZone %

QUALCOMP

2010-2011

65

0.0

-4.68

51.9%

-0.073

2009-2010

63

-0.7

-15.2

49.8%

0.001

2008-2009

55

-0.9

0.6

48.7%

0.000

As I look at that comparison I don’t see any obvious difference when analyzing the last three years. In fact, last season’s numbers were very similar. Eminger’s slight advantage in OZone % is offset by his lower Relative Corsi rating. QUALCOMP is nearly identical. Considering the players are 27 (Eminger) and 28 (Woywitka) it would seem they should each be able to sustain their play.

I also took a look at each player’s GVT for the last three seasons to see how Hockey Prospectus’ player evaluation metric valued each player.

GVT

Woywitka

Mara

Eminger

2010-2011

3.1

1.5

0.4

2009-2010

-1.0

3.0

-0.8

2008-2009

6.6

4.7

6.5

Total:

8.7

8.1

7.2

Woywitka holds a slight advantage over both Paul Mara and Steve Eminger in total GVT for the last three campaigns. He also led the pack last season, doubling his closest competitor, Mara. Considering GVT is a counting stat, one impacted greatly by the number of games a player appears in and all three defenders appeared in a similar number of games, it reflects well on Woywitka.

I’ve even gone a step further with this analysis and included some “quasi-scouting reports,” from THN. Here’s what THN had to say about Woywitka, Eminger and Mara respectively. Yes, I know THN isn’t the most appreciated site out there but it does contain volumes of information.

Jeff Woywitka:

  • ASSETS: Has great size and strength. Displays a nice all-around package. Can produce points at lower levels.
    FLAWS: Struggles with confidence issues at the NHL level. Lacks defensive polish and makes too many mistakes with the puck.
    CAREER POTENTIAL: Depth defenseman.

Steve Eminger:

  • ASSETS: Has great tools. Displays plenty of two-way acumen, as well as tremendous size for the blue-line position.
  • FLAWS: Needs to shoot the puck more often in order to maximize his scoring potential. Must limit critical errors in the defensive zone.
  • CAREER POTENTIAL: Inconsistent defenseman.

Paul Mara:

  • ASSETS: Has the size teams look for in a blue-liner and he skates well for a big man. Is effective on either side of the ice. Can clear the front of the net.
  • FLAWS: Isn’t very polished in the defensive zone and prone to making bad decisions from time to time. Will at times take bad penalties that hurt his team.
  • CAREER POTENTIAL: Veteran depth defenseman.

Bryan McCabe:

  • ASSETS: Can log an abundance of minutes and feasts on the power play. Is extremely aggressive in the defensive zone. Has a great shot from the point and displays a lot of leadership qualities.
  • FLAWS: Has a propensity to make mistakes in the defensive zone and take too many bad penalties. Can be distracted by criticism when he struggles in pressure situations.
    CAREER POTENTIAL: Veteran big-minute, power-play defenseman and leader.

The one common thread I see with these players is they all make bad decisions with the puck and aren’t particularly good in their own zones.

At the end of the day Woywitka represents a low upside, low risk move to add depth. He won’t hurt the club if he is utilized carefully. Considering the probable disparity in cost versus production, Woywitka looks like the wise move for the Rangers even if he doesn’t necessarily impress us fans on the ice.




3 comments
Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

without question, the Giants would like to re-sign Joseph. However; Giants history has shown similar pending UFA that the Giants wanted to retain, but the asking price was too much. If GM Reese is going to re-sign Joseph, this year is the right time as the Giants will have roughly $17.5 in cap space. Also, they can increase that total with a few voided contracts (Snee, Baas, Webster, Myers, Kiwanuka). There some quality DT available in free agency. However; based on overall ability (run stopper and pass rush), age and health wise; no one matches up with Joseph. The only way the Giants will not re-sign Joseph is if he wants to be one of the top 3 highest paid DT in the league. not so sure the Giants will go that far.

Tamás Asbóth
Tamás Asbóth

So we can't pay our best DT? The team don't spend too much money for the other defensive tackles. I'm sorry but this is bad cap management in my eyes.

Serge Marinkovic
Serge Marinkovic

A young, stalwart DL who needs to be part of the future.  He knows the defense well and is better than anyone else at his position the last 20 years or so.  Kuhn is the next Giant to show what he can do next year when he is 18 months post ACL repair.