Advanced Stats: Whitney or Doan

With the Rangers on the prowl for more offense this offseason two free agents who might warrant a looksee from Sather are (potentially) soon-to-be former Coyote teammates Ray Whitney and Shane Doan. Both players have expressed their desire to remain in Phoenix however the ownership uncertainty surrounding the organization has prompted them to at least consider leaving the desert. If the Rangers were to have their choice of player with all else being equal, which would be the best fit for New York?

If we were to base the decision solely on last year’s stats and the Rangers need for more scoring it would appear on the surface that Whitney would be the better option. After all, his 77 points scored bested Doan by 27. Yet by now we realize that totals may not mean as much as rates do.

For example, let’s say in an 82-game season Player A scored 30 goals last season and Player B netted 15; does that mean A is twice as valuable or twice as good as B? What if I also told you Player A averages 20 minutes of ice time while Player B gets just 10? If we now look at the rate stat of goals scored per 60 minutes of ice time we find out both players actually posted 1.1 goals per 60.

The above exercise also doesn’t reflect the quality of each player’s ice time. It’s likely that Player A would have seen much more time on the PP, where goals are scored with more frequency, than Player B. That would actually serve to make Player B’s goal total look more impressive relative to Player A.

Surprisingly just because Whitney outscored Doan by 27 points during the regular season doesn’t mean he is actually the more prolific scorer. Let’s compare the two side-by-side using their ES and PP scoring rates for the last five seasons.

Doan

ES Pt/60

PP Pt/60

ES TOI

PP TOI

2011/2012

1.71

3.57

1226.48

252.33

2010/2011

2.17

4.65

1080.28

271.13

2009/2010

1.90

3.52

1231.10

272.87

2008/2009

2.24

4.69

1231.87

319.83

2007/2008

2.10

5.16

1201.92

313.88

Average

2.02

4.36

1194.3

286.01

Whitney

ES Pt/60

PP Pt/60

ES TOI

PP TOI

2011/2012

2.81

3.87

1217.28

309.68

2010/2011

1.84

5.98

1009.75

260.78

2009/2010

1.93

3.57

1209.72

319.32

2008/2009

2.39

5.62

1177.90

320.33

2007/2008

2.10

5.67

886.35

317.58

Average

2.24

4.91

1100.20

305.54

 

Whitney still holds advantages in both ES and PP scoring rates but how much is that difference? Over a full 82-game season with each player seeing 15:00 of ES ice time per, Whitney would record 4.5 more points. On the PP the advantage is just 2.26 points over a full campaign assuming each player getting 3:00 of ice time on the man advantage per game. Put it together and Whitney outscores Doan by an average of just 7 points, not counting SH scoring, per season.

It’s also important to look at developing trends. Doan’s performance at ES was down production-wise from the previous year (down 21.1%) but his scoring rate has only varied slightly from year-to-year over the last five. Whitney meanwhile saw a 52.7% increase from 2010-2011 and his 2011-2012 scoring rate was 17.6% higher than his next highest rate during this five-year stretch.

Whitney might be the better point producer of the two but the differences are not as pronounced as last year’s stats suggest. It’s also likely Whitney’s production at ES will regress given how high it spiked last season relative to previous years.

Next we’ll see how the two compare using puck possession metrics and see how they’ll fit in with the Rangers style of shot-blocking and physical play.

 

Doan

Rel. Corsi

Zone Start

Zone Finish

QoC

QoT

H

BS

2011/2012

5.8

52.7

53

0.022

-0.092

205

27

2010/2011

6.2

49.1

49.7

0.021

0.126

172

28

2009/2010

5.1

54.8

54.7

-0.012

0.046

154

25

2008/2009

2.4

48.6

51.1

0.015

0.014

188

33

2007/2008

6.8

52

51.1

0.026

-0.08

158

17

Average

5.26

51.44

51.92

0.0144

0.0028

175.4

26

 

Whitney

Rel. Corsi

Zone Start

Zone Finish

QoC

QoT

H

BS

2011/2012

12.7

54.2

52.2

0.047

0.187

28

10

2010/2011

8.3

53.5

52.2

0.033

0

29

15

2009/2010

-0.3

52.1

51.4

0.082

0.205

24

27

2008/2009

5

53

52.5

0.045

-0.045

27

26

2007/2008

15.8

52.7

51.6

0.047

0.1

13

23

Average

8.3

53.1

51.98

0.0508

0.0894

24.2

20.2

 

In terms of puck possession it looks like a wash. Whitney has posted superior Relative Corsi ratings albeit while playing with a higher quality of teammates than Doan. Doan did a better job of tilting the ice in his team’s favor according to Zone Start/Zone Finish.

Neither player has been particularly prolific blocking shots though it’s likely that has something to do with Phoenix not emphasizing shot-blocking like the Rangers do. Over the last two seasons Phoenix has ranked 21st and 26th overall. The Rangers placed fourth in each of the last two years.

Doan has ranked 17th and 23rd respectively among forwards in hits the last two seasons. That would certainly fit in with what the Rangers like to do.

Whitney might be the better offensive player at this point but something Messier said after the season was over struck me. “Moving forward, as you can see, teams that win the Stanley Cup get stronger as series move on,” he told the New York Post. “So for us this year the big thing is to add depth so we don’t have to use as many players as much as we did.

“The more depth you have, the less chance of wearing players down and having injuries.”

To me Doan is a better fit on the ice than Whitney. He is a big forward like Nash and Ryan, other players linked to the Rangers this summer, and plays a physical game as evidenced by his high hit totals over the years. He is still capable of potting 20 or more goals in a season which would certainly help the Blue Shirts offense. He also plays in all situations and comes with valuable intangibles. His style fits, he still has some offense left in his game and he’s a gritty leader who has helped guide Phoenix to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons amidst all kinds of turmoil while playing in the tough Western Conference. If the Rangers feel they need more depth and should their choice come down to Doan or Whitney, Doan looks like the better fit.