Advanced Stats: Analyzing Del Zott’s VUKOTA projection
In our previous post we introduced ESPN.com’s Summer Skate preview of the 2012-2013 New York Rangers. Using Hockey Prospectus’ VUKOTA projection system, Timo Seppa discusses how VUKOTA projects the 2012-2013 season for one player whose performance is predicted to be on the rise and one expected to decline. Marc Staal is destined to rebound from an injury-plagued campaign and post an improved GVT according to VUKOTA. On the flip side, VUKOTA predicts Michael Del Zotto to fail to perform up to last year’s standard. Let’s review the case against a repeat performance from Del Zotto.
Last season Del Zotto began to put it all together after an up-and-down start to his brief career. The talented former first-round draft choice in 2008 broke into the league with a bang in 2009-2010 recording 37 points in 80 games as a 19 year-old rookie and posting a very solid GVT rating of 6.4. A vast majority of that GVT came courtesy of his offense where he was a 6.0 GVT.
Advanced Stats: Analyzing the Vukota projection for Marc Staal
Prior to the beginning of each of the last few seasons ESPN in conjunction with the folks over at Hockey Prospectus publish their “Summer Skate” series. Using Hockey Prospectus’ Vukota projection system, the articles look at one player from each team who is projected to improve upon his GVT rating from the year before and one who is expected to fail to produce up to last season’s performance. Meanwhile, Craig Custance of ESPN identifies one prospect he believes could make a splash for his team.
Timo Seppa drew the Atlantic Division this year (here’s the post on ESPN.com) and his “trending up” choice for the Rangers is defenseman Marc Staal. Michael Del Zotto meanwhile is pegged to turn in a down season relative to his performance of a year ago. Custance concludes the piece writing about the Rangers 2011 1st round pick, JT Miller as a “player to watch.”
In a deal nearly everyone sees as a clear win for New York, the Rangers at last were able to acquire winger Rick Nash from Columbus. To be fair to Columbus GM Scott Howson, the package he received in exchange for Nash was probably the best he could do given the situation. Even though he likely could have made the same deal at the trade deadline he was under no pressure to do so. There was always a chance that by waiting until summer to move Nash the market would improve. It isn’t as if not trading him in February cost the Blue Jackets a playoff berth or anything.
Nash is the player whom Sather long ago targeted to add the scoring punch needed for the Blue Shirts to take the next step in the playoffs. His offensive ability can’t be questioned though critics point out he was never able to put the Jackets on his back, so to speak, and carry them into the playoffs single-handedly. In truth I don’t believe there are many non-goaltenders that have the ability to turn a mediocre club into a playoff squad on their own.
The one legitimate question that has been raised is how has Nash’s performance been affected by the lack of a quality team around him in Columbus. Proponents of the deal from the Rangers perspective are of the belief that with better talent to play with in New York Nash will produce bigger numbers. Others feel that three straight seasons posting fewer goals than the previous year is indicative that Nash’s offensive production has peaked and Ranger fans should temper their expectations.
For Ranger fans looking for excitement this offseason it’s been a relative bore through the first three weeks of the summer. No big trade for Nash, Yandle or Ryan; no splashy free agent signings. In fact, another high-profile Ranger target, Shea Weber, passed on the Blue Shirts reportedly in favor of signing a huge offer sheet with the rival Flyers. While that hurts in and of itself, Weber’s rejection might also increase pressure on Slats to make a big move to add a scorer sooner rather than later.
Regardless of what may or may not happen in the weeks to come as it pertains to Nash, Ryan, etc., Slats has not sat on his hands this summer. He hasn’t made any headline moves but has made several additions to improve depth in the organization. Perhaps the most important of those depth additions was the recent signing of UFA center Jeff Halpern.
At this point it’s anyone’s guess whether the long anticipated trade of Rick Nash will ever actually go down. This story has dragged on since February and it appears as if we are still no closer to a resolution. While countless rumored return packages have been proposed in the media, then dissected and criticized by the fans, until a trade is finally consummated or Scott Howson reveals publicly exactly what players he wants in return for his franchise player (which would be a violation of the league’s tampering rules) no one knows for sure how high a price Columbus is demanding.
However some close to the situation, including Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, would seem to have a better idea than most. Portzline made an appearance on WFAN on July 7th (as noted here on SNYRangersblog) and indicated a deal could get done for Nash if the Rangers offered Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan and a first-round pick. Since a trade has not been made it would seem the Rangers are unwilling to move Stepan. That belief is supported by Larry Brooks who wrote as much in the NY Post (again noted on this site) last month.
Rangers GM Glen Sather continued bargain hunting for affordable forward depth with the signing of UFA LW Taylor Pyatt to a two-year deal Tuesday. The AAV of Pyatt’s deal is $1.55 million. In essence Sather utilized the money saved by allowing Brandon Prust to leave by allocating it to two players, Asham and now Pyatt. The stated plan this summer was to improve the depth on the roster and getting two useful players for the price of one is a good way to do just that. Just how useful Pyatt will be remains to be seen but we can at least get an idea based on past performance.
Here’s how Pyatt has fared in the advanced metrics I like to use to analyze a player’s effectiveness in helping his club possess the puck and tilt the ice in their favor.
Glen Sather said the Rangers were going to be active in free agency and they lived up to that on day one. They’ve yet to make the type of blockbuster addition expected but that doesn’t mean the roster moves made on July 1st won’t impact next season’s roster. The most notable signing was that of gritty forward Arron Asham, who once he takes the ice for the Blue Shirts will have played for each team in the Atlantic Division.
Asham likely will fill a spot on the fourth line where he’ll bring a little more physicality to the lineup. While he won’t have a prominent role on the team Asham’s addition was meaningful in another way as it meant the club had decided to move on from fan-favorite Brandon Prust. Asham agreed to a two-year deal worth $2 million and Prust later signed a four-year deal worth $10 million to join the Montreal Canadiens.