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Possession and overall NHL player rankings: Week 7

Ranking the forwards and defencemen after the first quarter of the 2014-15 NHL season by combining various advanced statistics.

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The possession and overall rankings in this article combine several advanced statistics into a single score to give an idea of how players are performing relative to their peers. Statistics used and how they are combined are detailed in the article introducing this project for the 2014-15 NHL season.  You can view the initial rankings for games up to those ending on November 8, 2014 in the week five article.

The rankings in this article are created using five-on-five data from WAR On Ice. Samples for defencemen and forwards include all players who had played at least six games by the end of Saturday, November 22nd. A total of 218 defencemen and 413 forwards met that minimum game criterion.

Possession Rankings

The possession scores used to create these rankings are a combination of players' team-quality-adjusted Corsi-for percentage and their deployment quality (as described in the introductory article linked above).

Ranges of team-quality-adjusted Corsi-for percentage (TQA CF%) in this sample:
Defencemen: 62.5% (Josh Manson) - 37.2% (Ryan Stanton), median of 50.0%
Forwards: 64.0% (Daniel Cleary) - 33.5% (Travis Moen), median of 50.4%

Ranges of deployment quality:
Defencemen: 1.9235 (Seth Helgeson) - 0.1624 (Brad Hunt), median of 1.0167
Forwards: 1.5656 (Paul Gaustad) - 0.1516 (Nail Yakupov), median of 0.7260

Worst possession defencemen

Worst possession defencemen Nov 22

Best possession defencemen

Best possession defencemen Nov 22

Adam Pardy and Mark Borowiecki lose a bit of ground due to an easier deployment quality compared to the week five rankings, allowing the Nashville defensive pairing of Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm to take the top spots.

New York Islanders' off-season acquisition Nick Leddy sees a significant jump in ranking to place 10th.

The decision-makers of the Montreal Canadiens have determined that Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu are too good for the NHL level and have promoted their top-seven possession defencemen to the AHL.

Largest possession ranking changes among defencemen

Possession changes defencemen Nov 22

One of last season's best rookie defencemen, Hampus Lindholm is the biggest riser in this edition, increasing his team-quality-adjusted Corsi-for percentage from the 48.3% he held after week five to 54.5%.

Matt Bartkowski has not been as zonally sheltered as he was to begin the 2014-15 season (with a current defensive zone start percentage of 27.3% compared to a week five DZSt% of 19.3%) and has seen his adjusted CF% increase by nearly four percentage points.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Calgary's Raphael Diaz has experienced a large drop in his TQA CF%: from 42.1% down to 37.9%.  His actual relative Corsi-for percentage has plummeted from a respectable -2.6% with a tough deployment to a 204th-ranked value of -7.6%.

Worst possession forwards

Worst possession forwards Nov 22

The Philadelphia Flyers, not content to sit idly by and let the Colorado Avalanche employ the worst possession line in the NHL, have countered with a worthy challenger in the form of Vincent Lecavalier, RJ Umberger, and whichever player has the misfortune of completing that three-man unit.  For several minutes this season, that has been (recently waived) rookie Jason Akeson.

Best possession & defensive forwards

Qualification as a defensive forward is determined by comparing a forward's personal defensive zone start percentage to that of his team to obtain a relative defensive zone start percentage. The cutoff for consideration is having at least a median-level DZSt% rel, which is approximately -0.4% in this sample. Players below that level are highlighted in red in the list of best possession forwards below.

Best possession & defensive forwards Nov 22

Matt Halischuk maintains the top possession/defensive ranking.

Dan Cleary's impressive adjusted Corsi-for percentage has his first appearance in the 2014-15 possession rankings at the number three position.

Patrice Bergeron moves into the top fifteen, and based on the forward rankings from previous seasons, he will likely be there for the remainder of the season.

Largest possession ranking changes among forwards

Possession changes forwards Nov 22

Evander Kane is recovering from a knee injury, and his 151-position jump from week five to week seven suggests that recovery is coming along quite well.  His actual Corsi-for percentage has increased by about ten percentage points (8.4 TQA CF% points) over his last six games in this sample.

As predicted last time, Brandon Prust did indeed enjoy a large boost to his possession ranking after being placed on a line with Lars Eller.

John Scott's days moonlighting as a first-line NHLer appear to be done after suffering a three-and-a-half percentage point drop in his adjusted Corsi-for percentage despite a significant decrease in his defensive zone start percentage (45.8% to 33.3%).

Paul Stastny has tumbled down the board in quite extraordinary fashion.  His teammate quality has stayed relatively the same from the first rankings, but the competition he has faced has reduced from players who play 29.2% of the time to ones who are on the ice for 28.3% of an average game.  That is a large difference within the tight range of competition values and takes what was a 315th-ranked quality of on-ice personnel and turns it into one ranked 407th.  He has seen a shift in zone starts as well, from a DZSt% of 34.7% after week five to 29.6% after week seven.  Compound those factors that led to a much easier deployment with a team-quality-adjusted Corsi-for percentage that dropped from 57.7% to 52.1% and you can see the effect it can have on a player's possession rank.

Top possession rookies


Top possession rookie defencemen Nov 22

Some new players emerge on the rookie board, led by the player with the highest adjusted Corsi-for percentage of all defencemen in this sample, Josh Manson.

Seth Helgeson is number one in the other factor used in the possession rankings, playing with low-quality teammates and starting mostly in his defensive zone.

Nikita Zadorov, along with his defensive partner, Rasmus Ristolainen, has been putting on quite a performance for the Buffalo Sabres, being the only player with a team-quality-adjusted Corsi-for percentage above 46.5%.


Top possession rookie forwards Nov 22

Rocco Grimaldi made headlines for playing in both an AHL and NHL game in the same day.  He had a five-on-five Corsi-for percentage of 62.5% for the Florida Panthers that game.

Carolina added Andrej Nestrasil from Detroit to their batch of good possession rookies that already included Chris Terry and Victor Rask.

Montreal Canadiens


Habs possession defencemen Nov 22

Tom Gilbert is the biggest mover of the Canadiens' defencemen from week five, moving up 47 positions.

P.K. Subban's possession game continues to be elusive this year.  He has been no lower than 43rd at the end of the season for the four complete seasons these numbers have been calculated.

Sergei Gonchar and Bryan Allen made their Canadiens debuts during the last two weeks.  Both have been fairly impressive in the games used in this sample, although Allen has a Corsi-for percentage of 26.3% in his two games with Montreal (only one of which is included in this sample).


Habs possession forwards

Despite not playing any more games with the Canadiens, WAR On Ice appears to have found some errors in their numbers from Rene Bourque's stint that were used to calculate the week five rankings.  He has been credited with an additional thirty-six seconds or so and has had his deployment numbers adjusted, the result of which is a tougher QoOIP.  That may be one reason for his seventeen-position improvement from week five.  The end result is that he is now at the top of the list of possession players to play for Montreal this season.

Jiri Sekac has had the largest fall of the Canadiens' forwards, mostly attributable to the easier zonal deployment he received while playing with Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec, without the expected increase in adjusted Corsi-for percentage that would bring.

Dale Weise falls out of the rankings reserved for each of the thirty teams to use twelve forwards in their lineup, currently putting up replacement-level possession numbers in 372nd place.

Possession filter views

The Google Documents spreadsheets containing all of the data used in creating these rankings (separate files for defencemen and forwards) are publicly available and can be viewed by clicking either the 'Defencemen' or 'Forwards' links in the table below. If you would like to jump directly to the rankings/scores for players of one particular team or just see how this season's rookies compare, you can use the filter views I've created in those sheets. The "Def." filter shows the list of defensive forwards. The team defensive zone start percentages used in determining that status can be found in the "Team DZSt% 14-15" sheet.

You can click the links below or go to 'Data' > 'Filter views...' within the spreadsheets, although some of the views may be hidden from view off the screen via that method.

There are also links for the individual files containing the four previous seasons' rankings that I created last year using five-on-five data from the now-defunct Extra Skater.

If you'd like to compare the numbers for players from week five to week seven, you can view the archived numbers from week five for forwards and defencemen.

Defencemen Forwards
Eastern Conference Western Conference Eastern Conference Western Conference
Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific
TOR WSH Rookie Defencemen TOR WSH Rookies Def.
2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11

Overall Rankings

The two factors used in creating the possession scores are combined with a time-on-ice-adjusted scoring statistic to create the overall scores

Ranges of primary points plus per sixty minutes (P1+/60):
Defencemen: 1.80 (Zach Redmond) - 0 (multiple players), median of 0.53
Forwards: 3.66 (Matt Cooke...yep) - 0 (multiple players), median of 1.28

Best overall defencemen

Best overall defencemen Nov 22

John "Knucklepuck" Klingberg has had an incredible NHL debut, combining the third-highest five-on-five scoring rate for defencemen with a thirteenth-ranked adjusted Corsi-for percentage to place fourth in the overall standings.

Cody Franson makes the jump from eighty-third to ninth, mostly thanks to six five-on-five points in his seven games since the week five sample.

Largest overall position changes among defencemen

Overall changes defencemen Nov 22

Bartkowski had three primary assists in four games between weeks five and seven.  Combine that with the increased possession numbers previously highlighted, and you get an enormous leap up the overall rankings board for the Bruins' defender.

One of the former-Bruins that Bartkowski is attempting to replace is the next-biggest riser on the list.  Johnny Boychuk one-upped Bartkowski with four primary assists to help him increase his rank by over 100 positions.

Tyson Strachan had zero points in his five games.  His relative (to the other members of the Buffalo Sabres) Corsi-for percentage dropped from +4.4% to -4.7% over those five games as well.

Best overall forwards

Best overall forwards Nov 22

Ryan Strome advances eighteen spots to sit at number two in the overall rankings.  Mikhail Grabovski falls fifteen places but remains within the top twenty, with teammate Josh Bailey immediately behind him in twenty-first.

Largest overall position changes among forwards

Overall changes forwards Nov 22

Calle Jarnkrok's climb is due in large part to the 114-spot increase in his possession numbers.  He has also added four points to what had been a scoreless season at the time of the week five rankings.

Tomas Tatar scored five goals at five-on-five in the last two weeks to move him into the top thirty.  Logan Couture has not gathered any points in that time and has also seen a reduced deployment quality and a lowered adjusted Corsi-for percentage.

Top overall rookies


Top overall rookie defencemen Nov 22

An eleven position rise wasn't enough for Aaron Ekblad to overcome the stellar emergence of Klingberg in the rookie standings.  Still a very impressive start to his career for the youngest defencemen in the NHL.


Top overall rookie forwards Nov 22

Vincent Trocheck has scored six primary points in ten games to make his first appearance on the rookie board in its top slot.

Filip Forsberg is still putting points at an impressive rate: seventh-best of all forwards, up from eighth after week five.

Montreal Canadiens


Habs overall defencemen Nov 22

Sergei Gonchar has been very impressive for the Montreal Canadiens, currently ranked eighteenth in P1+/60.  The offensive aspect of P.K. Subban's game remains intact to keep him within the top thirty.

Beaulieu also added his only five-on-five point this season (a secondary assist) to his lofty possession numbers.  If his trip down to the AHL can instill some offensive confidence, perhaps it could end up being a help for the soon-to-be twenty-two-year-old.

Alexei Emelin's five points (four of which were contributed in his first three games) are no longer boosting his overall ranking and he falls thirty-three positions to sit last among the nine defencemen to play for the Canadiens this season as a result.

Last season the bottom of the Canadiens' defence corps was populated by players (Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray) who were not of NHL calibre.  This season, that is not the case.  Even with his drop, Emelin is still solidly in fifth-defenceman range (rankings 121-150).


Habs overall forwards Nov 22

Dale Weise may have replacement-level possession stats, but he has been scoring at an impressive rate with three goals and five assists--all of them primary--in a little more than 190 minutes.  His primary points plus per sixty minutes is significantly ahead of any other Canadiens forward, and currently the twenty-sixth-highest total among all forwards.

Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk each doubled their point total from five to ten five-on-five points, resulting in large gains and granting them places within the top ninety ranks reserved for first-line forwards.

Overall score filter views

The overall ranking sheets are located next to the possession sheets in the Google Docs files. They are linked, along with their filter views, in the following table.

The archived week five data is also available for defencemen and forwards.

Defencemen Forwards
Eastern Conference Western Conference Eastern Conference Western Conference
Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific
TOR WSH Rookie Defencemen TOR WSH Rookie Forwards
2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11

Next update

WAR On Ice appears to use Sundays as site maintenance days, therefore the week nine edition of these rankings will include data from games up to Friday, December 5th rather than the following Saturday.