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Possession and overall NHL player rankings: Week 9

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Ranking the forwards and defencemen two months into the 2014-15 NHL season by combining various advanced statistics.

Brandon Prust has been on the rise
Brandon Prust has been on the rise
Rick Osentoski-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.

Previous rankings: Week 5 Week 7

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 seven games by the end of Friday, December 5th. A total of 218 defencemen and 417 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: 61.5% (Jonas Brodin) - 38.0% (Raphael Diaz), median of 49.9%
Forwards: 61.3% (Tomas Jurco) - 34.3% (Adam Burish), median of 50.2%

Ranges of deployment quality:
Defencemen: 1.9433 (Jarred Tinordi) - 0.4194 (Ryan Suter), median of 1.0923
Forwards: 1.7542 (Paul Gaustad) - 0.1660 (Zach Parise), median of 0.8384

Worst possession defencemen

Worst possession defencemen Dec 5

Kris Russell and Raphael Diaz slip into the bottom fifteen possession ranks where teammate Deryk Engelland has been making himself at home over the past few seasons.

Minnesota's Jared Spurgeon and New Jersey's Jon Merrill also experience double-digit drops to be highlighted in this group.

Best possession defencemen

Best possession defencemen Dec 5

Eric Gryba and Patrick Wiercioch rise up the ranks to join Senators teammate Mark Borowiecki, all thanks to performing well in shot attempt differential despite the tough deployments they're given to allow Erik Karlsson and Chris Phillips to play easier minutes.  Karlsson currently sits in 170th position.

Largest possession ranking changes among defencemen

Possession changes defencemen 2 Dec 5

Chris Summers was ranked 207th after six games in the week seven rankings.  His even shot attempt differential in two games since, coupled with increased defensive zone starts, have carried him from the ranks of a number seven defencemen to those of a number three.

Jordan Leopold has jumped eighty-six positions after being moved from St. Louis to Columbus.  Keith Ballard has fallen by the same amount after his relative Corsi-for percentage dropped from -6.9% to -12.6% over a five-game span.

Worst possession forwards

Worst possession forwards

Four members of the Calgary Flames populate the bottom tier of the forward ratings.  Two members of the San Jose Sharks drop down to join them.

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 -0.8% in this sample. Players below that level are highlighted in red in the list of best possession forwards below.

Best possession defensive forwards Dec 5

Anthony Peluso makes an appearance at number two, giving the Winnipeg Jets two of the top five positions in the possession rankings.

Ottawa's Colin Wilson leads as the top possession and defensive player, with a top-sixty team-quality-adjusted Corsi-for percentage while facing the twelfth-toughest deployment.

Patrice Bergeron climbs another five spots on his way to the top spot he has claimed in three of the previous four seasons.  He only managed to get to the number two rank in 2011-12.

Tomas Hertl moves up twenty-four places to get into the top fifteen and is also ranked number twelve among defensive forwards.  He had a Corsi-for percentage of an incredible 73.0% in four games between November 22nd and December 5th.

Largest possession ranking changes among forwards

Possession changes forwards

Anaheim's Patrick Maroon, playing with better teammates but getting tougher zone starts, raised his adjusted Corsi-for percentage up to 49.7% from the 45.6% he owned earlier in the season to move up 172 spots.  A slight decrease in defensive zone start percentage brought a five-and-a-half-percentage-point boost to teammate Tim Jackman's TQA Corsi-for percentage, thanks to an actual Corsi-for percentage of 68.8% in five games (and a relative Corsi-for percentage of +22.5%).

Top possession rookies

Defencemen

Rookie possession defencemen 2 Dec 5

It's Jyrki Jokipakka's turn at the top of the rookie rankings board after slightly outpossessing his opposition while being given team-average defensive zone starts and low quality teammates.

Matt Dumba is the only member to increase his rank from where it was after week seven.

Forwards

Rookie possession forwards Dec 5

Rocco Grimaldi holds position after seeing no action since week seven.

Joakim Nordstrom has played the majority of his minutes with perhaps the most underrated player in the NHL, Marcus Kruger.  The tough deployment he sees on Kruger's wing helps him take the twelfth position.

Montreal Canadiens

Defencemen

Habs possession defencemen Dec 5

As mentioned last time, Bryan Allen had a Corsi-for percentage of 26.3% in his first two games as a Canadien.  His Corsi-for percentage was 60.6% over his next three games with a defensive zone start percentage of 42.3%.  Those numbers helped increase Allen's rank eighteen positions in this edition.

P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, and Tom Gilbert also experienced small jumps in their position with better shot attempt differentials.

Alexei Emelin had a difficult stretch of games that dropped his adjusted Corsi-for percentage one-and-a-half percentage points despite an unchanged deployment, causing him to fall thirty-four positions and taking defensive partner Sergei Gonchar down with him.

Forwards

Habs possession forwards 2 Dec 5

The line of Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, and Dale Weise moved up the possession rankings, along with Brandon Prust who has been playing extremely well on Lars Eller's wing.

All other forwards saw relatively large drops, with Jiri Sekac falling about seventy positions for the second-consecutive two-week period.

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 seven to week nine, you can view the archived numbers from week seven for forwards and defencemen.

Defencemen Forwards
Eastern Conference Western Conference Eastern Conference Western Conference
Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific
BOS CAR CHI ANA BOS CAR CHI ANA
BUF CBJ COL ARI BUF CBJ COL ARI
DET NJD DAL CGY DET NJD DAL CGY
FLA NYI MIN EDM FLA NYI MIN EDM
MTL NYR NSH LAK MTL NYR NSH LAK
OTT PHI STL SJS OTT PHI STL SJS
TBL PIT WPG VAN TBL PIT WPG VAN
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: 1.76 (Robert Bortuzzo) - 0 (multiple players), median of 0.52
Forwards: 5.05 (Stephen Weiss) - 0 (multiple players), median of 1.26

Best overall defencemen

Best overall defencemen Dec 5

Victor Hedman has returned from injury to reclaim a spot within the top ten, taking advantage of one of the easiest deployments to put up great possession numbers and the second-best P1+/60.  Robert Bortuzzo uses his top-ranked offence to move into the number two slot.

Adam Larsson has been having a strong season with the New Jersey Devils with an even adjusted shot attempt differential while seeing the toughest defensive zone starts (43.6%) of any defencemen.  He's also ranks thirty-fifth in offensive output.

Carolina's Jay Harrison leaps up twenty-four positions after small increases in defensive zone starts, team-quality-adjusted Corsi-for percentage, and primary points plus per sixty minutes.  Three five-on-five points advanced Dougie Hamilton sixteen spots.

Largest overall position changes among defencemen

Overall changes defencemen Dec 5

The Minnesota Wild have six representatives among the biggest movers in the week nine edition of the overall rankings, including both extremes.

Christian Folin received a decrease in defensive zone starts, which he reacted to with a nearly four-percentage-point increase in adjusted Corsi-for percentage and his first point of the season. Nate Prosser's defensive zone starts went up from 35.5% after week seven to 38.9% after Friday's games.  Jonas Brodin's adjusted Corsi-for percentage went from an already-impressive 60.4% to a league-best 61.5% in four games played, adding a five-on-five goal.

Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter's drops are mostly due to their low deployment qualities—while remaining relatively unchanged—now being at the very bottom of the list after some of the players who were below them (Edmonton's Justin Schultz, Detroit's Jakub Kindl, and Wild teammate Brodin) have had their training wheels removed as the season has progressed.  Both Spurgeon and Suter failed to add any points to their five-on-five season totals, as well.

Keith Ballard, who receives one of the toughest deployments in the league to allow Suter, Spurgeon, and Brodin to play their easy minutes, saw his adjusted Corsi-for percentage drop four percentage points after having a relative Corsi-for percentage of -21.6% in his five games since the week seven rankings.

Best overall forwards

Best overall forwards Dec 5

The oft-injured Stephen Weiss collected seven five-on-five points over six games to make his first appearance in the 2014-15 overall rankings at number one.  The twenty-sixth highest adjusted Corsi-for percentage also aided in achieving that lofty position.

Tomas Jurco added five points to his season total.  That, coupled with an increased shot attempt differential that has him currently in first place in that category, moves him up forty-six spots to sit at number seven.

Filip Forsberg's offensive production as a rookie has been highlighted throughout this year's rankings, being as high as seventh in P1+/60 last time.  After adding five points in five games, Florida Panthers' rookie Vincent Trocheck now holds the fourth-best primary points plus per sixty minutes.

Largest overall position changes among forwards

Overall changes forwards Dec 5

Patrick Maroon's increased possession numbers shown earlier and a doubling of his five-on-five offensive output from five to ten points advance him nearly 200 spots in the overall forward rankings.

Calgary's Markus Granlund falls by about the same amount.  He had eight points in eleven games at the time the week seven rankings were created, making up for some poor possession play.  He now has eight points in sixteen games to go with that poor possession.

Top overall rookies

Defencemen

Rookie overall defencemen Dec 5

John Klingberg and Aaron Ekblad remain atop the overall rookie standings, ahead of newcomer Jyrki Jokipakka.

Seth Helgeson and Damon Severson's numbers have dropped in what is a team-wide decline for New Jersey's defence corps.  Larsson is the only Devils' defender who has seen his ranking increase in the week nine rankings.

Forwards

Rookie overall forwards Dec 5

Tanner Pearson, Filip Forsberg, and Mark Stone fall by similar amounts as their offensive starts have cooled off.

Montreal Canadiens

Defencemen

Habs overall defencemen Dec 5

Nathan Beaulieu rises as other defenders fall past him.

Bryan Allen and Andrei Markov see the biggest improvements among active players.  Allen's rise is due to a tougher deployment, Markov's from the help of a better shot attempt differential from an easier deployment, while each player also registered a primary assist.

PK Subban's three five-on-five points have him ranked second in both total points and P1+, which becomes eleventh-best when adjusted for ice-time. That increased offence moves him up eight spots as he and Gonchar swap places in the Canadiens' overall ranks.

Forwards

Habs overall forwards

Lars Eller once again sits at the top as Montreal's best forward.  His absence due to a shoulder injury will be a blow.

Dale Weise is no longer the best offensive forward on the team.  That title now belongs to Brendan Gallagher.

The largest increase is a fifty-four position rise by Brandon Prust, who has had a tremendous start to the 2014-15 season and will likely be the Canadiens' Masterton Trophy nominee at the end of the year.  He and David Desharnais are the only two players to make significant gains in an otherwise tumbling group.  A recent shake-up of the lines that will have three of the top four forwards playing together (Alex Galchenyuk centring Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher) may help to stabilize things throughout the lineup.

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 seven 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
BOS CAR CHI ANA BOS CAR CHI ANA
BUF CBJ COL ARI BUF CBJ COL ARI
DET NJD DAL CGY DET NJD DAL CGY
FLA NYI MIN EDM FLA NYI MIN EDM
MTL NYR NSH LAK MTL NYR NSH LAK
OTT PHI STL SJS OTT PHI STL SJS
TBL PIT WPG VAN TBL PIT WPG VAN
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

The week eleven rankings will include data for players who have played in at least eight games by the end of Friday, December 19th.