Norris Trophy Race - P.K. Subban vs Ryan Suter

You asked for it, you will now receive it. How does Subban compare with his peers in 2013?

A few days I ago I compared Subban's brilliant season to last year's Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson. While the post was well received, there were requests for information about how P.K. Subban compares to players this year, so I'll be doing a few more of these.

Spurned on by Pierre LeBrun's choice of Ryan Suter for the Norris this year, we're going to start off with the Minnesota Wild defenseman. We'll be using the exact same methodology as before to remain consistent, although I won't be doing league ranks for shots/60, goals/60, or points/60 or even strength shots/60 because it takes too much time. The raw numbers will suffice anyway, since the two players are playing in the same year.

Check out explanations of the statistics used here.

Part 1 - Performance

Possession metrics are at even strength unless otherwise stated.

League Rank Subban Statistic Suter League Rank
4 66.0% Goals for percentage 49.1% 76
4 59.5% Shots for percentage 48.1% 92
2 59.0% Fenwick for percentage 47.1% 102
3 57.3% Corsi for Percentage 47.7% 93
8 14.9 Relative Corsi -4.8 113

Right away Subban pulls way ahead in this comparison, ranking top 5 in 4/5 measures of possession and 8th in the 5th. Suter's highest ranking is goals for percentage, and that's an unimpressive 76th. In order for this to even be a competition, Suter would have to be way ahead of Subban in another area.

League Rank Subban Statistic Suter League Rank
2 2.45 Points per 60 1.62 N/A
1 0.75 Goals per 60 0.20 N/A
34 0.97 Even strength points per 60 0.95 38
2 7.62 Shots per 60 3.99 N/A
N/A 4.29 Even strength shots per 60 2.73 N/A

Once again Subban comes out way ahead. His shot production is nearly double what Suter produces, while his goal total is nearly quadruple Suter's. Suter produces nearly as much at even strength, but after factoring in the powerplay, Subban's production dwarfs Suter's.

Shooting luck and PP production
League Rank Subban Statistic Suter League Rank
44 9.36% Even strength on-ice shooting percentage 7.81% 96
12 17.39% 5vs4 on-ice shooting percentage 12.88% 47
12 9.8% Personal shooting percentage 5.1% 102
4 2.18 5vs4 goals per 60 1.15 24
1 7.64 5vs4 points per 60 4.99 10

Subban has been getting the puck to go in for him at a much higher rate. While part of this is luck for Subban, Suter is actually converting at an above career average rate, believe it or not. Suter is not a goal scorer. While Suter produces a lot on the powerplay, he's still essentially creating 65% of the offense that Subban is creating. At this stage, being close to Subban isn't enough, Suter is looking to pull ahead.

Part 2 - Role

The biggest complaint about Subban's season has been that he isn't playing tough minutes. But is that really true? A glance at quality of competition ratings tell that story, but I think it's necessary to go deeper. I don't think Corsi relative quality of competition tells an entirely truthful story about competition faced, especially in this short season. So instead I'm going to look at a variety of statistics to gauge each player's competition level at even strength, attempting to separate out offensive talent from defensive talent in opponents.

Quality of competition
League Rank Subban Statistic Suter League Rank
Tied 17 50.9% Opposition goals for percentage 50.2% Tied 55
19 2.337 Opposition goals for per 60 2.253 Tied 67
Tied 75 49.9% Opposition shots for percentage 50.0% Tied 63
31 29.175 Opposition shots for per 60 28.041 67
Tied 111 49.6% Opposition Fenwick for percentage 50.0% Tied 61
37 40.605 Opposition Fenwick for per 60 39.036 85
Tied 98 49.7% Opposition Corsi for percentage 50.0% Tied 66
45 55.236 Opposition Corsi for per 60 52.854 83

Playing Pittsburgh without Crosby, Malkin, and Neal, then possession poor Tampa Bay has taken a huge notch out of Subban's quality of competition. In two games, where he was still matched up against first lines (including 12.1 minutes against Stamkos), his competition quality dropped up to 30 ranks in some categories. Suter doesn't face the toughest of competition though, and Subban is still matched up against significantly tougher offenses.

League Rank Subban Statistic Suter League Rank
38 23.2 Time on ice per game 27.01 1
91 16.21 Even strength time on ice per game 20.00 3
109 1.52 Shorthanded time on ice per game 2.18 74
34 53.6% Offensive zone start percentage 48.8% 84

It's very clear at this point that Suter is more heavily used this year than Subban. Heck, he's more heavily used than anyone. He faces mildly tougher minutes than Subban, but worse offensive players. The thing is, his results are awful. This is what a lot of people like to call the Jack Johnson effect. Suter was signed to a big contract, and he is a good athlete, so he's heavily, heavily relied upon. But he isn't a play driver on his own.

Part 3 - Defensive Partner

How does Jonas Brodin effect Suter compared to how Josh Gorges effects Subban? Let's find out.

With you/Without you
Subban Statistic Suter
56.1% Gorges/Brodin's Corsi percentage with Subban/Suter 48.3%
47.4% Gorges/Brodin's Corsi percentage without Subban/Suter 56.7%
58.6% Subban/Suter's Corsi percentage without Gorges/Brodin 43.6%
+8.7% Positive Corsi differential for Gorges/Brodin -8.4%
-2.5% Corsi drag on Subban/Suter +4.7%

Now here is where things get interesting. It seems like it's Brodin, not Suter, who is the play driver on Minnesota's top pairing. The rookie defender carries Suter's possession to nearly the extent that Gorges is carried by Subban. It seems that the media is too wrapped up in Suter's name to see who the real player of value is.

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