By the Numbers: Winnipeg Jets performance by Goals Above Replacement

The season is done and now begins a time of reflection. Fans discuss to each other who they hope the Jets move or keep while management actually debates those very decisions.

Recently the good people at WAR-on-Ice have been developing a new stat called Goals Above Replacement. The statistic combines multiple factors like penalty differentials, shot differentials, face offs, and scoring to create a measured value of a player’s season.

The statistic is still in development. There will be changes in the future and other factors added in. But, it is still neat to look at what it says for now.

Let’s use this statistic to look at how the Jets’ performed.

Forwards

FGAR

A Few Thoughts:

* With a few exceptions, there is not much surprise in which players fall near the top or near the bottom.

* GAR make an argument for Bryan Little being the Jets MVP. He does everything well. He pushes the play, defends, scores, and even did decent in the face off department.

* Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd also place up near the top as expected. These three are bonafide top line forwards in the NHL.

* Mathieu Perreault has been an underrated forward for years. Whether as a winger or a centre, Perreault provides excellent value with top line results for only minimal costs.

* Michael Frolik could end up entering free agency this season. He is a strong middle six player and if the Jets lose him it could hurt in the short run.

* The performance of the Jets youth with Mark Scheifele and Adam Lowry was one of the top stories of the year. In only their 21-year-old season, the two young centres provided the Jets with positive value while on their entry level contracts. As they grow, we should expect their even strength scoring –their largest area of weakness– to improve.

* Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak were two smart player depth acquisitions. They gave the Jets improved depth and created scoring threats on every line while also playing smart, two-way hockey.

* The other expiring free agent acquisition was more of a mixed bag. Drew Stafford has historically scored well –although not as well as Tlusty– and scored well with the Jets. Unfortunately though, the value he tends to provide in scoring is overshadowed by his negative value in outshooting the opposition, especially in defensive impact.

* There are some who want to extend Jim Slater for his face off abilities. These statistics help show how little value face offs truly provide. Fourth line players should typically be the worst players, as that is what places them on the fourth line. There are definitely less negative alternative values out there.

Defenders

DGAR

A Few Thoughts:

* Despite Dustin Byfuglien playing much of the season as a forward, where he performs significantly worse, the big defender still comes out as the Jets top performer. Byfuglien’s primary value comes in his ability to create and drive offense.

* Tobias Enstrom is the Jets best left handed defensemen and it’s not even close. He’s spent the majority of the season with either Tyler Myers or Zach Bogosian on his hip, yet look at the difference in value. Ya.

* Like Scheifele and Lowry, Jacob Trouba has been evolving into a very promising young player. The third best defender on the team is only twenty-years-old. Food for thought.

* Ben Chiarot had a surprisingly effective season, although there are some legitimate concerns how much of his performance is carried by Dustin Byfuglien. For some context, Chiarot posted a 55 per cent Corsi rating for his minutes with Byfuglien, but only a 49 per cent while away.

* Mark Stuart has never been an above average defender. The gritty defender has been asked to carry more weight than his capacity, often playing top four minutes. In the future hopefully the Jets left side can remain healthier, placing Stuart in the correct role.

* Tyler Myers and Zach Bogosian both played significant minutes on a terrible Buffalo Sabres squad, which severely depresses their numbers. It should be noted though that neither were elite performers while on the Jets however and removal of Sabres minutes would probably only place them just above Mark Stuart.

(EDIT) Added Explanation

There were a few requests via Twitter to expand the explanation on the numbers.

Essentially what we are measuring is the impact of player performance in multiple areas. These are all being measured in terms of the player’s impact on a team’s goal differential relative to a replacement level player.

Examples:

* Jim Slater’s performance in winning face offs was worth about one goal above replacement level

* Toby Enstrom’s performance in shots against per minute was worth about 3.32 goals above replacement level.

* The sum of all of Bryan Little’s numbers adds up to being worth 23 goals more than a replacement level player.

For more information on GAR, check out WOI’s “The Road to WAR” series here.

Final Thoughts

Teams exist for three intertwined reasons: make money, entertain, and win.

Results matter. It’s a result orientated business.

Usually at Jets Nation we focus on results that are predictive. Success or failure in the past does not matter unless it is likely to be repeated.

Percentages influences the Shooter GAR value. Shot rates can be influenced by usage factors outside the player’s control. Penalty differentials are very loose in predicting future success in the same department.

These GAR numbers may not yet predict future value as well as underlying metrics. They do measure past value though quite well.

Next week we will start an in-depth series breaking down the performance of every single Jet and what we can expect from them going forward.

    • Kane had a low shooting percentage year relative to his norm. Using predictive statistics, we would make an inference that Kane’s numbers would likely go up. Remember, these numbers are more descriptive on how the season went than predictive on how well the player is likely to perform in the future.

      In terms of WAR, I cannot do that for Myers vs Bogosian. The current statistic does not filter for dates, currently, although will be able to in time. My guess would be that it would look better for Myers. Myers carried a better shooting percentage (very inflated) when limiting just to his Jet minutes and his shot differential was slightly better than Bogosian’s. I’d bet Bogosian’s numbers on the Sabres looks better than Myers’ for the same reasons.