The season has been laid to rest.
Fans have completed their lamenting of the Anaheim Ducks sweeping the Winnipeg Jets. The healing process has begun.
But, before full closure can be completed, an autopsy of the Jets season must be initiated.
We turn our evidence-based breakdown of the Jets season to the possibly 2015 playoff rental, Drew Stafford.
Numbers include all situations including non 5v5 TOI.
Drew Stafford posted solid production as a Jet, with 19 points extrapolating to a 60 point pace over an 82 game season. There are hints though that production exaggerates Stafford’s abilities.
There are certain statistical flags when a player is unlikely to sustain their production level, and Stafford actually has all of them.
Stafford shot at 16 percent when typically he tends to shoot around 10. Given the shot and scoring chance production Stafford generated, one would expect him to typically score five to six goals, not nine.
The players while Stafford was on the ice also shot higher than his and their norm, by about two percentage points. In addition, Stafford normally picks up an assist on 39 per cent of on-ice goals but instead he picked up an assist on 51 percent.
Overall, these numbers suggest that Stafford’s input into his production would normally pace at 12 points over 26 games instead of 19. Twelve points is still respectable production, but not quite the 60 point pace many observed and may be influenced by.
Graph courtesy of WAR-on-Ice.
Rankings are out of the Jets 17 forwards with 50+ 5v5 minutes, except special team minutes are each out of 11 Jet forwards.
For the games that Stafford dressed as a Jet, he was deployed in the defensive zone slightly more than average; however, compared to the average Jets’ season he was not deployed in either zone particularly in one situation more than the other.
He did face top lines and defensemen often, but it is not nearly as significant in impact as the quality of linemates and defenders Stafford got to work with as a Jet.
Both Stafford’s minutes as a Jet and his full season are shown to display the impact team can have on results, and in turn numbers. Stafford under performed relative to his TOI peers, despite playing on one of the top Corsi teams in the league. At least he sits above 50 percent over his time as a Jet.
As an anecdotal aside, typically speaking the spread in bonafide NHL talent resides within the -10 and +10 threshold, but the axis had to be expanded due to sitting predominately outside those parameters.
Visual courtesy of Micah McCurdy.
Stafford spent most of his time with Blake Wheeler and almost all of his time with Mark Scheifele. Stafford’s performance in shots leads much to be desired. Due to a convenient timing with Ondrej Pavelec going on the best streak of his life, Stafford ended up with a highly positive goal differential.
Stafford paced at production rates typically reserved for Sidney Crosby. As we noted earlier, this is most likely a significant exaggeration in his expected offensive capabilities. Stafford does tend to score around a 1.7-1.8 rate, just under Michael Frolik’s or Bryan Little’s scoring pace.
While Stafford scored like a generational talent for the Jets, and normally scores like a solid middle six forward, his impact on shot metrics has a negative value.
Stafford’s impact on relative Corsi was more like a fourth line player than a top six forward. Looking at performance relative to expected from usage, dCorsi suggests that Stafford was playing far above his head, with more than two times the negative number over the next worst Jet.
Adding a shot quality factor with scoring chances improves Stafford’s outlook but only marginally. Weighing goals more heavily than non-goal shots with weighted shots also only improves the measure of Stafford’s two-way play ever so slightly.
Goals Above Replacement estimates Stafford’s overall impact on the Jets’ goal differential to be that of a replacement level player, despite his solid scoring prowess.
Stafford is a decent scorer, although not as strong as he performed for the Jets. Given the right team and the right conditions, Stafford can be a player used effectively in improving the team.
The issue with players like Stafford is their negative impact on outscoring opponents tends to be under estimated by management, coaches, teams, media, and fans. Stafford is a decent scorer but his impact on two-way numbers is far greater and in a negative fashion.
A prototypical player you want to avoid in free agency is one with poor shot metrics, at or near career highs in many percentages, and is a decent scorer who performs like an elite scorer in a short sample.
Production carries a large impact in how a player gets paid. It however is not the largest impact on the likelihood of outscoring the player’s opponents. You want to try and beat the market, not match or be beaten by it.
While Stafford may or may not be worth 3 million AAV, it would be wiser to try and find another market inefficiency like Mathieu Perreault rather than give another shot with Stafford.