Why Logan Stanley could be a good player

Yes, the Winnipeg Jets’ 18th overall selection in the 2016 NHL Entry draft is a low scorer. Yes, low-scorers tend to succeed less often than high-scorers selected in the same range.

However, not all have failed and probability is not destiny. There could be more to Stanley which could make him a success.

Prior to the draft, I wrote two different articles on scouting tendencies, using Logan Stanley as an example.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The base of this theory and the evidence used was that from previous study done by Rhys Jessop on his own website (here is a link to the third of a three part series). Jessop showed that scoring mattered for draft selections.

I took this same data one step further by placing it into a graph, which I want to discuss again:

asdf

The graph splits CHL drafted defenders over 10 years. They are split by pick selection, with Top being picks 1-25, Mid being picks 26-50, and Low being picks 51+. Each pick group is then split into those who score over 0.6 points per game and those that score under.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The 0.6 point per game line is slightly arbitrary. Scoring efficiency is not black and white, one or zero, but a continuous variable. It is a fairly high threshold, signifying you are one of the top 20-30 scorers in your league.

The results from that line, however, demonstrates a market inefficiency in scouting and the graph is really quite powerful.

That “Top picks” succeed more than “Mid picks” and “Low picks” demonstrates that scouts have the ability to detect which players that are more likely to succeed to some extent. The fact that “Top non-scorers” succeed more often than “Low scorers” shows that scouts detect factors that lead to success outside of scoring.

The graph also shows that scouts overvalue these non-scoring factors on average. The average “Top non-scorer” succeeds just as often as a “Mid scorer”. Put simply: a “non-scorer” selected in the middle of the draft (or even the first round) is more similar to a player drafted later on who does score than that “non-scorer” is to a player drafted in roughly the same range on draft day who does score.

However, analysis should never stop there with the basic trends.

What separates a successful scorer and a non-successful scorer? What separates a successful non-scorer from a successful scorer?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Who are the successes that didn’t make the scoring cutoff?

This is what matters most to the Jets and Stanley. What similarities does Stanley have to the players who made it? How similar is he to the players who did not? How did the players who “did not score” (by our arbitrary definition) in the past score in the future?

Here is a short profile on each of the 12 NHL players from the 105 players that were “Top” or “Mid” drafted “non-scorers” in the sample.

Luke Schenn

A 6’2 right shot defender drafted 5th overall out of the WHL. He put up a 0.20 point per game pace in his draft season. Schenn was the only player to go straight into the NHL the next year, where he put up 17 points, followed by two seasons of 22 points. He has since yet to score more than 15 in the NHL.

Dion Phaneuf

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Phaneuf is a 6’3 left shot defender who was drafted 9th overall out of the WHL. He put up 0.42 points per game in his draft season, and accelerated to a 0.69 and 1.02 point per game pace over his next two seasons. Phaneuf has struggled to be a consistent top pair calibre defender, but has seemed to settle in better as a second pair guy, while putting up a 0.53 point per game pace in the NHL over his career thus far.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Vlasic is an interesting case as he is the first player on the list who would be considered by both the traditional and anlaytical circles as an exceptional defensive defenseman in the NHL. The left shot defender stands at 6’1, and was drafted 35th overall. He only put up a 0.43 pace in his draft season, but jumped up to a 1.11 point per game pace the following year.

Shea Weber

Weber is the favourite example for low scoring big defenders who have done well. He was 6’4 and even scouts didn’t place him as a first round talent, as he was drafted 49th overall. Weber scored at a 0.26 point per game pace in his first-time draft eligible campaign, but did improve to 0.53 and 0.75 points per game in subsequent seasons. The right-shot defender even put up 27 points in 46 games in his rookie AHL season. While he was not a scorer in his draft year, Weber is one of the top scoring defenseman in the NHL now with 166 goals in 763 games in the NHL.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Braydon Coburn

Coburn is another defender known more for his defensive game and size with his 6’5 frame. He is a left-shot defenseman and was drafted 8th overall. He put up 0.36 points in his draft season, and then followed it up with 0.55 and 0.73 the next two years. He hasn’t put up many points in the NHL relative to his ice time, but he is still a credible NHL-level defender.

Tyler Myers

Myers is the only defender on the list taller than Stanley, with a measured frame of 6’8. The smooth skating blue liner, now a member of the Jets, did not score much in his draft season, with only a 0.29 point per game pace. It is interesting to point out though that many scouting notes talked about the 12th overall pick having the skills for a productive game. His scoring jumped up substantially the next season to a 0.72 points per game, and he put up 48 points in the NHL the next year.

Jeff Schultz

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Schultz stands at 6’6 and shoots left. He was drafted 27th overall after putting up 0.49 points per game. There may have been some inflation in his draft numbers, as he only put up 0.40 and 0.59 points per game over the next two seasons. Schultz has not been a scorer in the NHL, with only a 0.19 point per game pace.

Marc Staal

The second oldest of the Staal brothers, and arguably the least effective of the three in the NHL. Staal has size at 6’4 and was drafted 12th overall after putting up 0.40 points per game in the OHL. His next season he more than doubled that production, with 0.86 points per game. The defense-first blue liner now has 617 NHL games to his name, although he’s generally had a notable negative impact on shot differentials.

Kristopher Letang

No one would think of Letang as a “non-scoring” defender. He did, however, fall below the 0.60 point per game line in his draft season, only putting up 0.46 points per game. He paced 1.13 and 1.30 the next two seasons in the QMJHL. It’s obvious to see that the 6 foot, right-hand shot, defender had a down year in his draft season and was a legitimate offensive threat.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Travis Hamonic

Hamonic, like Vlasic and Coburn, is one of the few defenders known more for their defensive game in both junior and the NHL, while also actually having a positive impact on shot differentials. Hamonic was drafted 53rd overall from the WHL after 0.36 point per game season. The 6’2 defender improved the next two seasons to a 0.70 and 1.07 point per game pace.

Mark Fistric

Fistric is a 6’2, left-shot defender drafted 28th overall who retired just last summer after a 325 game career. Fistric put up 0.17 points per game in his draft season. The next year was cut short due to injury, and he only scored 6 points in 15 games. The next year Fistric put up a 0.48 point per game pace. Though he was useful on the penalty kill, Fistric struggled to be an NHL regular throughout his career.

Kurtis Foster

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Foster has size with his 6’5 frame, and was a right-handed shot. The defender put up 0.35 points per game in his draft season, and than 0.66 points the next year. He started the next season in the OHL but finished the year putting up 15 points in 39 games in the AHL. Foster played 405 games, and currently plays in the DEL.

Trends in the Survey

Stanley

For one, off the bat, it’s noticeable that a good chunk of the players below the 0.6 point per game scoring line score more than a 0.6 point per game pace later. Most score above that pace in their second season. Schultz, Weber, and Coburn all score essentially at or above that pace in their third season. Fistric is the only individual that misses all three seasons (excluding Schenn as he went to the NHL right after his draft season).

Another trend is that most of the players are from the WHL. Vlasic and Letang played in the QMJHL, while Foster and Staal played in the OHL. The rest were WHL defenders. An anecdotally related fact, the WHL is also the league that last year tended to distribute their defenders’ icetime similarly most similarly to their scoring efficiency. Could that have an impact on the observed results?

All the players, with the exception of Letang and Vlasic, have size while ranging from 6’2 to 6’8. They are mostly known for their defensive game. Then again, the same is said of most of the “non-scoring” misses, like the examples Jessop provides with Branislav Mezei, Boris Valabik, Matthew Spiller, Ryan Parent, Matt Pelech, Libor Usturnl, Andy Rogers, and Logan Stephenson.

If you are a low-scoring defenseman and you want to be drafted early, you need size and you need to play a solid defensive game. But, if you want to make it into the NHL in the future, and especially if you want to be an impact player, you want to eventually develop into a defenseman capable of producing offense.

The last thing we should point out is that Stanley scored less than most of these players did. Sure, Myers and Weber had similar production (when not adjusting for era or league differences), but Myers and Weber seem to be more one-of-a-kind type players. Looking for the next Myers is like looking for the next Zdeno Chara or Dustin Byfuglien; they’re rare specimens for a reason.

Addendum: I forgot to mention that any bias that extends through hockey operations will impact both where players are drafted and how much opportunity they are given to succeed. A late drafted defender who scores has already been shown to be thought of less by “hockey people” due to non-scoring factors. This study does not tell you whether or not these evaluations are vindicated.

Final Thoughts

Negativity aside, Stanley is not doomed to a middling career. There are those that have walked the same path as he is walking now and have succeeded. The path is steep, and few make it, but some do.

Stanley has some intriguing skills. One can see why the Jets expect him to be better than his scoring numbers and why they hope he can develop more of an overall, well-rounded game.

All that is left is to see whether or not he can put things together and take the next steps in his development. It will take hard work and determination, something some scouts believe he has.

The Jets traded a late first and an early second to move up for Stanley. It all rests on Stanley’s shoulders now.


MORE ON LOGAN STANLEY


  • The Last Big Bear

    Good article.
    Simply put, just because a guy hasn’t scored well in his draft year doesn’t mean he CAN’T be an NHL defenceman, it’s just statistically less likely.
    From a numbers perspective, investing that much draft capital (mid-first + early-second) into a “less likely” contributor isn’t a sound decision.

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    You sure like to portray yourself as being absolutely grounded at center Garret, and that you never go off in a tangent. That you’re so even keeled, you even offer proof in the form of a myriad of statistics that you’re not favouring any direction, outside of favourable odds

    So you always try to give the appearance of not being frantic…However…statistics can be as frantic as the person portraying them (as they see fit) to make their particular point.

    Prior to the draft you wrote many statistical arguments as to why the Jets should steer clear of Logan Stanley.

    Frantic arguments.

    And not 1 (not even ONE) as to why they SHOULD draft him. After all, statistically..why would they ?

    I thought the Jets should go for him because as an 18 year old behemoth, he can skate very well, and he has attitude. Those 2 elements can only mean he’s going to get better…try & put THAT in # form Garret…

    • It’s the same image. The probabilities have not changed. My opinion has not changed.

      I pointed out that he’s a huge risk as Stanleys tend to bust. This is why prior to the draft, AND STILL AFTER THE DRAFT, I don’t think you should go for guys who are more likely bust than the alternative choices.

      What I did was show the few that didn’t bust and what they did. What it shows you is that the few “non-scorers” that didn’t bust developed into “scorers”.

      This analysis goes hand-and-hand with the previous analysis. Nnothing has changed.

      You should definitely re-read the article if this is too confusing for you.

      • #12MorrisLukowich

        Analysis in the numerical sense can only be obtained AFTER a given situation is completed. It will give positive & negative numerics according to the outcome.

        YOU ({soon to be last place] John Chayka, {perennial last place] Brendan Shanahan]) use the laws of numerical probability like it’s some kind of Prophecy…

        It’s not too CONFUSING to suggest it’s NOT all that and nowhere even close…there are other intangibles just as important that you’re totally overlooking

  • The Last Big Bear

    12ML,

    You say:

    “Prior to the draft you wrote many statistical arguments as to why the Jets should steer clear of Logan Stanley.”

    What Garret actually said (in a post on 19/6/2016, containing the “frantic” arguments):

    “”SO STANLEY IS TERRIBLE AND SHOULD NOT BE DRAFTED?”

    No. That’s not true.

    As I noted before, Stanley is still a player I would welcome into the Jets’ organization. After all the flaws I have pointed out, there are still aspects to his game that makes him better than other players who will be drafted, even to the Jets. There is also the chance that Stanley could be the exception and I understand there are things some professional scouts may have seen that I have not.”

    In fact, G’s actual position regarding Stanley (prior to the draft!) seems to be one you actually would want to endorse. Which you would know, if you bothered to actual read what he writes, rather than immediately going for the personal insults.

    • #12MorrisLukowich

      Brother you are missing the whole point…

      If I came across as insulting, I apologize

      Statistical analysis is somewhat garbage…there are so many intangible anomalies that occur that lead to those statistics that they should be viewed no higher than, imo, 50% (at BEST) of overall analysis. All they show is what is trending…they give no input whatsoever as to WHY they are trending that way. Anyone can GUESS as to why…

      If you believe the “new NHL” is based on Billy Beane analysis you can give your head a shake

      The NHL is the only league in the world (the ONLY 1) that allows full contact at high speeds…there are MANY intangibles involved in this process that are not recognized by statistics alone.

      This isn’t (ZZZzzz) baseball or (Yawn) basketball, this game is about making a play at 20 mph while avoiding a hit that could end your career. It’s not 5 secs. of action followed by 20 mins. of commercials (NFL), it’s continuos, fast, brilliant, punishing drama…scoring is essential..but so is taking & GIVING a hit

      I believe John Chayka will choke, Pittsburgh won because San Jose was just too beat up (and too old) to punish them, and the NHL has not really changed since Orr last won a Stanley Cup.

      • LOL.

        The NHL is not like how you make it out to be. For a fun fact, every NHL team uses statistical analysis (some have even used me). EVERY TEAM.

        There are intangibles BUT:

        1) Hockey is a game where the most goals win (a stat)

        2) The better team is more likely to win than lose

        As long as those two things exist (which they do) statistics hold power.

        Statistics is merely measuring performance and outcomes. Intangibles only matter if they impact outcomes, or… stats. What makes intangibles difficult is you cannot measure them DIRECTLY. You can point out a player’s overall impact to the team, but you cannot say how much his physical play, hard work, grit impacts his overall impact.

        • #12MorrisLukowich

          Yes the NHL is EXACTLY the way I make it out to be.

          1) Hockey is a game where you can pound the opponent into oblivion legally, and THEN take over statistically…

          2} The better team is the one the Opponent is most likely to respect.

          As long as these 2 things exist (and they do and always HAVE) the NHL is/always will be the greatest game on earth

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    “1) Hockey is a game where you can pound the opponent into oblivion legally, and THEN take over statistically…

    2} The better team is the one the Opponent is most likely to respect.”

    I assume that 2) is just trivially true: teams respect good teams. Regarding 1) yes that is one way to take possession of the puck, along with stick checks, etc. So this would fall under what Garret said:

    “Statistics is merely measuring performance and outcomes.”

    You can measure how many checks a player/team throws. So if a player/team is good at checking, and this means they hit and gain possession (e.g. on the forecheck), you can estimate how good they are by looking at their possession statistics, etc.