Predicting next season top 5v5 scorers using an artificial neural network

Sam Mercier
September 28 2016 03:42PM

Predicting future scoring rates is a hot topic in the analytics community, and with good reason: the ability to score goals literally explains half of the success or failure of a team.

Just a few weeks ago, Travis Yost investigated the statistics that best predict future scoring rates, and showed that the scoring rate and relative Corsi for during the previous season are equally good predictors. Another study to mention comes from Eric Tulsky, who showed that the scoring rate of not only the previous season, but of the other ones before should be considered to predict future scoring rates. Going back more than one season helps distinguish skill from luck and estimate the true offensive quality of a player. 

From what I have seen, most models developed to predict scoring rates are relatively simple and only use one or two statistics for the prediction, the most important one being the scoring rate of that same player the previous season. Yet, as we have previously discussed, hundreds of new statistics have been made available over the last decade to describe the 5v5 performance of NHL forwards. Each of these new statistics can contain a tiny bit of information regarding the offensive quality of a player. If a modeling approach is able to find this information, we will be able to predict with a greater accuracy future scoring rates.

The increasing number of statistics also provides the opportunity to use modeling approaches that go beyond fitting a line or a curve, and it is exactly what we will do here using a modeling approach called an artificial neural network. But first, let’s start with a simple approach.

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Is Freddie Hamilton going to make the Flames?

Ari Yanover
September 28 2016 01:00PM

The Flames performed a bloodletting when it came to their restricted free agents. They only kept four, two of whom were obvious (Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau), one of whom was probable (Tyler Wotherspoon), and one of whom probably could have gone either way (Freddie Hamilton).

It took them a while to re-sign Hamilton, but when the Flames finally did, the contract was surprising: a one-way, two-year deal. Now he's played in two preseason games to date, and while everything preseason must come with a grain of salt, he has scored two goals so far.

Even more so, though, is that there are forward spots to earn on the Flames. Maybe 10 are guaranteed, which leaves another three or four up for grabs. And it sure looks like Hamilton wants one of them - and might just get it.

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Could Kris Russell work in Calgary?

Pat Steinberg
September 28 2016 10:00AM

It's one of the worst kept secrets in the NHL: Kris Russell would like to return to the Calgary Flames and the team has interest in bringing him back. 

While I can confirm the prior statement is true, it's a lot more difficult to determine the extent of interest from either side. One of the most polarizing players around these parts in recent years, Russell could be a nice addition to the Flames but only under the right circumstances. So just how would a potential Russell return work for Calgary?

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Canada wins Game 1 of World Cup Final

Jeff Veillette
September 27 2016 11:51PM

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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS

Look, I'm not going to bore you with a lot of details here, because this game probably already did a pretty damn good job of boring you with its action. Or lack thereof, rather. Team Canada cruised it's way to an easy 3-1 victory in front of a half-full and nearly entirely indifferent Air Canada Centre, setting itself up for a game that actually matters on Thursday night. 

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WCOH Final 1: Canada vs. Europe

Jeff Veillette
September 27 2016 02:45PM

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It may not be the most perfect narrative, but it certainly could have been worse. In one corner, we have Canada, a team that everybody expected to be here, with a suffocatingly high level of talent and execution of their system that has found a way to make greatness seem almost boring. In the other, we have Team Europe, a group of players who are old, wise, have never really played together, and may never play together again, looking to upset goliath on their own ice.

It's not very likely at all, but hey, let's make the most of the occasion.

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