Individual Point Percentage for 2011-12: Defensemen

Scott Reynolds
October 23 2012 08:44AM


 Photo by Horge via Wikimedia Commons

A couple of weeks ago, I began my look at individual point percentage by checking out the results for forwards during the 2011-12 season. Over the next few days, I'll take a few different looks at the individual point percentages of NHL defensemen, and we'll once again begin by looking at performance during the 2011-12 season.

In case you need a refresher, individual point percentage is a calculation of the number of times an individual player gets a point (either a goal or an assist) relative to the number of total goals scored while he's on the ice. So, for example, if a player is on the ice for fifty goals-for during five-on-five play over the course of the season and he gets a point on forty of them, his individual point percentage would be 80%.

In that we're looking at defensemen in those round of number, you can expect exactly zero players to end up that high. In fact, I'll offer a bit of a spoiler here and tell you that the top number for 2011-12 is 60.0% (which if you've been paying attention, you probably know isn't going to be sustainable when we look at the five-year numbers). That player probably comes as a bit of a surprise, but even with that, most of the really good really good offensive defensemen are near the top of the chart, and most of the guys known for their defense are near the bottom.

Somewhat surprisingly, our samples aren't much bigger than they were for the forwards. In fact, if we look at the twenty players who were on the ice for the most five-on-five goals-for on the year, nine of them are forwards despite getting a lot less ice time (the top twenty in five-on-five ice time are all defensemen). That, to me, is another pretty strong indication that forwards are the ones driving offense at even strength, and that the best forwards do it a lot better than the best defensemen.

Anyroad, the sample size is small. Ottawa's Erik Karlsson has the most events with 90 and there are just six players with at least 75 (Karlsson, Zdeno Chara, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Dan Hamhuis, and Ian White). As such, we can expect the year-to-year variation to be quite high, and if I'm right about forwards driving the bus, probably higher (on a percentage basis) than what we see with the forwards.

The average individual point percentage for a defenseman who was on the ice for at least 25 goals-for (there are 178 players) is 31.1% and the median is 30.0%, while the standard deviation is 9.3%, so that should provide some idea of whether or not a player is doing well (i.e. those players above 40.4% or below 21.7%. The data I'm using is from five-on-five play only and the raw data comes from Gabriel Desjardins' behindthenet.ca:

This is a really interesting mix of players. There are a bunch of players who look like they belong here, and a few others who look completely out of place. At least with Brian Lee, you know that his offense hasn't been the question mark in his game. But Jan Hejda? He just doesn't look like he belongs in this group at all. Erik Karlsson, on the other hand, is one player who definitely belongs near the top of this list. He hasn't been in the league long enough for us to know where he's going to land long-term, but sustaining a rate of 50% over 90 events is pretty darn impressive already.

The mushy middle is quite large here, and I don't know that we can glean much from this other than the fact that if you end up in the middle in one season, there's not much to be learned. Matt Greene doesn't belong ahead of Lubomir Visnovsky on this chart and that's a fact. But in one season crazy things can happen. In fact, we should probably have expected something like that just looking at their point totals. Greene had more points this season than any other year of his career, while Visnovsky hit a post-lockout low.

A lot of impressions being confirmed on this list. Theo Peckham is a black hole offensively? Check. Nick Schultz can't hold a candle to Tom Gilbert with the puck? Check. Robyn Regehr's primary skill is shoving the Ales Hemskys of the world head-first into the boards? Check. Eric Brewer's reputation for offensive acumen is bewildering? Check. Mike Green is one of the worst offensive defensemen in the league? Um... what? Hard to say what's going on with Green here. He's had some injuries in the last couple of seasons, and the Capitals were famously changing to a more defense-oriented game last season, so maybe Green really had to reel himself in. Still, I would not have guessed that he'd be book-ended by Theo Peckham and Douglas Murray. If you've seen a lot of the Caps over the last few years, I'd welcome any suggestions!

Previously by Scott Reynolds

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#1 Kent Wilson
October 23 2012, 09:40AM
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Wow. That Greene number really is bizarre.

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#2 David Johnson
October 23 2012, 10:12AM
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@Kent Wilson

Just a single season anomaly. Greene's 5 year IPP is closer to 29% while Visnovsky's is closer to 37%.

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#3 Eric T.
October 23 2012, 05:45PM
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I wonder how closely this is tied to the quality of forward that the defenseman tended to play with -- do the Boston/Vancouver/Pittsburgh defensemen see their IPP's suppressed by the ability of their forward teammates to generate points on their own?

I guess what I'm asking is really: if for each team, you total the 5v5 points by defensemen and divide by the team's 5v5 goals scored, do the teams with better forwards show lower defenseman IPPs?

I guess I can answer my own question. Using BTN's data (which means that all of the data on a player who changed teams ends up on his final team), I end up with this ranking for defense points per team goal:

CBJ 0.837 OTT 0.726 STL 0.690 PHI 0.689 FLA 0.682 PHX 0.674 WPG 0.665 TOR 0.650 CHI 0.649 LA 0.637 NYR 0.632 CAR 0.629 NSH 0.625 ANA 0.621 MTL 0.610 VAN 0.604 DET 0.602 SJ 0.595 NYI 0.588 CGY 0.583 COL 0.581 TB 0.574 WSH 0.569 BUF 0.567 PIT 0.554 NJ 0.534 MIN 0.526 BOS 0.525 EDM 0.509 DAL 0.480

The correlation between GF and IPP is zero. To my eyeballs, there are good and bad forward groups at the top and bottom of the list. So I dunno, maybe it's not headed in the direction I thought.

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#4 Brent Morris
October 23 2012, 05:50PM
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The best reflection I can think of on how much IPP can change in small-ish samples is Bryce Salvador, who was at 67% through 16 playoff games and may have sustained that through the Finals where he added 3 more points. Of course, he was at 17.8% for the season.

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