October 23 2012 08:44AM
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!