Watch The Game: A Hockey Podcast debuts!

Watch The Game Podcast
September 29 2016 10:12AM


Do you like hockey? Do you like listening to hockey writers talk about hockey? Are you in search of a new, fresh set of hosts to discuss it on a weekly basis with a guest?

Well then have we got the podcast for you!

Debuting today is a new hockey podcast here on NHLNumbers, known as "Watch The Game." 

Co-hosted by the wonderful Sam Blazer (Associate Editor at, and managing editor at, amongst a bunch of other responsibilities), myself, and the occasional appearance by NHLNumbers Editor-In-Chief Cameron Lewis. In the future, we're looking to bring out the best and brightest hockey minds.

For our first episode, we've got Jeff Veillette, managing editor of and hockey content on the Nation Network as a whole, discussing the World Cup of Hockey.

If you desire, you can listen to it on either of the listening options below.

More listening options will be coming soon for future episodes!

If you've ever got anything of interest you think should be discussed on the podcast, feel free to shoot us a note on twitter @NHLNumbers.

New episode coming next Wednesday!

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Gardiner vs Rielly: Who is Toronto's Best Defenceman?

September 29 2016 09:19AM

It's well known that September is Jake Gardiner Appreciation Month.  But did you know that Toronto has other defencemen?  It's true.  One of those defencemen is Morgan Rielly, the former 5th overall pick who recently played a major role on the exciting Young Guns team at the World Cup of Hockey.  In fact, some people even think Morgan Rielly is better than Jake Gardiner.  What a world!

I decided it was time to answer the question once and for all.  This is the post that will end all arguments on Twitter, forever, I think.  So I gathered a bunch of stats and put them in some charts and now you can see them.

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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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