Top-10 UFA Countdown: #1 Justin Williams

Kent Wilson
June 30 2015 01:00PM

It's an indication of the strength of this particular UFA crop that Justin Williams comes in number 1 on our list. That's not to take anything away from the 33 year old, who has been a high-end winger for years. But his age and the fact that he's only scored in the 40-point range the last two seasons goes to show there isn't a lot of franchise changing players available to sign this summer. 

Despite those concerns, Williams remains a very useful player, in part because his value doesn't merely come from his offense. As one of the few wingers who has proven he can push possession over the years, Williams is a guy who can play up and down the line-up and provide quality minutes to whoever inks him.

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The Big List of NHL Draft Resources

Kent Wilson
June 22 2015 12:00PM

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There is a lot of information and analysis to consider when it comes to the NHL entry draft. Hundreds of draft eligible kids, thousands of stats lines, dozens of draft coverage publications/blogs and innumerable opinions about who is going to pick whom.

If you're like me, you probably spend a lot of time clicking from tab-to-tab in your browser, or wasting your time searching for draft reports, mock drafts and consensus rankings. So to make things easier for myself (and for you), I've compiled all the lists, ranks and tools I use to follow the draft. 

Enjoy!

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Top-10 UFA Countdown: #6 Matt Beleskey

Kent Wilson
June 16 2015 11:00AM

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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

This is a series counting down the top-10 pending UFAs. It will be posted across the Nation Network over the next month! Enjoy! 

Almost every postseason there arises an unlikely hero from the middle of a team's roster to make headlines. And any time that player is a pending free agent, teams line up to pay that him too much money as a result. Call it the Bickell effect. 

This year, that player is Matt Beleskey. The Ducks 27-year old winger has been a run-of-the-mill NHL forward for years, but his 8-goal in 16-games playoff performance combined with his size (6', 205 pounds) has him on a lot of GM's radars heading into July. Just to make his agent even happier, Beleskey also put up the best regular season of his NHL career, managing 22-goals and 32-points. His underlying numbers, however, tell a much more complicated story than his counting stats.

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The Limits of Observation

Kent Wilson
March 01 2015 10:01AM

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(This article was originally published at The Score almost 5 years ago and has since been dustbinned. It is re-published here for posterity) 

An enduring debate in hockey analysis circles currently centers around “observation” versus “stats”. Like most arguments that enter the public domain, the debate has become polarized to such a degree that the dichotomy presented is an utterly false one. 

The truth is, rather than “observation versus stats”, the actual debate is over traditional analysis (a mix of observation, counting numbers and conventional perception about what wins hockey games) and co called “advanced” analysis (which foregrounds testing observation and perceptions with statistical methods). 

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An Outsiders Inside view of the NHL Stats Revolution - Part 2

Kent Wilson
September 03 2014 12:00PM

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(In part 1 I discussed the current state of advanced stats in the NHL with a view to defining an "ideal state" for NHL clubs in their efforts to establish modern analytics departments. In part 2, we look at where this form of analysis came from and where it may be headed in the future)

“I’ve never said, never thought, that it was better to be an outsider than it was to be an insider, that my view of the game was better than anyone else’s. It’s different; better in some ways, worse in some ways. What I have said is, since we are outsiders…let us use our position as outsiders to what advantage we can. Let us back off from the trees, look at the forest as a whole, and see what we can learn from that.”

- Bill James

Having been an early adopter and advocate of possession-based analysis, perhaps the most common complaint I encountered over the years was how, if corsi was so valuable, it was not actively employed by those who make their living inside the game. If the virtues of this analysis are so clear, why didn't the experts come up with it? How could a bunch of no-name amateurs create something that could be of value to experienced, lifelong hockey men? 

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