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Sunday Musings: May 18th

  • A little while back, I wrote an article about Johan Franzen. The discussion that followed it was pretty interesting to me. The narrative on Franzen is pretty polarizing, he is either a) a player who is lazy and unmotivated, or b) a great value for his cap hit. I’m more interested in the second of the two Franzen stories. Franzen scores around 25 goals a year. Great, not a lot of guys can do that. I was doing a little research on my own, and noticed that Franzen’s 25 goals, all seem to be a product of his anticipation. This is to say, he doesn’t create his own goals, he sees a play develop, and then he goes to the place that he should, the puck finds him and he deposits it in the back of the net. This sparked a thought of mine: are some goals more valuable than others. To expand the thought a little bit, is a player like Franzen more replaceable than a guy like Nyquist, age notwithstanding, because of the nature of their goals. The Penguins are a great example of this with both Kunitz and Neal. Both players score a ton of goals, but most of their production comes from the dynamic nature of their top two centers, Crosby and Malkin. The more I thought about it, the more I question the value of Franzen. How unique is his skill set? What about his game makes him so streaky?
  • As we get a little bit more into advanced metrics in the hockey world, I still see one glaring flaw, and that is in the place of goaltending statistics. There are only three real metrics used, goals against average, save percentage, and win/loss. Win/loss is obviously a product of team performance and isn’t all that useful. Some like to say that some guys are “just winners, they just win games” that’s not true and it’s not relevant to any statistics. Players win because they are either a) talented or b) play for good teams. In both cases, there should be a more effective way of quantifying that particular trait. Save percentage is probably the best metric we have today, however, I still don’t really like it. Save percentage treats every shot and every situation equally. A clear shot from the point is treated equally as a 2 on 0 breakaway. There has to be a better way to quantify goalie performance. Goals Against Average is another thing that generally relies on team performance, a goalie can play a great game but give up 4 goals, or he can play a whole 60 minutes make 7 saves and get a shutout. It’s too random. Goaltending is one position where it’s hard to predict or project into the future. There has to be a better way of looking at goaltending statistics in order to predict and project future performance that transcends the current three traditional statistics.
  • Can all this Babcock business just stop? He’s not going to coach the Leafs, he’s not going to coach the Penguins, and he’s definitely not going to coach at University of Michigan. Sometimes people try to get too creative in their solutions to problems.
  • There has been some chatter that Tom Renney might get a few looks as a head coach. That seems weird to me considering that he was never really all that successful as a head coach and that he hasn’t really been all that great as Detroit’s “special teams guru.” I’m not opposed to him staying, but the power play is supposed to be his bread and butter, and he hasn’t done much to improve it since he arrived in Detroit, despite getting some pretty talented pieces. I’m not sure if the blame falls on him, the players, or Babcock, but something’s got to get fixed. For the Wings to contend, they have to get better on the penalty kill, and stop being an average power play.
  • There has been quite a bit of talk about Ryan Sproul lately and I want to weigh in briefly. He is not NHL ready. He is still a year away. He plays a very aggressive defensive style of game. This is a player who needs time to perfect his game.
  • This lets me transition nicely into the whole letting players over ripe in Grand Rapids thing. I think it’s overstated. Just because a player is NHL ready doesn’t mean that more time in Grand Rapids won’t help his development more. Just because Oullet, Sproul, Backman, or Marchenko are able to play in the NHL today doesn’t mean that their games will continue to progress. Some guys need to develop more in the minors so their game can take the next step when they come to Detroit.
  • Riley Sheahan has to be the most underrated prospect in the Red Wings system these days. Wow. He was on pace to get 50 points this year in the NHL. He should be talked about as a legitimate different maker on the top 6 in a few years. He is underrated because people don’t really understand where his value comes from. Sheahan has superior passing ability and a great sense of positioning. He can get the puck into tight passing lanes and has some great instincts. He is getting better by the game and although his playoffs were pretty weak, he’s going to be a difference maker on this team in a few years.

For anyone interested, you can keep up with me on twitter @ProspectGuy. If you have any questions regarding any articles I have written or any hockey related questions at all, feel free to send me an email to aritheprospectsguy@gmail.com. I answer every question that I get.

About Ari Zucker

Ari Zucker is a student at Grand Valley State University majoring in Communications. An ever curious student of the game always looking to learn. Contact at aritheprospectsguy@gmail.com

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