Ryan Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk and Jordan Staal have all been nominated for the Frank J. Selke trophy, which is awarded to the player that best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. Because my earlier post on why Sidney Crosby should win the Hart generated a lot of discussion, I wanted to use the same format to see who has the best stats among the Selke finalists.
A note on stats: Delta is a measure invented solely by Tom Awad, and he describes his methodology here and here. The stats themselves can be found here. GVT is another statistic invented solely by Tom Awad, and his methodology can be found here, here, and here. The stats themselves can be found here. Stats have also been pulled from behindthenet.ca and nhl.com.
Conclusions after the jump.Quality of Competition: I'm only going to examine 5-on-5 Delta because I will analyze penalty killing separately, and 4-on-4 situations are rare. Analyzing Delta QO, which is the quality of opposition adjustment (higher numbers mean stronger opposition) Datsyuk has a 2.7, Kesler has a 1.3 and Staal has a -0.3. Using the 5-on-5 QCOMP measurement from behind the net (where higher numbers indicate greater competition), Staal has a 0.044, Datsyuk has a 0.029 and Kesler has a 0.03. Staal and Datsyuk split the top spot in each formula, but Datsyuk has a bigger edge in Delta than Staal has in QCOMP.
Quality of Teammates: Using the 5-on-5 QTEAM numbers from behind the net (higher numbers indicate better teammates), Datsyuk had a 0.364, Kesler had a -0.02, and Staal had a 0.155. Using a GVT analysis, I took the average GVT for each player's line mates and compared them (higher GVT means better players). Staal played with Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, Kesler played with Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson, and Datsyuk played with Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom. Datsyuk's line mates' average GVT was 7.65, Staal's was 6 and Kesler's was 9.7. Using DeltaQT, which is the quality of teammate adjustment (higher numbers mean worse teammates) Datsyuk had a -5.9, Kesler had a -3.1 and Staal had a -3.0.
The one thing that's clear is Datsyuk had the best teammates of the three. GVT and DeltaQT say that Staal had the worst teammates while QTEAM indicates that Kesler had it the hardest. Though slight, Staal wins this one.
Blocked Shots: This isn't a major consideration, but I wanted to see how each player stacked up in helping his goalie out. Staal and Kesler appeared in all 82 games, and Datsyuk was in 80. Staal saw 19:22 min/game, Datsyuk saw 20:19 per game and Kesler saw 19:36 per game, so no player had a significant advantage in time on ice over the others. Kesler blocked 73 shots, Staal blocked 41, and Datsyuk blocked 33 shots. Looks like Kesler gave up his body more than the other two.
Hits: Once again, not a major consideration. Kesler recorded 95 hits, Datsyuk had 89, and Staal had 121. Staal appears to be more physical than the other two.
Takeaways and Giveaways: Being able to steal the puck from the opposition is an extremely useful defensive skill, but giving the puck away just as often would negate any positive impact. I decided to take the difference between takeaways and giveaways and compare them. This year, Datsyuk recorded 132 takeaways and and 73 giveaways for an impact of +59, while Kesler recorded 83 takeaways and 28 giveaways for an impact of +55. Staal recorded 41 takeaways and 31 giveaways for an impact +10. Though the difference in impact between Datsyuk and Kesler was small, Datsyuk led the league in takeaways while Kesler was 2nd. That's a gap of 49 between 1st and 2nd.
Faceoffs: I'm only going to look at even strength draws because I'll analyze short handed draws in the penalty kill section. Staal won 48.6% of his draws at even strength, and Datsyuk and Kesler each won 55.3% of their even strength draws. Kesler, however, did take more draws than Datsyuk (959 to 809) and he had a better winning percentage in the defensive zone: 57.4% for Kesler compared to 55.3% for Datsyuk.
Penalties Drawn and Taken : Like takeaways and giveaways, a forward who draws a lot of penalties is a defensive asset for his team, but that disappears if he takes an equal or greater number of penalties himself. I'll be looking at the difference in even strength penalties taken and drawn. Staal drew 18 penalties and took 10, for an impact of +8; Datsyuk drew 30 and took 3, for an impact of +27; and Kesler drew 36 and took 16, for an impact of +20.
Penalty Kill: Being a defensive forward involves killing penalties. First, let's look at shorthanded ice time. Staal saw 3:20 per game, Kesler saw 2:39 and Datsyuk saw 0:44. Because Datsyuk hasn't compiled a big sample of shorthanded ice time, it's unfair and counterproductive to compare him to Staal and Kesler. For comparison's sake, Crosby isn't a penalty killer, but he saw 0:53 of shorthanded time per game.
Moving on. I want to compare shorthanded faceoff percentage. Kesler won 49% of his SH draws while Staal only won 44.4% (though Staal took 25 more SH draws than Kesler). Using the DeltaSOT metric for 4-on-5 situations (which is an overall score that adjusts for situation, opposition, and teammates) Kesler has a 1.5 and Staal has a 2.4. Using a similar rating from behind the net that adjusts for opposition and teammates, Staal has a 0.89 and Kesler has a 0.35. Though Kesler was better at taking SH draws, the advanced metrics seem to indicate that Staal was a better penalty killer.
Defense: This is the most important category thus far, as I'm going to try and figure out which forward was the best at what the Selke award is all about. I'll be looking at even strength numbers as much as I can since penalty killing was already addressed. And remember, as we saw above, Datsyuk had the best teammates and faced the stiffest competition, while Staal had the worst teammates of the three.
Looking at the difference in +/-ON/60 and +/-OFF/60 (higher is better), Datsyuk has a +1.17, Kesler has a -1.09, and Staal has a +1.01. Using the DeltaSOT for 5-on-5, which includes a control for situation, opposition, and teammates, we see the same story: Datsyuk had a 6.5, Staal a 6.2 and Kesler a 1.1. Another possible meausre of defensive ability could be to use the defensive GVT portion of the overall GVT of each player. Those numbers are 4.7 for Datsyuk, 5.9 for Staal, and 2.3 for Kesler.
Overall, all of the metrics place Kesler at 3rd. Datsyuk has the edge with the adjusted +/- and DeltaSOT, while Staal looks the best using the GVT. I'll put slightly less weight into the GVT formula because it includes defensive GVT for all man-situations (like pp, pk and even). Even though Datsyuk had better teammates than Staal, he was still doing this against the stiffest competition. The difference in the quality of teammates isn't enough for me to give it to Staal, though he is better defensively than I previously thought.
Conclusion: Datsyuk gets some serious points for winning the defense category. Coupled with takeaways and giveaways, penalties drawn and taken, and the quality of competition, he's a very strong Selke candidate. Staal did have the best penalty killing numbers, the most hits and the worst teammates, and Kesler was the man in terms of faceoffs and blocked shots. But neither had enough individually to overtake the stats in Datsyuk's favor. Yet Kesler and Staal shouldn't worry: at 25 and 21 respectively, there are plenty of Selke trophies in the future for those two. However, for the 2009-2010 regular season, Pavel Datsyuk should win the Frank J. Selke trophy.