NHL Adjusted Plus-Minus Part 3, Even Strength Defense


We are now on part 3 of a series on Adjusted Plus-Minus (APM). In Part 1 and Part 2 we gave an introduction and talked about offense at even strength.

In this post we'll talk about the best defensive players in even strength situations according to Adjusted Plus-Minus using Goals (G), Shots (S), Fenwick (F), and Corsi (C). Just a reminder that these results are in the units of goals per season (G, S, F, C) or goals per 60 minutes (G60, S60, F60, C60), and are independent of teammates, opponents, and zone starts.

Now for the top 5 defensive forwards at even strength according to APM using Goals...

The top 5 defensive forwards at even strength according to APM using Goals (G).
Rank Player Pos Team G S F C G60 S60 F60 C60
1 David Krejci C BOS 10 3 2 1 0.52 0.18 0.11 0.06
2 Pavel Datsyuk C DET 10 7 6 5 0.44 0.30 0.25 0.23
3 Mikko Koivu C MIN 9 4 3 3 0.53 0.20 0.17 0.18
4 Manny Malhotra C VAN 9 2 1 1 0.55 0.10 0.08 0.05
5 Johan Franzen C DET 7 2 3 2 0.42 0.14 0.15 0.13

Reminder: S, F, and C are rescaled using league average shooting percentages at even strength and are roughly the same range as G. Typically these estimates are smaller though.

Krejic (10.1) barely beats out Datsyuk (9.9), but we would probably want to consider Datsyuk the best defensive forward since he's the league leader in S, F, and C. These G results probably depend a little too much on the goalies playing behind these players, and so we might prefer to order them based on shots instead:

The top 5 defensive forwards at even strength according to APM using Shots (S).
Rank Player Pos Team G S F C G60 S60 F60 C60
1 Pavel Datsyuk C DET 10 7 6 5 0.44 0.30 0.25 0.23
2 Daymond Langkow C CGY 7 5 3 3 0.50 0.33 0.23 0.21
3 Patrice Bergeron C BOS 6 4 3 3 0.39 0.30 0.23 0.18
4 Joe Pavelski C S.J 6 4 3 1 0.30 0.19 0.17 0.06
5 Mikko Koivu C MIN 9 4 3 3 0.53 0.20 0.17 0.18

I prefer to look at both G and the shot based metrics, as I believe they both have their pros and cons. Either way, Pavel Datysuk is the man. Datysuk has been the best defensive forward in pretty much every version of APM that I've had. (We'll talk about other versions in future posts). His defensive ratings, along with his elite offensive skills and APM results, make him the best two-way player in the league, IMHO. Langkow, Bergeron, Pavelski, and Koivi are great defensive players, so it's nice to see them appear on this list. Koivu, like Datsyuk, is on both lists.

How does perennial Selke candidate, frequent Selke finalist, and one-time Selke winner Ryan Kesler rank? He's 81st(!) in G among forwards, but 7th in S, 10th in F, and 22nd in C. Strong numbers, but not among the league's elite.

Now for the top defensive defensemen at even strength:

The top 5 defensive defensemen at even strength according to APM using Goals (G).
Rank Player Pos Team G S F C G60 S60 F60 C60
1 Zdeno Chara D BOS 12 0 0 1 0.42 0.00 0.01 0.02
2 Jay Bouwmeester D CGY 11 -1 -3 -3 0.44 -0.03 -0.12 -0.12
3 Nicklas Lidstrom D DET 11 -3 -5 -4 0.41 -0.12 -0.17 -0.16
4 Rob Scuderi D L.A 10 -1 -2 -3 0.42 -0.03 -0.09 -0.13
5 Mike Weaver D FLA 10 0 -1 -2 0.61 0.01 -0.07 -0.11

Just missed: Pronger, Suter, Vlasic, Keith, Martin

These guys are all considered by most people to be great defensive players. It's interesting to see a lot of low S, F, and C results here. I should point out that negative means below average, not below replacement, so these numbers aren't terrible, just below average. For those who prefer shots, Fenwick and Corsi, here are the top 5 players in S:

The top 5 defensive defensemen at even strength according to APM using Shots (S).
Rank Player Pos Team G S F C G60 S60 F60 C60
1 Fedor Tyutin D CBJ 5 3 2 1 0.22 0.15 0.10 0.06
2 Chris Pronger D PHI 9 3 2 1 0.39 0.14 0.09 0.05
3 Paul Ranger D T.B -1 3 1 1 -0.08 0.30 0.13 0.10
4 Mark Giordano D CGY 5 3 1 -0 0.33 0.18 0.09 -0.03
5 Drew Doughty D L.A 5 2 0 1 0.27 0.12 0.00 0.03

Just missed: Hamhuis, Timonen, Kronwall, Hjalmarsson, Martin

Tyutin surprised me, but checking his raw numbers at even strength, and keeping in mind he has played with below average goaltending, I'm no longer as surprised. The S results are much smaller in magnitude than the G results in general, and these players are so close that they are pretty much indistinguishable and could be ranked in any order, anyway. One might prefer to consider Pronger as the top defensive defenseman since he's a close 2nd in S and is 6th in G. The only other defenseman in the top 10 in both G and S is Martin (10th in both).

Next post we'll look at overall performance at even strength...

-bmac

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