Bryan Little is Winnipeg Jets #1 centre, and he's pretty darn good.
Numbers are for all minutes.
Bryan Little was healthy for the full season and hit some career highs in points and assists. Little was also 15th in the league for points by a centre. So much for being basically a second line centre.
Player usage chart from extraskater.com.
|EV||Percentage of Team's Available TOI||5 on 5|
|ZS%||ZS%rel||EVTOI%||PPTOI%||SHTOI%||QoC TOI%||QoT TOI%|
Rankings are given for team out of 15 forwards to play 20 or more games.
Little was given some tough minutes. He faced opposing team's best players more often than any other Jet. He also was deployed in the defensive zone more than anyone not named Jim Slater or Olli Jokinen.
Little also played tons of minutes, with playing on the top line for even strength and both the top PP and PK units.
The y-axis is given to show the typical 40-60 sustainable spread seen for NHL calibre players. Players are compared to particular line/pair depending on 5v5 TOI per game. Population mean (average), median (50th percentile), and other percentiles are relative to player performance between 2007-12.
RelCorsi is the team's percentage of shot attempts with player on ice minus shot attempts with player off ice. Delta Corsi values are team's shot attempt rates with player on ice, but relative to league norm given similar usage (quality of teammates, quality opponents, zone starts, and TOI). dCF/20 is shot attempts for -where a positive number is above average-, dCA/20 is shot attempts against -where a negative number is above average-, and dCorsi% is percentage of shot attempts.
Underlying numbers indicate that Little is a player who is excelling in his usage. Despite being issued some of the toughest minutes, the Jets out possess their opponents and do so better with Little on the ice than off.
dCorsi numbers indicate Little is doing well in improving the Jets shot production and repressing shots against. Overall this means that Little is doing better than the average player would do in the same situation.
Bryan Little is prime example of market inefficiencies the fancystats community have been suggesting for GMs to try and take advantage of.
He scored at extremely high rates in his draft year, leading the U19 OHLers at 1.70 pts/gp (which was 3rd in the CHL), but was ultimately past on multiple times due to size fears. Petter Mueller (1.12 pts/gp) and James Sheppard(1.27 pts/gp) were forwards selected directly ahead (as was Jets own Michael Frolik).
Now Little is 64th in the NHL over the last two seasons in 5v5 points per TOI (where top line production would be anywhere in the top 90) while improving his team's chances to outscore despite taking tougher minutes.
Keep or lose?
Takes tough minutes. Beats them. Improves the chance of Jets outscoring. Scores points. What's not to like?
Bonus: Bryan Little the underrated
Little has been pretty darn good. Looking at top minute centres (13.5 or more 5v5 TOI), only 6 centres have comparable or tougher deployment and have both a superior Corsi% and relCorsi%. They are Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton, Anze Kopitar, Travis Zajac, and Jordan Staal. Also, Little out-scored Bergeron, Zajac and J. Staal this year.
It is not just this season either that Little has performed well. Bryan Little has yet to have a season where he posts a negative relCorsi%. An accomplishment that Alexander Burmistrov and Mark Scheifele have already failed (no, that doesn't diminish their play).
Due to these abilities Maurice was able to construct a premium two-way line with Michael Frolik and Andrew Ladd on either side. All indications are this line will be good for a very long while:
Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Michael Frolik regular seasons usage chart from somekindofninja.com
All numbers are from Extra Skater, Behind the Net and Hockey Analysis