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NHL Mid-Season Statistical Leaders: Volume 2

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On Monday, I looked at the leaders in some very basic (advanced) statistical categories. This time, let's go a little more obscure. First, a statistic that's so important, it should be published everywhere so that people know who's good and bad at it. Penalty differential - penalties drawn minus penalties taken (non-coincidental only):

Player Tm Take/60 Draw/60 Diff Player Tm Take/60 Draw/60 Diff
Kaleta BUF 1.1 4.1 3.0 Prucha PHX 0.4 1.7 1.3
Brown L.A 0.5 2.6 2.1 Kulemin TOR 0.1 1.4 1.3
Hordichuk VAN 1.3 2.9 1.6 Sheppard MIN 0.6 1.8 1.2
Wandell DAL 0.7 2.2 1.5 Ebbett MIN 0.3 1.5 1.2
Datsyuk DET 0.2 1.6 1.4 Fraser CHI 0.3 1.5 1.2
Carcillo PHI 1.4 2.8 1.4 Grabovski TOR 0.2 1.4 1.2
Clutterbuck MIN 0.6 2.0 1.4 Petersen DAL 0.1 1.3 1.2
Hagman CGY 0.4 1.8 1.4 Little ATL 0.1 1.3 1.2
Ruutu CAR 0.9 2.2 1.3 Sutter CAR 0.0 1.2 1.2
Parise N.J 0.5 1.8 1.3 Boll CBJ 1.6 2.8 1.2



Like faceoffs, drawing penalties is a true talent. Patrick Kaleta and Dustin Brown are always 1-2 in the league. At the other end of the spectrum:

Player Tm Take/60 Draw/60 Diff Player Tm Take/60 Draw/60 Diff
Regehr CGY 1.2 0.2 -1.0 Ward CAR 1.5 0.4 -1.1
O'Brien VAN 1.2 0.2 -1.0 Barker MIN 1.4 0.2 -1.2
Moreau EDM 1.2 0.2 -1.0 Pitkanen CAR 1.6 0.4 -1.2
Hillen NYI 1.2 0.2 -1.0 Brach DAL 1.8 0.5 -1.3
Bartulis PHI 1.1 0.1 -1.0 Schubert ATL 2.1 0.6 -1.5
Kubina ATL 1.0 0.0 -1.0 Orr TOR 2.1 0.6 -1.5
Jurcina CBJ 1.0 0.0 -1.0 Gill MTL 1.8 0.3 -1.5
Lydman BUF 1.0 0.0 -1.0 Boynton ANA 1.8 0.2 -1.6
Yelle CAR 2.0 0.9 -1.1 Mayers CGY 2.3 0.4 -1.9
Kotalik CGY 1.7 0.6 -1.1 Boogaard MIN 3.1 1.1 -2.0

Taking penalties is also a true talent - physical defensemen will frequently make our list. And for goons, penalties are unavoidable - in addition to being more penalty-prone because of their style of play, they are the only class of players who will take penalties intentionally, which inflates their totals.

Another slightly obscure but incredibly important statistic is "Zone Start" - how many offensive and defensive zone face-offs a player gets sent out for. As Tyler Dellow showed, individual statistics are very heavily driven by what zone a player starts out in. Zone start is obviously not a true talent, but it is driven by a coach's view of his players. The highest offensive percentages:

Player Tm O% Player Tm O% Player Tm O%
Kane CHI 68.6 Greene N.J 60.5 St.Louis T.B 59.4
Fraser N.J 66.3 Gaborik NYR 60.4 White CGY 59.3
Brassard CBJ 65.5 Shannon OTT 60.2 Del Zotto NYR 59.2
Oduya ATL 65.1 Picard OTT 60.1 Tavares NYI 59.0
Sharp CHI 65.0 Kaberle TOR 60.0 Russell CBJ 59.0
Mueller PHX 64.4 Johnson STL 60.0 Guerin PIT 59.0
Lang PHX 64.4 Ladd CHI 59.9 Sedin VAN 58.9
Barker MIN 63.5 Prospal NYR 59.6 Briere PHI 58.8
Toews CHI 62.1 Yandle PHX 59.6 Holmstrom DET 58.6
Sopel CHI 61.9 Zajac N.J 59.4 Berglund STL 58.5

There are a lot of Blackhawks at the top of our list, both because of usage, and because Chicago takes a lot of face-offs in the offensive zone. Other players (Oduya/Greene, White/Kaberle) are here because of coach usage. At the other end of the ice, the players with the highest percentage of defensive-zone starts:

Player Tm O% Player Tm O% Player Tm O%
Metropolit MTL 41.6 Ward NSH 40.8 Jackman STL 38.8
McClement STL 41.2 Tkachuk STL 40.7 Marchant ANA 38.2
Hejda CBJ 41.2 Winnik PHX 40.6 Fiddler PHX 38
Hannan COL 41.2 White N.J 40.6 Weaver STL 36.8
Halpren T.B 41.1 Kreps FLA 40.3 Pahlsson CBJ 36.2
Moore FLA 41.1 Walker T.B 40.3 Madden CHI 35.6
Campbell FLA 41 Brodziak MIN 40.1 Polak STL 35.5
Laperriere PHI 41 Drury NYR 39.7 Park NYI 35
Pandolfo N.J 40.9 Dvorak FLA 39.6 Goc NSH 30.9
Allan FLA 40.9 Smithson NSH 39.1 Thompson T.B 28.4

This end of the list is populated by many players who we see at the top of other categories like Quality of Competition or penalty-kill minutes. Their offensive stats will always be compromised by this type of usage, but we should make no mistake about how important they are to their teams.

I don't think I've ever seen the leaders in either Zone Start or Penalties Drawn published in a traditional hockey news source. But they are two easily-calculated metrics that capture a great deal of a player's value.