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Five-Season Quality of Competition Leaders

As you may (or may not) know, we calculate Quality of Competition for NHL players by averaging their opponents' Corsi shot differential rates across all of their head-to-head ice time. While sample sizes of a year or less can sometimes give cryptic results, the five year average of the stat seems to do a very good job of picking out the players with the toughest defensive assignments: (minimum 162 GP and 10 minutes 5v5 TOI/game)

Player QoC Player QoC Player QoC
Lidstrom 1.43 Veilleux 1.11 Phillips 1.02
Bolland 1.41 Zetterberg 1.09 Hanzal 1.00
Seabrook 1.32 Chara 1.08 P. Bergeron 1.00
R. Niedermayer 1.28 Robidas 1.08 Callahan 1.00
Bouwmeester 1.27 Regehr 1.07 S. Niedermayer 1.00
W. Mitchell 1.27 N. Thompson 1.05 Pominville 0.99
Pahlsson 1.27 Marleau 1.04 Martinek 0.97
Girardi 1.23 Moen 1.04 Hecht 0.96
Keith 1.17 Hejda 1.04 Doughty 0.96
Ward 1.17 M. Staal 1.03 Pavelski 0.96

Are there surprises in here? Not many. I'm not sure I knew that Stephane Veilleux played quite so much against top competition - and it's possible that no one else did either, because he left the NHL for Europe two seasons ago and has spent this entire season in the AHL. The same goes for Nate Thompson, who was waived by the New York Islanders in 2010.

Incidentally, this list uses what's known as "Corsi Rel Quality of Competition" - instead of averaging a player's raw Corsi number, we average his Corsi number relative to his team. If we use unadjusted Corsi, the Quality of Competition leaders come from just a handful of teams: primarily Columbus, St. Louis and Nashville, all of whom played significant numbers of games against dominant Detroit and Chicago teams.

And who's at the other end of the spectrum? If we didn't restrict the list to players with 10+ minutes of 5v5 TOI per game, we'd get a who's who of goons this time. Instead, we get a cryptic list of 3rd and 4th liners, along with bottom pairing or 2nd-tier offensive D:

Player QoC Player QoC Player QoC
Nystrom -0.24 M.A Bergeron -0.35 Pardy -0.58
Cheechoo -0.25 Campoli -0.37 Woywitka -0.60
Salei -0.27 Schubert -0.37 Sbisa -0.61
Kostopoulos -0.28 Fistric -0.37 Lebda -0.68
Barker -0.30 A. Miller -0.38 Hnidy -0.70
Strudwick -0.31 Montador -0.42 S. Brookbank -0.71
Picard -0.31 Gilroy -0.44 Babchuk -0.74
Ericsson -0.33 Boynton -0.51 Abdelkader -0.77
Alberts -0.34 Foster -0.52 Franson -0.81
Huskins -0.35 Helm -0.52 K. Russell -1.07

Aside from taking their raw stats with a grain of salt (which you probably already do), I don't think there's much we can do with this list of the most-sheltered players. You'll notice that these QoC numbers are much less negative than the guys at the top are positive. Again, no surprise here - if you can't play NHL-level defense against 2nd and 3rd lines, it's pretty unlikely that anyone will want you on their team.