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Friday #FancyStats Mailbag: Frolik, Trouba, and the Jets defensive injuries

Every Friday we will be answering your questions about underlying metrics and what they have to do with the Jets.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Hello everyone and welcome to Arctic Ice Hockey's very own Friday #FancyStats Mailbag! Once a week I'll be answering a few of your questions on underlying metrics. Also, I will try to explore any concerns about the Jets that can be investigated through data.

Mohamed writes:

Frolik's shot differential numbers are much lower than normal despite him being given a decent offensive zone deployment push. Any reasons why?

Michael Frolik spent the first 200 of his 330 minutes on the right wing of Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little. All three have traditionally been players who performed well in shot metrics, but started off the season very, very poorly. At one point the trio was sitting around 40% after receiving some destruction by the hands of Mikko Koivu, Joe Thornton, and Anze Kopitar.

Their numbers were improving as the season was progressing, but issues with the lines and injuries led to some shuffling, and a large reduction in Frolik's 5v5 ice time. Frolik has been on line with Adam Lowry, with either Mark Scheifele or Mathieu Perrault in between, and the Jets have controlled about 54 percent of shot-attempts with them on the ice.

Brad writes:

Some Leaf fans have tried to belittle Trouba's success while saying his QoC is only 4th toughest amongst Jets defnsemen (behind Toby, Bogo, and Stu). It seems to me with his PK work, QoC, TOI, zone starts, and being paired with Stu, Jacob might have the toughest job on the jets D core but do the numbers bare it out? Also how tough is Morgan Rielly's usage (or how sheltered is he) compared to Trouba?

Quality of competition is a commonly misunderstood statistic.

It first should be noted that most of the statistical websites use different methods in measuring competition. All of them are a weighting of their opponents in one particular statistic, but they differ in what number they use. Some use percentage of team's available time on ice, some use Corsi, some use relative Corsi, etc. Personally, I believe that the first one best indicates how a player is being deployed by their coach.

The more important fact though is that QoC has a small impact relative to teammates and zone deployment (and other contextual nuances). While who a player faces against impacts results greatly at the microlevel, over the span of a season most players end up seeing very similar distributions in player talent. For more on this, check out Eric Tulsky's excellent work here.

We can take a look at Trouba's usage compared to the Jets and Rielly's usage compared to the Leafs here:


Trouba has faced some pretty tough minutes. The Stuart-Trouba pair has taken the bulk of the Jets defensive zone starts and also have taken the second toughest match-ups. Morgan Rielly's deployment has been more comparable to Paul Postma's. This is no slant against Rielly. He is a good player and I would enjoy it if the Jets had him on their team (it would help with the next question).

There are many who have wondered how much of an anchor could Stuart be to Trouba. After all, even Zdeno Chara in his prime (one of the best Corsi defensemen in the league on a possession juggernaut) posted far below 50% with Stuart. It's really hard to measure these things, and it is still an area of on-going research. We can look at with/without a player, although a difference in usage may make the comparison not apples-to-apples.

TOI Corsi%
With Stuart 998.08 48.6%
W/O Stuart 514.32 50.8%

Cara (Arctic Ice Hockey writer) asks:

What's your thoughts on the new blue line? Should the Jets make a trade for a defenseman?

My thoughts can be summarized by two examples of the Jets defensive core changing.

In the Jets 2.0 inaugural season, there were three left handed shot defenseman above Mark Stuart in the depth charts; they were Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, and Jonny Oduya. Near the beginning of the 2013-14 season the Jets third pair defense that were being deployed under sheltered minutes were Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba. Now no one sits above Stuart and Stuart-Trouba will be used as the Jets top defensive pair.

I do like the idea of Dustin Byfuglien playing defense rather than forward. His shot differentials have always been one of the best. It's not just shots though... (believe it or not) the Jets/Thrashers goal differential with Pavelec on the ice has been better with Byfuglien than without. I am nervous though that Byfuglien is being placed in a position to fail. His defensive partners will only be AHL caliber defenders and they will unlikely be given an opportunity for sheltering. For a far more in depth look on Byfuglien the forward versus a defenseman, check this article.

Dominic Galamini recently created this look at the percentage of shot-attempts controlled by the Jets with each of the Jets defenders on the ice. These numbers have had some adjustments made to try and reduce the impact of usage.


It should be noted that there are some issues in these numbers. One, Chiarot's numbers come from a single game sample. While evidence from the past two pre-seasons indicate that he is not a strong possession player, I would expect higher than 35%. Two, Dustin Byfuglien's numbers are as a forward. Despite some beliefs, Byfuglien's on-ice impact on the Jets is quite negative as a forward and positive as a defenseman.

In regards to a trade, I don't know but I'm leaning towards no. The Jets need defensive help and depth. Myself and others here have been vocal about the Jets need for a second pair left hand defenseman ever since Ron Hainsey left. However, with the pay raises and term to both Mark Stuart and Grant Clitsome, the Jets have somewhat painted themselves into a corner (especially given the Jets internal budget). Arctic Ice Hockey manager Tim Bonnar discussed at the time of Stuart's contract extension why this is a problem.

So, due to those two previously mentioned contracts, I do not think the Jets should make a trade at this time. They also do not have much in excess assets to trade with anyways. I did want the Jets to sign a slightly more capable defenseman last summer than Stuart. The plan would then be for the defenseman to ease into a third pair role as Morrissey developed.

I usually don't work with trade scenarios because I like to stick to discussing areas of strength for me and not areas of weakness.

Thank you everyone who wrote!

That is all for this week. If I didn't get to your question this week, I promise I will eventually reply. The plan is to answer every single question given to me, although sometimes they may slide a week or two depending on the load of questions I receive.

If you have any questions you want looked at, email me at garrethohlaih (at) gmail (dot) com.