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Unconventional Wisdom - Part 1 GvT

A look at the makeup of the current Penguins roster through the lens of some of the less widely used metrics.

Justin K. Aller

I recently had the pleasure of flipping through the Hockey Prospectus 2013-14 by Robert Vollman et al. So that got me curious as to how the Pittsburgh Penguins roster looks based on the data gathered from some of the less widely used metrics. And since it conveniently provided 3 years worth of data, I decided to look at the past 3 years for all the metrics.

Hockey Prospectus uses Goals vs Threshold (GvT) created by Tom Awad as their primary statistical measure. There are a lot of different factors involved in calculating the total, but basically the stat looks at the players' ability to contribute to his team scoring goals and compares it to how much more effective they are than a replacement level player, i.e. a 13th F/AHL call-up type player.

It is separated into Offensive GvT, Defensive GvT, Shootout GvT, and Goaltending GvT which are then added together to give us the total GvT. OGvT is a measure of the skater's ability to contribute to his own team's goal scoring, DGvT is a measure of the skater/goaltender's contribution towards preventing their opponents' goal scoring, SGvT is a measure the skater's ability to score or the goaltenders ability to make saves during the shootout, and GGvT is the goalie specific portion of preventing goals.


For OGvT the Pens top players over the past 3 years is unsurprisingly our current crop of Top 6 forwards. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Dupuis, and Jokinen, with Bennett trailing in from behind. Crosby has been consistent for the past 3 years, but Malkin has bounced up and down. Dupuis and Neal had an offensive breakout the past 2 seasons, so their most recent data is consistent, while Kunitz was consistent for 2 seasons before a big breakout last year. And Jokinen had an off year in 2011-12, but it is sandwiched between two seasons of consistent data.

Then of course the lower tier are our remaining Bottom 6 options. Sutter, Jeffrey, D`Agostini, Kobasew, Vitale, Adams, and Glass. Sutter and Adams have consistent numbers the past 2 seasons, while Jeffrey and D`Agostini had excellent seasons 3 years ago but then fell precipitously. However, while D`Agostini continued his downward spiral last year, Jeffrey turned things around and was on the upswing. Kobasew and Vitale had relatively poor numbers in the first 2 seasons, but by last year Kobasew improved greatly whilst Vitale plummeted. Then there is Glass, easily the lowest on the team. However, while his numbers offensively have never been positive, it was consistent for 2 years before having an extreme drop off last year.

On D, unsurprisingly the highest is Letang, followed a ways down by Martin. Bortuzzo, Niskanen, and Engelland fall in the middle, and at the low end we have Orpik and Scuderi. Letang, Martin, and Niskanen's numbers have been climbing exponentially the past 3 years, and Bortuzzo, well, limited data makes his data have an extreme upward shift. Engelland had been climbing steadily the first 2 years, but had an extreme drop off last season. Orpik was consistently mediocre for two seasons and then also had an extreme slump last year. And Scuderi had a poor 2011-12 sandwiched between two consistently mediocre seasons.


For DGvT we see some unexpected results. Dupuis is the top defensive forward on the team, but not far behind we unexpectedly find Crosby. Then we go back to the realm of the expected and have Adams, followed by Kunitz, Sutter, and D`Agostini. So the best 6 from a defensive standpoint are our 3 1st liners, 2 3rd liners, and a 4th liner... after that we have Bennett, Jokinen, Kobasew, Neal, Jeffrey, Malkin, Glass, and Vitale.

Over the past 3 seasons Dupuis, Crosby, and Kobasew have actually improved ever so slightly. Adams, Glass, and Vitale, on the other hand, were consistent for 2 seasons and then had an extreme drop off last year. Kunitz and Malkin have been inconsistent defensively, but Kunitz improved over the past season whilst Malkin declined. Sutter, oddly enough, has been trailing off defensively the past 3 years. D`Agostini and Jokinen had been improving but had an extreme drop off last year. Neal is just the opposite, he had a bump 2 years ago and has been consistent since then.

On D obviously the most successful defensive D over the past 3 years has been Orpik, followed closely by Scuderi. After them is Letang and Martin, with inexperienced Bortuzzo not far behind. At the extreme low end though we find Engelland and then Niskanen.

Orpik managed to remain on top despite a fairly steep decline last season after two years of growth. Scuderi, on the other hand, saw a steep drop in 2011-12 but bounced back slightly last year. Letang has stayed rather consistent for the past 3 years whilst Martin was steady for the past 2, although both saw a slight drop off last season. And then Engelland and Niskanen both saw a steep climb in 2011-12 and nearly as steep of a fall last year.


Fleury, as we should all know, has never really had any issues in the regular season. If he could put it all together and remain consistent he could be one of the best in the league, but his tendency to fall apart, especially in the playoffs, has held him back. Over the past 3 years Vokoun has the slight edge over Fleury, but both of them have the same progression of a 2011-12 fall followed by a bounce back season last year.


Putting it all together we still see the same basic aspects. Elite top of the chart Crosby and Malkin, a little further down Dupuis, Neal, and Kunitz lumped together, and then Jokinen and Bennett fleshing out the Top 6. Crosby has been consistent, although saw a slight drop off last season. Malkin and Jokinen continue to be inconsistent with an extreme 2011-12 season for Malkin seeing steep drop in production last year, whilst Jokinen was just the opposite and bounced back from a disappointing 2011-12 campaign. Dupuis has been improving ever so slightly. Neal has been consistent for the past 2 seasons, while Kunitz was consistent the previous 2 and had a breakout year last season.

The Bottom 6 are led by Sutter, D`Agostini, and Jeffrey while Adams, Kobasew, Vitale, and Glass flesh out the end. Sutter has been incredibly consistent, but D`Agostini has declined each season. Jeffrey had a poor 2011-12 season but started to bounce back last year. Adams saw a big drop off last year after climbing the season prior, while Kobasew, Vitale, and Glass all had consistent seasons for two years and then an extreme fall last year.

On D the top contributor was Letang, with Martin and Orpik falling in behind. Then we have Bortuzzo and Scuderi, with Niskanen and Engelland bringing up the rear. Letang, Martin, and Niskanen have steadily improved all 3 seasons, while Orpik and Engelland had been improving bust saw a steep drop off last year. Scuderi, on the other hand, saw a poor 2011-12 campaign sandwiched between two productive and consistent seasons.

In net we see that by virtue of excellent SGvT and DGvT Fleury has climbed up to where him and Vokoun are neck and neck. And they also mirror one another in that they had excellent 2010-11 seasons, saw a drop in performance in 2011-12, and then bounced back this past season.