Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More on the Mission

I realized I don't think I've spent any time explaining what I'm doing here yet:

The goal of the Hockey Outsiders is to make sense of NHL stats in a way that lets us know something more than "this guy scores a lot." The reason is that scoring goals isn't always that illuminating: is it a great individual talent? A product of excellent linemates? Weak schedule? Empty netters? At the same time, goaltending runs into similar problems: great goalie, or great defense?

The reason why this particularly matters is that the way NHL franchises build teams is changing - the past several summers, we've seen the price of top players explode through the roof, while the payoffs for their new teams are hit and miss. What we're looking for, eventually, is if there's some way to predict which players are worth spending money on every summer. And not only invididual names, but by position: should you load up on a few top forwards or roll four scoring lines? Do you want defensive defensemen or guys that chip in on the power play? Do you want to goalies to play 40 games each, or one guy who can shoulder a 70-75 game load before the playoffs even begin?

Additionally, NHL free agency is being drawn more and more towards long term contracts. REALLY long term contracts - if Rick DiPietro has a kid, they'll be playing together by the time DP is free of the Islanders. So a question that we'll answer in the coming days is - is that worth it? How long can you count on production from a player - both in terms of age and consistency?

And there's more - what are the best draft strategies to take? Are trades more valuable than free agents? Europeans vs. North Americans? And on and on.

We'll see what we can do. And of course, we'll study the biggest question: do the officials cheat in favor of Canadian teams?

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