Monday, January 15, 2007

All Star Pick Discrepancies: Me and the NHL

This past week, I announced who I would pick for the NHL All Star Game and the NHL announced who actually made the teams. The biggest source of discrepancy between our picks is that the NHL shied away from selecting anyone who has injury issues and will likely miss the All Star Game and I selected them and have plans to replace them closer to the game. The other discrepancies tended to occur when the NHL selected players that are famous and they would like to believe are All Stars in place of less famous players who are having better seasons. In total there were twelve discrepancies between our teams. Eight in the West Conference and four in the East Conference. This is largely because the West currently as more injuries.

Here are the players I would have selected to the All Star Teams who did not get selected:

East Conference

Maxim Afinogenov Afinogenov is the 20th highest scorer in the league with 47 points despite having missed some time to injury. He is having a breakout season. However, he plays for Buffalo which is a relatively small market and he doesn't have the same level of fame as some other players. Buffalo elected three players to the starting lineup in the game so there was no need to add a fourth Sabre even if he deserved it.

Rod Brind'Amour Brind'Amour is tied for Carolina's lead in scoring and is the Selke Trophy favorite as best defensive forward in the NHL. He is the obvious Carolina choice. He missed time in December with a "lower body injury" which many believe is a groin problem. He hasn't scored at the same rate since returning and many believe he is not 100%. Brind'Amour will rest his injuries instead of playing in the All Star Game.

Jaromir Jagr Jagr is a no brainer selection. His 59 points currently put him sixth in the NHL. However, Jagr is struggling with a shoulder injury and a sore hip and the Rangers would rather he rest it over the All Star break then to play in the game.

Bryan McCabe McCabe is having a good season. He has 34 points and a +5 +/- rating. He is the second Toronto defenceman I selected to go with Tomas Kaberle. McCabe is a solid defenceman who made second all star in 2004 and was on pace to win the the Norris Trophy after a strong first half last season. However, it appears that Toronto is not an elite team. They would miss playoffs if the season ended right now. So there is no need to give them multiple players in the All Star Game. Toronto is already a strong NHL market, might as well give a slightly weaker market multiple players.

West Conference

Alexander Frolov His 45 points places him sixth in the West Conference. However, he plays on a poor team in Los Angeles, who has two worthy all stars (he and Lubomir Visnovsky). Visnovsky is more famous so Frolov doesn't get to play.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere Giguere is having a very good season with a 2.17 GAA, .924 saves percentage and 23 wins in 34 games played. However, he is out with a groin injury and won't be available to play in the all Star Game.

Jarome Iginla Iginla is second in scoring in the West Conference but has a knee injury and won't be available for the All Star Game so he was not selected despite clearly deserving a nomination.

Ed Jovanovski Nobody from Phoenix really deserves to be in the All Star Game. However, I chose Jovanovski because he is their top scoring and best defenceman. He is tied for fifth in team scoring with 25 points and has a +3 +/- rating despite being stuck on Phoenix.

Paul Kariya Kariya is tied for 18th in the NHL in scoring with 48 points (fourth in the West Conference). He plays for the smaller market Nashville and they chose to go with Timonen instead of him. This is a reasonable move. Either are worthy of play in the All Star Game. I considered adding both, but due to numbers selected Kariya only. The NHL chose Timonen only. Nashville isn't an important enough market to have two representatives unless both are more obviously all stars. However, given Kariya's All Star history, he might have been the more high profile selection.

Chris Pronger I pick Pronger as the NHL MVP so far. Likely, he will lose that distinction as he stays out with a broken foot. This broken foot will keep him out of the All Star Game

Petr Sykora Sykora leads the Oilers in scoring with 38 points. He is having a very good season. He is not a recognizable as an Oiler as Ryan Smyth, who has been a longtime Oiler and has represented Canada in several international events. Smyth has missed time this season due to a broken thumb and this makes Smyth a less worthy, but higher profile selection.

David Vyborny Nobody from Columbus really deserves to be in the All Star Game. Vyborny's 38 points lead the team in scoring. Rick Nash got the position instead despite having only 30 points. Nash is a former first pick overall in the NHL draft and tied for the goal scoring lead in the league in 2004, so he is the bigger star despite having a worse season than Vyborny.

Here are the players selected by the NHL instead of my selections:

East Conference

Brian Rafalski New Jersey leads the Atlantic Division. Thus they will get two players in the All Star Game. They are a market that is more questionable than Toronto, in that they need more enticement to make sure they watch the game. His numbers do not measure up to McCabe, but he is having a solid year with 29 points so far.

Brendan Shanahan If Jagr cannot go, Shanahan is the logical New York Ranger selection. He is the most high profile of their other top scorers, though stands fourth on the Rangers in scoring.

Eric Staal Staal had a breakthrough season last year. He is having trouble following it up. He only has 39 points so far this year, but he is a young star who was given a lot of attention when he lead the 200 playoffs in scoring. Carolina is the defending Stanley Cup champions and they get two players in the All Star Game even if they do not deserve it.

Justin Williams If Brind'Amour isn't going to go in Carolina, Williams is an interesting choice. He is third in team scoring with 42 points. He is well behind Ray Whitney who would be a better choice. However, Williams is much younger and has potential to be a star for longer than Whitney, so in the interest of the "new NHL" full of young stars he gets the shot.

West Conference

Patrick Marleau I left him out mostly due to numbers. There were not enough roster spots for him and San Jose already had two representatives voted in a starters. His 46 points place him fifth in the West Conference. Likely, I will add him in an injury spot to my roster. Since the NHL did not add injured players, he makes the team immediately.

Rick Nash He is pushed as a young star and the face of the Columbus Blue Jackets and gets his spot despite being in a relatively poor season and not nearly as high a scoring one as teammate David Vyborny.

Yanic Perreault Nobody on Phoenix deserves to be there, but he has been playing well lately. I guess there is a feel good story about the 35 year old who didn't even have a team to play with at the beginning of the year being an all star, but since he missed time at the beginning of the year, he is tied for third in scoring on his team and hasn't had as big a contribution this season as Jovanovski.

Dion Phaneuf Calgary leads the Northwest Division so they get two players. Since Iginla is hurt he doesn't count as one. Phaneuf is a runner up for the Calder Trophy so he fits as a young star in the "new NHL" despite the fact he is not yet reliable enough in his own zone to take on the best offensive players in the opposition and is often protected from having to face them.

Ryan Smyth Captain Canada and the most identifiable Oiler, but with the ten games he lost to injury, I think Sykora (and Stoll) have had a bigger impact this year.

Kimmo Timonen A justifiable choice for Nashville, though I think Kariya is a better pick. I might add him as an injury selection on defence.

Marty Turco The game is in Dallas, so Dallas gets at least two players. Turco is not the best choice to replace the injured Giguere, but he is the home choice.

Henrik Zetterberg Detroit is an extremely strong hockey market historically, but they are starting to have a drop in attendance in the post Yzerman/Shanahan years. Zetterberg is a good young star who projects the image of "new NHL". His 36 points cannot measure up to Frolov, but he might be able to bring in more marginal viewers.

I think the risk with some of the young selections who are not worth their spot (people like Nash, Phaneuf, Zetterberg) is that if they do not improve to all star calibre in future seasons, it will make them look like more of a failure than they are because they have even more credentials in this all star berth to live up to. Probably, it won't matter, but you never know when one of these guys might fail and turn into a Jimmy Carson type who looked like a superstar but never matured.

Who am I? Just a fellow blogger. Why am I reading this? I guess I got lost on the internet and thought I'd say "hi." Happy blogging!
Yanic not a all star means you have not been watching the phoenix coyotes much. He has been there mvp and is the best face off man in the NHL. He scores key goals and makes everyone around him better. Watch for him to help the coyotes sneak into the playoffs. Amazing that even though he made the all star team he still is the most underated player in the league
Faceoffs have a very low correlation with winning. Its an easy stat to keep, but one of little value. So Perreault wins 62% of his faceoffs. That has very little correlation with winning. Se for example Jes Golbez for a simple discussion of this.

Perreault missed a quarter of the Coyote games because he wasn't signed yet. That alone should keep him from the All Star Game. Though he has good other numbers (tied for 3rd on the team in scoring) none of them jump out and scream team MVP.
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