Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Forgotten MVP

More and more people are concluding that the Hart Trophy race is one between Sidney Crosby and Martin Brodeur (for example here). Many other names are being bandied around for the third nominee including Roberto Luongo, Vincent LeCavalier and even Henrik Zetterberg but one name I am not hearing very often is that of the player I consider MVP.

Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit leads the NHL in +/- and all defencemen in points. He is the rock that keeps the Detroit defence strong (they have allowed less shots then anyone else). He has been clearly the best defenceman this season and is the one player who has the biggest impact on his team's success. What more must he do to get the MVP consideration he deserves?

The problem is that he doesn't have league leading offensive totals (he only leads every player in his position, while playing in the lower scoring west). Lidstrom is the best player in the NHL. He is its MVP and nobody seems to notice.

As good as Lidstrom is, it is difficult to argue that he is more important to the Red Wings than Brodeur is to the Devils or Luongo is to the Canucks. Both Vancouver and New Jersey are among the lowest scoring teams in the NHL and yet they are comfortably in a playoff position. In my mind Brodeur and Luongo are easily the two most valuable players in the NHL. Lidstrom and Crosby can fight it out for who is third.
I have Lidstrom providing 90 Marginal goals... [$16.7M] I would argue Detroit would have 79 points without Lidstrom [replace Lidstrom with marginal player - unless of course you seriously believe Zetterberg and Datsyuk are that good...]

Goalie marginal goals prevented are easy to calculate:
(save % - marginal %)*shots

The most shots any goalie is going to see this season will be around 2250, in order to equal Lidstrom you would need a save percentage 4% > marginal percentage. I consider marginal percentage = 88.8, so 92.8% would be the cutoff, so you'd need a 92.8% + 2250 shots to be as good as Lidstrom has been this season. Of course Brodeur sees easier than average shots (less PK time to start with) so his save percentage is inflated.
Problem is, if you repaced Lidstrom with a marginal player, that marginal player is not going to play 28 minutes a game. Schneider, Markov, Kronwall and Lebda (all more than capable defensemen) will get more ice time while the marginal player gets 14 minutes. That would make the loss of Lidstrom less costly.

The other thing to consider is that 90 marginal goals on a team which has scored 194 is less valuable than 90 marginal goals on a team that has scored 163.

All in all, I still think that Brodeur and Luongo are far more valuable to their teams than Lidstrom.
same is true for Brodeur and Luongo.
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