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Alex Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy for NHL rookie of the year in 2006. That season, Ovechkin totaled 52 goals and 54 assist in 81 games. His 106 points is the 3rd highest total ever for a rookie.
But 2005-06 was also Sidney Crosby‘s rookie season. Crosby scored 39 goals and recorded 63 assists. According to Wikipedia, the only other time two rookies scored over 100 points in the same season was in 1992-93, when Teemu Selanne and Joe Juneau did it.
Voting for the Calder was not especially close. Ovechkin got 125 out of 129 first-place votes. He also received 4 second-place votes. Crosby got 4 first-place votes, 95 second-place votes, and a number of third- and fourth-place votes. Scoring 52 goals as a rookie is going to grab the attention of voters. Ovechkin’s highlight-reel goals and physical play were credited for helping him win the award nearly unanimously.
Advanced stats are more prevalent than ever before in the NHL, and are certainly more of a going concern than they were in the 2005-06 season. While many voters still pay them no mind, I want to take a look at how the Ovechkin’s and Crosby’s rookie seasons match-up from an advanced stats perspective.
First, here’s a look at a player usage chart.
If you aren’t familiar with player usage charts, here’s a straightforward chart of the zone start and quality of competition numbers.
This is for all 5-on-5 situations.
So, Crosby (57.256) got easier zone starts than Ovechkin (52.68%), but also faced (slightly) tougher competition (28.78% to 28.56%). The wide gap on the Y-axis is actually quite small if you look at the scale. Both players were somewhat sheltered, as we’d expect for rookies. The bubble color indicates possession relative to the rest of the team (Fenwick Rel %), which resulted in no noticeable color for either player because, as you’ll see shortly, these two had similar FenClose numbers in their rookie season.
Not pictured here is strength of teammates, measured by TOI teammate %. They were very similar: Ovechkin’s was 30.45%; Crosby 30.48%.
Back to looking at possession through Fenwick Rel %, which is the difference in shot-attempt percentage when a player is on the ice compared to off the ice. This is another stat where there’s not a significant difference between the two. Ovechkin’s FenRel % was 7.88 and Crosby’s was 7.44, meaning they both got about 7-8% more shot attempts in their teams favor than their team got when they were on the bench.
Looking at close game situations also doesn’t give either guy much of an edge. Ovechkin’s close game Fenwick was 53.16%, Crosby’s 50.95%. When relative to their teammates, the numbers are 9.19% and 9.93%, respectively.
Here are the numbers in less wordy chart form.
|Player||FenRel %||FenClose %||FenClose Rel %|
Advanced stats don’t do much to distinguish either player during their rookie campaigns. They both had good possession, especially relative to their teammates. Both received zone starts that were a bit sheltered, Crosby slightly more so than Ovechkin. And lastly, they played with and against very similar levels of competition.
So sorry, Sidney, I won’t be calling for a re-vote based off of advanced stats.
All data from War on Ice.
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