Travis Yost recently discussed the utility of individual point percentage (IPP) in forecasting player performance. The article is a great introduction to IPP, so I recommend reading the entire thing if you’re not familiar with the concept.
Here’s a excerpt:
Another metric I like to look at is ‘Individual Point Percentage’ (“IPP“), which shows how frequently a player was awarded a point in an event his team (a) scored; and (b) the player was on the ice. Much like our on-ice save percentage example for defencemen, IPP regresses substantially towards league averages. On average, forwards usually receive a point on about 68 per cent of goals scored when they are on the ice. That number sits at about 30 per cent for defencemen.
Context is key: we simply can’t treat all players as equals in a hockey vacuum. Sidney Crosby(84.8 per cent) and Erik Karlsson (49.4 per cent) lead career IPP and it’s not a fluke – they’re constantly involved in the run of play, and as such, pick up extra points along the way. If we want to identify outliers, we must first observe strong deviations from the league norms, and then observe strong deviations from a player’s career norms.
Let’s apply this to the 2015-16 Capitals.
First, to recap:
If you’re familiar with PDO or individual shooting percentage, IPP is another tool that can help identify players who are riding a wave of good fortune or those who are due to catch better breaks. As Travis said, context is important. IPP is a good tool for player evaluation, but we shouldn’t use it in a reductionist manner.
With this in mind, let’s take a look a a few Caps players and what IPP can tell us about the 2015-16 season.
After never topping 24 points in his career, Carlson broke through with 32 points in 2014-15. Carlson’s IPP fell off the table in 2013-14, but he surged in 2014-15.
While Carlson has a track record of being able to sustain an above-average IPP over the course of multiple seasons, 2014-15 saw him outperform the league average by a wider margin than before. Don’t be surprised if Carlson’s IPP moves closer to the league average or, more likely, towards his career average.
But there’s also reason to believe Carlson’s gains in IPP could be sustainable. At 25, it wasn’t surprising to see his development take a step forward last season. Perhaps he felt freer to jump into the offense because of playing next to the defensive Brooks Orpik or the direction of his new coaching staff. And there’s also the fact that Carlson played more minutes with Alex Ovechkin (466:43) in 2014-15 than in any other season.
Further developing his offensive game as well as seeing more consistent power-play time could help keep Carlson’s point total around the same level in 2015-16. And, regardless of what his IPP does in 2014-15, Carlson is still likely to further establish himself as a top-pair defenseman. But, if his point total does take a dip in the coming season, keep an eye on his IPP.
While the sample size is small, it’s surprising to see a forward as offensively dynamic as Burakovsky with an IPP so far below the league average. Burakovsky only had four primary assists which, despite his limited ice time, is surprising given how much he directly contributed to generating offense. To put Burakovsky’s four primary assists in context, Michael Latta also had four in about 180 fewer 5v5 minutes than Burakovsky.
So, good news for 2015-16: Not only will Burakovsky be a year older and (hopefully) will be getting regular, top-six minutes, but his point total may also spike due to, among other things, an increase in his IPP.
Let’s check in on the new guys.
Oshie has been humming along as an above average IPP player for most of his career. His individual shooting percentage hasn’t seen any alarming fluctuations by season, so there’s reason to believe that his production is sustainable for the immediate future. In other words, at this point for Oshie there aren’t any red flags screaming “REGRESSION!!”
Williams is coming off a season in which he posted to second lowest IPP of his career. The last time Williams had an IPP below league average, he ran off five straight seasons with an above average IPP. It’s safe to assume the 33-year-old won’t see five straight above average IPP seasons moving forward, but his offensive production could be boosted simply by a normalizing of his IPP.
It’s important to remember that while IPP may be useful in forecasting player performance, it is by no means an authoritative or absolute record of player talent going forward. So, while Carlson may see a dip in his IPP this season, there are also reasons above as to why at least some of his IPP gains could be sustainable. It’s also important to remember that IPP isn’t necessarily useful in determining how effective a player is, but rather how fortunate a player has been.
For a look at the Caps 2014-15 IPP, head over to Hockey Analysis. If anything catches your eye, leave it in the comments.
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