Ian and I had an interesting conversation earlier this week. We speculated about how fan opinions of Evgeny Kuznetsov might have changed since the Cup win. We wondered if a similar effect on Ilya Samsonov might be in play. That, plus all the new blood putting up big performances while the Russian Four are out, prompted us to bring the question directly to you. On Wednesday, we put out a short survey. Each player had a scale from 1 to 5 and were asked how happy they were that each player is on the team. What “happy” means was entirely up to you.
We got more than 4,000 responses. We shared a sneak peek with our patrons, but here now is my Totally Formal Executive Summary. This document is coded red and is for your eyes only.
Before we begin, here is how we posed the question:
On a scale from 1 to 5, how HAPPY are you to have this player on the team?
1 means VERY UNHAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
2 means UNHAPPY
3 means NEITHER HAPPY NOR UNHAPPY
4 means HAPPY
5 means VERY HAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
I gathered the results and then ranked players by their average score. For the purpose of analysis, I have broken them into tiers.
Below, each player is listed with their average score and their standard deviation. A bigger average score means fans are happier to have that player on the team. A bigger standard deviation means there is more disagreement about the player. Here we go.
These are the marquee players of the Washington Capitals. If you’re advertising with the Capitals, you want pics of these dudes next to your stuff. They can do no wrong, even when they definitely do wrong.
These are the usual suspects. To my eyes, the big climber here is Jakub Vrana, who started the season with a lot of offense as he enters his scoring prime. Future captain Tom Wilson is at the very top, as he has not murdered anyone lately.
Just outside the top tier, here is the team’s molten outer core. I’m a bit surprised John Carlson missed out on the Beloved Tier, but you can see that these players’ larger standard deviations indicate less consensus around them. For Carlson I suppose that points to his defensive weaknesses. And then there’s rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek, whose name I am getting better at spelling every day. Vanecek has perhaps claimed the starting spot in net while Samsonov is unavailable. I’d consider his position here extremely volatile, as he’s faced just 200 shots in his career.
We have departed the realm of superstars, but here now are some very important role players.
We see Washington’s excellent forward depth represented here with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway. Deactivated defender Dmitry Orlov is here with the highest standard deviation we’ve seen so far, indicating a lot of contention about his value. I suspect the timing of the survey depressed results for goalie Ilya Samsonov, who has been a gauntlet of disasters since the shutdown last March.
These players have potential that they have not reached — at least not lately.
Oh dear, Evgeny Kuznetsov. Had we run this survey before the 2019 offseason, I’m confident he’d be in the Beloved Tier. There’s clearly an argument to be made here: Kuznetsov’s standard deviation is the highest among all active players.
Elsewhere, I think fans are eager to see more individual offense from depth forwards like Carl Hagelin and Richard Panik. And 43-year-old defender Zdeno Chara suffered a bit from the survey timing, which came on the heels of a pretty bad turnover but before he had a big role in Thursday’s win over the Islanders.
This tier is populated with hockey players who are allegedly affiliated with the Washington Capitals. I think.
Forward Conor Sheary scored two goals right after this survey. Defender Trevor van Riemsdyk has played in only three games so far this season. If Daniel Carr robbed me at gunpoint, I would still not remember his face.
We need to talk.
Caps prospect Connor McMichael is 20 years old. He has played ten minutes of NHL hockey in his career. He put one shot on goal. He’s still learning how to write in cursive, and he’s not allowed to drive without an adult in the car. Yet you are happier about him than you are about Justin Schultz. Get real, you goblins.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist may never formally suit up for the Washington Capitals, so there was a lot of room for interpretation there. Regardless, he is our king and we want nothing but the best for him.
Defender Nick Jensen was the lowest ranked full-time Caps player. I’m wondering how many times Elliot Segal voted.
Here now is every player, color-coded and pretty. The darker the StDev (standard deviation) column, the more the disagreement.
We will do another one of these in a few months and see how things move. For now, what do you all think… about how you all think?
Illustration: Peter Hassett (photos: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB, Elizabeth Kong/RMNB, screenshots; NBC Sports Washington)
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