Oh boy. The Evgeny Kuznetsov review. Strap in.
|18.1||time on ice per game|
|47.9||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage|
|42.5||5-on-5 expected goal percentage|
|-5||5-on-5 goal differential|
For on-ice percentages, 50 percent means even: both teams possess the puck evenly. Higher is better, lower is worse.
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows how the player has impacted play when on the ice. At the top of the image is the team’s offense (even strength at left, power play at right) and at bottom is the team’s defense (with penalty kill at bottom right). In each case, red/orange blobs mean teams shoot for more from that location on the ice, and blue/purple means less. In general, a good player should have red/orange blobs near the opponent’s net at top, and blue/purple bobs near their own team’s net at bottom. The distributions in middle show how the player compares to league average at individual finishing, setting up teammates to score, and taking and drawing penalties.
About this player card: This image from Evolving Hockey shows an overview of the player across different parts of their game. At top right are the players percentile rank (1 is worst; 100 best), overall and on offense and defense separately. Higher numbers are in blue. Below are the player’s contributions in different compartments of the game using the goals-above-replacement or GAR metric. Higher numbers (again in blue) mean the player adds value compared to an average AHL call-up player.
About this player card: This image from All Three Zones shows how the player compares to league averages in different microstats, especially ones regarding entering and entering zones. Blue bars mean the player has a higher rate of the statistic compared to league average, and orange means a lower rate. The numbers are Z-scores, also known as standard deviations, indicating how far the number is from league average, where two standard deviations means the player is on the extreme edge of the league.
About this visualization: At three times during the season, RMNB shared an open survey with fans, asking the following question for each player:
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
The numbers above show the average score for the player in each survey period.
If you’re feeling bad that you gave up on Evgeny Kuznetsov, please take comfort in knowing that he gave up first. This next part is going to seem like hyperbole, but it’s not: I’ve never seen a player with a lower give-a-shit level than Evgeny Kuznetsov had over the final couple months of the season. Maybe you’ve got some memory of Alex Semin being a non-presence in a game, or of Alex Ovechkin on cruise control on one particular backcheck, but for a long stretch of games this spring Kuznetsov simply could not be bothered. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I hated it.
There’s stuff to be said about how Kuznetsov has wanted out of Washington for years now, how his trade requests got rebuffed, how his relationships with other players have deteriorated, and how he’s struggled in personal, private ways. I’m not going to get into any of that. I want the guy happy and in a place that can help him feel happy, but I just want to talk about hockey right now.
Evolving Hockey breaks down its catch-all statistic, Goals Above Replacement (GAR), into different components. In the defensive component, out of 362 forwards, Kuznetsov ranked 357th. One player worse than him was his most common linemate, Alex Ovechkin. (Opponents actually got significantly more high-danger chances when Ovechkin was on the ice without Kuznetsov. Go figure.)
In Evolving Hockey’s overall ranking seen in the card above, Kuznetsov ranks in the bottom percentile. He’s paid $7.8 million per season for that.
If I’m angry about this it’s because I think this player is fantastic. He has to be the best passer on the team, and there’s no one I’d rather see carry the puck into the attacking zone. He remained a strong assist-getter – ranking near the top of the league in primary assist rate – even as the rest of his game fell apart. But when the puck was along the boards, when the team wanted to cycle, when the offense needed a second chance, Kuznetsov couldn’t help. And nothing was as infuriating for me to watch as Kuznetsov forechecking. He looked like an obstinate teenage boy being forced to clean his room, doing the bare-minimum amount so that you can’t say he didn’t do it, you can only say he didn’t care.
Kuznetsov didn’t care. I hope that changes – for the team, but also for him. He’s a special player and a special person, and it hurts to see him so unhappy.
Is this the end?
This article would not be possible without HockeyViz, Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, and All Three Zones. Please consider joining us in supporting them. For people interested in learning more from those resources, we recently published video walkthroughs.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.