Aliaksei Protas is huge and the future of the Washington Capitals.
|11.5||time on ice per game|
|53.2||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage|
|54.6||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.
Of all the stuff that bothered me during the Peter Laviolette era, the one thing I’ll never be able to understand is how he didn’t fall in love with Aliaksei Protas. Every time I saw him I was like “what if Tom Wilson was younger, bigger, faster, and better without the puck?” Protas was the hand’s-down the team’s best worker in his own zone, and his impact on opponent rates was clear. Attempts were down by 8.1, scoring chances down by 4.7, high-danger chances down by 3.0, and expected goals down by 0.6. If you wanted to lock a game down, put the 6’6″ guy with the hard-to-spell first name on the ice.
Except between New Years and Pi Day (March 14), Protas played just four games, averaging an eensy 10:26 of ice time. To me that means Protas, who was waiver-exempt, was the biggest victim of the twin returns of Backstrom and Wilson on January 8. Not to pick on two guys recovering from major surgeries, but Protas had a significantly more positive impact on Washington’s ability to control the puck.
The chart above shows how the player impacts various team stats (goal rate, expected goal rate, shot-attempt rate, opponent expected-goal rate, and opponent shot-attempt rate compared to replacement-level players. Salmon-y orange is bad and purple-y blue is good. Backstrom at left and Protas at right.
A new coach is going to be very good for the guy. He should be the future of the Washington Capitals, but for him to get a chance might require that a beloved mainstay loses his spot. (Or maybe it could just be Mantha?)
Will 2023-24 be the breakout for Aliaksei?
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.
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