It’s that time of year again, when all the hockey bloviators of the world put out their predictions for the next season. And given that The Hot Takery is your one stop shop for hockey bloviation, we figured we should follow suit.
Now, of course the stats nerds of the world have their own ways of predicting things (hint: it’s Corsi and only Corsi), but they are always wrong. It’s not like a nerd like Eric T. was able to predict the Stanley Cup Final (and winner) before the season even began last year.
And that’s why we’ve developed our own system for ranking NHL teams. Obviously things like heart, grit, and leadership are the main determinants of success in the NHL, and we’ve tried to build a predictive model that takes those intangibles into account.
In order for the model to be entirely accurate, we had to include a shit ton of variables (more variables = better than) that at least proxy the intangibles listed above. It was a tough task, but I’m pretty happy with what we settled on.
Here they are:
Fights – Obviously fights serve as a good guide for truculence, grit, and respect for the game — all qualities necessary for a winning team. We took the number of fighting penalties each team took, and properly weighted them by multiplying by 15 (cause that’s just how fucking awesome fights are). The team with the highest fighting rate was the Toronto Maple Leafs, because they are super duper truculent. The team with the lowest fighting rate was the Detroit Red Wings, because they are filled with a bunch of aging pansie (read: European) Lady Byng winners.
Hits - It should be fairly obvious why we decided to include hits here. Guys who are willing to take the body and rile their teams up are essential for any franchise. The LA Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets tied for first in this category, which is interesting (didn’t one of them just win the cup? Yeah, try to argue that I’m wrong). The Chicago Blackhawks had the fewest number of hits, which helps explain why they haven’t seen a Stanley Cup in literally hundreds of days.
Blocked Shots - Just like hits, blocked shots show whether or not a guy is willing to take the body. Blocked shots are so important, that the Philadelphia Flyers felt Andrew MacDonald deserved half a billion dollars (which no one could possibly disagree with). The Montreal Canadiens led the pack here, which makes sense given that they had guys like Josh Gorges and Douglas Murray, both of whom probably blocked like a million shots last year. The New Jersey Devils were last in the category, and they didn’t even make the playoffs, so….
Penalty Minutes - Teams that find themselves on the penalty kill often are teams that win, simply because they have to be that much better to even the score, or something. That’s why it’s always important to include the number of penalty minutes a team takes as a predictor of success (the more the better).
Game Misconducts – Of course, not all penalties are created equal. The way you really rile your team up is by doing something so batshit insane that you get kicked out of the game. I mean, the Flyers had Zac Rinaldo on their team last year, and they made the playoffs. Point made. We took the number of game misconducts each team took, and weighted it by multiplying by 200 (again, because game misconducts are the fucking best). I’m a little surprised here, because the Carolina Hurricanes and Vancouver Canucks led the pack. I can understand the Canucks topping the list because of superstar Tom Sestito, but the Hurricanes don’t even have any players that made Team Heart. The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Islanders didn’t have a single game misconduct last season, which doesn’t bode well for their future.
Enigma Factor - Unfortunately, some NHL teams have been misguided lately, keeping players that they think are good but are actually bad because they don’t talk to the media or maybe they are a little too “urban” or something. We went through the list of teams and deducted points for each enigma player they had. The biggest deduction was doled out to the Winnipeg Jets, who have Evander Kane, a guy that has held money up to his head and gotten funny haircuts. The second biggest deduction went to the New York Islanders for signing the moron twins (and former Toronto Maple Leafs) Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin.
Cup Clinching Goals - Just ask expert Steve Simmons, and he’ll tell you that guys who are able to score cup clinching goals are better than any other players in hockey. So we decided to give bonuses to teams that have these players. The Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche were the biggest winners in this regard, each possessing two undeniably elite players (Jeff Carter and Alec Martinez for the Kings, and Maxime Talbot and Alex Tanguay for the Avalanche).
In the end, we took all these variables, added them up, and ranked teams by this new super metric.
Now, of course the model isn’t perfectly accurate, as all intangibles can’t be quantified — I just tried my best. And since we’re using last year’s data, some of this will be a little off. Teams like Calgary and San Jose will have gotten better because of their respective acquisitions of Deryk Engelland and John Scott (with San Jose getting an extra boost for stripping the “C” off that bum Thornton’s chest).
However, I’m not too worried. Remember, accuracy is the enemy of the hot take, so I’m not about to bend over backwards trying to achieve that misguided ideal.
Rather than go through each individual team, I figured I should just point out some highlights:
- Probably the most shocking thing is that the Los Angeles Kings will claim the President’s Trophy next season. Everyone thinks that they’re this incredible team because of “possession” and “Corsi,” and that made me think that they must have been a bad team. But my model of grit, heart, and truculence ranks them as the best team in the league. Suck it, nerds.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs, as expected, will win the Atlantic Division, and deservedly so. They’ve gotten remarkably more gritty this offseason with the acquisition of Roman Polak, and Colton Orr is still on the roster, which can only help. David Clarkson will return to doing the things he does, and all will be peachy keen in Toronto. Of course, the nerds will credit this the hiring of the analytics guys, but we all know that’s a bunch of bullshit. No, next year, the truculence will finally pay off with a division win.
- All the stats idiots who think that the Colorado Avalanche are due for a hefty regression next year are going to look so stupid when the Avs win the Central Division.
- Some teams that the nerds like are just going to flat out miss the playoffs next year. The Blackhawks, Stars, and Sharks are darlings in the world of Big Corsi, and we’re all going to have a big old laugh when Kane and Toews are playing golf in April (their lack of success will be widely blamed on their greed, which is totally accurate).
- The Edmonton Oilers still suck.
What do you think of our predictions? Totally makes sense, right? We’ll be back a little later to predict how the Stanley Cup Playoffs will go, so stay tuned budding takists…