2 December 2009

The Pain Game

Injury stats update – November 2009

[Looking for more up-to-date figures? For my latest update, try HERE.]

This is my second look for the 2009/10 regular season at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.

(The corresponding analysis as at the end of October 2009 can be viewed HERE.)

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2009/10 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Exciting new developments...

Following up on one or two suggestions that time on ice per game could be a better (or at least a different) indicator of player "value", I've made an attempt at illustrating a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.

While acknowledging cap charge is a less than perfect measure of player, with a number of limitations and inconsistencies, I'm not totally sold on TOI/G as being any better overall (Tom Poti is more valuable to the Capitals than Alex Ovechkin. Discuss.) - it does provide a decent comparison and the results do vary from the CHIP rankings somewhat.

A quick summary of the new metric:

  • TOI/G (through games played on 30 November) replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on)
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year (e.g. Pavol Demitra, Mike Van Ryn) or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games (Andrei Markov, Kurt Sauer), I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...

The table below shows:

  • Total CHIP for each team over the first two months of the 2009/10 regular season (through games played on 30 November)
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • Movement in CHIP ranking since 31 October
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season)

10 second analysis...

Something in the water in Canada this year? The Flames are seemingly immune from the troubles afflicting their western Canadian brethren - being first in line at the clinic does have some advantages, it seems.

As bad as the Oilers and Canucks have had it, both teams are still behind the pace of the worst hit teams from last year - the Blues ended up with a CHIP figure for the year in excess of $16m. While the CHIP figures are pretty close for the two teams (the Canucks are actually marginally ahead on a per-game basis), the AMIP figures show a much bigger "win" for the Oilers. This appears to be largely due to a greater number of minute-munching defensemen getting hurt compared to the Canucks, whose biggest CHIP contributions come from Demitra and Daniel Sedin, who play less than top-four D-men.

Two teams that stand out as having inflated AMIP numbers relative to the CHIP ranking are the Thrashers and Islanders. Both of these teams have had starting goalies out for the whole year - though trying to find a season where Lehtonen and DiPietro have some sort of consistent appearance history to base a reliable TOI/G on is a task in itself...

Conversely, the Rangers fall down the rankings on the AMIP basis - perhaps suggesting some of their players have grossly inflated cap numbers. Who knew?

The Panthers will surely rise up both tables quickly if Keith "Slasher" Ballard can't remedy his directional anger issues.

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:

Markov continues to lead the CHIP race but the brotherhood of injury-prone goalies leaps ahead of him on the CMIP basis.


  • Figures include (and are arguably distorted by) some players on long-term IR, such as Mike Rathje (there’s a fair argument that Rathje shouldn’t be on here, since I can’t imagine he’ll either play again or that the Flyers are missing him - and his TOI/G number from 1973/74 when he last played is clearly overstating his value a touch). They do exclude a few minor-leaguers who are or had been on the NHL club’s IR since pre-season
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I did the best I could with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery, Randy Jones), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com
  • Cap info courtesy of hockeybuzz.com and capgeek.com

1 comment:

  1. You asked for it, I'm going to discuss it: Poti's importance to the Caps. Ovechkin only scores goals, which is the easiest thing to do in hockey, so Poti could just take that over if Ovechkin got hurt again. Now Poti does something that Ovechkin could never do - play occasionally capable defense and sit on the IR half the season.
    I almost completely forgot about Lilja. What ever happened to him? I get the feeling that if I walk into a Detroit Ikea, I might find him selling furniture.
    Anyway, I like the new method, definitely will help emphasize the impact of losing entry-level players that don't make a lot of money but play a lot of minutes.