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Your Team, Your Award Chances & You


RomanesEuntDomus
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Your Team, Your Award Chances & You

 

The VHL has seen many great players compete for Cups, Awards and Hall of Fame spots over the years. But a question almost as old as “Who is the best player?” is “How much did the team that player is on factor into his stats?”. It is a question I’ve concerned myself a lot with in other leagues as a member of the Awards and Hall of Fame committees over there, and that has recently been re-ignited for me here in the VHL by a couple of articles. The main two were the Unofficial Regular Season Awards by @DMaximus and VHFL is Broken. Here's Why! by @Spartan, so thanks to these guys for their interesting write-ups and the discussions they spawned. I was particularly interested in these discussions because my player featured quite heavy in them, as a prime example of a player who put up some very impressive stats, but who did so on very weak teams so the big question is how much of that is actually earned by individual performance, and how much comes from the circumstances the team finds itself in.

 

One main argument that is being made is that being on a bad or rebuilding team inflates your defensive stats, especially your Shots Blocked and… yupp, that’s definitely the case. Be it my player Robin Galante Nilsson, the previous record holder Viktor Alexei Kamenov @BigTittySmitty or even players in other leagues that use completely different engines, like Lyle Odelein III in the SHL - the combination of getting shelled every night and playing a lot of minutes because those weak teams tend to not have much depth surely inflates your defensive stats and, by extension your Fantasy value. The same can even apply to a players offensive production, although it’s rarer and not as reliably predictable as the defensive numbers.

 

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I would add a few caveats to that however. First of all, being on a bad team is usually not very fun, so shouldn’t we at least leave those players with the satisfaction of having put up some nice individual stats? And from a fantasy perspective, if players from weak teams didn’t have the chance to provide value through their defensive production, would there even be a point to picking anyone who isn’t lucky enough to be on a good team? And lastly, those defensive stats like Hits and Shot Blocks do serve as a bit of a counterweight to other stats that can look pretty bad for those players on a superficial glance, most notably plus-minus. Now I don’t think +/- is a rather useless stats overall and its only real use is when comparing players within a team, but some people probably still look at it when evaluating players and things can’t look great there for players on a bottom-feeder. So their SB-prowess might at least allow them to balance that out somewhat.

 

Okay so much for my defense of my own pl… I mean, the players who happen to be on bad teams. But now what should be the Awards implications of that? Now I do think that the team a player is on should definitely play a role when evaluating his stats, as does the performance of his teammates. Let’s face it, SB is largely a team based stat and if one player puts up over 200 SB and another only puts up 80 even though they have similar builds, then this is probably a stat you shouldn’t value too much. So yes, giving a player an Award just because he hit and blocked a lot on a bottom-feeder would not be the right approach. At the same time, I don’t think being on a bad team should disqualify someone from the Awards discussion completely. So we need to find a good middle ground here and I think one way to do that would be to compare those kinds of players to their teammates. Did someone just put up a lot of blocks and hits but did not stand out in any other way? Or did he also lead his team in other categories, especially the offensive ones? If it’s the latter then I think that player definitely deserves to be in the discussion as we are then talking about someone who basically had to do it all without getting much help - which to me sounds like an Awards candidate for sure.

 

Talking about offensive production and points, this stat is where you can start looking at this whole discussion from basically the opposite angle. Gunnar Odinsson @BOOM, the player who is leading the league in scoring by a good margin at the moment, has put up those numbers playing on the best team in the league. One could argue that just as much as being on a bad team can boost someone's Hits and Block-totals, being on a very good team can boost your goals and assists. And how many people are really gonna hold that against Gunnar when Award season rolls around? Not many I would argue, in fact I’d expect the argument to be close along the lines of him being one of the main reasons Malmo was so great this season, not the other way around. 

 

Just as with the defensive stats, I think the way to go here once again is teammate comparisons. Did someone who scored a lot of points stand out compared to the rest of his team, or was he merely part of an offense that performed very well overall, and him being on the ice might not have made as big a difference as the raw numbers indicate. In Odinsson’s case, this comparison works in his favor: As of today, he sits at 97 points and is leading his team in +/- and game-winners, whereas the second best scorer on his team “only” has 81 points and the third sits at 67. Another player who stands out when looking at things this way would be Jivere Zolnek @Sixersfan594 whose 80 points don’t look that impressive compared to Odinsson, but who outscores the next best forward on his team by 20 points and his best linemate by 26. He is a guy who I think might be flying under a lot of people's radars but who deserves to be in some awards discussions.

 

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Even more impressive in that regard would be former 1st Overall pick and S76 classmate of both Odinsson and Zolnek, Red Lite @Tate. His 85 points are an incredible number compared to the rest of his team, as the next best scorers have 53, 43 and 38 points. So Lite doesn’t just outscore the next best player on his team by 32 points, he actually has twice as many points as all his teammates except one, and the same is true in the goals category as well with Lite scoring 40 and his next best teammates at 22 and 20). Lites numbers might open up another discussion however. He is playing on a rather weak team as well, so just as with the defensive numbers for Defenseman, could there be a case that being the only really good Forward on a weaker time inflates your offensive numbers and allows you to do better individually than someone who is part of a deeper offense?

 

This would probably be something for a follow-up article to get into, but in my experience there is at least some merit behind this argument. I remember seeing quite a few people fighting for the top-scorer spots over the years who did so as the one true good player on a weaker team. And I remember one of my own players, Max von Hohenzollern, being one of the league's best scorers one season even though he had a pretty average amount of TPE, and he mainly managed to do so due to the fact that he got a lot of ice-time on a rebuilding team and much of the offense went through him. Given this information, It’s gonna be interesting to see how the voters will judge Red Lite’s performance this year once the Awards season rolls around…

 

Another player who has been doing super well this season has been Alex Letang, the leagues top-scoring Defenseman, but everyone knows how good he is already and I figure he will feature in a lot of Awards themed articles over the next few days, so I’m gonna talk about him too much. The teammate comparison method treats him very well however, as he doesn’t just lead all the leagues Defensemen in scoring, but also his teammates where he has a pretty impressive 10 point lead on the two best forwards on the Los Angeles Stars. The two Forwards, Pistil Stamen and John Merrick, both still feature in the league's Top-10 Scorers flag, but due to the fact that they are being outscored by one of their teams Defensemen and that there isn’t much separation between the two, I don’t think either should factor into the Awards discussions this season The same goes for Brendan Telker whose 81 points are good for 4th in league scoring, but who has been playing second fiddle to Gunnar Odinsson this season.

 

Alright so far for far some of my thoughts on the Awards both in general and for this season, thanks for everything who read this far!

 

Words: 1550

Edited by RomanesEuntDomus
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