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JFresh's Mailbag: February 20th
Answering reader questions
Finn: Has Jesse Puljujarvi arrived? The points aren’t really there yet but he’s looked great on the top line in Edmonton
Puljujarvi has had a positive impact on McDavid’s play-driving numbers, especially defensively. From my viewings he has been an excellent complementary player on that top line, generating scoring chances and helping 97 maintain possession in the offensive zone. The goals just have not come, and a lot of that is PDO; the Puljujarvi/McDavid duo have a 0.95 PDO, getting awful shooting and goaltending. Once they regress to the mean I think it will be safe to say that Pulju has at least established himself as a solid top-six facilitator.
Traviss: What should the Leafs do with Morgan Rielly?
Rielly is tricky, man. He’s like the Draisaitl of defencemen in terms of his play-driving; elite offensively and an absolute liability in his own end.
I would be hesitant to give him $8M+ long term for sure, but I have a feeling that’s what they might have to do. For the next two years they have to play him with a guy who can cover for his adventures without being utterly devoid of any puck skills, and I think it’s probably safe to say at this point that TJ Brodie is that guy.
I do like Jack Han’s suggestion that Rielly should just become a winger though. It’d be fun to see the implosion in Leafs land if that happened.
Ducky: How good is Mattias Ekholm and what kind of value could the Preds get from trading him?
Ekholm is an awesome player. We’re talking about a guy who had elite defensive numbers for five straight seasons before last year. And even then his offensive playdriving has been great in each of the past three. At his number he’s one of the best-value defencemen in the league.
They should be able to get a lot for him. I absolutely love the fit in Boston, and Ekholm would essentially make them the Cup favourites in my mind. You’re probably looking at a 1st, a solid prospect, and a roster player I would imagine; let’s say 1st + Vaakanainen/Beecher + Bjork? Or maybe even a more straightforward trade involving Jake DeBrusk? I don’t know, I’m no insider. Point is that Ekholm rules.
Brody + Stephen: When evaluating/ranking a player, what are your 5 go to stats/tools ?
If I really really want to get as much story as possible on a player without watching them…
My own player cards (I originally built them for my own personal use so they are specifically designed to have most of what I need)
My on-ice stat scatter plot (specifically for this season because it’s too early for RAPM)
CJ Turturo’s A3Z visualization of Corey Sznajder’s data to check out a quick look at his transition results
Corey’s own Tableau to make sure that those microstats aren’t distorted by team effects (like Winnipeg resenting all of their defencemen)
HockeyViz, to compare Patrick’s RAPM to Micah’s Magnus model as a point of curiosity to see if they line up.
Austin: When discussing analytics, how do you converse with the crowd that has absolutely no regard for analytics and believe that analytics folks "think spreadsheets win games"?
My writing - especially on this Substack - is written specifically for the audience of “average r/Hockey user who happened to click on it because of the title.” The key for me is to express everything as clearly as possible, show my work, and use as much video and direct tracking stats as possible to connect the abstract findings of a model to real hockey in a way that’s meaningful to them.
RTR: Do you think hextall will trade letang? What trade could you envision for letang if you think hextall will trade him?
I don’t think he will, at least not until next offseason if everything goes wrong. I just can’t imagine how a Letang trade makes the Penguins better in the next two years, which to me is the final window of competitiveness for this team. I would rather just hope that returning to Dumoulin will settle things down again for him.
Griffin: If ur penguins GM, do you trade Geno Sid or Letang this year?
On that same note, no. Put everything in place to compete until 2022 and then see where you are after that. I would rather the Penguins’ window fade away next summer than get burned out with a series of trades that the team won’t possibly win in a flat cap environment.
Maxwell: If Lankinen keeps playing incredibly well and the Hawks make the playoffs, could he realistically win the Hart, Vezina, and Calder? Would the NHL even consider doing that.
I’m going to say no. He could win the Calder but he doesn’t even have the best Vézina profile at this point in the season and I think it’s pretty clear that the Hart winner will be in the North division at this point. (Plus I think he’s probably going to crash to earth soon)
Carter: Kopitar: what aging curve?
In terms of playdriving, a very weird one:
Really pulled himself out of the mud there.
Bonsalvador: Who do you think you are?
A professional hockey writer, somehow.