Garret’s look back at VanHAC

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Hello all,

Josh and I want to off the top thank everyone for making VanHAC17 such a wonderful success. The Vancouver Canucks for hosting, catering, and supplying so much support and resources. Our financial sponsors Canucks Army and HockeyData. Our helpful registration desk volunteers. Our panelists Dan Murphy and Dimitri Filipovic. Our presenters (more on them below). And a huge applause and thank you to our wonderful keynote speaker: Meghan Chayka.

Let me break down how this conference and the weekend surrounding it went from my perspective.

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Strong and Weak Links: Talent Distribution within Teams

In the salary cap world, hockey is a game of resource allocation. Each team is given a set amount of money to acquire players. Consequently, hockey inevitably becomes about tradeoffs. When building a team, every dollar spent on one player is a dollar that can’t be used for another. There are certainly times when you can get a bargain, but you will always have to make decisions about spending priorities.

One frequent prioritization question is high-end quality vs. depth. How much should a team focus on the very top of its lineup vs. ensuring it has adequate depth? Should a team maximize its strengths or minimize its weaknesses?

This question is relevant to many front office decisions. The Bruins traded Tyler Seguin for several assets, and some argued that the Penguins should do the same with Evgeni Malkin to improve their depth. As Steven Stamkos approached free agency, many teams were deciding just how much they would be willing to pay him while knowing that signing him would inevitably come at a cost lower down the roster.

We can think through these tradeoffs by studying talent distribution within a team. If you hold total talent constant, is it better to have a team where everyone is equally talented, or one where a few elite players are trying to shelter a few terrible ones? We know from current Florida Panthers consultant Moneypuck that contending teams have at least one elite player, but to my knowledge, very little work has been done on the broader question of total team structure. This article mirrors my presentation at the Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference 2017, at which I dug into talent inequality within teams to demonstrate:

  • Hockey is a strong link game, i.e., the team with the best player usually wins
  • Therefore, teams should prioritize acquiring the very best elite talent, even at the cost of having weaker depth than opponents
  • This is important for roster construction now and has the potential to become even more important as teams get better at assessing talent and market inefficiencies become less common

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Hockey Graphs and Vancouver Canucks Co-Host Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference 2017

 

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Hockey Graphs is excited to announce that we will be co-hosting the Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference (#VanHAC) with the Vancouver Canucks along with HockeyData and Canucks Army.

Date: Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Location: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, Canada

Website: HockeyGraphs.com/VanHAC

The call for speakers is currently open with a deadline of January 10th, 2017.  See the website for more details or go here to submit your submission.  

Registration has yet to open as we tabulate the final costs to host the venue, among other factors. Check back here or on Twitter for more information when it will open. (Note: Expect participants to be capped at around 100 people.)

Watch the VanHAC page for updates as they are released!

Hockey-Graphs to take part of Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference 2016

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Image courtesy of picswallpaper.com

Two of Hockey Graphs contributors, Josh Weissbock and MoneyPuck, along with two Simon Fraser University professors, Tim Schwartz and Oliver Schulte, are organizing the first ever Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference (#VanHAC).

This is not the first hockey analytics conference, as there have been a few popping up in recent years,  including those in AlbertaOttawa, Pittsburgh, Washington DC and Rochester.

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