16 February 2013

The Pain Game 2013 - First Quarter Report

Injury stats update – Q1 analysis

[Editor's note: Slight revision from the tables initially published - I managed to miss Jared Cowen's absence first time around, as he's not on the Senators' NHL injury list.]

[Editor's second note: Further updated to add Theo Peckham to the Oilers' totals - reflected in the main table below, but I haven't bothered to update the other lists.]

This is my first look for the 2012/13 regular season looking 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 concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his (annual) 2012/13 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).

Note that for reasons of comparability, players' cap hits being published as full-season equivalents and above all, laziness, I have made no attempt to adjust the calculations to account for the 48-game season.

Rather than measuring the figures at month ends, as I have done in previous seasons, I'll be cutting the shortened season into 12-game chunks. This has the positive aspect of comparing teams on a more equal footing, the negative aspect of having to wait until every team has passed the relevant games-played mark (so apologies for the data being a bit out-of-date for the Dallas Stars in particular, who appear to have finished their entire schedule before everybody else reached 12 games).

So this analysis covers every team up to what I understand should be known as the three-quarter pole, not the quarter pole, which is in fact Wojtek Wolski.

Again, for a different indicator of player "value", I've also illustrated a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.  Clearly, neither cap charge nor TOI/G are perfect measures of player value, since each have a number of limitations and inconsistencies, but they provide a decent comparison and the results do vary somewhat.

A quick summary of the alternative metric:
  • TOI/G 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).  [*Actually, "Games Played by Team - Games Missed by Goalie" - I'm not inclined to disentangle any three-goalie systems or minor-league conditioning stints.]
  • 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 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, 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 12 games of the regular season, as well as the distribution of CHIP by position
  • 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)
  • 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...
The Flyers at the top, though to some degree an inflated figure given Chris Pronger assuming his position in the Rathje/Laperriere/Betts Flyer Who Was Never Going To Play At All This Season comfy chair.  The Red Wings have had the most man-games missed by a distance, but more from an accumulation of separate (and middling CHIP) absences - the Wings' figures also exclude Joey MacDonald's pre-waiver absence, possibly controversially (if only in the MacDonald household) since presumed regular backup, Jonas Gustavsson was out at the same time.

Vancouver are relatively high up, despite only having two players out (Kesler and Booth missing all 12 games so far). At the bottom, the Wild have had but a single injury, the unfortunate Jared Spurgeon suffering the consequences of Ryan Suter's wallet falling on his foot. Perhaps most remarkably of all, a certain bench door-opener of the Brooklyn Wangers appears to have been opening bench doors unhindered for almost an entire month.

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:
A few clearly unrealistic figures in the CMIP table from having to use TOI from a previous season, sometimes with a different team in a different role.

Where does it hurt?
This is another update of the crude injury-by-location analysis. Again, I’ve just used the descriptions found in the player profiles on tsn.ca, so the figures will encompass all the inaccuracies and vagueness within them. It should give a broad indication, if nothing else, though.

If you ignore the large bell with "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE" painted on it that is ringing in your head, it's clear that groin injuries caused by the shortened training camps have exploded (the number, not the groins) as many pundits expected, up from being 7% of instances and 8% of total man-games lost last year.

Similarly, the rate of injuries (instances / total games played) has increased from 0.78 per game last year (0.76 in 2010/11) to 0.89 per game so far this year.  I'd suggest this is still pretty meaningless, since I've not accounted for injuries that pre-dated when each season actually started.

  • Figures exclude a few minor-leaguers / marginal NHLers (usually an arbitrary judgement on my part - you tell me whether Matt Taormina is/was still an NHLer...) who had been on the NHL club’s IR since "pre-season". Generally, if a minor-leaguer gets called up and then injured in an NHL game, his games missed will then count towards the CHIP though.  Minor-league conditioning stints immediately after/during a period on IR might be included in the man-games lost figures (but can't guarantee I get it right every time)
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I do the best I can with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure obviously 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, 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 guess I'll take a similar approach to a player traded where cap hit is retained by his old team, but presumably this will never happen until Brian Burke gets back in the league anyway.
  • 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 - man-games lost info more than likely does not exactly match up with the "official" figures released by individual teams
  • Cap info courtesy of capgeek.com