I have always been intrigued by the NHL player who manages to generate offense despite a lack of ice time or power play minutes or quality line mates. The player with the ability to create goals despite what limitations are placed on him is fascinating to me.
I had the pleasure of watching Brett Hull break in to the NHL with the Calgary Flames back in 1986. Hull is, of course, one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the NHL. His 741 regular-season goals were the third-most ever behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801).
At the time, however, Hull was a 22-year-old winger with a famous dad and a reluctance to backcheck.
He played 67 games in his only AHL season that first year, scoring 50 goals and 92 points. Hull joined a Calgary team that had just been to the Stanley Cup Final in 1986. The coach at the time, eventual Hall of Famer Badger "Bob" Johnson, insisted that his players played a solid defensive game.
Hull, the cocky youngster, was certain his best contribution would come in the offensive zone. The two were at loggerheads. Coach Johnson only had one weapon to try to bring Hull to heel: ice time.
He played Hull sparingly during the 1987-88 season and eventually had him traded. Hull got in 52 games for the Flames before he was ultimately traded to St. Louis. The games he played in often saw him logging ten minutes or less. He was playing for the most part on the third or fourth line, though he was used as a power-play specialist.
It became almost comedic. Whenever he finally got on the ice, Hull would score or set something up. He had 26 goals and 50 points in 52 games for the Flames that year. He was tenth in team scoring. You could almost hear "Badger" Bob's teeth grinding every time Hull scored.
Never have I seen a player do more with fewer opportunities.
Ever since watching that performance I have had a desire to try to measure offensive performance in some sort of points-per-minutes-played format. Players have good offensive numbers that are tied more to the ice time they get, especially-power play time and the linemates they have rather than solely because of their offensive skill.
This is an attempt to separate out the players who have natural offensive skills.
All my TOI numbers and scoring statistics for last year came from NHL.com. I included every player who scored at least 20 points last year.
I took a look at the top 204 scorers from the 2013 season. I added up each players' even-strength ice time, their power-play ice time multiplied by a fudge factor of .75 and their short-handed ice time multiplied by 1.25 to create a modified ice time number.
I used this number to divide each players' points by and get a points-per-second-played number and then multiplied that by 900 for a number of points they produced for every 15 of my modified minutes.
That modified point number per 15 minutes of ice time is what I sorted all of last year's scorers on. These listings are based on this calculation. I have called this number scoring efficiency and I believe it reflects a player's ability to score in a given amount of ice time.
I have tried in a very rough fashion to compensate for power play minutes, when it is much easier to generate points and short handed minutes, when it is much harder to score, in an attempt to take the effect of those minutes out of the equation.
I haven't really come up with a way factor out being Sidney Crosby's or Eric Staal's line mate out of the equation. I'm trying to figure out a player's raw offensive production skill.
Here it is, last year's most efficient point producers for each NHL team.