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NHL: Last Season's 20 Best Point/Minute Played Players

Scott WeldonCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2017

NHL: Last Season's 20 Best Point/Minute Played Players

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    Brett Hull broke in to the NHL with the Calgary Flames in 1986. The next year he was to prove to be the bane of the existence of coach "Badger" Bob Johnson.

    "Badger" Bob had a system that he liked his players to play. It had worked for him and the Calgary Flames. He had gotten the Flames into the playoffs in each of his first four seasons and made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 1986.

    Bob's system involved his forwards, especially the young ones, back-checking. Young Brett Hull, son of hockey legend Bobby Hull, didn't engage in that nonsense. He was all offense all the time, often waiting at the opposing team's blue line for his teammates to get him the puck.

    Coach Johnson tried to teach Brett better. He argued with Brett. He tried to embarrass Brett in the newspapers and finally he limited Brett Hull's ice time in Calgary to almost nothing.

    At points in that season Brett might have gotten four or five shifts a game for a total of less than five minutes of ice time.

    Despite playing on a third or fourth line; despite his coach being exasperated with him; despite the lack of ice time, Brett Hull still scored. If he only got on the ice five times a night you could almost be sure he would score a goal.

    At the time I was fascinated by his ability to produce offense with basically no time to do it. Brett as has turned out to be one of the greatest scorers in NHL history. If I could collect the numbers for it, I think the 26 goals and 50 points he produced in the 1986/87 season in 52 games for the Flames might prove to be the greatest points-per-minute-played performance in NHL history.

    It was certainly the greatest example of a talented player successfully flouting his coach's plans for him. Brett Hull was not going to learn to be a checking forward.

    This extreme example left me fascinated with the idea of the player who could produce the most points per minute played. Is that number a useful indicator of raw offensive talent?

    I'm not positive this number is any more useful than points per game might be.

    I looked at the top 118 scorers from last year (everyone who scored 47 points or more) and divided their points total to get my points per minute played number. I've then ranked the players by that number and will compare it with how they ranked in total points scored and in points per game. Listed by each player will be their total points, minutes and seconds played and the average.

    Will this number show the 'best" offensive player in the league or identify any young Brett Hulls before they score 70 goals in a season? Maybe, maybe not.

    I hope you find it interesting. I am hoping to see the offensive contribution a player makes with their total ice time played factored out. If it seems to show me something that I didn't see in the other numbers I may delve into some historical records and attempt to look for some all-time best points per minute played numbers.

    Though, that will be a lot of work just to find out it's Gretzky.     

20. Claude Giroux RW: Philadelphia Flyers

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 76   Minutes Played: 1590' 37"  

    PMP: .04778

    11th in league scoring tied with four others: 76 points

    20th in points per game: .9268 PPG

19. Daniel Briere C: Philadelphia Flyers

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 68   Minutes Played: 1409' 53"  

    PMP: .04823

    26th in league scoring tied with one other: 68 points

    28th in points per game : .8831 PPG

18. Chris Stewart RW: St Louis Blues

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 53   Minutes Played: 1084' 12"  

    PMP: .04888

    75th in league scoring tied with five others: 53 points

    38th in points per game: .8548 PPG

17. Brad Richards C: New York Rangers

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 77   Minutes Played: 1564' 10"  

    PMP: .04923

    10th in league scoring: 77 points

    10th in points per game:  1.0694 PPG

16. Patrick Sharp C: Chicago Blackhawks

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 71   Minutes Played: 1436' 33"  

    PMP: .04942

    21st in league scoring tied with two others: 71 points

    17th in points per game:  .9595 PPG

15. Jarome Iginla RW: Calgary Flames

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 86   Minutes Played: 1716' 44"  

    PMP: .05010

    6th in league scoring: 86 points

    12th in points per game:  1.0488 PPG

14. Alex Ovechkin LW: Washington Capitals

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 85   Minutes Played: 1687' 55"  

    PMP: .05036

    7th in league scoring: 85 points

    9th in points per game:  1.0759 PPG

13. Drew Stafford RW: Buffalo Sabres

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 52   Minutes Played: 1025' 21"  

    PMP: .05071

    81st in league scoring tied with five others: 52 points

    42nd in points per game:  .8387 PPG

12. Henrik Zetterburg C: Detroit Red Wings

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 80   Minutes Played: 1566' 42"  

    PMP: .05106

    8th in league scoring tied with one other: 80 points

    13th in points per game tied with two others:  1.0000 PPG

11. Patrick Kane RW: Chicago Blackhawks

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 73  Minutes Played: 1407' 47"   

    PMP: .05186

    15th in league scoring tied with five others: 73 points

    13th in points per game tied with two others:  1.0000 PPG

10. Ryan Getzlaf C: Anaheim Ducks

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 76   Minutes Played: 1464' 09"  

    PMP: .05191

    11th in league scoring tied with three others: 76 points

    6th in points per game:  1.1343 PPG

9. Thomas Vanek LW: Buffalo Sabres

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 73   Minutes Played: 1388' 17"  

    PMP: .05258

    15th in league scoring tied with five others: 73 points

    23rd in points per game:  .9125 PPG

8. Corey Perry RW: Anaheim Ducks

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 98   Minutes Played: 1829' 40"  

    PMP: .05356

    3rd in league scoring: 98 points

    4th in points per game:  1.1951 PPG

7. Pavel Datsyuk C: Detroit Red Wings

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 59   Minutes Played: 1082' 04"  

    PMP: .05453

    50th in league scoring tied with two others: 59 points

    11th in points per game:  1.0536 PPG

6. Steven Stamkos C : Tampa Bay Lightning

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 91   Minutes Played: 1655' 56"  

    PMP: .05495

    5th in league scoring: 91 points

    7th in points per game:  1.1098 PPG

5. Martin St. Louis RW: Tampa Bay Lightning

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 99   Minutes Played: 1720' 21"  

    PMP: .05755

    2nd in league scoring: 99 points

    3rd in points per game:  1.2073 PPG

4. Henrik Sedin C : Vancouver Canucks

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 94   Minutes Played: 1579' 17"  

    PMP: .05952

    4th in league scoring: 94 points

    5th in points per game:  1.1463 PPG

3. Teemu Selanne RW: Anaheim Ducks

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 80   Minutes Played: 1309' 32"  

    PMP: .06109

    8th in league scoring tied with one other: 80 points

    8th in points per game:  1.0536 PPG

2. Daniel Sedin LW: Vancouver Canucks

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 104   Minutes Played: 1521' 21"  

    PMP: .06836

    1st in league scoring: 104 points

    2nd in points per game: 1.2683 PPG

1. Sidney Crosby C: Pittsburgh Penguins

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    2010/11 Regular Season

    PTS: 66   Minutes Played: 898' 37"  PMP: .07345

    30th in league scoring tied with four others: 59 points

    1st in points per game:  1.6098 PPG

Goals Per Minute Played

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    I had the numbers in a spreadsheet so I recalculated and sorted on goals scored per minutes played. That gave me this top ten.

    GPMP

    1. Sidney Crosby: .03561

    2. Drew Stafford: ..03023

    3. Michael Grabner: ..02966

    4. Corey Perry: ..02733

    5. Steven Stamkos: .02718

    6. Daniel Sedin: .02695

    7. Chris Stewart: .02583

    8. Jarome Iginla: .02505

    9. Jeff Carter: .02466

    10. Ryan Kesler: .02440 

What Does the Points Per Minute Played Number Tell You?

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    Ice time in the NHL can be a self-fufilling prophecy. Many is the time when a newly acquired player is featured on the power play and first line and experiences a bump in offensive production.

    A bad acquisition can be papered over if he's simply played enough to get him the points to make him look good. Bad teams still have to have a first line and a power play. The players on it can get more points than better players with less ice time on better teams.

    The point per minutes played number takes your total ice time out of the statistic. Thus a talented guy like Teemu Selanne—who, at his age, gets relegated to the second line—still looks good on a point per minute played basis.

    The best offensive players in the league command substantial ice time and produce enough to justify it. Thus Sidney Crosby, the Sedins, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry et al still rate very high using this number. There is no real surprise there.

    Ilya Kovalchuk was overpaid to bring offense to the New Jersey Devils. When he started, management slowly gave him more and more ice time. Kovalchuk led all NHL forwards playing twenty minutes and thirty three seconds a game.

    He eventually scored a reasonable but disappointing—for him—60 points last year. That number, when divided by the minutes he played, gave him a point per minutes played average of .03283, putting him 103rd out of the top 118 scorers analyzed.

    Among forwards, only Ryan Smyth, Brooks Laich, Antoine Vermette and Stephen Weiss had worse points per minute played numbers.

    Now you already knew Kovalchuk wasn't giving value for the money he was being paid. Apparently he also wasn't making very good offensive use of all the ice time he soaked up.   

    Where it gets interesting is where players like Chris Stewart and Drew Miller rate among the top 20 players in the league. Are they that good? Are these players who will reward more ice time with many more points? Or was this just a statistical blip for players destined to have reasonable 40-50 point a season careers?

    A further modification of this analysis would involve taking penalty kill and power play time out of the equation to determine how much absolute offensive talent players have, all other things being equal.

    Another day perhaps.             

Drew Stafford and Chris Stewart

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    Drew Stafford is not a player who has ever attracted my attention until now. He will only be 26 come October 30th.

    He had his best NHL season last year with 52 points and 31 goals while playing in a mere 62 games. He was fifth in Sabre power play time among the forwards. Nineteen of his points and 11 of his goals came on the power play.

    Buffalo lost center Tim Connolly to free agency in the offseason. They picked up a few wingers but only 27-year-old Ville Leino seems to have any offensive potential. Stafford may find himself on the second line and with more power play time this year. His points per minutes played numbers indicate he can make use of that ice time.

    Chris Stewart has joined a St. Louis team that scored 240 goals last year, 10th in the league. Also born on October 30th, Stewart will turn 24 this fall.

    He looks to have earned himself a spot on the first line in St. Louis and no doubt a lot of power play time.

    Twelve of his 28 goals and 16 of his points came on the power play, which should mean his ice time and power play time increase substantially this year.

    Look for Chris Stewart to take a big step forward offensively this year if the points per minutes played statistic is any indication of offensive talent.

    Stewart and Stafford both had great scoring percentages at 17.3 percent.

    Among players who took at least 100 shots in the NHL last year, they rank fifth in the league behind Sidney Crosby (19.9 percent), Lauri Korpikoski (18.4 percent), Alex Tanguay (18.3 percent) and David Jones (17.6 percent). You give good shooters more ice time and you're likely to get more goals.

    Does this mean Stafford and Stewart are two young Brett Hulls ready to develop into hall of fame scorers? I don't think so, but the numbers interesting at least.

    I'm curious to see how they do this season. A huge step forward by either player statistically would lend credence to the idea the number itself is a useful mark of offensive talent.       

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