Saturday, 3 March 2007

A Rebuttal (a Smyth Continuum posting)


At Always on the Road, a very good blog on the Oilers, there is a posting that uses several players as comparables to Smyth. He does so as an attempt to prove that the trade of Smyth is justified.

Make no mistake about it: his analysis is actually quite thorough - it is NOT a hatchet job. I will make points below however that show it to be incomplete.

Jason Arnott vs. Ryan Smyth

The first point made is a fair one - Arnott signed a 4.5 /yr for 5 years deal in the 2005/06 off-season. His age is comparable to Smyth's and his counting numbers are actually a bit better. Lets look at a few more numbers:

Playing Time per game for 2005-06: JA ~ 17 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins
Playing Time per game for 2006-07: JA ~ 17 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins

*Quality of Opponent faced 2006-07: JA ranked #102 / RS ranked #56
*Advanced +/- at EV str. 2006-07: JA = 0.43 / RS = 1.03

Time of deal negotiation: JA it was 2005-06 and for RS it was effectively 2006-07

* using Desjardins
www.behindthenet.ca numbers

Now, to be fair, Arnott actually scores more ppm than Smyth given these metrics but head to head Smyth plays against top opposition far more, and far more effectively than Arnott. Using a stupid % calculation it shows that Smyth plays 17.6% more than Arnott - even if Smyth was only AS effective as Arnott, at that rate Smyth should earn no less than 5.29 mill /yr in comparison to Arnott.

Now factor in a full year of contract inflation and Smyth's leadership intangibles compared to Arnott's and there is no question that 5.5 is a good number for the team that signs Smyth. Give Smyth the protected minutes Arnott gets and his scoring would jump dramatically (imo).

Steve Sullivan vs. Ryan Smyth

Sullivan signed a 3.2 /yr for 5 years deal in the 2004/05 off-season. His age is comparable to Smyth's and their counting numbers are very close. Looking at the same numbers:

Playing Time per game for 2005-06: SS ~ 19 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins
Playing Time per game for 2006-07: SS ~ 19.5 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins

*Quality of Opponent faced 2006-07: SS ranked #89 / RS ranked #56
*Advanced +/- at EV str. 2006-07: SS = 0.49 / RS = 1.03

Time of deal negotiation: SS it was 2004-05 and for RS it was effectively 2006-07


The numbers are very close. Good comparison. Even in terms of straight-up play Smyth's advantage is narrowed. The big trick is to look at the year the deal is signed. Sullivan signed right after the lock-out and there were a lot of contracts signed then that made no sense given what we know now. If Pronger had only signed a two year deal he would be looking at an $8 mill /yr contract - easy.

Now factor in Smyth's leadership intangibles compared to Sullivan's and again - there is no question that 5.5 is a good number for the team that signs Smyth.

Rod Brind'Amour vs. Ryan Smyth

Brind'Amour signed a $3.6 mill /yr deal for 5 years in the 2005-06 off-season.

I will not give a full answer to this comparison. Brindy is 5 years older than Smyth. The 5 year deal he signed will be paying him long after his effective playing days are over.

Take the last two years on that deal and spread it out over the first three and you have a better picture of the price involved ~ $6 mill /yr.

Saku Koivu vs. Ryan Smyth

Koivu signed a 4.75 /yr for 3 years deal in the 2005/06 off-season. His age is comparable to Smyth's and his counting numbers are actually a bit better. Lets look at a few more numbers:

Playing Time per game for 2005-06: SK ~ 18.5 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins
Playing Time per game for 2006-07: SK ~ 18.5 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins

*Quality of Opponent faced 2006-07: SK ranked #299 / RS ranked #56
*Advanced +/- at EV str. 2006-07: SK = -1.41 / RS = 1.03

Average # games played a yr (last 11 years): SK = 58 / RS = 70

Time of deal negotiation: SK it was 2005-06 and for RS it was effectively 2006-07


As with Arnott, Koivu actually scores a few more ppm than Smyth given these metrics but head to head Smyth plays against top opposition far more, and far more effectively than Koivu. IT ISN'T EVEN CLOSE. The numbers are striking.

Now factor in a full year of contract inflation and the fact that Smyth doesn't have legs made of glass and there is no question that 5.5 is a good number for the team that signs Smyth.

Daniel Alfredsson vs. Ryan Smyth

Alfredsson signed a $6.5 mill /yr deal for 5 years in the 2003-04 off-season.

I will not give a full answer to this comparison. Alfredsson is only affordable now because of the 24% rollback from the lock-out negotiations. While 31 at the time of the deal he is now 2+ years older than Smyth.

The analysis should be - is Alfredsson worth a million more a year than Smyth? That would be an interesting analysis. Alfredsson and Smyth are roughly the same level of player imo - better than very good and just on the edge of elite.

Martin St. Louis vs. Ryan Smyth

St. Louis signed a 5.25/yr for 6 years deal in the 2005/06 off-season. His age is comparable to Smyth's and his counting numbers are a bit better. Lets look at a few more numbers:

Playing Time per game for 2005-06: MSL ~ 21.0 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins
Playing Time per game for 2006-07: MSL ~ 24.0 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins

*Quality of Opponent faced 2006-07: MSL ranked #233 / RS ranked #56
*Advanced +/- at EV str. 2006-07: MSL = 0.20 / RS = 1.03

Time of deal negotiation: MSL it was 2005-06 and for RS it was effectively 2006-07


Best comparison of the lot.

St. Louis plays a LOT of time for the Lightning. His numbers are good except in terms of the quality of his opponents. Question becomes - does the extra TOI that St. Louis plays nullify the MUCH better head-to-head numbers that Smyth has and the extra year of inflation creep?

From where I sit - the fact that the question is even being asked is a feather in Smyth's cap.

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Tyler Dellow at
mc79hockey is looking at writing a post (soon) that will take a full-on look at whether or not Smyth is an 'elite' talent. I suspect Smyth is far closer to elite level than Lowe gave him credit for. Even the work I just did above puts to rest the idea that Smyth was only as good as some of the 'star' level talent out there, fact is, he was usually better.

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Have a great evening everyone.

2 comments:

Deanna & Mateo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff J said...

Great post!

I need to stick up for Koivu though. He does tend to play middling opposition - the Canadiens have always employed a checking line. However, this year is the first he's been this bad. He usually on the ice for around 2.5GF/2.0GA at ES, but for some unknown reason this year has been horrid: 1GF/3GA. These are very much ballpark numbers.