(I spent a whole season tracking GRM stats. Might as well analyze them. This will be the first of an unknown amount of posts doing just that.)
After 82 games, advanced stats have little value. You just watched 82 freakin’ games. You know who’s responsible for a lot of goals and who’s responsible for allowing them. There might be some surprises, like Johan Franzen finishing second on the team in GRM with +10.74, but when you think about them long enough, even those makes sense. (Franzen was prolific on the power play).
But what about efficiency? What player contributed the most for every minute he was on the ice? A strength and weakness to GRM is that by itself it doesn’t account for a disparity of ice time between players. On one hand, it doesn’t need to. GRM measures impact. The players utilized most have the most impact on a game, and have more opportunities to both score and allow goals, thus canceling each other out. On the other hand, it’s not an even playing field. Defensemen who play the most minutes are going to get scored on more. Forwards that don’t receive much ice time but contribute heavily in the time that they do will still have relatively small overall numbers at the end of a season.
For the latter reasons, it’s useful to look at a player’s GRM in relation to ice time. To do this I took each player’s total GRM and divided it per 600 minutes of ice time. (Why 600 minutes? Per minute created some ridiculously small decimals. Dividing it by 60 minutes — a full game — had the same effect. Six hundred minutes was enough to give us full numbers and is 10 full games, or one segment.)
Here’s a look at the Red Wings’ top five players in terms of GRM per 600 minutes.
1. Gustav Nyquist — +9.45
2. Johan Franzen — +6.75
3. Henrik Zetterberg — +6.32
4. Riley Sheahan — +5.59
5. Justin Abdelkader — +4.87
Sheahan is the only player not to stay in the same spot in comparison to regular GRM. He ranks ninth before you take into account that he played just 607 minutes this season, 21st on the team and 360 less than Nyquist.
Factor that in and he jumps into the top four. Some of the jump comes from his usage. He was given a decent amount of power play time, 2:06 per game, and he accumulated a fourth of his positive GRM with the man advantage. Also, according to the ExtraSkater.com, Sheahan’s shifts started in the offensive zone 12.4 percent more often than the average player on the team.
In short, Mike Babcock protected Sheahan, utilizing him primarily in offensive situations. While that certainly helped, Sheahan still deserves credit. He produced when called upon.
On the other end, here’s a look at the Red Wings’ worst five players in terms of GRM per 600 minutes:
1. Adam Almquist — -12.00
2. Teemu Pulkkinen — -5.45
3. Brian Lashoff — -5.11
4. Kyle Quincey — -4.87
5. Landon Ferraro — -4.17
Changing to a per minute basis didn’t fix everything. The system still pushes punishes defensemen too much and rewards forwards too much, but changing to this format does allow us to learn a couple things.
First: Adam Almquist wasn’t ready for the NHL. He wasn’t as out of place as the numbers show due to a small sample size — just 34 minutes played this season — but allowing 1.01 goals in that small time frame is an indicator that he needed more seasoning, even if he did account for 0.33 on the offensive end.
Pulkkinen’s and Ferraro’s sample sizes were just as small as Almquist’s — 22 and 36 minutes, respectively — so don’t take those at face value either.
Do examine Quincey’s and Lashoff’s numbers closely, though. In total GRM, Quincey was the worst on the team, posting a -13.84. But he also played 1,706 minutes this season. While Lashoff had a better total GRM by over four goals, -9.21, he was actually worse in relation to ice time due to him playing 624 minutes less than Quincey.
Brian Lashoff worse than Kyle Quincey? That’s a sobering thought for Red Wings fans, especially when they realize he’s under contract for two more years.