FanPost

A Comprehensive Analysis of the Binghamton Senators season thus far

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's note: Do you like pizza prospects? If you weren't so busy being lame crying about the Ottawa Senators, and paid attention to the Binghamton Senators, you wouldn't have been surprised at how well Cody Ceci has done since his call-up. Despite graduating most of its Calder Cup team and lacking many high-profile prospect names, the B-Sens continue to have an excellent season. User critias has an excellent breakdown of their success. Want to get on the front page yourself? Write an excellent fanpost like this one!

Unlike their NHL counterparts, the Binghamton Senators do not get an extended break for the Olympics. Those in Ottawa got a look at the BSens elite offense on Saturday, and leading scorer - and 2nd in the AHL - Mike Hoffman put on a show in the AHL skills competition, winning the fastest skater competition, while also being named best player for his 1 goal, 2 assist performance in the AHL All-Star game. It's rare to do any sort of statistical analysis on AHL players due to the boxscore stats being limited in what's available to the public (there's not even TOI!!!), but thankfully, a couple of individuals have taken initiative to try and give fans a more detailed look at the production of these players.

If any of you followed the BSens during the Calder Cup season, you'll probably remember Joy Lindsay, who was the BSens beat writer at the time. She did an excellent job at covering the team, but moved on to other endeavors after that. Thankfully for us, she's been writing some pieces for the Ottawa Citizen this season and she's taken the liberty to break down point production from the BSens into different situations: EV, PP, and SH. She's a great follow - @PuckJoy.

Josh Weissbock wrote his own program to begin calculating possession numbers for the BSens, and I'll be using some of his charts and graphs in this piece as well. He's been posting possession numbers for the WJC, Olympics, CHL, and the AHL, and I recommend following him on twitter @JoshWeissbock if you're interested in this sort of work.

Introduction

Before we begin, I thought I'd give some context regarding the line combinations and matchups that Coach Richardson usually deploys based off of games that I've watched, pre/post-game interviews, and asking local beat writers and broadcasters. The BSens top line has generally featured Hoffman - Da Costa - Schneider, with Stone occasionally there in place of Schneider, and Pageau as the #1 C when Da Costa is in Ottawa. The second line features Jim O'Brien at C, usually flanked by Prince and Petersson, but Puempel is there occasionally. The bottom-six is constantly in flux with the depth Binghamton has, but is usually made up of Robinson, Puempel, Grant, Pageau (when Da Costa is in Bingo), and the "shutdown" group of Dzuirzynski - Hamilton - Cowick used against top competition.

On defense, Borowiecki - Ceci was a pairing, until the latter was called up. Now, BoroCop is usually playing with Danny New. Rookie (although he's 24) Mike Sdao is usually paired with Frederik Claesson, and Ben Blood/Tyler Eckford are usually with Chris Wideman. Borowiecki seems to get tough competition most of the time, though Sdao-Claesson have been getting a lot of minutes lately. To my eye, it doesn't look like there's a big of a gap in terms of the quality of competition faced between the two, but unfortunately, we don't have the means to look into this further at the time.

Team Possession

To start, here's a graph generated by Josh Weissbock that illustrates the BSens even-strength possession numbers thus far. The dip around Game 16 coincides with Cody Ceci's promotion to the NHL, but overall, the BSens look like a 50-51% possession team.

Production by Situation

Now, we'll move onto boxscore statistics. Here's a look at the production from BSens players, generously split by situation thanks to Joy Lindsay. If tables aren't for you, no worries - I created a stacked-column graph.

We'll start with the forwards. Mike Hoffman has been excellent this year, but I think a lot of his success stems from Binghamton's # 2 ranked PP. Only Chris Wideman (D) has a higher percentage of points on the PP, and although it's not to be discounted, it's something to remember when trying to project Hoffman's performance in Ottawa, as he's not likely to get PP minutes here. In contrast, Andre Petersson and Shane Prince have been primarily even-strength players, with Petersson leading Binghamton with 14 ES goals in only 39 games. From this, we can also take a glance at who's playing in all situations. Pageau, Cole Schneider, and Derek Grant (when he's not injured) seem to excel here.

On D, you can really spot Claesson's emergence. He has a team-leading 17 assists at even-strength. If any of you follow me on twitter (@carteciel), you'd know how big of a fan I am of Freddie, and when you compare his production with Borowiecki's, take into account their age (21 for Claesson, 24 for Boro), and minutes played (~ similar), it's an easy decision. Unfortunately for Claesson, Borowiecki has a 1-way contract next year, plays a similar style of game, and is from the area, but Dorion + Lee have really spoken highly of Claesson lately. Chris Wideman seems to be the Mike Hoffman comparable here, as although he has 34 points, a majority of them are on the PP. He was a great offensive defenseman in the NCAA, but at the AHL level, Wideman is primarily the PP quarterback and is sheltered on the 3rd pairing at even-strength.

Goal-Based Analysis

Thanks to Josh Weissbock, we also have some goal data that we can look at. Although goal-based analysis isn't as great compared to shot-based analysis due to a smaller sample size (there's only a few goals a game, when there are ~50-60 shots), and due to the same shortcomings as +/-, it's still a decent look at how different players are doing at even-strength with respect to the rest of the team. The two most important columns here are the ones labeled "ES On-Ice GF%", which looks at the number of goals a player has been on the ice for at even strength, and "ES GF% Diff", which compares on-ice and off-ice goal numbers to see how a player is doing in comparison relative to the team.

Da Costa has looked good in his latest stint with the big club, and I think it's his even-strength play that's impressed me the most. As of right now, that's the biggest difference between him and Hoffman, and it's a bit more noticeable in this table with Da Costa having the best goal-for differential of +17.38% to Hoffman's +5.99%. The second line of Prince - O'Brien - Petersson stand out at even-strength, and although O'Brien and Petersson probably won't be in a Sens uniform next year, Prince is a promising prospect. To hammer home another point I've been making, the difference between Claesson and Borowiecki looks massive on this chart. Borowiecki was never known for his offense, but looks devoid of it this season, whereas Claesson has flourished. One area that may make Borowiecki look worse than he actually is with regards to quality of teammates, as Borowiecki commonly plays with the defensive trio of Dizzy - Hamilton - Cowick (at the bottom of the list) and given the most defensive zone starts (via Coach Richardson's comments), whereas Claesson plays with more offensive players, which may help his totals. Even considering these points, the difference between the two is still pretty significant in my eye at least.

Shot-Based Analysis

Two things that we can look at to see if players will keep up their production are 1) is their shooting percentage widely different from their career average, and 2) are they shooting enough? (shots per game). Sample size will always be an issue for this type of analysis halfway through the season but it's still interesting to look at seeing as a lot of these players are now around the 100 game mark in the AHL. AHL-to-NHL shots per game analysis has been looked at extensively by Stephen Cooper over at NHLNumbers, who demonstrates that AHL shot rate corresponds ~ 56% with NHL shot rate, and that shot rate is a more repeatable talent than goal scoring (via shooting percentage).

The table below looks at the season stats for the BSens forwards in the first 3 columns, which will then be compared to each players' body of work in the AHL in the last 3 columns.

Player

Games played

2013-14 shots/game

2013-14 shooting %

Previous games played

Previous shots/game

Previous shooting %

Hoffman

46

3.70

14.7

191

2.17

9.88

Da Costa

38

2.76

11.4

103

2.15

11.7

Schneider

44

2.32

14.7

71

2.08

11.5

Petersson

39

2.36

17.4

77

2.62

12.4

Prince

42

2.62

12.7

65

2.11

13.1

Puempel

47

2.19

16.5

11

1.36

6.7

O'Brien

39

2.38

10.8

183

2.28

9.33

Pageau

25

2.28

12.3

69

1.72

5.88

Stone

19

2.21

21.4

54

1.52

17.6

Cowick

45

1.64

12.2

155

1.59

8.9

Robinson

42

1.79

10.7

\

\

\

Dziurzynski

44

1.34

8.5

201

1.34

7.78

Hamilton

43

0.95

4.9

112

1.32

6.08

Grant

20

2.0

15.0

137

1.89

10.8

Kramer

25

0.8

10.0

21

0.76

6.25

Shooting % usually regresses to the mean (around 8-9%), so Hoffman's 14.7% is a bit worrying. Some more digging indicates that his career average is 9.88%, so he's exceeding that by a bit. Regardless, he's still putting up his best year in the AHL production wise, and Hoffman is shooting a lot - his 3.69 shots/game rate dwarfing his 3.07 from last year, and his 2.49 the year before.

Da Costa is also shooting more than before (2.76 shots/game, compared to 2.07 and 2.26), but his shooting % isn't as worrying. In his previous 103 games, Da Costa has a shooting % of 11.4, and he's around that at the moment. Although shot quality doesn't seem to matter much over a large sample at the team level, a good indication of a shooter's true talent is to look at his career average, as I've done here.

We're starting to see a trend here when we look at Shane Prince and Cole Schneider, who have stood out in a positive light so far, and do again here. Both are two of the BSens better EV-strength scorers, and both have shooting percentages hovering around their career average. Even if their shooting % does regress closer to the mean (ie: their true talent isn't around 12-13%), their increasing shot rate will help negate some of the negative effects. Neither have the shot rate that the more experienced Hoffman + Da Costa have, but both are younger (especially Prince) and should get better with more experience.

One of the caveats of this work is that the shooting percentage data listed above is in all situations, not at even-strength - unlike the NHL data that we have access to now that allows us to look at a players' on-ice shooting % at EV. Thus, we have to be careful when we're making inferences on shooting % regression, due to the number of chances on the PP far exceeds the number at even-strength. However, we can still look at a player like Andre Petersson and state that his shooting %, and thus his goal total, is inflated. 14 of his 15 goals are at EV, and his EV shooting percentage is far greater than his above-average 12.4% for his career.

NHL Equivalency (NHLE)

The last thing I'll look at in this piece will be an estimate of how these players could possibly do in the NHL this season. To do this, I'll project the BSens forwards AHL shot rates to NHL shot rates using the 0.57 number taken from Stephen Cooper's aforementioned work, and I'll also look at a stat called NHLE.

From Flames blog Matchsticks and Gasoline:

NHLE: NHLE is an equivalency formula designed to give us an idea of how a player would perform at the NHL level using counting numbers (points). Each major NHL feeder league has it's own NHLE value, which is based on a series of calculations outlined by Gabe Desjardins here. NHLE is also a nice way to compare counting numbers between players in different leagues. Currently, the NHLE values are as follows:

To calculate a player's NHLE, we use the following formula:

[(Points ÷ Games Played) x 82] x League NHLE Value=NHLE

For example, last year with Ryan Howse:

[(83 ÷ 70) x 82] x .30=29.1

That means if Ryan Howse had played at the NHL level last year, we probably could've expected 29 or so points from him. Now, the obvious caveat here is that NHLE uses counting numbers for the majority of its calculation and it can't really take into account a player's opposition or situation. Also, we don't know how much a player's deficiencies would impact his NHL game-especially when you're dealing with kids in Major Junior. Someone who might skate well enough at the WHL level to put up 70 points will not score 25 in the NHL without improving his skating to at least an AHL level. Still, I find NHLE to be a fun and effective tool for comparison.

A look at this being applied to the Flames prospects can be found here over at Flames Nation.

Goals are a bit harder to project due to the variety of factors that go into goal scoring (like shooting %), so this will focus on point totals and 2013-14 shot rate. The translation number used for NHLE is 0.44, and the translation number used to calculate projected NHL shot rate is 0.56. Keep in mind that the NHLE number looks at projected NHL end-of-season point totals, not how many points the player would have if they played their AHL games played # in the NHL.

Player

Games played

2013-14 shots/game

Projected NHL shot rate

2013-14 points

NHLE

Hoffman

46

3.70

2.07

58

45.5

Da Costa

38

2.76

1.55

38

36.1

Schneider

44

2.32

1.30

37

30.3

Petersson

39

2.36

1.32

33

30.5

Prince

42

2.62

1.47

31

26.6

Puempel

47

2.19

1.23

26

20.0

O'Brien

39

2.38

1.33

25

23.1

Pageau

25

2.28

1.28

24

34.6

Stone

19

2.21

1.24

18

34.2

Cowick

45

1.64

0.92

17

13.6

Robinson

42

1.79

1.00

16

13.7

Dziurzynski

44

1.34

0.75

16

13.1

Hamilton

43

0.95

0.53

12

10.1

Grant

20

2.0

1.12

10

18

Kramer

25

0.8

0.45

4

5.8

Now, we know that there's a ton of factors that play in when it comes to point production that we can't necessarily look at right now in terms of quality of competition, quality of linemates, etc., but this is still pretty fun to look at. There was a great post a while back on Pension Plan Puppets that looked into average numbers per line/position. The relevant data for our use is below:

This is probably what Murray and co. mean when they say that they have a number of young prospects in Binghamton that could probably be playing in the NHL right now. Da Costa and Pageau qualify for "average" 3rd line center roles, with Hoffman, Stone, Petersson, and Schneider putting up average 2nd line numbers or good 3rd line numbers.

I provided a lot of context in terms of shot rate and shooting percentage above, but it's reasonable to think that Da Costa and Pageau should be at the NHL level. Stone's shot rate isn't as high, and due to all of the injuries he's had, I'd like for him to spend a full season in the AHL for now. For some reason, the coaching staff doesn't seem thrilled with Hoffman thus far, and Petersson hasn't been mentioned at all, leading me to believe that they'll probably be in another organization come next year. Prince and Puempel were drafted with 2nd line potential, so I'd like to see them develop more in the AHL, but as we've seen - both are showing good signs. Derek Grant could probably be a 4th liner at the NHL level right now, but has run into injury trouble as of late. He played well in his short stint in Ottawa while seeing a 4th line, soft-minutes, PK role. Undrafted Cole Schneider (23 yrs old) out of UConn seems like a nice little find for the Sens scouts and talent evaluators, and I think he may be a surprise come training camp for many.

I plan to do a follow-up piece at the end of the year, but please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns in the comment section below or you can reach me on twitter @carteciel. Any sort of feedback (data visualization, problems with analysis, writing style) is welcome.

Thanks for reading!

This FanPost was written by a member of the Silver Seven community, and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of the site managers, editors, or Sports Blogs Nation, Inc.

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