Advanced Stats: The Real MVP

With the Stanley Cup Finals in full swing and the NHL Awards approaching, it’s a good time to look at who the league MVP might be. It’s important to consider what MVP actually stands for while evaluating the player’s performances this past season—Most
Valuable player. Not necessarily the best. That being said, those two accolades are by no means mutually exclusive. Goalies were not considered in this analysis.

We’ll start by checking out offensive production by looking at a scatter plot of goals and
assists for the top fifty point getters in the 2016-2017 season:


Even while only focusing on the top fifty point getters, there are still a few clear outliers. McDavid is the furthest to the right with 70 assists. Crosby is at the top of the chart with 44 goals, and Patrick Kane might be the best combination of furthest right and closest to the top, with 34 goals and 55 assists. Let’s see how these combinations stack up in terms of total points (note that the bar starts at 70 points, for a better scale):


McDavid clearly separates himself from the pack here. His great number of assists in combination with a still strong goal scoring performance gave him a nice even 100 points for the season. Eleven points ahead of Crosby and Kane, who tied for second with 89 each.

Looking at the basic stats, McDavid, Crosby, and Kane jump out in front (surprise, surprise). So let’s take a look at some more detailed visuals and see what else we can find. We’ll start with a breakdown of goals. Shown below is a bubble chart with Power Play Goals vs Even Strength Goals, with the size of the bubbles representing the number of game winning goals:


Here we see that out of the top ten point getters, Tarasenko and Marchand tied in produced the most game-winning goals, with nine. We also see that McDavid scored a
large majority (86.7%) of his goals even strength, whereas Crosby scored 68.2% of his goals even strength. Overall, Crosby had four more even strength goals than McDavid with 30 and 26, respectively.

Next, we’ll consider how much these players are contributing relative to their team. To do this, we’ll use a scatter plot and take a look at goals and assists as a percentage of their team’s total goals and assists:


McDavid sits to the far right from with 18% of the Oilers’ assists and 12% of their goals.
Kucherov sits on top with 19% of the Lighting’s goals and 13% of their assists. Crosby is the furthest to the left and in the upper portion height wise with 16% of the Penguins’ goals and 10% of their assists.

Many people argue the significance of this next statistic, but here’s the plus/minus breakdown for the top ten point getters (Tarasenko had a -1 +/-):


Regardless of its reputation as a “not important” statistic, McDavid has a large “+8” lead
over the next closer player.

These stats considered, it’s difficult to imagine someone besides McDavid will become the new league MVP. Some people argue that Burns has a good chance because he’s a great defenseman with this kind of offensive statistics, but in my opinion that just gave him a look on the Norris, not the Hart. The NHL has a chance to make it more official than it already is (if that’s possible) that McDaivd is the newest star in the league and the numbers support the already popular thought. McDavid will likely bring home his first Hart Trophy.


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