Daniel Sedin vs. Pavel Datsyuk

Rick Roos



Daniel Sedin vs. Pavel Datsyuk – and should you count on either to be elite for much longer?



Last week I switched gears by focusing on defensemen for the first time in several months. And I’ll continue to buck my recent trend of young forwards by setting the spotlight this week on two gray hair types – Daniel Sedin and Pavel Datsyuk. Who should you target in one-year leagues, and should you count on either to continue to be elite for much longer? Cage Match starts now!


Career Path and Contract Status


Poolies are well familiar with both Sedin and Datsyuk, who stand, respectively, sixth and eighth in total points among NHLers over the past ten seasons. And although both player start this campaign within 12 total career points of each other (869 points for Datsyuk, 881 for Sedin), they differ somewhat in how they got there.

Sedin struggled in his first four NHL seasons, three times posting only 31-34 points. But since 2005-06 he produced at a scoring pace less than 71 points only once, in 2013-14 with John Tortorella at the helm in Vancouver. Along the way, Sedin had a five season stretch (2006-07 to 2010-11) with point per game production in all but one campaign, although he’s now four seasons removed from his last point per game output.

Perhaps because he was three years older than Sedin upon making his NHL debut, Datsyuk adapted more quickly to the NHL game, enduring only one learning curve season of 35 points in 70 games. Like Sedin, Datsyuk’s most productive stretch of hockey came in the mid to late part of last decade, when Datsyuk twice posted 97 points and had point per game outputs in five seasons out of six. And although Datsyuk has more point per game campaigns compared to Sedin (seven vs. four), he’s also been bit by the injury bug more often, resulting in Datsyuk having played more than 70 regular season games in just half his 12 seasons (versus 12 out of 13 for Sedin). But Datsyuk holds a “what have you done for me lately” advantage, having scored at a 79.5 points per 82 game pace since 2011-12, versus 68.8 for Sedin, although Sedin managed to play 49 more games over the period.

According to Cap Friendly, Datsyuk’s current deal runs through 2016-17 and counts $7.5M against the cap, while Sedin is signed through 2017-18 but has a slightly lower cap hit of $7.0M.


Ice Time



Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)


19:03 (P.D.) – 2nd

18:21 (D.S.) – 2nd

2:52 (P.D.) – 4th

3:00 (D.S.) – 1st

0:06 (P.D.) – 8th

0:43 (D.S.) – 8th


20:16 (P.D.) – 2nd

20:36 (D.S.) – 3rd

3:08 (P.D.) – 4th

3:34 (D.S.) – 1st

0:43 (P.D.) – 8th

0:56 (D.S.) – 8th


20:10 (P.D.) – 2nd

19:01 (D.S.) – 2nd

3:33 (P.D.) – 2nd

3:40 (D.S.) – 1st

1:26 (P.D.) – 4th

0:04 (D.S.) – 12th


19:34 (P.D.) – 2nd

18:48 (D.S.) – 3rd

3:04 (P.D.) – 2nd

3:30 (D.S.) – 2nd

1:13 (P.D.) – 6th

0:04 (D.S.) – 11th


Sedin’s Ice Time data for 2013-14 can be disregarded to some degree, as it came in the lone season with John Tortorella as coach. Thus, it isn’t so much that Sedin saw his Ice Time drop in 2014-15, as it was a case of abnormally high Ice Time in 2013-14. But it is interesting that Sedin has apparently kept one unfortunate vestige of the Torts era, namely non-nominal SH Ice Time. And with Sedin’s PP Ice Time dropping to a mere 3:00 last season, the net result compared to 2012-13 and 2011-12 is about 40 seconds more SH duty coupled with 30-40 seconds less PP Ice Time.


Datsyuk’s Ice Time as a whole was down in 2014-15 compared to 2013-14 and 2012-13. But in his case the lost PP Ice Time was much less than the SH Ice Time he also managed to shed, so even if that isn’t a net positive, it does help cushion the blow of lost Total and PP Ice Time.


What’s unusual is if we go back to 2011-12, both players had Ice Time numbers that weren’t too different from last season. And if we look at scoring, Sedin produced at a 76 point pace in 2011-12, which was identical to last season, while Datsyuk’s 84.6 point pace from last season was a bit higher than his 78 point pace from 2011-12. What it boils down to is both players, despite being three years older and receiving a bit less Total Ice Time and PP Ice Time than in 2011-12, were able to score at a similar pace as they did in that season. Given that they’re still producing (and being paid) as top guys, unless both were unsustainably lucky in 2014-15 it might just be that their truly special talent isn’t in danger of slowing down due to father time in the near future.


Secondary Categories




(per game)


(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)


(per game)

PP Points

(per game)


0.12 (P.D.)

0.22 (D.S.)

0.81 (P.D.)

0.25 (D.S.)

0.44 (P.D.)

0.19 (D.S.)

2.62 (P.D.)

3.18 (D.S.)

0.38 (P.D.)

0.30 (D.S.)


0.13 (P.D.)

0.52 (D.S.)

0.66 (P.D.)

0.50 (D.S.)

0.49 (P.D.)

0.28 (D.S.)

2.27 (P.D.)

2.93 (D.S.)

0.26 (P.D.)

0.24 (D.S.)


0.29 (P.D.)

0.38 (D.S.)

0.66 (P.D.)

0.32 (D.S.)

0.64 (P.D.)

0.15 (D.S.)

2.80 (P.D.)

3.07 (D.S.)

0.34 (P.D.)

0.25 (D.S.)


0.20 (P.D.)

0.55 (D.S.)

1.08 (P.D.)

0.29 (D.S.)

0.44 (P.D.)

0.21 (D.S.)

2.34 (P.D.)

2.75 (D.S.)

0.33 (P.D.)

0.34 (D.S.)


One thing to note about what isn’t shown above – Datsyuk, who retained C/LW positional eligibility for 2015-16 Yahoo leagues, had 601 FOW last season, versus Sedin, who had all of two and remains only a LW. Thus, Datsyuk holds a big edge in leagues which count FOW and where positional eligibility matters, as he could allow you to generate FOW while occupying a LW slot in your line-up.


And although Datsyuk is a far cry from David Backes, Sedin is a genuine category killer in Hits and Blocked Shots. Beyond that, although Sedin has made a career of potting goals fed to him from his brother Henrik’s stick, he holds only a slim edge over Datsyuk in SOG and has trailed Datsyuk’s PPP scoring pace in each of the past three seasons. Both are downright lousy in PIM.


I won’t go so far as to say that Sedin should be avoided in all but points-only leagues; however, his shortcomings in so many secondary categories means if you put him in your lineup you’ll need to find added production from other players in order to contend.


Luck-Based Metrics



Personal Shooting Percentage

PDO/SPSV (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)


15.8% (P.D.)

8.8% (D.S.)

1002 (P.D.)

985 (D.S.)

77.5% (P.D.)

92.3% (D.S.)

78.6% (P.D.)

65.7% (D.S.)

59.9% (P.D.)

54.7% (D.S.)


13.5% (P.D.)

7.1% (D.S.)

990 (P.D.)

987 (D.S.)

71.0% (P.D.)

67.4% (D.S.)

50.0% (P.D.)

68.2% (D.S.)

56.4% (P.D.)

60.0% (D.S.)


14.0% (P.D.)

8.7% (D.S.)

1038 (P.D.)

1022 (D.S.)

79.3% (P.D.)

80.6% (D.S.)

68.0% (P.D.)

66.7% (D.S.)

54.9% (P.D.)

66.0% (D.S.)


11.6% (P.D.)

13.1% (D.S.)

1014 (P.D.)

1009 (D.S.)

78.0% (P.D.)

75.5% (D.S.)

84.0% (P.D.)

62.1% (D.S.)

55.5% (P.D.)

79.6% (D.S.)


Looking at the year to year IPPs of both players, it’s clear they’re driving forces for the offense of their respective teams. And for the most part there were no outlyingly high IPPs, except for Sedin’s 92.3% 5×5 IPP for 2014-15. His average 5×5 IPP over the previous three seasons (i.e., 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14) was 74.5%, which means 92.3% was nearly a 25% increase (i.e., 25% of 74.5% is 18.6%). And if his 5×5 IPP had been 74.5% last season, the result would’ve been seven fewer points, for a total of 69 in 82 games, rather than 76.


But Sedin posted those 76 points with an OZ% of only 54.5%, which represented the third straight season where it dropped by a considerable amount. Thus, a small silver lining is it’s hard to see Sedin’s OZ% decreasing much more, although for what it’s worth no forward (other than his brother Henrik) who played more than five games for the Canucks in 2014-15 had an OZ% above 52.7%, thus making it unlikely to jump back upwards.


Also, Sedin’s career shooting percentage is 11.6%; and had he posted that number last season he’d have finished with six more goals, almost balancing out the added points from his unsustainable 5×5 IPP. But on the flip side, this was his third straight season where his shooting % was less than 9.0%, so we might just be seeing a new normal. All in all, Sedin is likely a safer bet for 65-70 points in 2015-16 than 70-75+.


Datsyuk’s 2014-15 was unlike Sedin’s as he had a higher shooting percentage than his career average and his OZ% was the highest among these four seasons. But in Datsyuk’s case the benefits weren’t too significant, as had he posted his career shooting % (i.e., 14.4%) his goal total only would’ve slipped by two, while his OZ% wasn’t even a 10% increase from any of the previous three seasons. What’s also interesting is the two seasons among these four where Datsyuk played 63+ games (i.e., 2014-15 and 2011-12) were the ones that featured higher IPPs, so that can’t be blamed on a small sample size.


All in all, Datsyuk apparently benefitted less from unsustainable good luck in 2014-15 than Sedin, and thus would still seem capable of producing at a 75+ point full season pace.


Who Wins?


Before I go any farther, I realize that Datsyuk is likely going to miss approximately the first month of the 2015-16 regular season. Therefore, if you’re in a points-only league with either no bench or a thin one, Datsyuk loses this match.


And that’s not the only unknown for Datsyuk, as stepping in this season as new Red Wings coach is Jeff Blashill. Although Blashill is of course thrilled to still have Datsyuk in the fold, he might not be as beholden to him as Mike Babcock, especially since Blashill has firsthand experience with younger Wings players like Gustav Nyqvist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, and Riley Sheahan. Long story short – while Blashill isn’t going to push Datsyuk out of the top six any time soon, the huge Ice Time advantage that Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg had over other Wings forwards might shrink with the new sheriff in town. And if that happens, Datsyuk’s numbers would almost assuredly take at least somewhat of a hit.


This is a tough call for points only one year leagues, since neither player is apparently in immediate danger of seeing his production wane this season (or even for the next several). But in the end, where Datsyuk’s injury can be tolerated I think the edge goes to him.


The key is cost vs. value, as Datsyuk being hurt is definitely driving down his average draft position to the point where, as of September 8th, it was lower than Sedin’s (70.9 for Datsyuk in Yahoo leagues, vs. 64.2 for Sedin) despite Datsyuk’s better scoring pace in recent years and him being C/LW eligible versus Sedin only at LW. And in leagues with benches or IR spots, the combination of Datsyuk for, hopefully, 70 games plus a one month replacement player for October who’ll be good for roughly 60% of Datsyuk’s production should provide better value and positional flexibility than Sedin for an entire season.


For keepers, the reflexive thought would be that Sedin holds the edge since he’s 26 months younger. But one benefit that stems from Datsyuk’s Band-Aid Boy status is he’s played 1261 career professional games (NHL + RSL + KHL), which is 131 fewer than Sedin’s 1392 (NHL + SEL). Therefore, it’s entirely conceivable that Datsyuk can continue playing at an elite level as long as Sedin, if not even longer, due to fewer miles on his legs. Plus, many poolies aren’t likely to realize this situation, and, in turn, might devalue Datsyuk more than they should in a keeper, making him a cost vs. value bargain of sorts. Between that and the fact that Datsyuk has scored at a higher pace than Sedin over the past four seasons, I’d give Datsyuk the edge in keeper leagues.



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