Eastern Edge: Sustainability of Penalty Minutes

Cam Metz


I’m really excited about the following analysis and I hope you are too.  Like always please follow me on twitter @DH_jcameronmetz.  The data source for this analysis comes from Natural Stat Trick.

For the last three years I’ve routinely drafted Oliver Ekman-Larsson.  My rankings are typically created by normalizing the data using a standard score (Z-score) on each position group. OEL for a few reasons always shows up with great value based on his ADP. One of those reasons is his shot volume – which again I’m a sucker for.  The other reason is that he had a great PIM season in 2015-2016 with 98 PIMs compared to an average around 50.   Needless to say I missed this glaring stat that was due to fall back to earth and I drafted OEL probably a couple rounds too early in 2016-17.   I drafted Dustin Byfugelin that year as well and had what seemed to be formidable PIM production from the blue line (Kris Letang was on my team as well).  Here’s the thing – even with leading the league in PIMs my record in Head-to-Head wasn’t screaming unbeatable, instead I sat slightly above .500 in the W column for the PIM stat.

So I’ve begun to realize some of my own short comings, namely looking at penalty minute totals as whole rather than how they were produced.  While I’m sure most of us agree it is becoming an antiquated category, it is unfortunately what we are stuck with in most leagues. After reading this piece I’d challenge you to think about each of the stat categories in your leagues and think if you’re actually ranking something that come fantasy playoffs is more likely to be sustainable or fleeting.

I love a pest as much as the next – see Kris Letang.  There is nothing better than watching Kristopher Letang (Thanks Pierre!) absolutely lose it and then go insane on a referee for what was an obvious cross checking call.   Brad Marchand licking an opponent? Sure why not add it to my totals (weird though right)?  The theatrics on how these PIM totals are created add to the fun of fantasy.   It’s fun getting up to go to work and checking the previous night stat lines that you thought were set in stone, only to see that one of your guys decided to go nuts with 45 seconds left and get a game misconduct – all but guaranteeing you a W for the week.  As fun as it is gaining PIMs quickly, you know what isn’t fun? Losing in round 2 of the fantasy playoffs because five of your biggest PIM producers decided they wanted to save their fighting hands for the playoff run or that they didn’t get booted from the game.

For this reason I’ve decided to introduce a sustainable PIM ranking to my players – if I get beat in a playoff week because another guy’s player decides to take a misconduct, that’s a probabilistic risk I’m willing to assume.  I’d rather mo