Frozen Tools Forensics: Penalties Drawn vs. Penalties Taken

by Grant Campbell on August 2, 2019

This week, I’ve decided to highlight a few features from the Frozen Tools Report Generator. I thought it would be interesting to see which players draw the most penalties while taking the least, and vice versa, for both forwards and defensemen. It seems reasonable that players driving play will draw more than the average share of penalties while players chasing play will do the opposite.

I was able to run the Drawn Penalties and Penalty Mins reports and customize them by position and minimum GP. Using the download feature, I then dumped these into Excel and figured out the Net (Penalties Drawn less Minors Taken) result very easily.

Starting with the forwards, it was not surprising to see Nathan Mackinnon at the top of the list with Johnny Gaudreau and Aleksander Barkov. If Elias Pettersson didn’t miss 11 games due to injury, there is a good chance he would be equal to or even higher than those three. His ability to put defenders into bad positions is impressive, to say the least, and he should have similar results next season.

There is a popular notion that Connor McDavid is the victim of a fair number of uncalled penalties, and there might be an argument there. In 2016-2017, he drew 52 penalties and took 13 for a net of 39, far more than the rest of the league. In 2017-2018, it was down to 36 drawn and seven penalties taken for a net of 29. It’s hard to believe that McDavid’s play has changed dramatically in three years, but his drawn penalties are continuing to decrease.

Despite an otherwise disappointing rookie season, Warren Foegele is in some pretty good company on this list, and combined with his RAPM chart and a PDO of 962, he should be on the rise statistically in the near future from his 10 goals and five assists in 77 games played.

On the opposite side of the ledger are the forwards who either don’t draw penalties or take too many penalties, and are ultimately hurting their team. I’m not surprised to see players like Jake Virtanen, Evander Kane, Zack Kassian, Milan Lucic and Zack Smith in the negative, as they try to play a physical game and can be undisciplined at times.

I was shocked to see Phil Kessel only drawing four penalties. I would have figured that, with his skill and ability to puck-handle, he would have players chasing him more.

Eric Fehr only drew three penalties in 72 games and Thomas Vanek drew one in 64 games. Both of those players are UFA at this time, and might remain so.

Samuel Girard leads the group of defencemen with a net of 16 after drawing 19 penalties and only taking three. He is a great skater and isn’t afraid to carry the puck into the opposition zone and try to hold possession. Troy Stecher drew the most penalties with 26, not surprising as he constantly keeps his legs moving and outworks the majority of players on the other teams, forcing them to impede him. There are not many NHL defencemen who net out at even or better, which is understandable.

The only blemish in an otherwise excellent season for Mark Giordano is putting his team on the penalty kill too often (30 minors), when he is one of Calgary’s best penalty killers.

Dustin Byfuglien only played 42 games last year and has the worst net of any player in the NHL. Pro-rated over 82 games, he was on pace to take almost 53 penalties! Any fans who pay attention to the other players in the negative are surely not surprised to see the names on this list. Winnipeg went from having three players in the bottom to one and Vancouver now has two.

Please send me any questions or ideas you’d like to see in future columns, and follow me on Twitter @gampbler15.