Predicted “Unlikely Western Conference Playoff Heroes” Revisited

by chriskane on May 27, 2019
  • The Wild West
  • Predicted “Unlikely Western Conference Playoff Heroes” Revisited

It is time for a little gut check and to see how the predictions made at the start of the playoffs are bearing out. We were trying to find “unlikely playoff heroes.” The idea is that every year a couple of very surprising players emerge as key players for their team’s playoff runs. The top players are easy to pick out, but winning your playoff pool can rely on grabbing the ‘tier two’ type players who are valuable for their teams.

 

This idea is based on a number of articles, and the most recent full description is referenced here. Essentially I was able to look at the unlikely playoff heroes and find some commonalities with their regular season performance. Essentially it came down to;

  • averaging between .4 and .7 points per game
  • shooting around two shots a game,
  • a shooting percentage of 9%,
  • between 1:00 and 2:15 minutes on the power play,
  • between 13:00 and 17:00 minutes of total time on ice
  •  playing at least 17 games of playoff hockey

 

The idea is that an unlikely hero is a player that is already doing something with the opportunity they are being given, but has room for growth.

 

The pool of candidates was relatively slim, particularly if we were just looking at the west coast teams.

 

ALEX TUCH

VGK

PATRIK LAINE

WPG

MAX PACIORETTY

VGK

CRAIG SMITH

NSH

TYLER BOZAK

STL

 

There were 103 candidates in the point range, but only 54 were shooting more than twice a game. Only 36 of those had a shooting percentage over 9%, and only 16 of those fit the time on ice requirements. Further whittle by power play and west coast status and we have our five.

 

How did those five do? Well technically one is still alive and could up his point pace, but for the rest of them the writing is on the wall so to speak. Only one player has played more than 10 games, and Tyler Bozak hasn’t exactly been lighting the world afire.

 

 

Name

Team

Points

GP

P/G

ALEX TUCH

VGK

1

7

0.14

PATRIK LAINE

WPG

1

6

0.17

MAX PACIORETTY

VGK

8

7

1.14

CRAIG SMITH

NSH

1

6

0.17

TYLER BOZAK

STL

8

19

0.42

 

From our list Pacioretty is the only one to break the .7 point per game threshold we look at when we are talking about a playoff hero. Unfortunately he only played eight games so he didn’t provide a ton of total value for your team, even if his per game value was reasonably good.

 

This doesn’t look great on the surface for the criteria established above. I will certainly use it as a data point going forward, but at the end of the day this seems to have been a bit of an odd postseason altogether. For a start we have many fewer options to pick from at the beginning of the playoffs than in previous years. Part of that could be the general uptick in scoring in the league. More of the potential breakout players ended up being disqualified as candidates because they performed higher than we might have expected during the regular season.

 

On the other hand though we just seem to have fewer ‘unlikely’ players performing well this playoff season. If we eliminate all criteria except for the point per game pace, out of the 103 players, only four ended the playoffs (or have a current) point pace over .65 points per game, let alone .75. Of those only three played more than two games (and they all happen to be west coast guys).

 

Name

Team

Points

GP

P/G

ROMAN JOSI

NSH

4

6

0.67

MAX PACIORETTY

VGK

8

7

1.14

JADEN SCHWARTZ

STL

13

19

0.68

 

Defense haven’t typically met the point per game threshold required to be an unlikely playoff hero, plus Josi generally sees way too much time to be considered an under the radar pick. Schwartz looks like the big miss here, and he could have been a borderline candidate, though his power play time (2:18), and time on ice (18:11) is a bit higher than would really qualify him as ‘unlikely’ hero.

 

At the end of the day Pacioretty and Schwartz seem to be the closest, though both slightly missed the mark. Pacioretty hit most of the criteria and played well, but didn’t play enough games to be an incredibly valuable pick. Schwartz was borderline candidate, but has played enough games to be a more valuable pick. Our criteria highlighted one of these two guys, so it is 50/50 in that context, but only one of the original eleven players highlighted in 2018-19 by the criteria met the unlikely playoff threshold. These two guys will be good case studies to refine our criteria for next year.

 

Check out the West Conference Wrapup series below:

Top Left Wings

Top Centers

Top Right Wings

Top D

Top Goalies