FanPost

Examining GVT per Million: Has Brian Burke Signed Efficient Player Contracts?

Editor's Note: Here's a good first FanPost for anyone wondering what they should be striving for. Nirbo analyses Brian Burke's roster using GVT per million and gives us an idea of what we might be able to expect in a best-case scenario.

This is a pretty simple exercise for my first FanPost. Been a lurker and occasional commenter for a while, and I hope this adds at least a limited amount to the preseason discussion.

While I love many of the names and attached abilities that he has brought in, I haven't been sold on Burke's cap-management strategy. It seems he has overpaid on a significant chunk of contracts, particularly in free agency. I wanted to see if the stats backed this up.

I'm going to use GVT vs. $M to assess players whose current contracts are Burke's responsibility: players signed or traded for under his watch. I will exclude Kadri, Mueller and others who don't have historical NHL data to go on, though I'm sure we can have fun with eGVT at some point.

Here is Tom Awad's original series on how GVT is calculated for those who are interested and haven't seen it already.

 

Before I start, just a couple of notes and caveats.

  • GVT assumes an average level of competition. It also normalizes against the league average rather than team average for most of its calculations, so it (understandably) penalizes players on bad teams.

  • Because it was designed for comparison between eras, GVT relies on stats that have been kept for a long time. This means that offense (goals and assists) is probably better captured than defense (shots allowed and plus-minus).

  • A player is effectively penalized for getting more ice time. 20 goals are more valuable if they come in 15 minutes a game than 20.

Given these factors, we can expect a player such as Francois Beauchemin, +.083 in qualcomp and 10th in the league in ice time on the 29th-ranked team, to suffer under this measure.

I'm going to come right out and say that given the number of past injuries and short career histories in this group, there is an issue with taking a look at raw GVT, but that's what I'm going to do for now. I've included three calculations of GVT: last year's GVT, an average of the last 3 years, and the best year of the last 3 to represent the "hope" scenario, which I don't think is unreasonable to examine in light of the expected improvement on last year's horror show. I don't care to look at the doomsday scenario.

Here's a quick chart, then, of the players Burke has signed and acquired to play for the 2010-2011 Maple Leafs.

 

Player Cap ($M)   GVT   GVT/$M



09-10 3Y best 3Y avg
09-10 3Y best 3Y avg
D

     
     
Beauchemin $3.80
3.8 3.8 2.7
1.0 1.0 0.7
Gunnarsson $0.80
5.4 5.4  
6.8 6.8  
Lebda $1.45
1 5.8 3.5
0.7 4.0 2.4
Komisarek $4.50
-0.8 4.1 2
-0.2 0.9 0.4
Phaneuf $6.50
8.4 17.8 11.6
1.3 2.7 1.8
F

     
     
Armstrong $3.00
4.9 7.7 5.93
1.6 2.6 2.0
Bozak $3.73
3.9 3.9  
1.0 1.0  
Brown $0.54
-1 -0.7 -1.1
-1.9 -1.3 -2.0
Grabovski $2.90
5.7 7.9 4.67
2.0 2.7 1.6
Hanson $0.65
-0.5 0.3  
-0.8 0.5  
Kessel $5.40
11.7 15.1 10.3
2.2 2.8 1.9
Kulemin $2.35
7.8 7.8  
3.3 3.3  
MacArthur $1.10
1.8 4.2 2.4
1.6 3.8 2.2
Mitchell $0.73
2.9 3.1  
4.0 4.3  
Sjostrom $0.75
0.2 3.8 1.5
0.3 5.1 2.0
Versteeg $3.08
10.1 12.9  
3.3 4.2  
G

     
     
Giguere $6.00
-2.2 26.4 7.3
-0.4 4.4 1.2
Gustavsson $1.35
-4.4 -4.4  
-3.3 -3.3  

 

 

I've read that league average GVT per team is by definition 120, so I'll use a criterion of 120/$59.4 = 2.02 GVT/million, rounded to 2. Any GVT/$ above 2 has been highlighted in bold. This is a crude calculation but it's also a fast one, which suits my purposes.

Some quick notes, though I'm sure folk can draw their own conclusions from this data:

Last season was thoroughly inefficient all around for the players who Burke has assembled for '10-11. Only five out of eighteen have a GVT/$M greater than 2. Same goes for the last few years: among the players with three years of service to draw upon (I omitted the others from the 3-year average column), only three of eleven hit the threshold.

What immediately stands out is that whatever his strengths, Burke does not seem to have the measure of how much to pay in free agency: none of Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, Brett Lebda, Colby Armstrong or Clarke MacArthur hit the efficiency threshold in 09-10.

Burke does seem to love reclamation projects and potential, however. When we consider only the best year in the last three for each of these players, the ratio jumps to twelve out of eighteen: nothing to crow about, but representative of exciting possibility nonetheless. Even the reviled Colby Armstrong contract could be a relative bargain if he returns to his 08-09 level of productivity, and Beauchemin and Komisarek bring qualities which aren't best measured by GVT. Phaneuf really will have to return to the player he was in his first three seasons to justify $6.5 million, however.

Phil Kessel, Kris Versteeg and Nikolai Kulemin look like a strong core to build the forward group from, and Bozak would certainly be added if we adjusted for games played or bonuses achieved rather than promised. These players are all young and signed to reasonable contracts given their abilities. Our core forward group has promise and is efficient enough.

Ultimately, the free-agent strategy which Burke has pursued seems like a misjudgment. However, the group his team has assembled is young and actually includes a surprising number of players who have put it all together in the past. With some pruning of the Fingers and stingier choices in the future, this could quickly become an efficient, and hence winning, roster.

Looking forward to any comments, especially any corrections or addenda as I'm a student of this stuff, not a master. Is GVT/$ a reasonable way to look at salary efficiency, particularly with GVS also available? Do any players jump out as having drastically different values than the past year, or past 3 years, indicate?

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

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