FanPost

The Cheese Sketch: In Defence Of Colby Armstrong

Armstrong_medium
Image courtesy of Bridget Samuels from College Park, MD 

Editor's Note: This post serves as a good follow-up to MF37's famous screed on Colby Armstrong that apparently offended evey member of his extended family. This is a really good fanpost looking to put armstrong's production and salary in context throughout the league.

Colby Armstrong is a likable player. However, he makes a lot of money—$3 million per season to be exact—and in the salary-cap world many would prefer their high-priced players to put cold, hard stats on the table.

Surely you’ve heard the mocking cry—"INTANGIBLES!" Simply put, those who use this barb are saying that Armstrong doesn't bring anything measurable to the table, leaving his defenders to speak in clichéd generalities.

But these days we have access to a lot more metrics than just goals and assists. I thought I’d pull some numbers from different sources, add a few notes of explanation or opinion, and see whether Armstrong is worth his weight in cap space.

Context

TOI

PDO

QTeam

CorsiQoT

CorsiRelQoT

QComp

CorsiQoC

CorsiRelQoC

16:16

1011

-0.061

-5.799

-3.015

-0.028

0.324

0.435

Even-Strength Line-Mates

Boyce, Versteeg

17.5%

Brent, Sjostrom

11.6%

Bozak, Kessel

8.4%

Boyce, Crabb

7.5%

Boyce, Brown

6.4%

• Armstrong doesn’t get a ton of ice time, and he almost never sees the powerplay. He’s seen time with each of the current centres other than Grabovski.

• 1:53 of penalty time per game ranks second among regular forwards on the team, and 80% of that is played with Tyler Bozak as his penalty-killing partner.

• PDO, which is on-ice save percentage for + against, is a reasonable approximation for how "lucky" the player’s +/- and related stats have been. Armstrong’s 101% isn’t remarkably high.

• Quality of Teammates as rated by +/-, Corsi, and Relative Corsi (moving across the chart) show a third-line player. Armstrong's shift-mates are not exactly the cream of the crop whether measured by results or shot differential.

• The Quality of Competition numbers show an average group of opposition players.

Production

PPG

G/60

A1/60

P/60

GVT

.47

.73

.82

2.10

4.7

• The per-60 numbers above are calculated from even-strength minutes; Armstrong hasn’t registered a point on special teams.

• His ES Points/60 is fourth on the team. For the minutes he gets, Armstrong is a surprisingly efficient point producer. In fact, at 2.10 he ranks 83rd in the NHL among players who have played at least 10 games. In other words, the average NHL team has about three players at his level of efficiency or greater.

• The A1/60 number is included to show that Armstrong is driving his own production—not many cheap second helpers here.

• While GVT combines a number of factors, it is included in this section because I believe it reflects offensive contributions better than defensive. A 4.7 is seventh on the team, and reflects a modest positive contribution.

Two-Way Play

OZone%

OZFinish%

Corsi

Corsi Rel

RATING

ES Chc For

ES Ch Ag

TK

GV

45.9%

50.7%

-3.66

1.8

+.02

176

193

32

19

• Offensive Zone Start and Finish percentages show Armstrong in the defensive zone to start most of his shifts, with decent forward movement.

• Corsi is negative; however, Corsi Rel is a modest +1.8, meaning that he has at least been better than most alternatives in terms of shot-attempt differential.

• His lines have allowed a few more chances against than they have created for the Leafs.

• While it’s always important to take takeaway and giveaway stats with a grain of salt, Armstrong’s +13 differential is second on the team to only the departed Kris Versteeg.

 (In)Tangibles

Hits

Bk Shots

PDraw/60

PTake/60

87

28

1.2

0.6

 • The hits and blocked shots are more impressive than they appear considering his 20 missed games, but not remarkable.

• If Armstrong was brought in partially to be an agitator, his penalty statistics show that he has been successful. He draws a lot more penalties than he takes.

Comparables

This final chart shows what around $3 million of prime-aged winger gets you this season. I included any winger under 35, within half-a-million in cap hit, whose deal ends in unrestricted free agency.

Age

Player

Team

Cap Hit

GP

P

PPG

ES P/60

TOI

29

Williams, Justin

LAK

$3.5

69

57

0.83

2.69

17:13

31

Sturm, Marco

WAS

$3.5

24

10

0.42

1.74

14:08

32

Zubrus, Dainius

NJD

$3.4

67

26

0.39

1.37

17:17

29

Bourque, Rene

CGY

$3.33

69

42

0.61

1.57

17:25

30

Ponikarovsky, Alexei

LAK

$3.2

48

12

0.25

1.07

12:26

26

Brown, Dustin

LAK

$3.18

65

45

0.69

1.79

19:10

29

Vrbata, Radim

PHX

$3

67

39

0.58

1.78

16:20

28

Armstrong, Colby

TOR

$3

49

23

0.47

 2.10

16:16

28

Frolov, Alexander

NYR

$3

67

26

0.39

1.63

13:52

31

Hagman, Niklas

CGY

$3

43

16

0.37

1.24

14:25

28

Ott, Steve

DAL

$2.95

69

26

0.38

1.05

16:52

32

Cole, Erik

CAR

$2.9

69

43

0.62

2.04

18:20

32

Cleary, Daniel

DET

$2.8

55

39

0.71

2.85

16:14

26

Clarkson, David

NJD

$2.67

68

15

0.22

0.96

13:46

35

Clark, Chris

CLB

$2.63

51

14

0.27

1

14:43

32

Samsonov, Sergei

FLA

$2.53

65

29

0.45

1.48

14:43

34

Samuelsson, Mikael

VAN

2.5

69

47

0.68

1.9

16:35

 

I was going to add a two-way stat or three to this chart, but we've already seen above that Armstrong hits, draws penalties, and plays decent two-way hockey in unfavourable circumstances. Finding that he is the third most efficient scorer at evens out of 17 wingers, I think the point is made. $3 million doesn't buy a lot, particularly when you're buying years of free agency; if this was the price for Cheese, then it was no worse than market value.

On the other hand, I guess we could’ve re-signed Alexei Ponikarovsky, or held on to Niklas Hagman. Or outbid the Rangers on Alex Frolov. Still, Colby Armstrong is a better quote than any of those guys; and intangibles have to count for something.

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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