There has been a lot of discussion lately on Mikhail Grabovski, if he is a dominant center, and if he is worth resigning. First of all, let’s look at Grabovski’s career stats:
He is only in his 4th season the NHL. He’s a little older than some players in their 4th season, but even so, it still takes time to get used to the best opponents in the world. I personally think Grabovski’s finally found his niche (last year) and will be able to maintain this level of play for a few years, though I don’t know if he’s got much more improving to do.
Click the Jump to see analysis on the top centers in the NHL, and where Mikhail Grabovski fits in.
To figure out where Mikhail Grabovski fits in relation to other centers in the NHL, I used Hockey Reference to sort players by point per game over the last 2.5 years. I believe that the last three seasons (including this season) are an appropriate window what we are trying to determine. We are not trying to see who has had the best career, or who has been the best in the last decade. We are trying to determine who is the best right now. 2.5 seasons is an appropriate enough window to measure this, in my judgment.
I pulled up this list, found Mikhail Gravoski, and used him as the bottom threshold, though I included a few other players of note, in this regard.
This post will use three sets of criteria to judge the top centers in the league. The first criteria is points per game, which will see who is the most affective at scoring game to game. The second is points per 60, which factors in the ice time of the centers, to determine who is truly the most affective at scoring with the situations they’ve been given. The final is CORSI rel, which will examine relatively how defensively responsible they are.
Points Per Game
Here is the list of Top Centers in the league by Points Per Game. The Point per Game has been calculated over the last 2.5 seasons, strictly by taking the games played and points during that period.
Looking at the PPG, we can expect the results. Over the last 2.5 years, Sidney Crosby has been absolutely dominant, having more Goals than his teammate, Jordan Staal (who is also on the list) has had points, per game. Henrik Sedin has also been dominant, having 0.93 Assists per game, which, on its own, would rank him 10th in the league, assuming he didn’t score once. Joe Thornton has remained strong in this list, placing 9th, though he would likely be in the top 5 if the sample size was expanded by a few years.
Ranking Mikhail Grabovski by PPG, he has scored at exactly a clip of 0.7, the identical rate of Alex Steen and David Backes. Other comparables include Tim Connolly, Matt Duchene, Stephen Weiss, Nik Antropov, and Logan Couture. Of course, Logan Couture and Matt Duchene have improved dramatically over the last season or two. In the same way, however, Grabovski’s third full season is affecting the rates of his 4th (last year) and current season, where he has been much better. Even so, his 0.7 rating is good for 37th in the league out of centers, raking him in the range of #1 and #2. As we suspected, he’s a strong #2 center, or a week #1 center. When you factor in that Crosby & Malkin, Stamkos & Lecavalier, Thornton & Marleau, Zetterberg & Datsyuk, etc. are on the same team, he probably ranks as a low end #1 Center.
Scoring Grabovski by goals per game, however, which would at least factor in the poor player of the leafs during his past seasons, and thus the poor teammates he was forced to play with, shows a ranking of 0.31, good for 22nd in the league. Direct comparables here are Alex Steen and Andy McDonald, which similar clips coming from Nicklas Backstrom, Matt Duchene, Stephen Weiss, David Backes, and Jordan Staal.
Points per 60 minutes.
Below is a list of the top centers by Points per 60 minutes. Rather than looking at points strictly per game, this table factors in the ice time of the player.
|Name||Points / 60min||Trend|
The usual suspects still remain atop the list, with Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin, Steven Stamkos, and Evgeni Malkin on top. I also included a trend section, however, to indicate the direction players have been headed over the past few years. Henrik Sedin, with his age, has been dropping off. Crosby, Stamkos, and Toews have all been getting better as they get older. Strangely, Datsyuk has been increasing as well, though I would suggest he used to be better probably more than 3 years ago. Other players, such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Eric Staal are declining, likely as their experience is running out.
Our boy Mikhail Grabovski fairs even better here than he does in the PPG marker. First of all, Grabovski has been increasing every year. Maintaining his level of player this year would place him 7th in the league. As of now, however, he averages a 2.15P/60, placing him right between Patrick Marleau and Alex Steen. Other players within the same range include Joe Pavelski, Derek Roy, David Backes, Logan Couture, and Vincent Lecavalier. His 2.15 average ranks him 20th out of these centers.
Gabe Desjardins, who has done much work on CORSI, defines it as follows:
In a nutshell, the Corsi Number is the shot differential while a player was on the ice. This includes not just goals and shots on goal, but also shots that miss the net, and in some formulations, blocked shots. In other words, it’s the differential in the total number of shots directed at the net.
It is thus a useful indicator of who the most defensive players are. That is to say, it indicates which players are able to drive the player against the opposition, without sacrificing chances themselves. One thing that should be said, is that players with high offensive starts will likely have high CORSI, as they are more likely to get a shot starting in the offensive zone, than to sacrifice one. However, over a seasons worth of data, the data will begin to even out, given that lack of line matching in away games, and that even in home games, players will still have to be in the defensive end etc. The CORSI measure shows you the degree to which players limit opposing shots and generate their own shots.
CORSI rel is an even more powerful too, as it takes the CORSI of the team and compares the individual CORSI in relation to that. This means that players on the Islanders are not necessarily negative in CORSI just because they play on a bad team, as it also means that players on Detroit have a positive CORSI just because they play on a good team
The following list contains CORSI rankings over the last three seasons, and the average between them all.
As you can see, out of the top centers in the league, Mikhail Grabovski has the highest average score, largely from having the highest CORSI rel in 2010/2011. Things will change this year, as there is still a limited amount of data. Specifically, with Sidney Crosby, his 2011/2012 data is skewed based on his limitted playing time. Regardless, we have to take the numbers as they are, and Grabovski is both consistently positive, and dominant in this regard, next tohis peers. As would be expected, other good centers are great point producers (Henrik Sedin, Ryan Getzlaf, and Nicklas Backstrom), as well as great defensively (Ryan Kesler, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk).
In conclusion, I believe Mikhail Grabovski to be a fantastic center within the NHL, and definitely worth holding on to. His 0.7PPG over the last three years is good enough to put him within the top 40 centers in the league, with good comparables. His points per 60 minutes ranks him as the 20th best center with regards to offense, and his CORSI rel is the best in the league. When you look at all three equally, you’re looking at a center who is arguably the 20th best in the league.
It might be hard to argue that there are not more than 19 centers better than Grabovski, looking at the caliber of some of the names above. However, with regards to the leafs situation, there is no question that he should be held on to, as opposed to dealt, as he is not only loveable and great for the leafs, but objectively great.