PDO - A Hell Of A Drug. [Another Leaf Addiction?]

Tyler Dellow had a nice post up the other day (in a series of really insightful pieces) which was about, bizarrely enough, Mike Komisarek.

It explored how, amongst other things, it looks like Komisarek's high PDO in Montreal (1017) helped get him his big contract in Toronto. Once in Toronto, however, his luck (and the performance of his line-mates) seemed to run out and his PDO crashed, to 981 - a 36 point drop.

It's worth quoting Dellow more fully here:

The Habs shot 9.05% with Komisarek on-ice during his final two years in Montreal. They got a save percentage of .926. In Toronto, those numbers were 7.78% and .903. From a PDO of 1017 to 981.

PDO’s a hell of a drug. And expensive too.

In his final two years in Montreal, Komisarek was on the ice for 95 GF and 90 GA at 5v5; in Toronto it was an abysmal 75 GF and 102 GA. The on-ice save percentage was an absolute nightmare in his last real full season in Toronto at .883. Nobody’s going to look good with that....

One plausible explanation for Komisarek’s time in Toronto might be that he was pretty much the same as he always was and that what Toronto paid for – PDO – is something that you can’t really buy. Frankly, that seems like a more reasonable explanation to me than "Komisarek was awesome in Montreal and then came to Toronto and was terrible."

The implications though… well, the implications are big. If that’s right, then there are probably a chunk of teams across the NHL paying players for luck and the performance of others and then muttering about the player’s character now that he’s gotten paid when the luck and hard work of others doesn’t move with him.

Mike Komisarek Says F*ck Luck... I Got Cash. [Song in no way safe for work. Tremendous however, for driving, fly-fishing or as the soundtrack to your next Phil Kessel video.]

I thought I'd follow up Dellow's idea and scan the PDOs of the 3 main Forwards the Leafs obtained this past Summer. I've paired them up with the main Forwards the Leafs lost to see whether they were, overall, still in the business of trying to "buy luck." (And who amongst us would imagine the Leafs doing anything different? Not I.)

Now, PDO is made up all sorts of things - the quality of your goaltending, the performance of your team-mates, your own great or lousy play, etc. But. It can also help us see whether a player appears to have been a particular victim of bad puck luck, or, conversely, been a happy-go-puck-lucky Komisarek.

This note aims not to get into these deeper PDO issues, but simply to see whether the Leafs are paying for anyone who appears to have a greatly inflated value which may be the result of exceptional luck (or the reverse.)

1. Mason Raymond in for Clarke MacArthur.

Mason Raymond had a positive PDO over his past 3 years in Vancouver, with a 1016, 1016 and a 992.

Oddly, MacArthur had almost precisely the same PDO during his 3 years with the Leafs, with a 1015, 1009 and 1005.

Given that their PDOs match, and the Leafs got Raymond relatively cheaply, it appears unlikely that this was a pick-up based solely on "buying PDO."

2. Dave Bolland in for Mikhail Grabovski.

Dave Bolland has had some tough PDOs in recent years, with last year being truly appalling at 968 (the bottom 17 percent of the PDO table.) While his on-ice shooting fell to 8.42, he suffered in particular from playing in front of .884 goaltending. That's the level Dellow referenced (re: Komisarek) as being an "absolute nightmare," saying, quote, "Nobody's going to look good with that."

Grabbo also saw his PDO dip in recent years, landing at a 988 last year (bottom 36 percent.) His on-ice shooting fell to 8.45% (almost exactly Bolland's rate), and he too suffered from relatively weak goaltending (at .904)

The Leafs therefore appear to have swapped out a player who saw bad luck for one who may have been even unluckier - as in, 20 PDO points worse off.

Again, it appears the Leafs have avoided the trap of trying to "buy PDO."

3. David Clarkson in for Matt Frattin & Leo Komarov.

Much as I loved me some Matt Frattin and Leo Komarov, the Leafs may well have landed on the side of the PDO pot-o-gold with Clarkson.

For starters, Frattin saw on-ice shooting of 12.98% last year and a PDO of 1052 (top 4 percent) while Leo also came out at a positive 1008 last year. So both were, if anything, somewhat lucky Leafs.

Whereas Clarkson's lovely PDO of 1026 four seasons ago (with on-ice shooting of 11% and his goalies posting a solid .917) fell apart in the last 3 seasons. His PDO was 958 last year (bottom 9 percent), and 985 (bottom 29 percent) and 956 (bottom 7 percent) over the previous years.

Now, part of this was NJ's goaltending, where he played in front of an 897 last year, which is all kinds of not very good. More important was the disappearance of any shooting luck, not just for Clarkson, but his line-mates as well. In short, that former 11% on-ice shooting rate fell to 4.14%, 7.84% and just 5.83% last year.

Maybe there are ways that this is actually Clarkson's fault, but I'm just not sure the mechanism of how that works. [Something in me tells me people will be lining up to provide mechanisms here, but hey.... best not to take way the little joys in life.] Leaving that question aside for the moment, it is still probably reasonable to say that, in the case of Clarkson, the Leafs have at least avoided the sin of "trying to buy PDO."


Overall then, if NHLers do tend to regress toward 1000, then the Leafs happen to have just obtained two players, Clarkson and Bolland, who stand to benefit the most.

How much? Well, a final thought follows on again from Dellow, who described Komisarek's 36 point shift in PDO as being "a hell of a drug." That is, a change in luck of that magnitude helps us explain why people went from seeing Komisarek as a potential all-star to seeing him as... an absolute brute.

And since Dave Bolland played last year at a full 32 points under 1000, while Clarkson was 42 points under, it looks as though the Leafs may, somehow, almost certainly accidentally or unconsciously, have just done the reverse of the wrong thing.

You heard me.

And that means that if PDO regression has any juice here, the Leafs would appear to be standing on the right side of the still.

Would that not be nice?

Let's let Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown take us home.

Divine Fits - Would That Not Be Nice.

Footnote. And yes, I AM saying that it is entirely possible for some variables to move in favour of the Leafs this year. The PDO of these two players being one such factor.

Heck, we might even win a game in the shootout this season. 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