As Leafs fans, we've become rather accustomed to seeing Nazem Kadri
dive embellish an infraction to get a call. In fact, he's one of the best in the league at doing just that. While the sportsmanship of it can be debated, this ability is absolutely a skill with real value.
This naturally leads to the question of whether we can quantify the impact of this skill on a team.
Methodology, and some simplifying assumptions
The math for evaluating the advantage of being put on the power play versus even strength is very simple. That said, we're going to make a few assumptions in order to facilitate comparisons across teams and to make some calculations easy.
- We assume all players are placed on a hypothetical team that is completely average at even strength, completely average in terms of power play goals for, and completely average in power play goals against. This is to facilitate comparisons across different teams.
- We assume all penalties drawn are minor penalties, and that all penalties take us from 5 on 5 to 5 on 4. We also assume that there are no other penalties until this power play expires. Effectively, power plays either end by the penalty expiring or the advantaged team scoring. This simplifies our work.
- We assume goals scored on the power play are uniformly distributed from zero to two minutes. Naturally, the expected time of goal, given that a goal has been scored will be one minute into the power play. This is another simplifying assumption, and while it doesn't totally reflect reality, it's reasonable enough. Perhaps a better method would be to assume they are uniformly distributed from 5 seconds to two minutes, to account for the initial faceoff on a power play.
So, how much value does this provide?
He also ranks very highly in 2013/2014, at 11th in the league with 2.32 goals per season from this skill. So it seems like on the high end, this skill can add (approximately) 2-3 goals to a team's value.
On the low end of forwards, pluggers and grinders such as Chris Neil and David Clarkson take away about 1.5-2 goals from their team. So it seems that for forwards, the advantage of this skill is notable, but not hugely significant.
Defenders, by the nature of their position, will often take more penalties, so they are disproportionately near the bottom of the list. The most penalized defensemen tend to lose 3 goals through this, and the best defensemen tend to add 1-1.5 goals through this.
I haven't combed through the data much, but there might be some interesting insights there. Here's my spreadsheet, and as always, if there are any issues or suggestions, let me know.