Jim Nill, Tom Gaglardi, Jim Lites

Here’s another story about how a hockey team is using analytics to try and win more hockey games


A lot of you are probably getting tired of reading stories about hockey and so-called “advanced statistics.” But remember that how you perform when you’re tired is when you really find out what you’re made of, so here’s another story. Push yourself!

From the Dallas Morning News, on the Stars’ efforts to effectively analyze data under general manager Jim Nill:

Nill and his staff now use a computer program that does the work of at least 100 college students: it measures Corsi, giveaways/takeaways, scoring chances and a host of other stats. After each game, the coaching staff reviews the numbers then goes back to the film and tracks its own stats to look for any discrepancies.

At this point, most fans just want to know that their favorite team has entered the data age and isn’t relying solely on eyeballs to make player-personnel decisions. No, stats aren’t everything in hockey. But in 2014, they’ve grown to become something. And 10 years from now, they’ll be even more something. So you’d better keep up.

Besides, as Nill says, it’s “a lot easier to make a decision” when you have numbers to back it up.


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Awareness of analytics a necessity for new NHL executives

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.