Lou Lamoriello

Devils hire former pro poker player to head new analytics department


Following the growing trend in the NHL of incorporating advanced statistics into the analysis process, the New Jersey Devils are starting an analytics department and have hired Sunny Mehta to lead it, per The Bergen Record.

Mehta, 36, was a professional poker player and authored two books on the subject. However, he has since shifted his focus to the application of advanced statistics in sports. He will report directly to Devils GM Lou Lamoriello.

Devils’ owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer liked the idea of forming this department after the NBA team they own, the Philadelphia 76ers, went that route. Lamoriello said he was “extremely open-minded to it” due to his background in math.

“Statistics have always been a part of the game,” Lamoriello said. “The word analytics is a buzzword right now. To try and stay ahead of the curve, we looked into and interviewed a lot of people.”

He added that advanced statistics are an “evolution,” but can only go so far and can’t replace traditional scouting. That is a popular view, even among strong proponents of analytics.


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

Sharks name Pavelski captain; Thornton, Couture alternates

Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton
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Joe Pavelski is the new captain of the San Jose Sharks. The club made the announcement today via Twitter.

The former captain, Joe Thornton, will be an alternate captain, along with Logan Couture.

Pavelski, 31, was the Sharks’ leading scorer last season, finishing with 37 goals and 33 assists. He’s also signed through 2018-19, so giving him the ‘C’ makes sense from a long-term stability perspective.

Couture, 26, is also signed through 2018-19, while Thornton, 36, only has two years left on his contract.

The Sharks had four alternate captains (Thornton, Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) in 2014-15, but no captain.

Related: DeBoer says Sharks will have a captain next season

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.