Hamonic – the real goods? The numbers say yes.

The talk of the town is that Travis Hamonic wants to come (back) out West, and Edmonton is in the conversation.  Woo hoo!

Now the fanbase is abuzz with trade ideas.  Who should we send?  Eberle? Schultz?  Yak? Next years first?

But wait!

Before we decide what to pay for him, shouldn’t we figure out just how good he is?

Is he a legit top pairing D?  Top 4?  Defensive specialist?  Big hitter?

What is he, and how much is he worth?

Is Travis Terrific?

Now, I’ve said previously that using fancystats to assess defensemen is a venture fraught with risk.

By eye, he’s pretty good, without a doubt.  But that was a pretty narrow view.

Given I didn’t watch all his games last year … and probably neither did you … at the moment, fancystats are the best we’ve got.  So let’s see what they tell us, and then let’s hope that if a deal is there to be had, the Oilers have some heavy scouting going on before they actually pull the trigger.

The Conventional Stats

For the first look, I’m going to use the Vollman Player Usage chart for the 2014 season to summarize some key conventional indicators:

Hamonic 2014 Vollman

So what does this tell us?

  1. Hamonic leads all NYI defenders in even strength TOI (size of bubble)
  2. Hamonic faces the toughest competition (how high the bubble is)
  3. Hamonic doesn’t get sheltered much as far as faceoffs go (how far to the right the bubble is)
  4. The puck generally moves in the right direction as far as shot attempts go when Hamonic is on the ice (the colour of the bubble)

I should also point out that Hamonic scored 1.27 pts/60 last year, Top 40 in the league (for players with at least 400 mins of ice time) and in line with guys like Weber, OEL, and Pietrangelo.

Statistically speaking? On balance, I’d say Hamonic looks to be a solid top pairing D on a good team.

How Good is He Defensively?

Defenders are supposed to defend.  It’s kind of an important thing… let’s see if we can suss out Hamonic’s defensive strengths.

For this, I’m going to use my own Dangerous Fenwick measurement, and I’m going to compare Hamonic to the rest of the Islander D.

You can read all about Dangerous Fenwick here, but to summarize, DF takes each unblocked shot and gives it more or less weight depending on how close it is and what type of shot it is.

So a defender who keeps shots to the perimeter will get credit, a defender who doesn’t defend the danger zones will get a debit.  Similarly, a defender who leaves players open for slap shots takes a hit, while if they force the player to the backhand a lot, they get upped.

I take that weighted measure of the danger of shots taken and convert it to a rate-per-hour for comparison.  The lower the number the better – with approximately 39 DFA/60 being the breakeven line.

(Numbers generated by my own scripts, data sourced from the awesome folks at war-on-ice.com).

PLAYER TOI CF CA CF% FF FA FF% DFF DFA DFF% CA/60 DFA/60
Travis Hamonic 21:12:10 1293 1250 50.8% 940 874 51.8% 1002 917 52.2% 59.0 43.2
Calvin De Haan 17:50:30 1078 939 53.4% 780 646 54.7% 805 695 53.7% 52.6 39.0
Brian Strait 13:56:45 765 875 46.6% 582 636 47.8% 627 679 48.0% 62.7 48.7
Thomas Hickey 21:45:34 1263 1170 51.9% 935 832 52.9% 1013 893 53.1% 53.8 41.0
Nick Leddy 20:59:26 1371 1089 55.7% 1000 736 57.6% 1046 775 57.4% 51.9 36.9
Lubomir Visnovsky 14:16:30 862 717 54.6% 648 513 55.8% 722 562 56.2% 50.2 39.4
Johnny Boychuk 19:11:48 1280 1029 55.4% 943 698 57.5% 998 755 56.9% 53.6 39.3

Ah hah!  The first cracks in the armour of Hamonic appear.  He tends to give up a bit more in the way of dangerous unblocked shots than the other guys.

His DFF% suggests that he’s pretty good at supporting the play up the ice, but the DFA/60 is middling at best.

But wait a second…

We already know he faces the toughest competition.  Anyone who faces Ovechkin and Crosby and Getzlaf every night is going to bleed chances, no matter how good they are.  Right?

So let’s add some flavour to our analysis.  Let’s look at how Hamonic fares when he goes up against the best of the best.

Head to Head

I picked these names sorta kinda at random (all data from stats.hockeyanalysis.com).  I just wanted a handful of top players to compare Hamonic head to head.  Let’s take a look:

Against CA/60 CF%
OVECHKIN, ALEX 78.36 51.4
CROSBY, SIDNEY 50.66 61.3
GIROUX, CLAUDE 56.53 51.6
STAMKOS, STEVEN 43.61 52.6
PACIORETTY, MAX 55.7 58.5
ZETTERBERG, HENRIK 32.86 56.0
GAUDREAU, JOHNNY 34.92 69.4
SEDIN, DANIEL 33.23 69.0
THORNTON, JOE 70.82 43.8
GETZLAF, RYAN 25.25 75.0
NUGENT-HOPKINS, RYAN 86.44 39.3
COUTURE, LOGAN 47.44 35.7
PARISE, ZACH 63.44 53.8

Now, I don’t know about you, but those are some damn impressive results!  60%+ against Crosby?  56% against Zetterberg? 69% against D. Sedin?!?

Except … Hey Hamonic, you want the Nuge?  YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE NUGE.  But maybe we can use that as a selling point.  Join the Oilers!  No more having to deal with the Nuge!

Back to the original point, which is that I’m not sure I’d worry too much about that mediocre DFA number.  Hamonic is facing the tough guys and doing OK.  And boy could the Oilers use a guy who can handle the Sedins, amirite?

The Western Concern

One last point before I finish up.  One of the concerns we should have with a guy coming over from the East is the ability to handle the tough guys of the Wild Wild West.  History suggests that can be a problem.

The table above shows Hamonic is doing pretty well, but I thought I’d pull a couple of more data points, by looking at his numbers specifically against the West:

CF CA CF% FF FA FF% DFF DFA DFF%
All West Teams 406 359 53.1% 283 239 54.2% 296 272 52.1%
Dangerous West Teams 229 223 50.7% 159 152 51.1% 155 158 49.4%

(I call dangerous teams rather arbitrarily as being: San Hosers, ANA, CHI, WPG, DAL, MIN, LA, STL, and NSH).

Note that I don’t have TOI against just these teams so couldn’t calculate the rates.

As these are all away games, I was going to pull the East away games as a comparable (h/t Rex Libris).  But it doesn’t look like I need to.

Because both the CF% and the DFF% do tell a darn good story: Hamonic does just fine against the West. Even the dangerous teams.

Doesn’t look like a concern.

WOWY

With defensemen, I pretty much always look at their WOWY (with you without you) data, to see how they affect other players, especially defense partners.  To be honest, the WOWYs in this case don’t tell me much.  Rather than throw another table of numbers at you, I’ll throw this (experimental) visualization at you instead.

On this chart, which graphs zone starts and shot attempts, the name location tells you where that player is without Hamonic.The arrow tells you how they do as a pairing.

The ‘perfect’ defenseman would move every name to the right, and possibly up.The worst defenseman would move everything left, and possibly down.

Hamonic wowy visual test.png

Hamonic’s most common partner by far (de Haan) does move to the right, which is good.

The rest are a mixed (but mostly bad) bag.  But with such little TOI for those guys, and likely a big step up in competition for them when they partner with Hamonic, probably nothing to see here.

I’ve included it for completeness, but the WOWY doesn’t really drive my assessment of Hamonic one way or the other.

Conclusion

Overally, by the numbers, I’d have to say that Travis Hamonic is legit.

Getting him instantly upgrades the Oiler top pairing, and by extension, the Top 4.  And he’s just entering his prime, and locked up to a bargain contract for quite a few years.

I’d go pay what it takes to get him now.  That includes any players other than 25 & 77 & 2 (our current Top 3 D – can’t weaken this group, makes no sense to do that) and 4, 93, 29, and 97.

Everyone else should be up for grabs, even Jordan (sniff) and Yak (sigh).

That’s the core, and Hamonic would be a tremendous part of it.

Again, this is by the numbers, and the numbers on defensemen need to be handled carefully.  And you could look at lots of other numbers too – I won’t pretend this post is encyclopaedic (though it’s long enough I’d say!!)

But the numbers I did look at are solid.  If the scouting confirms he’s that damn good, this would be a tremendous add to the Oilers roster.

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13 thoughts on “Hamonic – the real goods? The numbers say yes.

  1. “I’d go pay what it takes to get him now. That includes any players other than 25 & 77 & 2 (our current Top 3 D – can’t weaken this group, makes no sense to do that) and 4, 93, 28, and 97.”

    So Korpikoski is untouchable now?

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  2. Terrific work, again. It would be interesting to see how Hamonic compares to other players with his TOI around the league.

    The reason for this being that I wonder if he looks so good to Oiler fans because of our lack of defensive depth or whether he’d be as highly sought after by 20 other teams around the league.

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  3. Great article, a lot of info to digest as with most of your works.

    One thing I’m not sold on is his offence. His points per 60 was in the top 40 last season but that was his best offensive season. I’m not sure if I did the math right but I have his points per 60 under .9 for his career.

    He’s a good defenceman and I hope the Oilers acquire him but IMO he doesn’t produce enough offence to be considered a #1 defenceman. I wouldn’t consider him a first pairing defenceman unless he was complimenting a more offensive partner.

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    1. That’s fair. He’s definitely not an offensive powerhouse. However, his numbers last year were in the neighbourhood of guys like OEL, Weber, and Pietrangelo, and I think it would be fair to call all those guys contenders for 1D.

      Maybe the the real question is whether Hamonic can keep that up. He’s young enough that he’s only just hitting his peak, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him settle in around that mark.

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  4. Thorough and thoughtful analysis, as usual. I did some Corsi WOWY analysis for a number of defenders last season. I clustered groups of 30 players together to form levels of competition. For example, I had quality of competition groups with Corsi% means of 46%, 50%, and 54%. Hamonic’s Corsi% was 50% vs opposition whose Corsi% was 54%. This further supports your obervations based on the smaller sample with Ovchekin, Crosby, etc.

    I don’t think we need to be concerned about his ability to contribute to offense. Ryan Stimson’s passing metrics show Hamonic to be an excellent passer; close to 80th percentile in most metrics. (You can see Hamonic’s passing metrics graph here:
    https://public.tableau.com/shared/72RM6DPYQ?:display_count=yes )

    I also like to use Micah McCurdy’s WOWY visuals. For this season, Hamonic’s Corsi WOWY looks particularly good. Almost every player is better off with him than without him. (See here: http://hockeyviz.com/img/player/wowy/1516/NYI/wowy-1516-NYI-hamontr90-shots.png )

    I don’t know if 77 can be considered not on the trading block. I don’t think Snow will accept anything less than a Klefbom. Myself, at this point of the rebuild (3.0), I prefer a proven Top-2 vs a potential Top-2. I’m ready to see the Oilers make the playoffs next season. Hamonic will definitely help us get there.

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  5. I’m wondering if DFA can be fine-tuned by calculating it relative to teammates (e.g., relative to average DFA for defense) as well as sorting their DFA by level of competition. Stephen Burtch’s criticism about some of my analysis of Oilers’ defenders is that I don’t have context, such as zone starts (which as David Johnson has shown matters little), quality of competition, and quality of teammates. (Although in my analysis of Fayne, I carefully take into account levels of competition and quality of teammates.) In any case, I’d be interested to see these numbers.

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