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?
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:
So what does this tell us?
- Hamonic leads all NYI defenders in even strength TOI (size of bubble)
- Hamonic faces the toughest competition (how high the bubble is)
- Hamonic doesn’t get sheltered much as far as faceoffs go (how far to the right the bubble is)
- 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).
|Calvin De Haan||17:50:30||1078||939||53.4%||780||646||54.7%||805||695||53.7%||52.6||39.0|
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:
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:
|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.
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’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.
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.