Sab(re)metrics: How Good is Thomas Vanek?

Introduction:

NAME: Thomas Vanek

AGE: 27

HEIGHT: 6 ft 2 in

WEIGHT: 208 lbs

KNOWN ALIASES: "Angry Thomes Vanek (ATV)"; "Austria's Greatest Export"; "Thomas F***ing Vanek (TFV)"

CURRENT STATISTICS:


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Thomas Vanek 14 10 8 18 4 12 5 0 3 53

Looking at Thomas Vanek's statistics from this season and last season, we know that he has become one of the best, if not the best player on the Buffalo Sabres. Looking over his career, we can also conclude that Thomas Vanek's best offensive season was his 43 goal and 84 point campaign during our President Trophy winning season of 2006-07. While these are all good seasons, I still need to ask myself:

"How good is Thomas Vanek?"

For example, is Thomas Vanek simply the best player on this team, or is he a top player in the NHL? Should Thomas Vanek just be considered a top player on a well-rounded offensive club, or could he be a top player on any NHL team he played on? How do his stats compare with the other top 30 forwards in the NHL?

To find out these answers and more, you should take the jump.

Analysis:

To answer these questions, I will do three different examinations:

  1. Thomas Vanek's cumulative scoring when compared to the 30th best forward in the NHL
  2. Thomas Vanek's even strength scoring per 60 minutes (EV/60)
  3. Top GVT numbers for NHL Forwards since the lockout

For this first analysis, Thomas Vanek's cumulative point and goal scoring over each of his completed regular seasons was examined in comparison with the average top 30 forward in the NHL. The top 30 forward was chosen because an assumption was made that every team in the NHL would have one top player (this is not true, but necessary for a comparison). In this comparison, the average top 30 forward is the average of the 30th place scoring forward in points and goals since the Lockout (30.5 goals, 72.67 points). Both of these charts are seen below.

Tv_scoring_medium

Tv_goals_medium

Initially, these plots were completed to analyze how "streaky" or "hot" Thomas Vanek can be over a season. While at times Vanek would not score for a few games (such as his 8 game scoreless streak last season), I found that these plots were not particularly good at showing how hot or cold Vanek plays over a season. Instead I plotted the scoring and goal rate of the average 30th best forward in the NHL since the Lockout, and compared this total with each of Vanek's scoring and seasonal totals.

When comparing these totals, it is shown that Thomas Vanek is always a top 30 goal scoring forward in the games he plays (minus his rookie campaign), but he is not always a top 30 point scorer. This could be attributed due to him being more of a goal-scorer so far in his career than a playmaker since he always had a higher goal total than an assist total in every season except last season. Could this change have occurred due to his separation from Derek Roy during even-strength play? We only have one season of data to analyze this, but it would be interesting to see if his stats reflect that this season if Ruff keeps the VAP line together.

The second analysis is completed using the Rob Vollman article How to Identify Top Six Forwards. In this piece, Vollman develops a metric to analyze what makes a top six forward using their points per 60 minutes of even strength play. His metric is below:

  1. Rare (EV/60 >= 3.3)
  2. Elite (2.7 =< EV/60 < 3.3)
  3. Standard (2.1 =< EV/60 < 2.7)
  4. Supporting Cast (1.7 =< EV/60 < 2.1)

Looking at Thomas Vanek's EV/60 for every season since 2006-2007:

Thomas Vanek's EV/60

Season

EV/60

2006-2007

3.5

2007-2008

2.23

2008-2009

2.37

2009-2010

2.31

2010-2011

2.36

2011-2012

3.38

Using Vollman's metrics, Thomas Vanek has always been a standard top 6 player in the NHL, with the exception being 2006-2007 and his current season where he is on pace to put up better than elite (or rare) EV/60 numbers. To establish a comparison across the NHL, the classification of some other NHL players since 2007-2008 using Vollman's metrics is below with the amount of supporting cast, standard or elite seasons they have had in parenthesis.

  • Evgeni Malkin (2 standard, 2 elite seasons)
  • Rick Nash (1 supporting cast, 2 standard, 1 elite)
  • Zach Parise (2 supporting cast, 1 standard, 1 elite)
  • Derek Roy (1 supporting cast, 2 standard, 1 elite)
  • Martin St.Louis (3 standard, 1 elite)
  • Henrik Zetterberg (2 standard, 2 elite)

While Vanek only has one season where he can be considered elite (actually better than elite), he is a more consistent player than half the players on the list who have had a season where they were considered a supporting cast player through their EV/60 statistic. If Vanek could continue on his elite pace this season, he would have similar EV/60 numbers that are similar to Malkin's, St. Louis', and Zetterberg's career totals. Overall, this metric should show that Vanek is quite a consistent player and that he could be a top 6 forward on any team in the NHL since 2006-2007.

The third analysis is to examine Thomas Vanek's GVT since the Lockout. To refresh your memory, the GVT (Goals Versus Threshold) stat represents how much better a certain player is over a replacement-level NHL player. Therefore, the player with the highest aggregate GVT since the lockout should be the best player since the lockout, and so forth. The list below was taken from the list 50 forwards (post-lockout, regular season) found in this year's copy of Hockey Prospectus. All Sabres players in the list have been bolded.

Rank

Name

Season

OGVT

DGVT

GVT

1

Alexander

Ovechkin

2005-2011

130.7

17.1

146.4

2

Sidney

Crosby

2005-2011

105.8

15.1

124.3

3

Pavel

Datsyuk

2005-2011

85.9

27.2

120

4

Joe

Thornton

2005-2011

85.8

29.5

114.6

5

Dany

Heatley

2005-2011

96.6

18

110.8

6

Jarome

Iginla

2005-2011

88.9

17.4

104.9

7

Henrik

Zetterberg

2005-2011

84.9

21.5

104.2

8

Daniel

Sedin

2005-2011

85.4

20

103

9

Marian

Hossa

2005-2011

82.1

20

102.6

10

Ilya

Kovalchuk

2005-2011

91.8

11.8

101.6

11

Martin

St. Louis

2005-2011

82.2

18.5

97.9

12

Daniel

Alfredsson

2005-2011

75.6

18.6

93.3

13

Henrik

Sedin

2005-2011

73

20.3

92.5

14

Jason

Spezza

2005-2011

76.5

15.4

92.3

15

Eric

Staal

2005-2011

80.9

13.3

92.2

16

Patrick

Marleau

2005-2011

74

18.5

91.4

17

Vincent

Lecavalier

2005-2011

76.1

16.1

89

18

Teemu

Selanne

2005-2011

70.7

13.6

85.1

19

Brad

Richards

2005-2011

65.4

14

84

20

Thomas

Vanek

2005-2011

70.9

11

82.1

21

Alexander

Semin

2006-2011

69.3

11.3

80.6

22

Evgeni

Malkin

2006-2011

73.5

8.9

80.3

23

Rick

Nash

2005-2011

61.1

15.1

78.9

24

Zach

Parise

2005-2011

49.2

24.5

78.2

25

Daniel

Briere

2005-2011

68.5

5.7

77.5

26

Ryan

Getzlaf

2005-2011

57.9

18.2

77.4

27

Marian

Gaborik

2005-2011

64.6

15.7

76.8

28

Corey

Perry

2005-2011

57.9

17.1

74.7

29

Anze

Kopitar

2006-2011

53.6

16.7

74.5

30

Patrik

Elias

2005-2011

46.6

26

74.3

31

Jeff

Carter

2005-2011

61.4

12.8

71.8

32

Mike

Ribeiro

2005-2011

52

17.1

71.7

33

Nicklas

Backstrom

2007-2011

56.2

14.6

71.4

34

Derek

Roy

2005-2011

58.9

12.4

71.1

35

Olli

Jokinen

2005-2011

60.7

7.8

69.6

36

Jason

Pominville

2005-2011

55.7

13.3

69.5

37

Alex

Tanguay

2005-2011

50.9

14.6

69.1

38

Brian

Gionta

2005-2011

46.6

19.7

68.2

39

Jonathan

Toews

2007-2011

46.4

15.7

67.9

40

Mike

Richards

2005-2011

54.9

13.6

67.4

41

Milan

Hejduk

2005-2011

52.9

12.1

67.2

42

Mike

Knuble

2005-2011

53.1

14.2

67.1

43

Ray

Whitney

2005-2011

57.8

9.8

66.8

44

Andy

McDonald

2005-2011

53.9

11.3

66.7

45

Shane

Doan

2005-2011

50.6

13.8

64.8

46

Brad

Boyes

2005-2011

47.4

11.3

64.7

47

Marc

Savard

2005-2011

54.1

11.5

64.7

48

Jason

Arnott

2005-2011

48.1

15.7

64.6

49

Simon

Gagne

2005-2011

55

10.5

64.5

50

Patrick

Kane

2007-2011

50.2

10.7

63.8

From the above table, Thomas Vanek is ranked 20th in overall GVT and19th in OGVT (offensive GVT) for all forwards since the Lockout. Some other notable Sabres found in this list are Derek Roy (34th), Jason Pominville (36th), and Brad Boyes (46th). Since GVT is a metric to analyze the effectiveness of all NHL player's versus a replacement-level player, I personally think it is the best way to analyze how good or bad a player is over a give period of time. It should also be noted that GVT is a statistic that relies heavily on games played, so player's like Kopitar, Malkin, and Semin could be ahead of Vanek if they had played an additional season that Vanek has got to play.

Conclusions:

  • Thomas Vanek has been a consistent top 30 goal scorer since the Lockout, while being a a top 30 point scorer about half the time.
  • Using EV/60 statistics, Thomas Vanek is a standard top six forward in the NHL with one better than elite season
  • Examining Vanek's GVT, he is a top 20 forward since the Lockout

Statistically, it is safe to consider Thomas Vanek as one of the top 30 forwards in the NHL. While he is not always a top 30 point scorer, he has been a consistent top 30 goal scorer, top six standard forward, and a top 20 forward in GVT since the Lockout. Entering his 7th NHL season, it will be interesting to see how Vanek's career will progress in the coming years. For example, will TV become an elite (top 10) NHL forward? Or will he continue to be a standard top 30 forward in the NHL?

To be fair, one question that was not answered in this article was the common complaint of Thomas Vanek being "overpaid." Many will say, "Yes, Thomas Vanek is a good forward, but he is not worth his $7.14 million cap hit!" Therefore, I will examine Thomas Vanek's actual worth in my next article: Sab(re)metrics: Thomas Vanek is good, but is he overpaid?

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Die By The Blade

You must be a member of Die By The Blade to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Die By The Blade. You should read them.

Join Die By The Blade

You must be a member of Die By The Blade to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Die By The Blade. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker