It’s difficult to get a quick information about the quality and depth of team’s rosters heading to IIHF World Championship in Prague. Fortunately, there are visual tools which provide us with a great amount of data in one neat view. Here are the Player Usage Charts of all NHL players for the most competitive teams in the tournament.
Just as a side note, one obviously cannot use Player Usage Charts and not mention Rob Vollman. It’s his idea originally and his website also gives you the opportunity to make your own Player Usage Chart. I used it to write this article, but credits go definitely to him.
So what can you tell from these charts?As their name suggests, they are all about the usage of players.
- The x-axis tells you what percentage of the offensive zone starts players get (relative to offensive and defensive starts combined). That means you have defensive specialists on the left side of the chart, offensive players on the right.
- The y-axis provides necessary information about the quality of competition when each player is on the ice. Higher position on the y-axis means player faces tougher opponents.
- The colour represents possession play. Blue is positive, red negative.
- The size of the bubble corresponds with the player’s ice-time.
- So in general, the chart tells you a story about the deployment of your guy in this NHL season. It definitely doesn’t mean this player is incapable of taking up a different role in the national team. But the graph shows you what he was doing all last season after he had finished his summer vacation. Hopefully, what he is best at.
Bear in mind that Player Usage Chart was made for the team analysis. If you compare players from different teams in one chart, you end up pretty close to a “mixing apples with oranges” situation. 45 % offensive zone deployment on really bad teams (sorry to hear about McDavid, Buffalo fans!) really means something different than in Chicago. On the other hand, if you want to get all the information in one table, you have to give up something. From the European perspective, it is still a hundred times better and more precise than to read an usual analysis based on points and pluses/minuses (I know, they are the worst) only.
- Czechs lack depth players and defencemen.
- The only player who gets really tough minutes in NHL is Jan Hejda (Colorado).
- Jakub Voracek and Jaromir Jagr are the best known names, but the potential trouble is that most of the European players are also offence-oriented types.
- Many players declined the nomination due to their injuries, some others who could provide necessary depth at least among forwards (Tlusty, Elias) weren’t named.
- Team Canada has the best roster, at least from the NHL usage point of view. It looks like a good mixture of offense- and defence-oriented players with superstars all over the place.
- The only question is how they’ll cope with the wide European rinks.
- Many young players on the US roster (including expected 2nd pick in 2015 draft Jack Eichel). Also they are backed up with just a few solid NHL players.
- When you look at the US team you can tell their approach is quite different to others. They are coming to Prague and Ostrava not to win the tournament, but to give their young players an interesting international experience which could help them in their careers.
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- So, we have Marian Gaborik and… (really long pause)… you know, Marko Dano had a very good 2nd half of season in Columbus.
- Richard Panik and Andrej Mezsaros are the victims of playing for bad teams, so they don’t look very good in the charts.
- Just five players + Pekka Rinne. But most of them are used to facing tough opponents during the season.
- Finnish team is relying on KHL players (incl. 3 from Jokerit Helsinki)
- Landeskog is out, Karlsson is out, no word on Sedins. So what are Sweden left with? This very good young Forsberg guy (Nashville, not related to Peter), one of the best defencemen in NHL Oliver Ekmann-Larsson (Arizona) and many depth players.
- Sweden are as always a strong contender.
- KHL is the main supplier of players for Worlds 2015 Russia’s team, but the coaches aren’t afraid to call up NHL reinforcements. I guess it is quality over quantity, this time.
- Malkin, Tarasenko and others could be difference makers and they are joining a very good roster led by ex-NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk.
Photo credits: Fundriver (Wikicommons)