examining wins above replacement in the nhl

The tremendous guys at war-on-ice.com recently revealed their version of an all-encompassing stat for hockey, WAR, and I spent some time playing around with it. The stat is still in “alpha” stage meaning there’ll be some kinks to work out and some additions, but so far the results look very promising. Here’s their methodology.

It’s easy to get hooked on a one number stat that aims to explain a player’s entire worth, and that’s exactly what happened to me. I was fascinated by looking at certain player’s throughout their career and comparing them to other similarly viewed players. Seeing how valuable each player was compared to his peers using just one number was pretty cool to me, and I got lost in it.

Naturally, I made some charts with these comparisons. I also live in a magical world where injuries don’t exist and neither do lockouts, so everything is prorated to 82 games. I also hyphenated prorate on every chart for some reason like an idiot, but it’s too late for that to change.



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Obviously I would do this one. Crosby gets the edge here, but that was in a year where he only played 41 games. A shame he got injured in what would’ve been his best season.

Also really cool to see these two go toe-to-toe for the first five years of their career, although it’s a bit strange to see Crosby’s 120 point season be only worth roughly 2.5 wins. I imagine that the addition of playmaker WAR will help Crosby out there.

Average WAR

Crosby: +4.5 wins

Ovechkin: +4.1 wins

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These two never get much respect, and while they’re not on their teammates level, they’ve still produced some spectacular seasons.

Average WAR

Malkin: +3.3 wins

Backstrom: +2.4 wins

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For my money, these are the two best players in the lockout era not named Crosby or Ovechkin. Two very complete players that have been elite for a long time. When a stat makes Datsyuk look great it is probably correct. He actually has a higher average than Crosby.

Average WAR

Datsyuk: +5.0 wins

Thornton: +4.0 wins

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Perennial Selke candidates for a reason. Toews had the best season of the three, but has dropped off since then. It’s interesting to see the three alternate with who’s best over the past three years.

Average WAR

Toews: +4.0 wins

Kopitar: +3.5 wins

Bergeron: +2.3 wins

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Maybe Taylor Hall is the problem. Stamkos and Tavares have been exceptional though.

Average WAR

Stamkos: +3.8 wins

Tavares: +2.8 wins

Hall: +1.7 wins

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These two are pretty much the same player, right? Have to imagine what either of these guys could do with an elite center on their line. I also wouldn’t make too much out of Kessel’s last season though. Would be interesting to get a split of the first half and second half of his season.

Average WAR

Kane: +2.3 wins

Kessel: +1.5 wins

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I’m a little concerned that these two weren’t identical lines, but still very close.

Average WAR

D. Sedin: +2.8 wins

H. Sedin: +2.5 wins

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This is now the twins segment of the post where I apparently highlight some dynamic duos. These two have been one of the league’s best over the past few years, but it’s funny that their best combined season (2013-14) was worth just 0.7 wins more than Crosby’s best season.

Average WAR

Getzlaf: +3.0 wins

Perry: +2.2 wins

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Seguin was traded as a 2.5 win player and immediately turned into one that’s worth almost five. Smart move. Benn has been just so consistently good. This is the best current duo in the league in my opinion.

Average WAR

Seguin: +2.9 wins

Benn: +2.9 wins

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Giroux is in a gentle decline right now, and it might be fair to say that Voracek is driving the bus in Philly these days. What a player he’s become.

Average WAR

Giroux: +3.0 wins

Voracek: +2.2 wins


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These three have had a very similar pattern over the last four years, which is definitely interesting. Karlsson’s peak is during the year he missed most of the year with an injury and isn’t that just the worst? Could’ve been a great season.

Average WAR

Karlsson: +2.2 wins

Subban: +1.7 wins

Letang: +1.6 wins

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Immediately noticeable from this chart and the last one: defencemen, even the best ones, have a much lower WAR than forwards. Chara and Doughty both peak at around 3.5 wins which isn’t very high compared to some forwards. That’s an interesting debate for sure.

Average WAR

Chara: +1.9 wins

Doughty: +1.5 wins

Keith: +0.9 wins

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Alex Pietrangelo. What. The. Hell. Happened. Suter and Weber get overrated a lot, but Weber’s average WAR is about on par with the other elite d-men shown here. And he’s been fairly consistent too.

Average WAR

Weber: +1.5 wins

Pietrangelo: +1.2 wins

Suter: +0.5 wins


That’s it for me. If you want more just ask me or make your own. I don’t know, do what you want.


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