Originally written on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 10/22/14

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford speaks on the phone during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
As a hockey stat guru, it warms my heart to hear that front offices around the league are keeping an open mind into hockey analytics, which is  why I was excited to hear that the Hurricanes were using certain "advanced" analytics to back-up their decision to sign Alex Semin to a one-year contract worth $7 mil. This fact was revealed by Canes PR guy Mike Sundheim on Twitter and later confirmed by GM Jim Rutherford in a press conference. It's always good to do you homework before you make a big signing and it's good to see that the Canes did some fact-checking before signing Semin to this deal. Blogs like mine and many others across the Internet will always do a thorough background check on a player before deciding if he is a good fit for the team they root for by using shot-based metrics such as Corsi and Scoring Chances along with looking at a player's scoring rates. If you listen to the press conference from Rutherford, you will learn that he performed about as thorough of a background check with Semin as you could imagine but the type of analytics they used is a little different from the ones that you may be familiar with on this blog and other places across the Internet. I looked back at Sundheim's tweets to see if he mentioned anything about the type of stats the front office was using and he mentioned quite a few. First of all, it appears that the Canes were using percentiles to gauge a player's value rather than just simple rankings. A percentile shows the percentage of a sample lower than the point (or in this case the player) of interest. They were also apparently looking at how often a player scored in "high pressure situations" and against "top forwards on the opposing team."  Plus/minus for these situations were also looked at. These stats were used as a way to combat the opinions of Semin not being "clutch" in the post-season or when the game was on the line. Per Sundheim, "high pressure situations" are when the game is tied in the second and third periods or when the game is close during those frames. Overtime is also included in this, obviously. The top 2-3 forwards on each of the opposing team are selected by whoever comes up with these statistics. It is also not clarified whether or not the team is looking at the amount of goals/points a player scored or the amount that he is on-ice for but either way, Semin ranked very high in all of these categories and that obviously factored into their decision to sign him. There are some issues that arise with these stats and the biggest of which being that the "high pressure situations" could eliminate a good chunk of the game and cause them to look at some small sample sizes. A lot of hockey statisticians prefer to look at data when the score is close or tied, so that is understandable but I'm not sure that I agree with elminating the entire first period from the sample. We're in sort of a "dead-puck" era with a lot of close games, which makes every goal huge. Throwing out a few goals because they were scored in the first period seems a bit strange, in my opinion. The fact that they are only looking at data when a certain player was used against "top 2-3" forwards on the opposing team also limits the scope because there are a lot of times when a star forward is matched up against a checking line, the latter of which probably doesn't have one of the "top forwards" on it depending on the scorer's definition. Therein lies another potential issue; How does the scorer decide who the "top 2-3 forwards" are? Seems a little too subjective if the team in question is playing a team with not much star talent. I understand the rationale behind this stat because it is probably another way of looking at "quality of competition" like I do often, but I also think that it could lead to an issue with sample size. One final thing I would like to know about these stats is if they look at the amount of shots or scoring chances a player produces in these situations. I'm probably beating a dead horse with this by now, but it's tough to use goals and points as a predictive stat because of how much luck is involved with them. Semin, in particular, had a very unlucky season with a poor shooting percentage and could have created more goals in these "high pressure situations" if he shot closer to his career average. Shots obviously don't catch your attention as much as goals do, but they are also very important to look at because shots are what a player has the most control over. Seeing if a player can drive possession at a high rate usually means that they are likely to score more in the future than a player who isn't. I may have my issues with these stats and how valid they are but in the end, we can both agree on that Semin for one-year at $7 mil. is a terrific signing for Carolina. Semin not only can perform in these "high pressure situations," he can drive possession at even strength, when the score is tied, and when the game is close and that is going to really help Carolina next season. Plus, he also has scored at a high rate at even strength for most of his career. It may not be the way that I, or many others, are used to doing things, but it is nice to see a team take an analytical approach to rate players and use it to factor into their front office decisions.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ronda Rousey to face Cat Zingano at UFC 182

Royals take Game 2 to even series with Giants

Report: Roger Goodell will have to testify in Ray Rice case

Report: Zach Mettenberger to start for Titans over Locker

LaMarr Woodley likely done for season with biceps injury

Report: Some Seahawks think Wilson isn’t 'black enough'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Darrelle Revis sent home for being late, misses practice

Report: Texas to pay scholarship athletes $10K per year

Report: Widespread academic fraud occurred at North Carolina

NHL postpones Senators/Leafs game after Ottawa shootings

Lions send player home from London after cutting him

Brandon Marshall on Jay Cutler: We're like brothers

WATCH: Eric Bledsoe puts Clipper on skates with sick move

WATCH: Giants pitcher yells at Salvador Perez after HR

Kiffin's mom fears for son's safety in return to Tennessee

WATCH: Penguins perform 'O Canada' following tragedy

WATCH: Cutest grandma challenges Dwyane Wade to game of one-on-one

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

Porn star: No one parties harder than Sebastian Janikowski

Outrageous college football predictions: Week 9

World Series Game 2 Preview: Giants vs. Royals

Michigan St. fans troll Michigan campus, paint 'M' green

NFL MVP Watch Week 8: Is Manning still the King?

Hurricanes News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Kiffin's mom worried for son's safety

Report: Goodell will have to testify

Penguins do 'O Canada' following tragedy

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Porn star: No one parties like Janikowski

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

The San Francisco Giants are zombies

10 bold predictions for NFL Week 8

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

NFL players who could be traded by the deadline

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.