Did the Pens pay too much for The Piece?

Boston Globe: NHL GMs get assist with analytics

Schuckers is an associate professor of statistics at St. Lawrence University and director of the school’s Quantitative Resource Center. Schuckers is also cofounder of Statistical Sports Consulting […].

There are numbers, however, that Schuckers and some of his peers in analytics do not like. They are 34, 4, and 13.5 million: Rob Scuderi’s age, the number of contract years he received from the Penguins July 5, and his total salary for returning to Pittsburgh.

Of all the signings during unrestricted free agency, the former Boston College defenseman may have landed the biggest head-scratcher.

“That’s the one that sticks out to me this year,” Schuckers said. “Pittsburgh is supposed to be a team that’s fairly analytic. All the analytics I’ve seen suggest he’s well past his prime.”

According to Schuckers, free agency provides arguably the most efficient window in the application of analytics. Studying statistics [of prospects] is not reliable in determining […] how he projects as a professional. The standard of stats-gathering in junior, college, and high school hockey is not uniform.

But when an NHL player reaches UFA status, numbers [are more accurate]. In Scuderi’s case, the Penguins had eight full seasons, including four in their organization, from which to determine how much to pay the defenseman.

“At that point in someone’s career, you know a good bit about them and how they play in the NHL,” Schuckers said. […]

The gold standard is Corsi. A player’s Corsi rating is determined by totaling a team’s shot attempts per game (shots on goal, missed shots, blocked shots) taken while that player is on the ice, minus the number of opposing shot attempts.

In theory, Corsi gauges a team’s puck possession when that player is on the ice. More shots attempted means the team is controlling the puck. More shots allowed indicates the team is on defense.

Last season, Scuderi’s Corsi […] was 1.42. […] Doughty’s Corsi was 14.84. Scuderi’s 2013 rating does not project high performance in relation to his generous $3.375 million annual payday. In the final season of his contract, Scuderi will be 38 […].

Another signing that’s curious to Schuckers is the two-year, $8 million contract Daniel Briere scored from Montreal. Briere will turn 36 at the start of this season. He was bought out by Philadelphia. Briere had a minus-5.7 Corsi last season. […]

On the flip side, analytics indicate some shrewd summer signings. Among Schuckers’s approvals are Clarke MacArthur (Ottawa, $6.5 million for two years, minus-3.93 Corsi) and Viktor Stalberg (Nashville, $12 million for four years, 10.7 Corsi).



  6 comments for “Did the Pens pay too much for The Piece?

  1. JZarris
    August 19, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    [sarcasm] You know why Pittsburgh paid up for Scuderi? Grit. Pure, unadulterated, gritty type grit. The only grit a guy named Schuckers knows about is when he’s forced to use single-ply at the yoga studio.[sarcasm]

  2. Steve S.
    August 20, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Well the real question is how much Scuds has in the tank. How well will he perform during the next 4 years? If he is on a downward trajectory, how steep is it? Having asked that, I think this is not a good deal for Pittsburgh given that the term is into his late 30’s and the money paid. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy and his performance was critical for our Cup. But I doubt Dean was willing to pay this much for that long, even if cap constraints weren’t an issue.

    I certainly don’t look at Scuds with disdain, this was a great deal for him that he probably would not get anywhere else. I wish him well. But Dean has to find away to replace this “piece” which will not be easy.

  3. USHA#17
    August 21, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Scuderi seemed to exhibit a bit of inconsistency not seen in years prior. The shortened season made it hard to say if this was a trend or just different pairings. My view from the stands is that four years was two years too many.

    With Scuderi’s departure and Mitchell in the wind its frightening to think that Ellerby and Reghr will now patrol the blue line. Plus, Doughty took quite a playoff pounding because of Ellerby’s indecision and Reghr’s plodding style. LA may be in for a tough season unless Lombardi manages to find a hat with a couple of rabbits in it.

    Scuderi was a difference maker. Good for Rob, he earned it.

    • August 22, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      I agree: More power to Scuds that he got that kind of a deal, but I think the Pens will begin to regret it after the first two years. They’ll just have to shrug and reckon that it was the price that they paid to have him for the first two years. And given that they’re in “win now” mode, they may be cool with that.

      • USHA#17
        August 22, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        I think you hit the nail on the head. A bring him back and do it again mentality. Sure worked for LA. /s

        In singing his phrase he was amazing when he pulled his game together in that last St Louis series. It made all the difference. Bet Steward finally exhaled when he first learned of the signing.

  4. ToughD
    August 23, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Amazing how the Scuds’ lovers can ignore the bulk of the article and concentrate on the few words about intangibles.

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