examining admirals time on ice leaders

This entry deals with a few more advanced statistics developed by Josh Weissbock. Unlike the Zack Stortini piece, this will focus on all the players and use an easier-to-understand statistic.  The post will focus on Time On Ice, which is tracked but not released by the AHL. 

In my last post, I dispelled the notion that Zack Stortini was in any way “defensively responsible“.  I had alluded to the fact that he played “5 minutes a game”. I was wrong about that.


Admirals TOI leaders March 17


Source: Josh Weissbock. Clicking makes the image bigger. 

Stortini actually plays an estimated 7.74 minutes a game, which is good for third worst among regular players.  Combined with the other data, Zack Stortini is simply brutal on the ice for about eight minutes a game.  Stortini isn’t the only problem, of course.  Rookie Joseph Cramarossa, who I also have problems with, has limited TOI and the poorest defensive numbers amongst all players. I really think he could use some more time in Utah. I’ll admit this: the TOI numbers aren’t segmented amongst Penalty Kill, Power Play, and Even Strength numbers. Still, with time like this, you don’t expect the players to be completely utilized in those roles as much.

your leaders are emerson etem and jesse blacker?

When I first saw the chart, I was surprised as you may have been. I fully expected the top player to be a defender like Garnet Exelby. Instead, the top TOI guy (again, this is an estimate) is Emerson Etem, a forward. While I think the numbers might be somewhat skewed, he does play all three phases. He is on the power play, on the penalty kill, and of course plays 5v5. When you take that into account, it does make sense.  The theme is also common in the NHL, where top offensive players are on ice for about 20 minutes of a team’s game. They never eclipse defenseman. In fact, the leading forward in TOI, Ryan Kesler, is 52nd amongst all players in that category. 

As this is an estimate, the number generated is most likely off by some measure. Still, it is reasonable that the team’s arguably top offensive player would be a leader in TOI.  Defensively, the Admirals are lead by trade acquisition Jesse Blacker. Again, he’s got higher ice time than players like Exelby and Yonkman thanks to playing all three phases. While I’ve seen Exelby on the power play, Blacker is definitely the top PP quarterback when Sami Vatanen isn’t in town.  Blacker’s offensive numbers with Norfolk are decent with 21 points in in 36 games, despite going through a bit of a rough patch.  That patch is one point in his last eleven games, which isn’t particularly strong. What’s a bit disappointing is his defense 5v5.  Blacker has the worst goal differential (see last post), only better than Steve Eminger. A bit of that can be contributed to his TOI and possibly deployment. Unfortunately, we lack a lot of context for that.


more forwards than defense

Another part of this time of ice chart that’s interesting is the gap between Jesse Blacker and the next closest  regular defenseman, captain Garnet Exelby. In between the two are regular defensemen are forwards Rickard Rakell and Devante Smith-Pelly, who regularly play with Emerson Etem.  While you’d expect that to be a top line, it’s strange that they would have more ice time than a defenseman. Than again, they play a lot more time on the power play than Exelby does. In one of the funny things about this chart, it includes former defenseman Alex Grant.  He would be the second defenseman, clocking in at 23.16 minutes a game. Grant, like Blacker, played all three phases of the game. Unlike Blacker, Grant was decent defensively.  While Andre Petersson has been decent in a small sample, the loss of Grant on a thin blue-line continues to stick out.

defensive specialists on offense aka the faceoff kings 

Chris Wagner and Dave Steckel have made a name for themselves as strong 2-way players. Steckel has established himself by his play in the NHL, while Wagner has endeared himself with fans on the Admirals. Both have been called on by Trent Yawney in defensive zone situations. With this knowledge, you would expect their defense to suffer a bit. It does 5v5 given their deployment. How much are they used? According to the estimates it’s 17.47 minutes for Steckel with 14.29 minutes per game for Wagner. I am not surprised by this. When Rickard Rakell has been out due to injury or recall, Yawney has been particularly reliant on those two. Personally, I think Charlie Sarault should be put in the top line when Rakell is out. The hell do I know, though? Still, these two play a decent amount of time and are on the penalty kill. It makes sense that they’d have the numbers they do.

okay tell me some 4th line analysis dude

Okay who are you and why are you insistent on the fourth line?  The truth of the matter is that the “fourth line” has been changing throughout the season. During a somewhat successful run, Yawney was employing a “Grind Line” of Norm Ezekiel, John Kurtz, and Antoine Laganiere. Then as of late, he was running Kurtz with Sauve and Stortini. It was a weird time for all.  Generally, the fourth liners don’t eclipse 10 minutes a game. The highest time on ice belongs to Max Sauve at 10.88 time on ice. I would not be surprised if this was skewed somewhat by the beginning of the year, when Sauve was centering a line with Max Friberg on it. His time has declined lately, even so much as being scratched. John Kurtz? The fan favorite is good for 9.84 minutes a game, just short of 10.41 minutes a game for rookie Antoine Laganiere.  It’s a weird situation for Laganiere, as he’s been moved up and down throughout the lineup, even getting scratched on Sunday’s game against Hershey.  Norm, who’s known for his big hits and bigger attitude, manages a 7.70 minutes per game of ice time.


Even though we only have an estimate to work off of, we can make some educated guesses. Since the AHL does not provide more context, actual viewing of games is necessary to make some conclusions. The truth is that some players are utilized at a higher rate than others because of their talent. While the data is not perfect (this is the AHL’s fault, not Josh’s), it does provide a better understanding of the play on the ice.


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Beneath The Scope

Beneath the Scope is a blog that covers the ECHL's Norfolk Admirals. Compete level has never been higher.

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