Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marian Gaborik - Arglebargle or Fooferah?

The Rangers are doing something quite astounding. This is their team at the end of the 2008 season, when they defeated the Devils in five games, only to lose to the Penguins in 5:



Not only have they undergone serious changes this off-season, but players that have come and gone since then include: Derek Morris, Nikolai Antropov, Markus Naslund, Dmitri Kalinin, Nikolai Zherdev (probably), Aaron Voros (probably), Dan Fritsche and Lauri Korpikoski.

Here is what the Rangers look like now, with Rangers who've been there for more than 14 months highlighted in Blue:




(Note: Avery doesn't count, as he left the team then returned)

It's an astounding trick, that Glen Sather has managed to turn over his roster significantly in all 4 years since the lockout, and yet in this cobbling together and breaking apart, we see no significant improvement. Let's at least look at Marian Gaborik - we really do have no idea what to expect from this new Rangers team. Let's see what Expected Goals has to say about the Slovakian wonder.

LW Marian Gaborik

Age: 27 (28 in Feb. 2010)
Contract Status: Signed through 2013-14
Cap Hit: $7.5M
Discipline: Medium-Low? (T-9th in NHL among RW in minor penalties in 2007-08)
Durability: Low (Lost 121 games to injury in last 4 seasons)
Time On Ice: Very High (5th among RW in 2008-09)

Expected Goals: 44

The question is - can we expect 44 goals out of Marian Gaborik, even assuming he plays an 82 game spread, given the offensive talent that surrounds him? Of course, Minnesota was not exactly brimming with talent either, but they did have some decent passers in Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Given that so many of the current Rangers are of a shoot-first mindset, Gaborik prominent among them, will Gaborik's style be hampered by the current Rangers makeup? We don't think so - we are willing to stand by what Expected Goals tells us. Expected Goals thinks that Gaborik's shots per game will increase to 4.23, but that his shooting percentage will decrease to 12.3%. We shall see if the shoot-first mentality among the other Rangers will decrease both his S/G and shooting percentage - this may occur if Gaborik's linemates insist on shooting the puck themselves instead of trying to set him up, and because Gaborik is no longer receiving juicy setups, his shooting percentage will decrease as well. That said, it's difficult to bet that his Expected Goals is anything less than 35 even in that scenario - Gaborik will be expected to lead the way for the 2009-10 Rangers.


  1. cool blog, triumph.

    call me skeptical of the Gaborik deal. aside from the high injury concerns you mentioned, the dude's whole game appears to be S% driven, and that's precisely the type of thing that is currently overvalued by the market.

    his possession numbers look bad over the past couple of seasons - his corsi, shots against, goals against, and faceoff locations are all pretty crappy relative to his team - and that on a defensive-minded Lemaire team too.

    i think the Rags overpaid, and this could turn out to be a brutal contract.

    the only thing i'll say is this...

    the Rags are a team that seemed to have outlierishly low shooting percentage numbers last season. probably a bit of randomness in there, but also a few guys who have had historically mediocre-to-low S%. (granted some of them, i.e. Gomez, are not on the team any more).

    point is: if any team should go after a shooting percentage specialist who might be suspect on the defensive end of things, and even overpay for him, it's the rangers. giving Gabby free reign to cherry pick and wheel around the offensive zone might actually work within the context of the rest of their strong positional, tight-checking, defensive system (with also, not to mention, very good goaltending). although, they also have a new coach now, so I'm not sure how that'll affect things.

  2. cool you're reading, sunny.

    you say,

    "the dude's whole game seems to be S% driven, and that's the type of thing overvalued by the market."

    i'm curious what you mean by this. i think i agree, but i'm not quite sure what you're saying. i think teams overlook s% at times when they shouldn't - e.g. the rangers when they handed gomez that awful contract in the first place. they see one season out of 6 where gomez scores thirty goals and think oh, it must be the devils' system holding gomez back, not the fact that gomez has terrible hands and shoots from all angles.

    i do agree that the rangers are the best place for player like gaborik and can overlook all his flaws; i'm skeptical that this contract could be 'brutal'. i'll elaborate further tomorrow - your comment gave me an idea for a post about large-market teams and UFA contracts.

  3. cool - looking forward to your post.

    I guess i just meant it in the sense that he's overrated. Teams overvalue counting numbers (i.e. goals, assists, etc.) and, particularly when those numbers are being driven by high percentages, they probably end up overpaying for them.

    You may very well be right though that it can never be a brutal contract for the Rangers because a large market team can always buy their way out of a mistake somehow. I haven't looked into the ins and outs of that too much.

    I was mostly commenting on an absolute scale. $7.5M seems too high for Gabby. Havlat at $5M per would be way more attractive to me as a GM (I had pipe dreams of Lou gettin in on that shit). And hell, going out on a limb here, if the Rags have an endless supply of money, why not stick Redden in the minors and sign Boumeester too?

  4. Agreed Sunny. They paid top dollar essentially replacing Gomez with a more skilled finisher in Gaborik. One thing I really like is he's also an underrated playmaker. Gabby has the ability to setup teammates. Will Dubinsky be his center? If so, his production could increase. The Rangers still must re-sign him.

    I like Havlat and he had a strong season in a walk year. Also performing well in postseason. But Gaborik is a better scorer and overall player as proven playing under Lemaire. It all comes down to health.

    Byers is likely to be on the 4th line Tri. I expect Voros to be sent down to save on the cap. Brodie Dupont could also get a look. I'd give the inside track to Gilroy, Sauer and Potter for the 5-6 and 7 on the blueline.

  5. I really don't understand Sather. They get rid of Gomez just so they can give out the money to Gabby. What's the logic there? They fill a hole they needed with Gabby, but is probably much less effective than he would've been with Gomez. And now they need a top line center. I know it's because of cap space, but there had to be other ways for them to get Gomez and Gabby.

    However, as a devils fan, im not complaining :D

  6. regarding gomez - gomez is a strange player, as i pointed out in my entry about the gomez trade. there's a certain type of player he meshes very well with, and those he doesn't - he's not your traditional, dish it off type of center in the adam oates/doug weight/craig janney mold. i do think gaborik and gomez would've worked well together but i don't think the rangers could've swung that financially.

    as for gaborik and the rangers - i definitely think 82 games of gaborik is more valuable than 82 games of gomez - gomez didn't mesh with anyone on the rangers' roster, he needs guys who can score off the rush and the rangers have had none. the question is whether gaborik can play 82 games.

  7. "i definitely think 82 games of gaborik is more valuable than 82 games of gomez"

    I've been sitting here pondering that comment. If I'm a GM, who would I rather have for 82 games, Gomez or Gaborik?

    Honestly, I don't know.

    Let me tell you what I do know...

    Gomez led his team in corsi last season, and was second behind only Jagr the season before. Gaborik has had terrible corsi numbers relative to teammates for both of the last two seasons. But Gomez's on-ice S% was 6.1 and 7.4 the last two seasons while Gabby's was 13.7 and 12.9.

    The stats paint the picture of two very different players: one who seems to drive possession, keeps the puck out his own end and in the other guy's end, but has difficulty putting the puck in the net; another who seems to play a lot of his ice time with the puck in his own end, does not drive possession well the other way, but converts offensive zone possessions into goals at an elite clip.

    The two things I'd be curious about as a GM is

    1) With whom will each player be playing? If you put Gomez with a good finisher, you're looking at a deadly combination. Ditto if you put Gaborik on a line with a couple very defensibly responsible forwards.

    2) How does each particular skill age? Can we expect a guy's finishing skill to diminish more quickly than a guy's ability to drive possession? Also, is one skill or the other more coachable such that the player can get better at what he's currently weak in?

  8. well 1) was the problem in new york - the rangers never quite got gomez the right players to finish his setups. and again i feel like gomez's corsi number is artificially inflated because of the number of extremely low-chance shots he takes (and the number of extremely low-chance shots the rangers seem to take in general - avery, callahan, dubinsky, etc. are all poor finishers so far in their careers but do take a lot of attempts at the net).

    2) is a very interesting question, one which i wouldn't even begin to answer. as a guess, just based on what i know about shooting percentages, i'd say that neither one ages particularly worse than the other (e.g. teemu selanne hasn't really gotten that much worse S%-wise).

    i'd be curious what the save percentage of gomez's team's goalies are - as an observation (no statistical evidence), gomez tends to possess the puck a TON, but he also gambles a lot at the opposing blueline, something which can lead to good opportunities the other way.