For a couple of years now, micro statistics have allowed NHL fans access to new knowledge beyond the common boxscore. The understanding of the game now goes far beyond points or even more advanced metrics like Corsi.
For those who don’t know, micro statistics are records of all events involved in the progression from a defensive possession to an offensive shot attempt. This may sound quite complicated but trust me, it’s not as crazy as it sounds.
For example, some common micro statistics include zone exits, zone entries and shot assists.
Some basic information that is necessary to understand these fancy stats is that carrying the puck in the offensive zone is almost twice as likely to create scoring opportunities than dumping the puck, and about a quarter of all goals come from failed zone exits.
These micro statistics have been revolutionary to player analysis in the National Hockey League and have been adopted by every NHL team in one way or another.
However, the draft portion of player analysis through micro statistics has been severally underdeveloped.
The first major steps have been made by analytics expert and writer for the Athletic, Mitch Brown, in his CHL data tracking project. This was the first data tracking project aimed at the NHL draft while the project brought some much needed insight and attention to some of the best prospects in the CHL. Although these statistics were an excellent and much needed boost to draft analytics, there is still so far to go in developing micro statistics for an NHL draft purpose.
I personally have also tinkered around with NHL draft data tracking, following along with six defensemen in this year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament. The findings from these studies can be found as displayed below.
One hurdle to overcome in evaluating these draft eligible players is the differing league quality. To compensate for this, micro statistics will definitely need to adopt a similar league translator to NHLe. However, the biggest problem with micro tracking the NHL draft is the lack of both accessibility to games and motivated people. These two problems make junior hockey’s micro statistics very scarce and unusable outside of the CHL.
I am going to make an effort myself to micro track European prospects, more specifically defensemen, when I can this year. Top prospects such as Anttoni Honka, Phillip Broberg, Tobias Bjonfort and many others will all be on my radar for the entirety of the season.
While it is going to be next to impossible to watch and live track every game for these prospects, I aim to watch as many games as possible to make the data as accurate as possible.
I am also going to try to make the data more appealing to the eye and add more visualization for the purpose of those less familiar with analytics to understand.
It is my hope that through this experiment in micro statistics at the draft level that I will be able to extend knowledge of draft eligible players through the objective eyes of analytics.