Back in mid-March the five finalists for the 2014 Mike Richter Award were announced. Those finalists are, in no particular order, Minnesota's Adam Wilcox, Wisconsin's Joel Rumpel, Denver's Sam Brittain, Mass-Lowell's Connor Hellebuyck, and Northeastern's Clay Witt. But who, statistically speaking, should win the inaugural award?
My way of looking at netminding is a fairly simple method I employed back in January. I cast aside the traditional Goals Against Average which has it's limitations. What I prefer is a Goals Saved Above Average metric. What GSAA does is subtract a goalies save percentage from the average of the league (or all of Division 1 in this case) and multiply that by the number of shots that goalie faced.
For instance, Adam Wilcox has as 0.934 save percentage this year and the national average is 0.911. Wilcox has faced 1,026 shots while in net for the Gophers. To get his GSAA, it's simply this:
(0.934 - 0.911) * 1026 = 23.6
The Gophers sophomore backstop has saved Minnesota over 23 goals over an average netminder.
Here's how the five finalists for the Richter Award stack up against one another.
|Player||Team||Class||Conf||TIME %||SHA||SAVE %||GSAA||Rk||Tm SF%||Tm SF% Rk|
|Connor Hellebuyck (WPG)||UMass Lowell||SO||HE||0.701||885||0.941||26.5||1||0.528||19|
|Adam Wilcox (TBL)||Minnesota||SO||B1G||0.911||1026||0.934||23.6||2||0.561||3|
|Sam Brittain (FLA)||Denver||SR||NCHC||0.913||1217||0.929||21.9||4||0.479||42|
Note: Time% is the percentage of a team's minutes the goalie played. GSAA is Goals Saved Above Average. Tm SF% is my shots-for percentage, which is adjusted for schedule. It's a proxy for puck possession and is just the teams shots on goal divided by the sum of all the shots in a teams games [so shots on goal / (SOG+shots allowed)]. Tm SF% Rk is the teams ranking in my puck possession proxy.
I included the puck possession proxy to help provide context. Northeastern relied on Clay Witt as much as any other netminder this season. Northeastern allowed the eighth most shots on goal per game this year, surrendering 34.6 per game. That, coupled with the fact that the Huskies were being out shot on most nights and the junior backstop was asked to do a lot for his squad.
Still, that impressive performance wasn't enough to overcome Connor Hellebuyck's fantastic season. He only played in about 70 percent of his teams minutes, a good deal less than the other goalies up for the award, but still saved more goals above average than the rest of the finalists. That's due to his incredible 0.941 save percentage.
We can illustrate the workload a bit differently and look at what each goalie would save on a nightly basis, given the number of shots per game their teams surrendered.
|Player||Team||Class||Conf||TIME %||SHA||SAVE %||SH/GP||GSAA/G|
|Connor Hellebuyck (WPG)||UMass Lowell||SO||HE||0.701||885||0.941||30.0||0.90|
|Adam Wilcox (TBL)||Minnesota||SO||B1G||0.911||1026||0.934||28.7||0.66|
|Sam Brittain (FLA)||Denver||SR||NCHC||0.913||1217||0.929||31.9||0.57|
Here, we see Hellebuyck still sits atop the rankings, saving Lowell about 0.9 goals per night above an average netminder. Where we see the difference, however, is with Witt and Wilcox. The two were nearly identical over the full season in GSAA, but when put into context of a nightly basis, Witt was saving a fair amount of goals more than Wilcox. This is due to the fact that Northeastern allowed about six shots more per contest than Minnesota. It's easy to surmise, then, that Witt was likely facing tougher situations every night given the quality of the team in front of him and the workload faced.
What makes the award so great is you can make a case for all five goalies, though I think Hellebuyck, Wilcox and Witt are the ones with the most merit depending on your outlook. There's an overall production guy (Hellebuyck), a guy with great production who played on a great team (Wilcox) and a guy for great production while facing a large workload (Witt). That says nothing of the stellar seasons -- and careers, really -- of Sam Brittain and Joel Rumpel.
If I had a ballot, I'd go:
- Connor Hellebuyck
- Clay Witt
- Adam Wilcox
- Joel Rumpel
- Sam Brittain
The Rest of the NCAA
If we open our scope up to all goalies in division one, we get, well, pretty much the same. Hellebuyck, Wilcox and Witt are largely in the top five no matter how you slice up the data. But, here's the top 25 goalies in the NCAA, per goals saved above average.
|Rank||Player||Team||Class||Conf||Yr||TIME %||SHA||SAVE %||GSAA|
|1||Connor Hellebuyck (WPG)||UMass Lowell||SO||HE||2014||0.701||885||0.941||26.5|
|2||Adam Wilcox (TBL)||Minnesota||SO||B1G||2014||0.911||1026||0.934||23.6|
|4||Sam Brittain (FLA)||Denver||SR||NCHC||2014||0.913||1217||0.929||21.9|
|5||Jon Gillies (CGY)||Providence||SO||HE||2014||0.855||1052||0.931||21.0|
|6||C.J. Motte||Ferris State||JR||WCHA||2014||0.918||1221||0.928||20.7|
|11||Martin Ouellette (CLB)||Maine||SR||HE||2014||0.926||1001||0.925||14.0|
|12||Zach Nagelvoort (94)||Michigan||FR||B1G||2014||0.653||736||0.929||13.2|
|13||Zane Gothberg (BOS)||North Dakota||SO||NCHC||2014||0.747||836||0.926||12.5|
|14||Jake Hildebrand||Michigan State||SO||B1G||2014||0.858||1006||0.923||12.0|
|15||Cole Huggins||Minnesota State||FR||WCHA||2014||0.754||801||0.926||12.0|
|16||Steven Summerhays||Notre Dame||SR||HE||2014||0.920||988||0.923||11.8|
|17||Kevin Kapalka||Lake Superior State||SR||WCHA||2014||0.543||697||0.927||11.1|
|18||Casey DeSmith||New Hampshire||JR||HE||2014||0.868||1070||0.920||9.6|
|20||Christian Frey||Ohio State||FR||B1G||2014||0.420||507||0.929||9.1|
|22||Lukas Hafner||Western Michigan||SO||NCHC||2014||0.430||483||0.925||6.8|
|24||Matt O'Connor||Boston University||SO||HE||2014||0.578||737||0.920||6.6|
The goaltending was strong in Hockey East this year with four goalies from the conference placing in the top 15 and eight in the top 25. Christian Frey and Lukas Hafner are particularly impressive for showing up on this top 25 given that it isn't a rate statistic, meaning this list is geared towards guys who've faced larger workloads. On a per-night basis, here's the top 25:
|Rank||Player||Team||Class||Conf||Yr||TIME %||SHA/G||SAVE %||GSAA||SHA/G|
|1||Connor Hellebuyck (WPG)||Mass.-Lowell||SO||HE||2014||0.701||30.0||0.941||0.90||30.05|
|4||Adam Wilcox (TBL)||Minnesota||SO||B1G||2014||0.911||28.7||0.932||0.66||28.67|
|5||Jon Gillies (CGY)||Providence||SO||HE||2014||0.855||30.5||0.931||0.61||30.51|
|6||Zach Nagelvoort (94)||Michigan||FR||B1G||2014||0.653||32.8||0.928||0.59||32.83|
|8||Sam Brittain (FLA)||Denver||SR||NCHC||2014||0.913||31.9||0.934||0.57||31.90|
|9||Christian Frey||Ohio State||FR||B1G||2014||0.420||31.2||0.923||0.56||31.19|
|11||Kevin Kapalka||Lake Superior||SR||WCHA||2014||0.543||33.2||0.925||0.53||33.18|
|12||C.J. Motte||Ferris State||JR||WCHA||2014||0.918||30.7||0.929||0.52||30.72|
|13||Zane Gothberg (BOS)||North Dakota||SO||NCHC||2014||0.747||29.0||0.926||0.43||28.98|
|14||Martin Ouellette (CLB)||Maine||SR||HE||2014||0.926||30.3||0.929||0.42||30.31|
|16||Lukas Hafner||Western Michigan||SO||NCHC||2014||0.430||29.3||0.920||0.41||29.33|
|18||Jake Hildebrand||Michigan State||SO||B1G||2014||0.858||32.3||0.925||0.39||32.33|
|21||Cole Huggins||Minnesota State||FR||WCHA||2014||0.754||25.3||0.924||0.38||25.29|
|22||Matt O'Connor||Boston University||SO||HE||2014||0.578||36.3||0.920||0.33||36.31|
|23||Steven Summerhays||Notre Dame||SR||HE||2014||0.920||26.3||0.925||0.31||26.28|
|24||Casey DeSmith||New Hampshire||JR||HE||2014||0.868||29.4||0.923||0.26||29.39|
Here, instead of using a goalies overall shots faced, I used what they faced on a per-game level. Christian Frey moves from 20th in the previous table to ninth. On a per-night basis, Frey was bringing great netminding to the Buckeyes, on par with Sam Brittain and Union's Colin Stevens. And a special tap of the stick to Mercyhurst's Jimmy Sarjeant who stopped pucks at a 0.932 clip and faced over 38 shots a game. Well done, sir.