In case you haven’t heard, Hockey Abstract 2017 is out and now available! Rob Vollman, one of the game’s premiere analysts, once again goes above and beyond with his latest work that is an essential read for any hockey fan. And while statistics are a very important part of the book, Rob keeps everything simple and easy to understand. I’ve already got my copy and, after reading almost all of the 200+ pages, here are my favorite parts of the book (without giving away too much information).
One of my favorite aspects of the book, Rob gives a detailed review of every NHL team and his assessment on their roster and upcoming season. Utilizing his player usage charts, Rob’s insightful thoughts on each team are a very enjoyable read and provide a great overview for what the NHL landscape will look like by the beginning of next year. Every aspect of each team is gone over in detail, with special attention given to categories such as a team’s power play, penalty kill, scoring line, defensive depth and more. At around two pages per team, each summary is packed with information but straight to the point.
Determining the Best Goalie
Written by Rob himself, I thought one of the most interesting parts of the latest Hockey Abstract edition was the review of all the latest metrics used to evaluate goaltenders. Too many believe there aren’t good stats available to judge goalies or, even worse, rely on outdated and unreliable metrics to defend their views. While I’m sure the people interested in Hockey Abstract know that wins and goals against average aren’t good indicators of a goaltenders true talent, Rob goes into immense detail about the different kinds of goaltending metrics available and what purpose they serve. With updated stats and in-depth explanations on how the founding ideas behind these stats were conceived, I thought this was one of the best articles within the book. I was even surprised to hear about multiple measures that I didn’t even know about, with Rob going over interesting statistics developed back in the early 2000s.
Analyzing Power Plays
I’ve done a lot of my own work analyzing power plays so I was very excited to dive into a whole section devoted to recent developments made in looking at power plays. Written by Matt Cane (one of the best power play experts out there), his piece on power plays breaks down what exactly a power play should be accomplishing and what’s the best way to measure it, with interesting analysis on playing with four forwards, the importance of structure, and much more. With over 25 pages devoted to breaking down team play with the man advantage and the many different things that go into creating a successful unit, it’s a must read for those interested in special teams.
Updates to Previous Edition’s Questions
While some of the answers to these questions are a little obvious (would anybody other than Connor McDavid be the best passer in the NHL), there are plenty of other questions that need to be revised and given another look at. For instance, who is the best at drawing penalties? There are some surprising answers and for each question, even with the obvious ones, insightful statistics are used to back up the argument and make for an interesting read.
And while these were just a few of my favorite parts of Hockey Abstract, this just scratches the surface of all the information and interesting articles available in the book. I highly recommend it to any hockey fan as it’s worth the investment. Go get it today.