Who’s Hot in the NHL

We’re a month and a half into the NHL’s five month season, and leaders are beginning to emerge.

At the time of writing, this year’s three top teams are the Montréal Canadiens (13-2), the Dallas Stars (13-4), and the New York Rangers (12-2). Two of these are not terribly surprising. The Canadiens, with 24 Stanley Cup championships, are the most successful franchise in the league. And though their last championship was in 1993, they have in recent years been one of the most-winning teams, regularly finishing well in the play-offs. And the Rangers finished last season with the highest win-loss record. But the Stars’ inclusion in this top three is more interesting. In the last five years they’ve qualified for the play-offs only once, and had only decent winning records. The next months will tell whether they’ll keep this impressive position.

This seasons’ top offensive players are Patrick Kane, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn. Kane, of the Chicago Blackhawks, has scored 25 points in 11 games. Seguin and Benn, both of the Dallas Stars, respectively boast 25 and 22 points in 17 games.

But total points is not the only measurement of a player’s success – certainly not of Kane’s, who leads the league in more ways than one. Not only does he have the most points, but also the most goals (11) and the best Plus-Minus (+12). He even has the 3rd most assists, giving him a high ranking in all four of the offensive statistical categories. He is clearly the hottest offensive player on the ice. And yet, his team is currently 13th of 30 in the league, with a record of 8-7. Clearly it takes more than one player to make a team. The Canadiens seem to have taken this lesson to heart: thought they lead the league as a team, none of them lead any categories as individuals.

Reto Berra of the Colorado Avalanche is the defensive parallel of the offensive Kane. Berra leads the league in defense in several ways.  He has the lowest goals against average at 1.58, and the highest save percentage at .948. And his two shutouts have tied him for 2nd most shutouts. And yet, his team is not doing well– the Avalanche is currently 24th in the league, with a record of 6-9.

But this year’s most interesting statistic has nothing to do with win-loss records. For the first time in 98 years of hockey, the majority of NHL players are not Canadian. Canadians have dropped to a scarce 49.7% of all players. Whether this is due to less Canadians or to more Americans, Russians, and Swedes, we’re not sure. That’s a question for the real statisticians.

Comments are closed.