If you could find a book that accurately predicted the top three teams in the NHL months before the Stanley Cup is handed out, would you read it? What if that same book accurately predicted that the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils, two teams who reached the conference final and Cup final respectively, would both miss the playoffs?
Sound far-fetched? It's not. That is exactly what Hockey Prospectus 2012-13 did.
A new year means a new edition to Hockey Prospectus' annual guide to the upcoming NHL season. It's a unique opportunity to gain insight into how the 2013-14 season may play out based on advanced and traditional analytics.
Whether you're a so-called "traditionalist" when it comes to hockey stats or a full-fledged fan of advanced analytics, Hockey Prospectus 2013-14 is a must-own.
Advanced stats are carefully intertwined in each team's summary so as to not become overbearing. One could pick up this book with no knowledge of advanced hockey analytics and still understand and enjoy the analysis the number one hockey book on Amazon has to offer.
A typically complicated and convoluted system of analysis is broken down in layman's terms in the first section of the book. Concepts of GVT, VUKOTA, etc. are thoroughly explained before you get to page one. This opens the door to readers, who may be intimidated by advanced stats, to become more informed and comfortable using and seeing these metrics.
Each team preview consists of a summary (Coyotes' summary written by Philip Myrland) breaking down each team's biggest issues and risks. For the Coyotes, the risks surround goaltender Mike Smith. The combination of his inconsistent career play and age raise concerns about the six-year deal he signed in the offseason.
The first page of each team's section is embedded with an "in a Box" feature that breaks down all the necessary information from last season, while giving the VUKOTA projections for the new season. This is a great feature for those who need a quick reference for where any team stood last year and is projected to stand this season.
After finishing 18th in points last season, VUKOTA projects the Yotes to improve to 13th in points this season; signaling a return to the postseason.
More than 1,000 players have projections that look like this:
These projections include both the traditional stats (goals, assists, points) as well as the advanced metric GVT.
One issue the book does have is it's choice to list players under their teams from last season. Coyotes' fans have to search around for projections on Mike Ribeiro and Brandon Yip while digging through Alexandre Bolduc and Boyd Gordon in the Phoenix section.
Not all of the predictions in last year's edition came to fruition. Anaheim and Columbus were projected to finish near the bottom of the standings and each outperformed those projections. Projections can change with the addition and subtraction of players throughout a season.
Hockey Prospectus 2013-14 is a must-own that can be enjoyed by all hockey fans alike. Whether a passionate advanced stat fan, just learning about advanced stats or a traditionalist who prefers the conventional ways of evaluating players, Hockey Prospectus 2013-14 should be within arm's reach throughout the season.
Disclaimer: Five for Howling was provided a reviewer copy of the PDF edition by the editor.