DTM About Heart (@DTMAboutHeart) recently gifted the hockey community access to his Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, statistic. The idea behind WAR is to combine all the factors that go into analyzing players into one convenient number. No WAR number is perfect, but it can be a very good place to begin when analyzing players.
DTM’s WAR model consists of six major components, even-strength offence, even-strength defense, power play offense, drawing penalties, taking penalties and faceoffs. All these aspects are combined together and assigned a given value based on how much they contribute to a team winning games.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll be ranking current Arizona Coyotes players using DTM’s statistic. All skaters on the roster with at least one year of NHL experience are included in the list, rookies however are excluded.
I’ll be using 3 year WAR/60 to rank the players, in other words, how many wins a player contributes over a replacement level player for every 60 minutes they are on the ice. A replacement level player is defined as a player who can be easily acquired at any point throughout a season. For reference, Toronto Maple Leaf Matt Martin is very close to what is defined as “replacement level” player.
1. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
It comes as no surprise that OEL has been the Coyotes top player over the last three seasons. He has established himself as an elite defenseman over that period, and will likely continue to be the team's best player for another half decade before age starts to set it. OEL has contributed 0.13 wins over replacement for every hour on the ice.
2. Anthony Duclair
Duclair might come as a surprise to some as the team's second best player because it’s really easy to forget how good he is. Especially when Duke has been a healthy scratch already this season. He hasn’t been as good this season as he was last season, however he’s still been a solid driver of possession, which is where he becomes valuable. The sample size for Duclair (1 season) is smaller than what I was able to use for Ekman-Larsson (3 seasons), so we don’t know for sure if this is the ‘real’ Anthony Duclair, but what we have seen has been impressive. Duclair has contributed 0.127 wins above replacement every hour.
3. Max Domi
Domi is not far behind Duclair, and is without a doubt the better offensive player. Duclair has the edge on defense, but it is a gap that Domi could easily close with some more NHL experience and by being more responsible in his own end. Nevertheless they are both outstanding young players who should be given every opportunity to succeed. Domi has contributed 0.122 wins above replacement every hour.
4. Martin Hanzal
After the first three players, we see a fairly large dropoff. While Domi, Duclair and OEL are all within 0.008 WAR/60 of each other, Martin Hanzal is almost 0.05 WAR/60 behind them. Martin Hanzal is the team's number one centre, and rightfully so, he is their best centre, but in an ideal world the Coyotes would have a 1C better than Hanzal. He is UFA after this season, and the ‘Yotes should be shopping him rather than re-signing him considering his price tag is likely more than he is worth. Hanzal has contributed 0.077 wins above replacement every hour.
5. Radim Vrbata
Cheap UFA signing Radim Vrbata has definitely a good addition to the team. He provides only slightly less value than Hanzal, for a fraction of the price tag. Vrbata is pretty old in hockey years but could fetch a nice trade deadline return. Vrbata has contributed 0.075 wins above replacement every hour.
6. Jamie McGinn
A solid middle six forward who will be forced to play top six minutes in the desert. McGinn is a pretty good player and his contract is nothing to complain about. McGinn has contributed 0.069 wins above replacement every hour. Nice.
7. Shane Doan
Doan remains a useful player into his late 30’s, and is a still one of the top six forwards for the club. This speaks to how weak the forward group this season, but is nevertheless impressive for any player of Doans age to remain a productive NHL player. Doan has contributed 0.06 wins above replacement every hour.
8. Alex Goligoski
This is a contract that will probably not be pretty down the road. Goligoski has not played well this season at all, and while he will likely regress to the Goligoski we’ve seen in Dallas recent years, it’s debatable whether he is worth the amount he got paid. He is the team's second best defenseman, but the team has one of, if not the weakest defense cores in the NHL this season. Goligoski has contributed 0.06 wins above replacement every hour.
9. Connor Murphy
I’d like to go on record and say I was against the Murphy extension the moment it was signed, but I was surprised to learn that Murphy is the third best defenseman on the team. Still, so much term for such a mediocre player is what gets teams in trouble. Murphy is very meh and gets paid to be somewhat good. Murphy has contributed 0.042 wins above replacement every hour.
10. Kevin Connauton
Frankly, if Connauton is playing above your third pair, you’re probably in trouble. Unfortunately for the Coyotes he is their 4th best defenseman (unless Chychrun continues being great). Connauton is an NHL player, but won’t wow anyone. Connauton has contributed 0.024 wins above replacement per hour.
11. Jamie McBain
McBain is currently playing is Tucson, but I included him anyways because he has spent the majority of the last few seasons in the NHL. He probably should be in the NHL as he is better than at least one Coyotes defenseman in the NHL (looking at Mr. Schenn). McBain provides almost double the amount of WAR/60 as Schenn, at 0.021 per hour.
12. Michael Stone
One of the biggest surprises on this list to me was how low Stone ranked. He has looked very good when paired with OEL, but things get ugly when you separate the two. Stone is an ideal trade candidate because of his UFA status, seemingly high trade value and low value to his team. Stone has contributed 0.019 wins above replacement every hour.
13. Jordan Martinook
Solid fourth line player. Probably shouldn’t be much higher than that on a depth chart. Martinook has contributed 0.018 wins above replacement every hour.
14. Luke Schenn
In 2 of the three seasons I looked at for this ranking, Schenn was below replacement level, but one season which appears to be an outlier makes him look like an NHL player by my criteria, which he probably isn’t. It’s not quite clear why the Coyotes signed him, maybe as expansion bait? Schenn has contributed 0.013 wins above replacement every hour.
15. Tobias Rieder
Rieder is here mostly because he had a pretty terrible rookie season, but his sophomore year was significantly better. He don’t know which Rieder is the actual Rieder yet, so he ends up low on the rankings. Rieder has contributed 0.011 wins above replacement every hour.
16. Brad Richardson
The first player on the list who is below replacement level. Richardson is not an NHL player, but he somehow always ends up on NHL teams. For what it’s worth, last season he wasn’t as bad as he has been in the past. Richardson has contributed -0.054 wins every hour. He almost cancels out any good Doan or Goligoski might do.
17. Ryan White
The worst player on the Arizona Coyotes is 4th line grinder Ryan White. Again, an example of a player who should not be in the NHL but somehow consistently ends up on NHL rosters. It would be easy to acquire a more skilled player for cheap, but instead he ends up on the team. White contributes -0.094 wins above replacement per hour.
That completes the WAR rankings of the Arizona Coyotes. I’ll be diving into more Coyotes related WAR states in the coming weeks, including how to improve the Coyotes using only remaining UFA’s. If you are interested in looking at WAR stats yourself, you can find them at dtmtheodds.com or you can read about DTM’s methadology here.