#Fancystats: Looking into keeping Fast over Miller

October 6, 2013, by
Photo credit: Mike Stobe

Photo credit: Mike Stobe

The Ranger world was a tad shocked yesterday when the Rangers announced they were sending J.T. Miller to the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack. Many, myself included, thought that Jesper Fast would be returned to Hartford. One of the main reasons why Miller was sent to Hartford was to get him some solid ice time. Miller needs powerplay and penalty kill minutes, and he will not be able to get that in New York. He will get top-six minutes and prime special teams. However based on the first game’s stats, there are other reasons to support this move.

Based on the stats from Extra Skater, which is a great resource if you haven’t used them yet, Fast was actually the vastly superior player in the game against Phoenix on Thursday. It is something that should be taken with a grain of salt because we are victims of small sample size, but Fast had much better puck possession stats and zone starts. Fast started the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone, with zero offensive zone starts, and still managed to out-Corsi Miller.

To put numbers to this, Miller started 16.7% of his shifts in the offensive zone, 16.7% of his shifts in the neutral zone, and 66.7% of his shifts in the defensive zone. Compared to Fast, who started 0% of his shifts in the offensive zone, 40% in the neutral zone, and 60% in the defensive zone. When you look at the CF% numbers for the game, Miller had a 31.3% CF%, while Fast had a whopping 61.5% CF%.

While the zone starts may not seem like much of a difference, the big thing to notice is that Fast did not start a single shift in the offensive zone. Despite this, Fast still drove puck possession in an impressive matter. It’s rare when you see a player that can drive possession to a 60% rate without starting a shift in the offensive zone.

Meanwhile Miller, who started a good number of shifts in the offensive zone, was in the negatives (the deep negatives) in CF%. It’s something that we noted as an issue last season, when Miller was one of the worst on the team in driving puck possession. We blamed that on sample size, and still do. Miller has played less than 30 games at the NHL level and can’t even legally buy a drink, he still has a lot of learning to do.

Let’s focus on the positives here: Despite Miller’s struggles, Fast has shown he can handle the defensive responsibilities and still drive puck possession. It is why we here love Carl Hagelin so much. It is rare when you can find a player that starts the majority of shifts in the defensive zone and still manages a positive CF%.

The moral of the story?

Based solely on one game Corsi and zone starts, Fast has been the better player and deserves to stay up with the Rangers. I have to admit, I did not do specific research prior to the demotion. Upon news of the demotion, I was surprised. After doing the research, I am not. Miller needs the minutes. Fast seems to have, at least in the short term, adapted well to the NHL game. If he continues to play at this level (with the Corsi rating relative to zone starts), it will be tough to cut the kid.

Categories : Analysis


  1. ranger17 says:

    What were Boyle and Pyatt stats

    • Mikeyyy says:

      Check the URL. Much better than miller.

    • Ben says:

      A stat that sheds some light on the this is Average Relative Corsi of Teammates.

      Fast is 1st on the team with a Corsi Rel QoT of 14.438, taking 77.6% of his shifts with Boyle and 76.2% with Pyatt.

      Miller is last on the team with a Corsi Rel Qot of -9.750, taking 78.7% of his shifts with Dominic Moore and 76.4% with Dorsett.

      Still, its too small of a sample to make any real conclusions

  2. Bloomer says:

    Well to begin with I don’t want to see either Fast or Miller sent down. I had an opportunity to watch them both play when the Rangers were in Vancouver and they both impressed me. Miller made some great offensive plays and like your stats display: Fast was very good defensively. Miller plays with more of an edge which is needed on the club and to his credit Fast did finish his check when he had an opportunity.

    The downside with stats is they don’t account for the opposition one is playing against. If your line is matched up against the others team’s most talented line, the numbers won’t be as impressive then if you are up against a line of plumbers.

    Getting sent to Hartford isn’t the end of the world for a young hockey player, but to take the next step in development, a player has to learn to compete with top end talent. The only way to get that exposure is in playing with NHL talent.

    AV appears to be giving the veterans an opportunity to show what they can do. His team is very capable of playing much better hockey then they displayed in the pre-season and season opener. If they underachieve, I hope he doesn’t hesitate in bringing in players up from the farm.

  3. Ray says:

    Nice post. I for one was shocked to see Miller make the opening day roster. He was clearly the worst Ranger skater last year and I wasn’t expecting him to be NHL-ready until next fall at the earliest. Two good preseason games are not compelling evidence – we know he is capable of an occasional good game.

    JT Miller is very young and talented and a player to be excited about. But you can’t grade him on a curve, as most here do. The beat writers I read saw the Miller Thursday that the stats did.

    These stats say Pyatt was the top Ranger forward! And he killed penalties (as did Fast).

    • Chris F says:

      Miller was the worst Rangers skatet last year?

      • Ray says:

        I thought so. Now i didn’t think that title should go to someone who played only a handful of games, so I’m not really comparing him to people like Thomas and Mashinter.

  4. Ren says:

    Off topic.

    I just saw on NHL.com that Selanne’s is getting ready for his last visit to Winnipeg. How is it that 2 teams in the same conference only meet three times? I feel like that it is really low.

    • Dave says:

      This new schedule has some kinks. Division opponents meet 4 times, conference 3 times, everyone else twice I think.

  5. AD says:

    Miller played a total of 3 games: 2 pre-season, 1 regular season. He played well enough during preseason to make the team and was apparently quiet/ineffective vs PHO, so I’ve read.

    Where is the benefit to Miller or the team to keep him with the team and then demote him after one game playing on the 4th line which, by the way, under Tortorella, we never saw a rookie play 4th line minutes.

    You can’t say it was a hole filled before Callahan returned because AV referenced Fast being right-handed when talking about how that was good while Callahan was out.

    Over time, fans will begin to recognize AV is not a coach, nor does he have history as one, who is good developing young players.

    One just needs to examine, as another example, the decision to retain Pyatt over Kreider. Are you kidding me? Kreider on the 3rd line is exactly where he should be.

    Sather has had several critical decisions since the playoffs exit: a) fire or retain Tortorella; b) what type of coach to replace him with, if fired; and c) buyout or retain Richards.

    He made important mistakes on each of these critical decisions. The price we fans will pay is under Sather and the player leadership of Hank and Cally, we wil never see the Stanley Cup — Sather made poor decisions when GMs are supposed to step up and advance the team toward the cup.

    • Spozo says:

      What hockey game did you watch this year that proves Kreider has a place on an NHL roster?

      • AD says:

        I’ve seen enough of both Krieder and Pyatt to know it is an easy decision as to which one should be playing on the 3rd line.

        I might ask: which games did you see Pyatt play to deserve a role over rookies we have a long-term interest in?

        • Spozo says:

          Well I never said Pyattt deserved anything. The only issue that I addressed was the fact that Kreider looked completely lost during last season/this preseason.

          Since when does a player not deserving a spot on the roster elevate how another player has performed? Just because you feel Pyatt shouldn’t be on the team does not change the fact that Kreider, despite being given every possible opportunity, does not deserve to be on an NHL roster.

          You didn’t answer my question, merely deflected it. And I still want to know when Kreider earned a roster spot in your opinion.

          Was it when he was gifted a spot last season? Or when he looked completely ineffective when he was gifted a chance to play alongside Rick Nash all preseason?

  6. Mikeyyy says:

    Didn’t someone say that av is into advanced metrics?

    I wonder if he is compiling extra stuff and see something we don’t. At least he will be consistent and we will know who is moving based on the metrics.

    • Dave says:

      I don’t think one game of metrics will sway him (small sample size), but he did say he uses them. Miller struggled last year with puck possession as well.

  7. Bloomer says:

    Double thumbs up to AD!!!. If this season is a flop for the Rangers, Sather’s head must roll.

  8. jerry says:

    dave .i think that we could easily replace boyle and pyatt with any number of rookies.they are taking up roster space and cap space in my opinion.

    • Dave says:

      Your opinion is a popular one. While I am not a big fan of Pyatt, I’m willing to give him more than 1 game under a new coach (one that he played well under before) until I pass judgment.

      As for Boyle, you need players like him to win games. He’s going to be AV’s Manny Malholtra.

  9. Dave says:

    I think I can respond to a lot of people with this:

    Stats don’t lie, they just don’t agree with you.

    • AD says:


      An actuary friend of mine once conveyed this to me about statistics:

      why would a person, unable to swim, ask to be placed in the middle of the lake, where it is 10 feet deep, and not the edge where it is just 6 inches deep? The answer is that person was told the lake had an average depth of just 2 feet and thought it was safe.

      AV can have his advanced metrics and statistics; I don’t think it got him much with Canucks’ teams that had a lot more talent than the Rangers have had in recent years.

      • Dave says:

        It got him to the Cup Finals and a Roberto Luongo away from a Cup.

        • AD says:

          And exactly which players on the Rangers can match the years and playoff/Stanley Cup performance, the Sedin twins and Kessler had that year?

          This Rangers team was built for Tortorella; bringing in AV because some players moaned about what a hard coach he was to play for, was just silly. AV will never replicate what he accomplished on Vancouver and, frankly, given the talent he had, he underperformed.

    • Evan M says:

      Are we all really arguing with stats from one game? Based on that game, Lundqvist is over the hill. I could use the stats from the last game to argue this, but it’s clearly nonsense.

      Someone had to go down. While I don’t agree with it being Miller, it makes sense to get him top minutes. I think this is a case of people reading too much into something with three days off between games.

      • Dave says:

        My post is just looking at Fast vs. Miller. It makes sense to keep Fast, who looks more comfortable.

        As for Pyatt and Boyle, well that’s a story for another day.

  10. Walt says:

    Stat’s give a false impression, even if they don’t lie!

    Miller should be up, given a choice between the diesel truck named Pyatt, or Miller. Secondly, how is one to learn but by making mistakes, and at that, Miller hasn’t been guilty of too many mistakes.

    The kid plays with an edge, VS going through the motions like Pyatt does. He can skate, Pyatt can’t. He can score, Pyatt can’t. He is a two way player, Pyatt?????

    Do you see a pattern developing here? Give the kid, or kids a break. Trade off the junk like Pyatt, and go from there. Look, I’m not calling for AV, Slats, or anyones head, but how long does it take to figure out Pyatt sucks?????

    He can get us at least 125th round draft pick don’t you think?

  11. AD says:

    Both Miller and Kreider apparently had very strong games last night in Hartford.

    Let’s hope they force the coach’s hand by playing so well they cannot be ignored.

  12. Bloomer says:

    Figures Don’t Lie, But Liars Do Figure, JT Miller with a goal and an assist after his first with the Wolfpack. Quantify that Dave 🙂

  13. Bloomer says:

    Miller with 2 goals and an assist in his Wolfpack debut so far. We surrrrre could use a player like Miller on our team…lol

    • Mikeyyy says:

      Stats here. 0. He should stay in the a and keep doing that.

      They aren’t ready despite everyone’s high iq for hockey here.

      I’ll trust av more than an armchair gm.

      • AD says:

        Alot of fans trusted Renney too; or Sather; and they were left witha a mediocore product on the ice.

        In Torts I Trust.

      • Dave says:

        Well said Mikeyyy. Let him gain confidence and consistency there playing top minutes.