How Lee Stempniak will affect his teammates

Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

When the Rangers signed Lee Stempniak to a one-year deal worth $900,000, many applauded Glen Sather. He found another low-risk, high-reward player that could potentially replace Benoit Pouliot on the third line. In all honesty, they are pretty identical players from a #fancystats point of view. But of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story.

One of the best parts about Stempniak’s signing is that he’s a right-handed shot. Based on that alone he helps the left-handed heavy Rangers be a bit more balanced on the wings, and potentially on the powerplay. He’s a strong possession forward who plays a solid, if unspectacular, two-way game. He also saw some significant time on the penalty kill with the Flames/Penguins last season. so he presents even more flexibility on special teams.

But one of the bigger questions is about how he will affect his teammates on the ice.

To measure this we can look at Stempniak’s WOWY (with or without you) stats. This stat is used to tell us how Stempniak’s teammates drove puck possession with him on the ice and without him on the ice. If his teammates have better numbers with him off the ice, then Stempniak can act as an anchor on his teammates. If his teammates have better numbers with him on the ice, then he acts as positive puck possession influence. Here’s how his numbers look from a graphical perspective (courtesy of Hockey Analysis):

stempniak wowy

To read this chart, the more to the right the bubbles (Stempniak’s teammates from last season) are, the better the puck possession with Stempniak on the ice. The more to the bottom of the graph, the worse his teammates’ possession numbers are without him on the ice. Basically, you want these bubbles to be in the bottom right corner.

From the chart, we see that Stempniak is a puck possession driver when on the ice since the majority of the bubbles are on the right side of the y-axis. Since there is an even split above and below the x-axis, we can deduce that while he drives possession on the ice, his teammates don’t falter when he is off the ice. He isn’t someone who is going to be a game-breaker while on the ice, but he will be a nice complementary player in all three zones.

When all is said and done, Stempniak will hopefully prove to be another one of those great bargain signings. If he can turn into what Pouliot was, it’ll be a great signing. If he can reproduce what he did last season (Pouliot’s scoring pace without the defensive zone lapses), then it’ll be a fantastic signing. I’d chalk this up as a solid signing.

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    • I think that’s, oh I don’t know. Looks like Calgary but I don’t remember some of those players in Alberta. Maybe it’s the 10 or so he played the most mins with. We need Dave for that. I thought I was doin good but I really wasn’t. Lol.
      BSB is the best and the regular readers are the best most knowledgable fans. At least for the New York Rangers. Other Cities like the 6 or 7 in Canada are a little deeper into the game than most fans in NY.
      I know you guys have made mention of the shortage of rightie up front. However, I (just my opinion everyone has an elbow just the same) think it’s a bigger problem that the team lets on. I’m really pulling for Mueller to win a spot in camp. 1 way deal and a righty pivot that can backup on draws if/when Moore gets kicked out.

      I heard they were getting rid of kicking the center out of the circle this season as a rule change. Takes longer and teams that are tired after an icing can do it on purpose to by an additional 20-30 secs to catch their breath.

      • What do you know about Mueller that the rest of us don’t? I don’t know anyone who thinks he has a shot of making the big club. Strictly a minor leaguer.

        • How do you know what everyone else thinks or even knows about the kid? Who knows anything about him? He isn’t on a 2 way contract so my guess is he’s either with the Rangers come opening day or on another team when he goes on waivers.

          He may be a career minor leaguer but as a 4th liner he’s perfect. He plays center but can slot in on either wing. He’s not a game breaker but he isn’t a bad possession player and he’s built like a bull. Kind of like Haley is. 5′ 11 and 200+ lbs. I’m not thinking the kid is a savior but you all want Miller, Lindberg, and every other lefty the Rangers have so we can go in with 10 left handed forwards. Then everyone is gonna complain the PP doesn’t score. Why do think the Rangers had trouble scoring PP goals. No off wingers on the left side. Most plays the Rangers made on man advantage were from the right side. Teams just have to lean that way on PK. It was never more obvious than in the Montreal series.

          Mueller may not help the PP much but he can take draws if they’re kicking Centers out of the circle still and help add depth on the right side. They need one more. If they get this kid Chris Hayes them play him. He’s big and he plays physical and scores with his wicked shot. With Step and Nash or Step and Kreider. The staff shout get Kristo working on his defensive game and make him avg on the D end. Use him. He deceptive shot and skating are his best attributes. I don’t care if his name is Hitler. If he’s a righty. Get him in the lineup. We should have 5 righties up front at least. There may be about 2 if Stempniak is a lock and if Mueller/Fast/Kristo or another make an impression in camp maybe we get 2. 10 lefties and 2 righties up front. MSL is an off winger so he doesn’t count and he’s a lock to play 2nd line RW at least. A top line RW would have a dominoe effect. Nash would be on the left where he belongs and would change the teams dynamic.

          • I don’t know any Ranger fan who’s ever mentioned his name.

            He hasn’t been able to stick in the NHL for anyone and he’s 28. How does that qualify him as a perfect fourth liner?

          • For teams with a mix of left and right handed shots maybe he’s not an asset. The Rangers need every righty that can contribute. How does the pp score with 1 or 2 righties and 10 lefties. There’s lefties on the left side. That’s how the league shut down the NYR PP last season. Let’s bring more lefties in. Lindberg and Miller. Off wingers on the PP are important. Look at the Caps. Mueller is a fairly good offensive player. Check him out on Elite
            You think it’s better having Stempniak as the only righty winger? That’s a weakness on the team.

  • I like that Regressed PDO stat that girl Jen advertises on Twitter. If advertise is the wrong word I opologize but it’s a rather new concept. I like the PDO stat. Seems to go opposite way THE Possession stats go. If the team won but had a bad day at the office with 45% Corsi for on the team. Likely PDO is higher. I like players that maintain a 51% on ice Corsi and a PDO of 100% and up.

    I think it should have been rel PDO going by the rest of the stats but if I had thought of it that might be what the name is.
    Is there anyway we can see a chart of Reg PDO for some core NYR players from last season Dave?

    I bet Kreider had a solid post season in that category. Things went the Rangers way when he returned. Game 4 aside in round 2, his first game back. The run started during game 5 against the Pens. From that point on Kreider gave them back the speed teems identified the Rangers with. Heave Ho PDO!
    Thanks Dave. Sorry if I’ve ever pissed you guys off. I certainly didn’t mean to. I’m a big fan of this site.

    • PDO is just SH% + SV% while a player is on the ice. League average is 1000 (.920 SV% + 8% SH = 1000). Basically it measures puck luck. A player higher than 1000 could be seeing a streak of good luck, and vice versa.

      Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

  • A third line of Miller-Hags-Stempniak would be real nice. Speed, defensivly responsible, and scoreing touch, what more can we ask for?????

    This could be a fun year after all!!!!!

      • I think Miller will either learn to be a scorer and maybe a -10 kind of player or he gets better at his defensive game and is a 2-way forward. I like to look towards the latter because he hasn’t shown me he can beat NHL goaltenders 1 on 1 or in the net zone with the puck for a scoring chance. He hasn’t mastered that craft yet.

        Benoit Allaire should work with Miller to run drills to teach him where to shoot and what to look for. A full NHL camp can only help Miller tho I think he’s ready for at least 30-40 games this season. If not a full time job. Could be another season of yo yo duty.

        The coaches have to Refine his scoring touch. The NHL doesn’t phase him the least. I think he can learn his defensive assignments in camp, and hopefully he can handle the man coverage.

        I don’t know everything and I’m admitting it. Thats not me but I’m always looking to learn.
        I have a question for whoever will answer. On Dzone overload the NYR now use a man coverage. Or a man/zone with the weak side F and D covering the slot. In Torts last season he incorporated it to get away from the teams winding up while we sat there guarding the slot.
        Wasn’t that a zone? Torts didn’t use man up. Not in Dzone. So the strong side overload can be used to defend the Ozone in man and Zone coverages as well? I have to watch an old Torts game but I thought it was 3 on the boards and 1D and 1F guarding the slot for cross ice or back door passes.
        Am I mistaken because I thought Torts overload was still a zone.

  • Not sure about the fancy stats, but I have watched Stempniak play several times for Calgary. He’s a hard working player and can go on scoring streaks. You can use him on specialty teams or even on your 1st. line, if you need a spark. Lee was a good pick up by Slats and will fit in well on the Rangers.

    • I don’t know that he’s a top line player but if he could play with Nash & Stepan on the top line and even break 40 points. That’s all you can ask for. He’s a righty so Nash would get back on the left where he belongs. A BSB chart showed his goal location and it had to be 75%+ of his goals were the left side post. Seems like he’s aiming there from the right too. Far side shot gives the keeper a split sec longer to see the puck. On the left side Nash would have to be 1st man in on the Forecheck. Stempniak could use his speed to find time and space as F2 as he enters the zone. Stempniak has a good shot that he is great at picking corners with. That may be a great idea. You’re the first I’ve heard say it. I thought about it but you nailed it.

      Second line is Zuc on his strong (LW)side and MSL on RW with Brassard in the middle. That might just be good enough to win hockey games. The most important line will be the 3rd line. This checking line was the NYR most consistent offensive threat. We may not have that unless JT Miller comes out of his shell and bangs in 15-20 goals. If Lombardi remains healthy and either Miller or Hagelin can play the off wing. That could be a good line. Maybe Fast or Mueller can play the RW on the 3rd scoring line. Miller can play 4th line RW to add some youth and grit playing with Glass & Moore.

      Good idea bro. I just was thinking out loud or thinking while typing and all this was there when I came to. Lol.
      The Rangers lost Boyle and defensively it sucks but Sather’s outlook was 1- to build around AV and 2- add even more speed and skating ability to the lineup. They have done that so far. The Rangers are a veteran team now. In 11/12 they were the 3rd youngest team in the NHL. Crazy with all the lineup turnover how much things change in 2-3 seasons. I’d like to see at least 1 rookis make it full time. EP on Mueller

      Elite Prospects states-“Mueller is a skilled forward who plays a well-rounded game. He owns fine scoring & playmaking ability. Also displays some grit -Erik K. Pirri, EP (2013)

  • From what I’ve seen Stump has the potential to score more goals that Pouliot. I like him with Brass & Zucc and I like Kreider with Miller because those two have some sort of chemistry going. Kreider-Miller Hags wouls be a VERY fast line.

  • Stemp needs to continue to work the corners and look for the open man. Not really that hard. What is difficult is knowing how your new linemates position themselves without the puck and visa-versa. To me, this is why it took Pouliott more than a month to be productive. Same hold true for Stemp.

  • I have to be honest…… I hate these statistics. This version of sabermetrics (Moneyball) on skates is such a ridiculous analysis. It’s very easy to designate a value to a player who is standing still in a batter’s box and spraying hits to different parts of the field or how he handles certain types of pitches, or how he works a pitcher. To try and analyze hockey players in a sport that relies so heavily on flow and creativity is a far far far REACH. Hockey is played at a completely different pace. Just My Opinion

    • Chris, I’ll let Dave defend the fancy stats, but I will say this: Over the course of large samples of data, trends will appear – yes, even in hockey – and there are ways to look at those trends to make informed decisions.

      Just like in baseball, there are alternative ways to evaluate individual players other than just runs scored and runs batted in (which a lot of times are a funcion of teammate performance as well). The same holds true in hockey in that there are other ways to evaluate individual performance other than just goals and assists.

      • Maybe I’m old fashion but I value the player by the number of goals and assists he he’s got and his +/- while he is on the ice defensively. Keep it simple boys!

        • If that’s old fashioned…… you’ve got company! i agree with you 100%. I do understand and respect the gentleman who posted after my comment. I think sometimes we overlook the fact that not every player who laces up his skates is out there to score goals. Grinders wear down opposing players and some are strictly out there for defensive purposes. It all depends on how many lines deep the team you are playing is. These matchups ask different roles from different players. Although a player may spend a lot of time in his zone, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he didn’t get his job done. Baseball is cut and dry…….. Push the guys around the bases and touch home plate as many times as you can. This is each batter’s job. Even in the case of a sacrifice fly or bunt. Jan Erixon shadowed the Rangers opponents top scorer for years. Plug some of these Selke Award winners names into these equations and they don’t look so good. Their value to their team and their role on the lines they played on were all conceptual

  • Interesting post, Dave.

    IMO, the important take-away from the graph is that the stats say he doesn’t suck in some hidden way. He’s not going to deliver the Rangers to the promised land. Hopefully he can fill a role and contribute. If he doesn’t pan out, then what did the Rangers lose? Nothing. I look forward to seeing what he can do.

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