Fun With Numbers, Part III: ECAC Hockey

We’re wrapping up our tour of the East tonight, as we apply Ken Campbell’s “Campbellnomics” system from the Hockey News to the top Hobey Baker candidates in ECAC Hockey (among forwards, anyway). These guys haven’t been getting much Hobey buzz this season, but as this system that values the most meaningful goals of the game shows, there are definitely some players worth paying attention to here.

Again, under this system, players earn a full point for a goal and a half a point for an assist for each of the six categories – go-ahead goal, tying goal, first goal, last lead, comeback goal, overtime – that a goal falls into.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the big “Campbellnomics” winners at the Beanpot final on Monday night would have been BU’s Kevin Shattenkirk (two points for a go-ahead goal and the first goal) and BC’s Carl Sneep (two points for the go-ahead goal and the last lead. Chris Kreider and Cam Atkinson would have come up empty, which shows the flaws in the system, but I still say these are numbers worth considering.

We’ll start with the ECAC Hockey player I’ve been watching the longest, Cornell’s Blake Gallagher. Gallgher got off to the hottest start Cornell has seen in a forward in a very long time, and although he’s cooled off a bit from his goal-per-game pace in the first month-plus of Cornell’s season, he’s still No. 14 in the country in points per game with 14 goals and 14 assists in 22 games (1.27 PPG). Applying the Campbellnomics system, Gallagher stands up quite well, totalling 21.5 Campbellnomic points for an average of .98 CPPG.

Meanwhile, a player at another school whose fans enjoy shouting the word “RED” – RPI’s Chase Polacek, has quietly established himself as the No. 8 scorer in the country, averaging, 1.43 points per game on 18 goals and 23 assists. Even more impressive is that Polacek has amassed 33 Campbellnomics points, for an average of 1.1 CPPG. As a frame of reference, the NHL leader in this category, Sidney Crosby, is averaging 1.14 CPPG, so Mr. Polacek is doing quite well for himself this season.

The big story in the Capital District this season, however, has been at Union, where senior forward Mario Valery-Trabucco has led a breakout season for the Dutchmen with 16 points and 19 assists in 27 games, tying for 11th in the country in total PPG. The Campbellnomics system, however, is not so kind to the Dutchman, crediting him for 20.5 points, or .71 CPPG. A respectable score, certainly, but not quite approaching the gaudy numbers of Polacek and Gallagher.

Valery-Trabucco and his Union teammates are chasing Gallagher’s Big Red, and Yale is in the same position, tied with the Dutchmen for second in the conference behind Cornell. Keith Allain’s Bulldogs have gotten major contributions from several forwards, but I chose Broc Little to represent the Elis here, since the system favors goals, and he has them. He has 18, to be exact, to go with his eight assists. Introduce Campbellnomics to the proceedings, meanwhile, and there’s still nothing small about Little’s contributions, as he checks in with 20 Campbellnomics points in 23 games, or .87 CPPG.

Finally, we check in with Colgate and forward Austin Smith, currently tied for 20th in the country in points per game at 1.22. Factor in Campbellnomics, and he has 21 points in 27 games, good for .78 points per game. That seems to be in the median range that I’ve found so far for top-level forwards.

Of course, ECAC Hockey’s biggest achiever in this category is Polacek, who’s in Sidney Crosby territory with his Campbellnomics average. However, there’s more to consider here than this stat (although it is nice).

So, to recap:

Chase Polacek, RPI: 33 (1.1 CPPG)

Blake Gallagher, Cornell: 21.5 (.98 CPPG)

Broc Little, Yale: 20 (.87 CPPG)

Austin Smith, Colgate: 21 (.78 CPPG)

Mario Valery-Trabucco, Union: 20.5 (.71 CPPG)

Now, as things currently stand, Cornell is the only team in ECAC Hockey bound for the NCAA tournament, and that’s worth considering as part of this exercise. Union and Yale are challenging, of course, so I think an edge, if there is one, lies with Gallagher, Valery-Trabucco, and Little as they challenge for the title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.

That said, don’t be surprised if Polacek gets a nod when the finalists are announced. If there’s one thing these numbers show, it’s that Polacek’s performance this is hardly a freak game, as opposed to a player who fades at crunch time.

That’ll do it for tonight, but I’ll also take this opportunity to ask whom I’m missing. Think your team has a player who should be evaluated as a Hobey contender? Let me think, and I’ll get back to you.