Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau
Wednesday, July 18, 2018 | 2 a.m.
With the draft and free agency behind them, the Golden Knights likely have the roster that they’ll ride into the 2018-19 NHL season.
To analyze whether the Golden Knights got better or worse during the offseason, let’s take a look at the point shares for each player they lost and gained.
Point shares are a stat created by Justin Kubatko, the chief data officer for StatMuse.Inc, that attempts to quantify a player’s worth to the team by assigning them a share of the points that team earned during a season. The stat is hockey’s equivalent of the widely used baseball stat — Wins Above Replacement or WAR.
Here is a detailed explanation of how it’s calculated.
Point shares are kept offensively and defensively; combined they give a glimpse of how well a player performed. William Karlsson led the Golden Knights last season with a point share of 11.8, which was fifth-best in the NHL and only 1.3 behind league-leader Connor McDavid.
For a rudimentary look at how the Golden Knights changed this offseason, here are the players they lost to free agency.
David Perron — 6.4 point shares (5.1 offensive, 1.3 defensive)
James Neal — 4.6 point shares (3.8 offensive, 0.8 defensive)
Luca Sbisa — 2.7 point shares (0.9 offensive, 1.8 defensive)
In total, Vegas lost 13.7 point shares, with the majority (9.8) coming on the offensive end, and only 3.9 on the defensive side of the ice.
Here are the players the Golden Knights added this offseason.
Paul Stastny — 4.7 point shares (2.8 offensive, 1.9 defensive)
Nick Holden — 3.2 point shares (0.4 offensive, 2.7 defensive)
Because Vegas added fewer players than it lost, I’ll add Tomas Hyka’s point shares as he is a likely replacement for one of the open forward spots left vacant. Last season, Hyka played only 10 games in the NHL and spent the rest of the season in the American Hockey League, so these are his numbers extrapolated over an 82-game season.
Tomas Hyka — 2.4 point shares (0.8 offensive, 1.6 defensive)
With that, the Golden Knights have a net loss of 3.4 point shares from last season. They took a major dip offensively, losing 5.8 offensive point shares, but actually improved defensively by adding 2.3 point shares.
According to these analytics, the Golden Knights new roster is 3.4 points worse than last season’s, which finished atop the Pacific Division with 109 points. Vegas was eight points clear of the second-place Ducks, so losing a few points wouldn’t have hurt, theoretically.
It’s important to note that these are only last year’s performances and they don’t necessarily predict next season’s production. Karlsson is the best example, as his point shares went from 2.0 with the Blue Jackets in 2016-17 to an 11.8 last season.
The Golden Knights could have players like Karlsson or Erik Haula regress following career seasons, and they could have young players like Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore improve drastically after their first full season in the NHL.
Tomas Tatar could find his scoring touch that he seemed to leave in Detroit when Vegas acquired him at the deadline, or Nate Schmidt could fall back down to earth after putting up an impressive 4.8 defensive point shares a year ago.
Goaltender health could also change the outlook for this season. Marc-Andre Fleury finished second on the Golden Knights with 9.9 point shares last season despite playing in only 46 games due to injury.
If Fleury would have played 19 more games, which is what his averages show he would have played if he hadn’t missed time, that adds another 4.0 point shares. If Fleury can stay healthy for a full season, the Golden Knights could get even better goaltending than they did a year ago.
Last year’s Golden Knights showed it’s impossible to predict hockey, but it’s still interesting to look at the numbers, which say Vegas got slightly worse this offseason.