18 April 2019

Interview with David Johnson of Puckosphere / Hockeyanalysis.com 

Part One


Robin @ Chiller Instinct: David, please let the readers know the specifics about what you try to accomlish on the web on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis with your analysis of this fine game.Puckosphere

David: My main goal with hockeyanalysis.com is to better gain a better understanding of the NHL through statistical analysis with a focus on player and team evaluation.  Hockey is a difficult game to interpret by basic statistics alone because a player's statistics are so dependent on his teammates, his competition, and the game situations the coach has put him in.  My goal is to attempt to normalize all those effects and come up with a fair and unbiased evaluation of NHL players.

I am also a hockey fan and in particular a Toronto Maple Leafs fan so I'll also discuss any number of other hockey related issues on my website with a focus on the Maple Leafs.


Robin @ CI: What has really driven up your interest during this off-season? (ie: get into the trades and free-agency moves that you think had the most impact, both positive and negative)

David: I think all of the moves that the Philadelphia Flyers made has to be the biggest story of the summer.  They got rid of several core players mostly for young players who may or may not be ready for prime time and to make room for their new goalie hopeful Ilya Bryzgalov.  It is going to be really interesting to see how it all unfolds for them in the upcoming season.

The other big stories of the summer are the the Florida Panthers' spending spree to reach the salary floor, the Columbus Blue Jackets big push to attempt to become a serious playoff contender (and maybe more importantly attempt to rejuvenate fan interest) by adding several expensive players, and the spending spree by the Buffalo Sabres' owner.  To be honest, while all three of those teams made their teams better in the short term it seems quite likely that all three of those teams may regret some of their moves at some point down the road.  That said, the same can probably be said for the Flyers and the contract they gave Bryzgalov and maybe the New York Rangers and the contract they gave Brad Richards.


Robin @ CI: Who has put together the finest collection of off-season moves in order to move in the right direction this coming season?

David: It all depends on what each teams goals are.  I mentioned the Blue Jackets above.  I think they will regret the contract they gave James Wisniewski and may regret some of the young players and draft picks they traded away a couple years from now but they desperately needed to make a playoff push to reestablish themselves in their own market or else franchise survival becomes an issue.  Fan interest in the Blue Jackets has been dropping and the moves made this off season is an attempt to address that.  In that respect the moves were good, but as long-term hockey moves I am not so sure about.  Much of the same can be said for the Panthers' moves though they were also driven by a need to reach the salary floor.

As far as good moves, I think what the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals did were at the top of the list.  The Kings added one of the better two-way centers in Mike Richards giving them one of the best 1-2 punches in the NHL with Kopitar-Richards.  What they lost in trading Ryan Smyth to the Edmonton Oilers they gained in adding Simon Gagne and saved nearly $2M in the process. 

As for the Capitals, I like the addition of Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern and Roman Hamrlik.  These are quality players who will add needed experience to their lineup.  Plus, while I don't believe Vokoun is an elite goalie as some do, I do believe he is a very good goalie and should provide more consistent goaltending than they had in recent years.  Nothing ruins a good team more than inconsistent goaltending that the team in front of them cannot trust.  Vokoun should address that perfectly.


Robin @ CI: Do you have an interest in the European Trophy that is underway right now?

David: No, not really.  I am mostly an NHL guy and don't follow the European leagues much at all.


Robin @ CI: Many feel that the Capitals are going to have a spectacular year. Do you agree that Niklas Backstrom's contributions mean a lot more than at any other point in his career to this team?


David: One could make an argument that the center position is the most important position on the ice as the center plays an integral role in all aspects of the game.  As good as Alexander Ovechkin is, Backstrom may be just as important to the success of the team.  Both Backstrom and Ovechkin had off seasons last year and if the Capitals are to make a Stanley Cup run, both need to improve their games.  I expect they will.


Robin @ CI:  How do you see some of the youngsters ( not just rookies) on the Winnipeg roster making an impact? A lot of people love what they see from Alexander Burmistrov and the prospect of Patrice Cormier coming in, but is there much to look forward to after the hoopla has subsided? I think a lot rides on the kind of year that Zach Bogosian has.


David: It is really easy for people to get excited about prospects but I really try not to.  The truth is, about half of first round picks will be a complete bust and half of the rest will never fully reach their perceived potential.  Beyond the first round it is nearly a crap shoot.  If your team is awful and you have nothing else to get excited about, sure get excited about your young players and prospects but be prepared for disappointment.  Burmistrov and Cormier may end up being great NHL players but honestly, I have no clue if they will.  Maybe I am a pessimist but I'd expect them to be second tier players and if they become true first line players or star players that is a huge bonus.

As for Bogosian, this is probably his year to really take a step forward or else we can probably forget about him becoming an elite defenseman as expected.  He didn't change teams but he pretty much got his change of scenery.  Not only is he in a new city but he has a new coach and a new general manager and a new set of fans with new expectations from him.  It is almost like a new start which might be what he needed.


Robin @ CI: David, a lot of your focus has to do with the Maple Leafs and I persuade you to let us in on some of the particulars about the club. Also, Cody Franson is a name B.C. residents love to hear and he was brought in to compete along the blueline. How do you see his addition helping the blue and white?

David: I really like what the Leafs did in the off season.  I think not giving Brad Richards a crazy 9 year deal was the right thing to do for this franchise and I think giving Tim Connolly a low-risk 2-year deal was a perfect move as they wait and see if either Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne can develop into first line centers.  The Cody Franson-Matthew Lombardi deal was also a steal for the Leafs.  Essentially the Leafs got Franson for free for taking on the Lombardi contract and the Leafs have money to burn anyway.  I wouldn't even write off Lombardi helping this team at some point in the 2011-12 season.  He could really help their penalty kill.

As for Franson, he played well in a limited role with the Nashville Predators.  With Ryan Suter and Shea Weber on the roster the Predators were able to shield Franson from playing the really tough minutes against really tough competition but with that said, Franson performed well in the role he was given.  He is defenitely a 3rd pairing defenseman who can contribute at both ends of the ice and we'll have to want and see how he performs if given an opportunity to take on a bigger role.  The potential is there for bigger and better things from him but the Leafs are deep on defense so he'll really have to work hard and obtain results if he is to get a bigger role.

For me the one position I am disappointed the Leafs didn't address this off season is in goal.  James Reimer looks like he might be the real deal but he has just a half season under his belt at the NHL level so no one really knows.  Backup Jonas Gustavsson hasn't shown me much of anything and I'd have zero confidence in him if Reimer can't be the #1 or gets injured.  I really worry about the Leafs goaltending.  It's been a disaster for several years now and it will be pretty depressing if us Leaf fans have to endure another season with shoddy goaltending.

Robin @ CI: Jeff Skinner was named last September as my number one NHL prospect. In his sophomore season and with other youngsters like Zac Dalpe, Drayson Bowman, and Zach Boychuk wanting to cut their teeth, Carolina has a group of younng forwards with a lot of skill coming in. How do you see this mix of youth and veterans working?

David: The Hurricanes have slowly been dispensing of their aging veterans from their Stanley Cup run.  Brind'amour, Whitney, Cole, etc. up front and Hedican, Wallin, Corvo, etc. on defense.  As I said above, I have a show me attitude with prospects but the time is hear for the Hurricanes to go young and see what they have and begin a new era for the franchise.  The positive for the Hurricanes is they have stability in goal with Cam Ward which, I believe, makes the adjustment to the NHL a little bit easier and stress free for prospects.  With a dependable goalie behind them they can relax a bit and not stress out that every little mistake they make might end up as a goal against.


to be continued...



21 August 2011 / Robin Keith Thompson


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