#MNWild Disciplined Aggression – The Kids are Alright

I’ve spent the week looking at a stat called the Disciplined Aggression Proxy (DAP), which attempts to show which players play a physical game without taking many minor penalties like slashing or interference, thereby putting the team at a disadvantage for two minutes. If you missed the first two posts for some reason, check out Part 1 and Part 2. Go ahead, I’ll wait. These numbers won’t mean anything if you don’t know the methodology.

Yesterday, I looked at the league leaders in this stat, and today I want to focus just on the Wild. I am going to focus on the two-year sample that I described yesterday, and I suppose I’ll split forward and defense, which I haven’t done so far this week. Also, since I’m separating by position, I’d better give the paramaters for each:

Defensemen: M = 8.25, SD = 3.97
Forwards: M = 9.74, SD = 5.32

Here are the stat tables…let’s start with the blue-liners:

Defensemen

Name GP Hits Takeaways Minors DAP
Jared Spurgeon 99 62 25 10 8.70
Ryan Suter 108 93 51 20 7.20
Marco Scandella 88 76 27 15 6.87
Matt Dumba 107 112 22 24 5.58
Jonas Brodin 94 43 32 15 5.00
Nate Prosser 67 46 5 14 3.64

I am going to focus on Spurgeon at the end of this post because there’s more than meets the eye here, so we’ll set him aside for now. The rest of the Wild defenders are pretty much unremarkable…all are below the sample mean. Suter has never been known as a big hitter, his style is more solid positioning and overall defense, though he has the most takeaways of the group. I wasn’t expecting him to put up a large DAP. The rest of the group is frankly underwhelming–Dumba has the most hits but also the most minors by far, and while Brodin is undoubtedly having a good year in 2016, he’s never going to be a big hitter. There’s a lot of ink being spilled about Nate Prosser this year, and yeah, he’s doing okay but no one should be surprised to see him at the bottom of this list. It should be noted that of all Defensemen in the sample, Prosser has the sixth-lowest DAP.

Forwards

Name GP Hits Takeaways Minors DAP
Charlie Coyle  108  160  49  12  17.42
Mikael Granlund  108  104  61  11  15.00
Nino Niederreiter  108  171  45  19  11.37
Jason Pominville  101  49  29  7  11.14
Jason Zucker  97  110  54  15  10.93
Eric Staal  109  92  85  21  8.43
Chris Stewart  82  105  19  17  7.29
Erik Haula  95  67  44  16  6.94
Zach Parise  89  86  51  22  6.23
Mikko Koivu  108  45  51  24  4.00

Alright, there’s a lot to unpack there. This time, I’ll start at the bottom of the list. Mikko Koivu can throw an exploding shoulder, but has never been known for his hitting ability. His takeaways are nice, but I probably wouldn’t have guessed he would have the most minors of any forward on the club. I’m not necessarily surprised to see him at the bottom of the list because like Suter, he’s always been known more for solid two-way play, good positioning, etc. But, what does surprise me is that this analysis shows that he’s not that physical and really not that disciplined.

Next we have Parise, who you always see out there taking whacks at guys, working stick lifts, all that good stuff. I noted yesterday that we’re not surprised to see highly skilled offensive players with low DAP numbers, so apart from being second-lowest on the team, there’s not much else to say there. Staal’s numbers include his time last year with the Canes and Rangers, and I guess the only thing to note is that he’s got one extra game played than any other player because he actually played 83 games last year.

The guys I really want to focus on are at the very top of the list, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund. Both are about one standard deviation above the mean (moreso for Coyle), and both have not missed a game since the start of the 15-16 season. Charlie has a reputation as a power forward, and if you’ve been paying any attention at all recently, you should know that he is among the league leaders in penalties drawn, so his high DAP just proves that he is doing a fantastic job at throwing his weight around, separating guys from pucks, but not taking himself out of the game and putting the team shorthanded.

Now, let’s get to the guy that I really want to talk about here: Mikael Granlund. Most people would tell you that Mickey’s primary ability is as a playmaker, but I think we need to start looking at him as a bit more of a (dare I say it?) gritty player. Since Boudreau has taken over the Wild, Koivu and Granlund are getting just a 37% OZ start ratio, yet Granlund is second only to Staal in takeaways, and has the second-fewest minors after Pominville. And on top of all that, he’s tied for third on the team with (6+12=18) points to boot! I don’t know how much of that, if any, is related to his move to the wing, but I’m pleasantly surprised, and really impressed to see Granlund’s disciplined aggression coming through in this stat.

Now, let’s get back to Jared Spurgeon. In Neil Greenberg’s DAP article from a couple years back, he found Spurgeon to be the second-best defenseman in the league in DAP, with a value of just over 20. Yet, in this sample, his rating has dropped quite a bit. I dug through his career numbers, and I guess I rushed to judgement a little too early. Have a look at his DAP numbers over his career:

Year GP Hits Takeaways Minors DAP
2010-11 53 37 11 1 48.00
2011-12 70 36 18 3 18.00
2012-13 39 46 10 2 28.00
2013-14 67 80 19 8 12.38
2014-15 66 48 31 3 26.33
2015-16 77 51 19 7 10.00
2016-17 24 12 8 3 6.67

I’ve watched Jared Spurgeon his entire career, and I’m surprised to see that he played in over 50 games in his first year while TAKING ONE SINGLE MINOR PENALTY. In fact, he’s got just 27 minors over his entire 396 game career, which is frankly just astonishing. Like Suter, his hits total is never going to be too gaudy, as Spurge plays an incredible positioning game as opposed to a big body game. Other than 2014-15, his takeaways are a bit lower than I would expect as well. It sounds weird to say, but with three minor already this year, he’s on pace to have a 10.25 minors all season, which would be a career high (LOL). I’ll admit I was a little bit fooled by his numbers since 2015, but his career DAP is a hefty 15.78, so we can safely say that Spurgeon is an amazingly disciplined player.

Don’t forget that you can go to yesterday’s post to get the link to the entire data set if you’d like to compare the Wild players to others in the league.

Whew! This post took a lot longer than I expected it to. I’d love to know your thoughts on the DAP stat, Spurgeon, Granlund, or any other Wild player in the comments here, or on twitter @BobaFenwick. We’re recording the HTH podcast episode 50 tonight, so keep your eyes peeled for that as well. Thanks for reading!