Vulgar Statistics: Vanek Vs. Parise
With some fans looking over this good-turned-awful-turned-??? season to the offseason there has been considerable discussion regarding this year’s prize free agent, left wing Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils. As Parise is a big name player making big money ($6.0M cap hit), and also plays on the left side, many have been comparing him to Thomas Vanek. The prevailing thoughts are that Parise is either better than Vanek, or that the two are equivalent. Is that accurate? Well, let’s see.
I’m going to tailor this analysis towards offense for a few reasons. If Parise is brought into the Sabres organization, he will be here to produce goals. He won’t need to block shots, he won’t need to kill penalties. He’ll need to score. Thus an all around analysis isn’t relevant (and I already did one a few months ago anyways).
GP – Games Played; G – Goals; A – Assists; Pts – Points; TOI – Time On Ice; GPG – Goals per Game; PPG – Points per Game; G/60 – Goals per 60 minutes of Icetime; P/60 – Points per 60 minutes of Icetime
In case you’re wondering, and you probably are, Vanek has more categories in which he leads (40) than Parise (34). But there are two big issues when comparing Vanek to other elite players (and they may be related). People are often quick to point out that Vanek typically plays 2-4 minutes less than other elite players on any given night. Some have speculated that this is because of his tendency to disappear for large stretches. So consistency must also be taken into account.
GwG – Games with Goal(s); GwP – Games with Point(s); G% – Percentage of Games in which Player has Scored; P% – Percentage of Games in which Player has Tallied a Point; GS – Longest Goal Streak; PS – Longest Point Streak; GLS – Longest Goal-less Streak; PLS – Longest Point-less Streak; MGG – Multi-goal Games; MPG – Multi-point Games; SH – Shorthanded Time on Ice; PP – Power Play Time on Ice; ES – Even Strength Time on Ice
I decided to focus a game by game analysis on this season because I have limited time and am not (that much of) a masochist. As you can see, Parise scores in slightly more games overall and is less prone to go long stretches without scoring. However, it should be noted that both of Vanek’s big droughts came when he was playing hurt and right before he eventually ended up sitting out. You can judge how that plays into this analysis (if at all) on your own.
My initial impression was that Vanek would be a slightly better offensive player, and a noticeably worse all around player than Parise, which seems to be verified by the above. I think if you even out the ice-time, the arrow swings significantly in Vanek’s direction. We all know he can do the things Parise does (because we’ve seen it before), like rack up big power play minutes, and fill out a second penalty kill unit, he just doesn’t. (Now is the appropriate time to call for Lindy Ruff’s head if you feel that way.) I think many of us get into a “grass is greener” mentality with our guys and comparable players around the league. (And really, shouldn’t we have learned our lesson with Connolly/Leino by now?) The bottom line is that despite the edge either player might get in a statistical analysis such as this one, practically speaking they’re both great, and the amount of positives they’re going to bring to a hockey team differs little between the two.